Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Colin Macaulay's Election musings

Colin sent us his thoughts:

"A view from a recently retired SNP Councillor! (No prizes for guessing who …… :-) )

Well, there are only a couple of days remaining and a palpable fear emanates from the Westminster establishment. The London-based media – particularly the right wing press – is apoplectic at the thought of a progressive Scottish voice in the House of Commons.

I have pretty good recall of all general elections since Harold Wilson ousted the 14th Earl of Home in 1964. My parents were traditional Highland Liberals with a desire for Home Rule and a vision of a better and a fairer society. My Dad had faith in the modern Labour Party – and in truth it was a party of change – a UK party that kicked into touch many of the elitist policies and practices left over from an old Empire past.

However, that Labour Party and its previous incarnations under the likes of Attlee was a very different beast from the party of Blair and Brown and now Miliband. In the same way as the Liberal Party is not even a shadow of its former self.

The reality of UK politics in 2015 is that all 3 mainstream parties have become incredibly right wing and the leadership of each is absolutely at the epicentre of the incestuous Westminster / City of London Establishment. Most current UK Ministers and Shadow Ministers – even from the LibDems or Labour would be too right-wing to hold a post in Ted Heath’s Tory Government of the 1970s.

For 50 years there has been a commitment to do away with our unelected second chamber – the House of Lords. From the number of new Baron Lords and new Baroness Ladies queuing to take up their ermine robes and their £300 tax free allowance every day – it looks as if it will still await democratisation in another 50 years.

People from Dover to Dunbeath want a better society. To varying degrees they want it to be more caring, to be fairer – with opportunity based upon ability and endeavour – not on inherited wealth or old school ties; and real ethical policies towards the world’s perpetually tough issues – war, pestilence and famine.

Here in sunny Nairn and across Scotland, the Referendum brought to many of us a real sense of an achievable dream of that better and fairer society. One without foodbanks, without child poverty. A society that retains free education, prioritises investment in health and social care - and that puts Bairns before Bombs!

We all know that we live in one of the very richest economies on the planet and we don’t want to continue to see the extremes of wealth and poverty that have been engineered by successive Westminster governments. Last year’s campaign and referendum vote motivated, mobilised, informed, educated and empowered – young and old, from all walks of life. Scottish politics will never, ever be the same. We all KNOW that things really CAN be changed for the better.

So, on Thursday – get out and vote. Make sure that your partner votes, that your kids vote and that your neighbour votes. If you want things to remain as they have been for the past 40 years, vote for one of the 3 UK-based parties. It really doesn’t matter which one – except at the very margins, they really are all the same. Vote “Mountain” – cool name :-) ………. (and at least he is unlikely to be Osborne’s right hand man!)

Or – if like me, you think Westminster needs a bit of a seismic shift, then vote for Scotland – and vote for Drew Hendry. He’s already a political heavyweight in Highland and he’ll be a strong voice for the Highlands at Westminster over the years ahead.

Unlike previous MPs, he’ll not be there waiting for elevation to the House of Lords. He’s not jumping on the Westminster bus simply for the journey – he’s jumping on to change the Westminster bus’s direction.

So, if we really want progressive politics and social justice, then surely we've got to take any opportunity to get the Tories out of Government – and begin to shape a better and a fairer future.

Regardless of whether you voted Yes or No last September - and even if you've never voted SNP before - on Thursday, let us make our voice heard in the Westminster Houses of Parliament like it's never been heard before. Use this opportunity to vote for a stronger Scottish voice - vote SNP – vote Drew Hendry!

Meanwhile, there is of course another important election on – a Highland Council election – to elect a new Councillor to represent Nairn and most of Nairnshire. You’ll not be surprised to know that I’m supporting young Stephen Fuller. I hope that you’ve had the opportunity to meet him over the past few weeks – one of the town’s good guys – a young father who cares passionately about his kids and about Nairn’s future. He’s quiet and unassuming – a polite young man – and I know that he’ll do his best for our community. A young and energetic Councillor is what we need – a local, Nairn lad who really understands the importance of affordable, social housing. One who will learn and grow and make really positive working relationships with fellow Councillors and with Council officers across our public services as well as reaching out and supporting local businesses – small and large, established and new alike.

I know that we have two candidates standing under an “Independent” label. Check out what their actual politics are. Perhaps they are closet Tories? Do they believe in an independent Scotland? Do they think 16 and 17 year olds should have the vote? Just what are their politics and just what are their policies?

I know that at the very local level – in Nairn and for the Town – all our Councillors already work together – collaborating to get the best deals possible for Ward 19. Do we need more local control? Of course we do! But who took away the Nairnshire Committee? The so-called “Independent Councillors”!! Who tried to close Nairn’s Swimming Pool? You’ve guessed – “Independent Councillors”!!!

The reality is that we need a local government reorganisation across Scotland. We need a Nairnshire Council – separate from an Inverness Council – separate from a Badenoch & Strathspey Council. I really believe in due course, that will come – and it will be the SNP Government at Holyrood that makes it happen. Remember that it was a Westminster Labour Government in the 1970s that took away our Nairn Burgh Council and it was a Westminster Tory Government in the 1990s that took away our District Council. We need to keep the pressure up to get Nairnshire back on the political map!

At the Highland level, party politics is important. This is sub-national, regional – not local – and we need to work with others who share our values and who want to deliver for local families and communities. The SNP Group on the Highland Council have worked hard to protect front-line services and to keep the Council Tax frozen until we have a fairer local taxation system in place. With a tight budget, we reduced the number of highly paid managers and made sure that all Council employees received a living wage. We’ve led the administration and the main committees – a Council not without some faults and failings – but a Council that is committed to progressive policies that are best for Highland.

So when you make your mark for Drew Hendry for Nairn’s voice at Westminster, make your choice Stephen Fuller – Number 1 – as our representative at the Highland Council.

Let’s hear it for Nairnshire and Scotland – let’s raise a glass to a better and fairer future!

Slainte mhor :-)"