Friday, April 27, 2007

Knowledge is power

For me the local elections for the Scottish Borders Council are more important than the Holyrood vote. We have some major local challenges that will only be addressed by the council, not least the proposals for the Edinburgh City Region strategy - a clandestine move to take the power from local people. They are trying to take the Borders by stealth.

Four hundred years ago Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.” Perhaps more importantly - a little local knowledge goes a long way. All of us know more about the little patch of the planet, where we live, than what’s going on in the world at large – even with twenty-four hour rolling news. That’s why think local, act local is the message. If local people don’t know about the issues that affect our area then who does - someone at Holyrood, Westminster, or Brussels?

Another old adage is about keeping your own backyard in order and that’s precisely what the Borders Party intends to do – all 1,800 square miles of it. Because who cares more about the Borders than the people who live here? Of course everyone standing in the local elections lives locally too, so why should people vote for the Borders Party? They have no big national party alliances. They are not driven by policy from on high, they are thinking and working from the bottom up, not the top down.

Some commentators, based of course in Glasgow and Edinburgh, have attempted to poke fun saying the BP want to have houses with just names and not numbers, and they’re a party of isolation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sideswipes are easy because what they propose is something outside the normal run of the mill political system that we’ve all grown up with. The recent coalition that has been in power at Newtown St, Boswells has been a coagulation of Conservatives and independents. Have you ever heard of anything more absurd? With the new ward system an effective Border’s wide party that puts locals first is of even greater importance. The ability to influence things from our small patch all the way to Scottish Borders Council HQ could potentially be a more tortuous process. The Borders Party intend working very closely with community councils who like us have no party loyalties.

If we don’t have a strong elected group of councillors then the result will be more power to the administration, which is run by career local government officers. Their agenda may not be our agenda. It’s often said that a weak group of councillors and a strong administration makes for a weak council. We cannot afford for this to happen in the Borders given the challenges that Scotland will face in the coming years.

Traditionally the Borders has lost out to the Highlands and the Central Belt - whether it’s in tourism, economic development and public spending in general. Precisely because there are so few of us living in the Borders we need a stronger voice. One that understands and recognises what make the Borders brilliant. A voice that is unswerving in placing the Borders first and not cow towing to political masters, wherever they may be.

Whatever happens don’t waste a vote on 3rd May by not voting. If you don’t vote will you be able to look others in the eye over the coming years and say – don’t play me I didn’t vote? One vote can make a difference.

1 comment:

Ellee said...

I always wondered where that quote came from, it is so true. I'm very confident about 3rd May, it could mark a turning point, knowing what will follow with the Labour leadership.