Editorial: Time for the Moray nationalists to put up or shut up

Sunday Supplement
The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week.

Council Chamber under new management?

Before Moray SNP’s celebrations even started on the back of an emphatic by-election victory in Buckie this week one of our most experienced council representatives got straight to the crux of the matter.

Amongst all the congratulatory words it was John Divers who posed the challenging question – now that they are the single largest political group at Moray Council, does the SNP have the bottle to actually take control?

Sonya Warren’s win in Buckie has resulted in an absolute impasse in the council chamber – on the one hand, you have the current administration of 10 independents ‘propped up’ by a single ‘non-aligned’ Tory.

On the other, we now have 11 SNP members who finally, as the largest single political group, have the right to add real action and policies to the critical words they have expounded for several years.

Then on the side – and of absolute importance – we have two Labour councillors who claim only that they will “do what is best for Moray”. Quite what that means is beyond this pundit, but it was interesting to note that Cllr Divers admitted an approach had been made to them by the administration back in January.

Add to that the fact that while they will protest, Labour in Moray have little respect for the SNP and all it stands for. They will deny this of course, but honestly does anyone who has the slightest interest in local politics believe they can be bosom buddies with the nationalists?

Finally there is the two ‘aligned’ Tories.  No friends of the administration of course – both Douglas Ross and James Allan were unceremoniously thrown out of the ruling group after they had the audacity to note the wishes of the Moray public and vote against unpopular administration policies on Schools and the Elgin approach road.

So we perhaps have 13 v 13 – but now, as the largest party, the ball is firmly in the SNP court. They can send it back fully loaded with top spin, demanding that they form a new administration and in so doing put in place policies that have a very real chance of success.

They can align themselves with Cllrs Ross and Allan – bringing forward, for example, the intriguing possibility of the fiery Fochabers/Lhanbryde Tory being invited to chair a committee as a member of a joint administration.

Or they can simply assume control as a minority leadership and take their chances – not new to the SNP who have been there on a national basis in the past.

And finally they might choose to decline the opportunity and continue to snipe from the safe and cosy opposition seats where decisions can be questioned without the risk of ever having to be taken.

When the SNP group meet to take their decision tomorrow I really hope that they remember one overriding factor.

The people of Moray can be forgiving of a lot of things, but they will not, I’m sure, take lightly any political group that spends years complaining and then spurns a chance to actually put their money where their mouths are.

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