The weekly opinion of the Editor on topical events affecting Moray.
For a few years now I have sounded off on this page and prompted the modern equivalent of fire and brimstone (social media attacks) from angry readers.
More often than not this has taken the form of foul-mouthed rants about my ‘clear agenda’ against the doctrines of the SNP/Labour/Tories/Greens/Independents/Lib Dems/Communists/NF/Haters/Lovers (delete as appropriate).
So here we go again. Some of us in Moray – myself included – are facing yet another by-election. Boring, I know – and farewell to thousands of readers who at this point will desert the weekly editorial and seek out a tasty bit of Sunday gossip elsewhere on the net.
But for me this one really matters, the balance of power at Moray Council will shift one way or another as a result of what people in Heldon & Laich put on their ballot papers come October 1.
And, given their remarkable national and local rise in power since the Scottish Referendum defeat, the SNP rather fancy their chances – trouble is, do they fancy taking the very difficult decisions that will surely come from such a ‘victory’?
Would a change of direction at Moray Council be a good thing? Probably, but what we all have to realise is that no matter who is in control at Moray Council we are facing several more years of crushingly difficult decisions.
Now the question I’m asking today is – do we put our trust in ANY political party to take these decisions based on what is good for Moray, above what their political masters in Edinburgh believe is good for the country?
I have had plenty reason to have a go at the Independent-led administration in Moray, mostly because I never believed them to be independent at all. Too many ‘independent’ councillors have, in my view, exposed themselves to be more in line with the thinking of the Tory party to which they were over-keen to align themselves with from the start.
That has been a shame, but not perhaps the catastrophe I had once thought – yes, the Council has made some bad decisions in recent years, but… they have also made some good ones and guided us through some very tough times.
For me the problem has been a clear failure to listen – and, when Councillors have listened and dared to oppose unpopular and just plain wrong policies, the reaction of the leading elite has been vindictive rather than pragmatic. That has unsurprisingly been something of concern to most of us.
SNP Controlling Interest?
Now the SNP are on the cusp of being able to wrestle some real power here in Moray. Question is, do they want it?
I actually believe they don’t – it would be nice if they would just come out and admit as much or, in the other direction, declare now – as they surely should – that a win for their man or woman in Heldon & Laich will see them assume control.
Instead we’ve had only their new leader saying how “effective” the SNP has been in opposition and how much they look forward to continuing that.
Really? That’s it? Effectively, that is saying yes, we want to be the biggest party in Moray – but no, we don’t want to actually take any of these horribly difficult decisions that affect every man, woman and child living in our communities. I would hope that Gary Coull, who is a superb choice to lead the SNP and you could not find a harder working Councillor anywhere, will get to grips with this situation sooner rather than later.
Only two people have so far declared for the Heldon & Laich by-election – Moray Greens convener James MacKessack-Leitch and Dennis Slater.
Nobody could really question the commitment of either to their local communities, and as certain as we can be about this both would be relied upon to make decisions based on the needs of Moray and the people who live here above any national considerations.
For me though, it’s time to throw in the towel as regards to local party politics. I’ve had enough of the games being played by people more driven by the needs of a national political party above those of the local community they purport to represent.
I’ve been there, seen that – I know that whoever represents the SNP, for example, will have gone through a ‘selection interview’ that will include assurances that they will place party before all else.
I would personally be happy with either James or Dennis representing me at Moray Council – but I am backing Dennis, who I have had many a chat with and whom I know as someone that will take local views to the council chamber and do what is best for the people of Moray – no matter what pressures are placed on his shoulders.
That is not to say that other candidates will be excluded from the pages of insideMoray – far from it, this site will give equal space to the arguments being placed to voters.
Just don’t expect any party-political broadcasts in my editorial for anyone other than the man I believe can help create a party-free and fair council chamber.