Friday, November 13, 2009

The Indy-Lab-Lib Administration at Glenurquart Road will it survive long?

The Inverness Courier leader examines the decision not to exclude Councillor Clark from the Independent group for speaking out against an unpopular council decision. The Courier seems to think there are simmering tensions below the surface: 

'Peace is set to break out for now, but the issue will almost certainly raise its head again in the coming months because group leaders are facing an impossible task. The Independents still comprise the largest single body on Highland Council and are an essential partner for any political party looking to take control. An alliance with the SNP collapsed because members refused to be whipped on crucial votes, so when the Liberal Democrats and Labour came calling the Independents promised to keep their house in order.'

The Courier also says that Councillor Clark and his colleagues are banned from speaking to the electorate or the media on the issue that caused his suspension. Full Courier article here. 

Tough decisions indeed lie ahead, jobs and services will be under threat, will the Independents be able to withstand the heat that will come from their angry constituents?


Bill said...

The basic problem lies in the name "Independent"; much like herding cats, not an easy task. The romantic notion that the Highlands is best served by "Independents", although in theory much more democratic, is not really sustainable today. Quite a few years ago (elsewhere in Highland Region, not in Nairn) I voted for someone who billed himself as 'Independent' (the other two choices were another 'Independent' and either a 'LibDem' or an 'SNP' candidate, I don't remember which, but in any case the netherworld would freeze over before I voted for either of the latter two), only for him to reveal himself a couple of years later as a Labour supporter when he joined that Party and became a 'list' MSP and Minister in the 1998 Labour-led Scottish Executive, until it was displaced by the SNP a couple of years ago (to avoid being accused of being 'coy' I am happy to reveal I speak of Peter Peacock, erstwhile Convener of Highland Council when he was the councillor for my ward in Culloden/Balloch). I voted for him solely because he was the one of the two Independents who actually rang my doorbell during the campaign and with whom I had an opprtunity to speak and he didn't seem like an ogre, even if at the time I did wonder about his rhetoric about the water supply regime, which at the time (pre-1997) was being privatised elsewhere in the UK, but not in Scotland.

The truth is that there are very few geuine 'Independents', most lean one way or t'other politically, but they cling to the pretence of 'independence' to try and placate their fickle and varied Council electorates, when those same electorates are almost certainly voting for one of the major political parties at Scottish or Westminster elections. It really doesn't compute, and it is time the pretence was abandoned, with the very few genuine 'Independents' forming a picturesque sideshow as they do almost everywhere else in the world where politics is concerned. As council tax revenue forms such a small percentage of overall council expenditure (in Highland Council region more than most, even when compared with the rest of Scotland) and most of the funds they spend is provided by politicised administrations in Edinburgh or London (*) through the form of grants, it is really time that the Highland Council electorate and most of the 'Independent' councillors grew up.

(*) Of course the Edinburgh administration itself is funded entirely by central grants from Westminster, despite being permitted even uder present legislation to raise upto 3p in the Pound - but that would force them and the Scottish electorate to face financial realities it is much more convenient to blame on big bad Westminster.

Rant over ... for now ;)

Bill said...

And I just noticed that, most entertainingly, this little article of yours has been voted 'boring' by two of your readers with, so far, no-one judging it to be 'interesting'. What more need be said about the level of political maturity in the area?

Graisg said...

Rant most welcome Bill :-)