Editorial: Another imminent chapter in Moray’s soap opera beckons

The weekly opinion of the Editor on topical events affecting Moray.

The Moray soap opera gets another season

THERE ARE STILL almost two years to go before people throughout Moray will be asked to give their judgement over the performance of our local councillors.

To say that it has been a torrid – some would say tortuous – time for local politics in Moray since the last local election in 2012 would perhaps be understating things somewhat.

Whoever was brave enough to form an administration after that election returned what was effectively a ‘dead heat’ had to be admired. In the event it was the band of ‘Independent’ councillors who have held sway with a little help from three, then one, then two Tories in the blink of an eye.

From the start it was clear that they would need to make unpopular decisions, but to their great credit the administration took them – against accusations of arrogance, incompetence and pure genius depending on whose argument you happened to be listening to.

Sadly, at times the whole operation of our local authority has all too often resembled the script of a bad soap-opera – for this viewer it was not so much the dastardly deeds of our very own JR and Bobby Ewing (aka Allan Wright and Stewart Cree) as it was about the pure tragedy of watching this lot attempting to justify what in the public eye was very often the unjustifiable.

And yet – and yet, looking at where we are right now could anyone else have steered Moray through such troubled times? Had the SNP, for example, formed a coalition back then in 2012, would they have done a better job than the Independent/Tory one did (with occasional support from Labour)?

Sometimes I wonder if the SNP Group in Moray themselves are not all too aware that no, they could not have done a better job. For evidence of that I point to their becoming the largest single party just months ago only to bottle out of taking control. It was there for them to do so, no matter what spin they might put on the situation.

Now Eric McGillivray’s immediate resignation has sparked another twist in the soap opera plot.

There is every chance on recent evidence that the SNP will win the imminent by-election as a result, and in so doing the group would outnumber their nearest rivals on the local authority by three members.

I have been accused in the past of having sympathies with the Tories, with Labour, with the Independents – and even showing a strong bias against the SNP, despite my own past connections with the party.

Reality is this – like most people I wish nothing more than a quiet and healthy existence in this wonderful part of the world, but to get that I have to pay attention to what that lot in Council HQ are up to.

I don’t give a damn for any individual grouping or political party.  I am with the silent majority who just wishes those we vote into power would do the right thing.  Not all of the time – they will make mistakes and we all have to accept that. But it’s not too much to ask that they do so most of the time, is it?

Now along with every other voter in the Heldon & Laich by-election, I have a choice to make.

First up, as the runner-up in the last by-election in these parts I am being urged to have another go as an Independent candidate. Thank you, but no thank you.

What I will be doing this election is something entirely different (for me at least). I’ll not be voting on any party lines. I’ll be looking closely at each candidate, and will choose who gets my vote on the basis of what they say and do, not what colour is on the rosette they are wearing.

My reasoning? Party politics in local government just does not float my boat any more.

Councillors should each act on their individual thoughts, they should never be forced into voting one way or another by the wishes of their political masters – be that political party masters or leaders of ‘Independent’ groups.