Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Local Council elections. Who will be the lucky winner's keeping the Courthouse Gargoyle's company for the next four years?

So, we are to have an election after all, for a while it looked possible that there wouldn’t be one but eight hopefuls have put themselves forward for the public vote.

Three out of the four current Councillors are standing; Liz MacDonald (SNP), Sandy Park (Ind), and Laurie Fraser (Ind). The fourth, John Matheson, is taking his
golden handshake and standing down.

The other five, some of whom are known about the town and some have never been heard of, are locals Graham Marsden (LibDem), Jim Lennon (Ind) and David Fraser (Ind). The unknowns, and so far unheard of’s in this household, are Bob Ross (Con) and Ron Stevenson (Lab).

Out of the eight, leaflets have only been received from three and, to be truthful, only one of these provides any in-depth information about what they stand for. Perhaps some of the others are riding on their previous performances? This time round this may not be such a foregone conclusion as in the past. Nairn no longer consists of four wards with one Councillor in each, it will now be one ward with four Councillors. So, where previously it could be relied on that a fair whack of the vote could come from concentrating on keeping everyone within the ward being represented happy and not being too bothered about upsetting those in other wards, now there will be a bigger reliance of having to have get a larger slice of more voters to win. Could this provide an opportunity for disgruntled voters to have a ‘payback’ vote?

This is certainly going to be one of the most interesting local elections for a long time, apart from the changes to the wards there will also be a change in how we actually vote and, as well as being interesting, it will also be very confusing to some voters. The Single Transferable Vote System will be used for the first time, full details and an explanation can be found here

For a start, you have to put a number beside each candidate, not a cross. Then, in our case because there are eight candidates, you decide who your first preference is then your second, third and up to eighth. On top of this it would seem that you don’t have to ‘rate’ all eight and can pick as many as you like. Reading it it’s not as confusing as it seems but for many voters confronted by this at the polling station for the first time could result in much bemusement. Let’s hope there will be some literature appearing to provide an easy guide on how to use the system.

There is a note of caution about what will happen after the vote though with potential worries about the counting system.

With just over two weeks to go, let’s see how things hot up!


iGone said...

For this election I have become an ‘I will vote voter (If I do) to keep someone out, rather than to get someone in’ (ONI for short – Out Not In). Like Father Christmas and the tooth fairy I have stopped believing in politicians. It took a fair few years, but here I am. At heart I have always been a socialist, then we were given New Labour. I am not saying their policies have all been bad, but the way of government, the spin, the lies, the dishonesty have left me cynical, and I don’t just mean New Labour here, one party is as bad as the other as far as I can see as a humble voter. The voice of the people is lost once they are in power. The mandate and indeed the mantra seems to be ‘we will do what we please’. Don’t want us to go to war? tough we’re going!
I decided to look at the manifestos of the main Scottish parties to see if any stood out. As said I am of socialist leanings so maybe no surprise that I liked a lot of the Scottish Socialists manifesto, although it is utopian, and I don’t see as to how Scotland would pay for all their policies. But then mainstream Labour had similar thoughts a few years back and we got… New Labour hmm.
I have chosen one manifesto point from each of the main parties (BBC website)

Scots Green manifesto

Increase native woodland cover to 20% by 2010, 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2050.

I liked this one as it would make Scotland truly green, and with such a rapid rate of tree planting we could all be under the canopy of a 100% new rain forest by 2070.

Scottish Labour manifesto

"One-in-one-out" policy for new regulations in the next parliament and a "sunset clause" for new legislation to allow greater scrutiny

We always seem to be very well governed, so what I read into this is one law would have to be scrapped before another was introduced. Would make politics like treacle whilst they decided?

SNP manifesto

A referendum on independence for Scotland.

The obvious one and I bet as a majority we would be too feart!

Scots Tory manifesto

Commission a review of Scottish local government, with a remit to "pass power back to the people".

This sounds good, but it is just a commission, which equals will take years to publish findings and then if we are not in favour it will never ever happen. Tories pass power back to the people? Nah toffs would keep hold

Scottish Lib Dem manifesto

New Scottish food and drink promotion body.

Now we are getting somewhere, good old Lib Dems. Eat more chips and turkey twizzle things, drinks gallons of booze, could they include increase your smoking as well?

Scottish Socialists manifesto

Scrap all bus, underground and passenger ferry fares, while expanding services to meet increasing demand.

I was living in London when good ole red Ken brought in the 10p bus ride and what a difference it made to a) less traffic on the roads b) more people on the busses. If we want people to stop using their cars we need policies like this

Solidarity manifesto

Cap rents charged to tenant farmers and award grants to encourage new entrants to farming as well as payments to support organic farming.

OK this is purely me me me me, as most of my vegetables are grown on an organic CSA where rent is paid. But support for local food is good

SSCUP manifesto

Abolish poverty for all senior citizens with an index-linked basic pension of £160 per week for men and women

Poverty is not something anyone in the world should have to face, but pensioners are less empowered to do much about it apart from stack shelves at B&Q.

How will I vote?
Politics has become like supermarkets and we have loss leaders to attract the voters (Or should that read lost leaders?). Governments have limited shelf life so can never be too radical if they ever want to sit on a shelf again. Whizzing my trolley around the packed manifestos I can see they all have one or two good propositions should they get into power. What’s not on display is what they would really do, and that is the bit that scares me!

Bill said...

Hi there Graisg

I like the slide-show utility you have used, so have shamelessly pinched the idea and signed up myself :)

As for the elections, I just got back a week ago from three and a half months in Spain (very enjoyable - I'll be there again next winter, too!) and found, naturally, a huge pile of election literature on my return. I've put samples of all this 'bumph' up on my blog, just so people outwith the area can see what we are being subjected to ;)