Thursday, April 05, 2007

Think Local, Act Local

On May 3rd when the Scottish elections for the parliament in sleepy Holyrood take place there will also be elections for our local council - Scottish Borders Council (SBC). It's a huge area that stretches from the west of Peebles right over to the East coast of Scotland (Berwickshire and to the English border in the south.

The current 'ruling' party is a Tory/Independent alliance, which is a bizarre set up. The general opinion if you ask people whether they've done a good job is, "not particularly." In the coming elections there's a new ward structure. We will go from 34 wards with a member each to ten super wards with three elected members and one ward with four members. It will be on a single transferable vote system. Clearly the opportunity for confusion and chaos is rife.

Naturally all the main parties are represented in the most if not all of the wards, getting information on who is standing where is difficult. In addition there are independents and we have a new party, the Borders Party , that is also trying to field candidates in all the wards. Initially I was sceptical about the Border's Party, they seemed focused on what's wrong rather than what they would do, which is not the most appealing of strategies. There's certainly much wrong for them to focus on, and as time has gone on they seem to be coming up with a more coherent strategy. They were a bit of a late started in all this. We have had a local councillor who has banged on about global issues and how he's a 'Borderer first, but a world citizen too' (or some similar guff). The fact is we have national parliaments dealing with these matters we need politicians who work on local issues with the hopes, and aspirations of local people at the top of the agenda. Think local - act local.

The more I think of what they could achieve, the more they appeal. The main parties are so caught up in their own party structures that they can sometimes lose sight of what is best for the Borders. Just how many people locally belong to the Conservative or Labour, or Nats or the Lib Dem parties? We have party politicians who are restricted by the party machine. How often have I heard, he or she's a good councillor but they can only do so much because of the party they belong to. The current system is old fashioned and out dated. The councillors who are party members are either there because they are ancient or they see a path to greater glory.

I'm more and more of the opinion that a decent 'local' party could really make a difference - it's worth looking into more.

More later.....


David Ross said...

It seems to me that two people (I include Christine too) who live, work, promote and obviously love just being in the Borders should offer their support to the Borders Party.

You are already involved in promoting the Borders on a global scale viz "Havering On" which is a classy piece of work.

I suggest you offer your talents to the Borders Party and help them to set up their own 'Blog' facility which appears to be sadly lacking on their website. They could do with your enthusiasm and obvious ability, not to mention gaining access to a much wider audience. Think of the Scottish diaspora in their millions

Just a thought.

Edinburgh said...

There need be neither confusion nor chaos in the council elections. All each voter has to do is decide which candidates in their own ward will best serve the local ward and the Scottish Borders.

To vote, put "1" beside your first choice, "2" beside your second choice, "3" beside your third choice, and so on, for as many choices as you can make. You can make your choices on any criteria you like - whatever you think is important.

Whether you like the result or not, you can be sure it will be representative of your ward. With STV the voters get what they voted for. That's a big change for the better.

Richard Havers said...

Edinburgh, I admire your optimism. I've heard plenty talking about the potential for spoiled ballot papers.

My point was as much about how people will feel 'represented'. Under the new system of large wards there could well be a disenfranchisement from between the elected people and the people on the electorate. What happens if three councillors all come from one part of the ward, people in the other parts of it may feel unconnected. Local elections are about local issues, not national matters.