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The Editor provides a personal view of the somewhat embarrassing meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday……
THE PANTO SEASON may be almost at an end this year – but going on events on Tuesday it is only just starting in the Moray Council Chamber.
Accusations that the ruling administration and attending officials wished to operate a dictatorship were being liberally spread from the angry voices of the ‘Moray Four’ – or to give them their self-proclaimed official badge, the Moray Alliance Group.
The new ‘power’ in the chamber is led by solo Labour councillor John Divers, who has teamed up with two former disaffected administration group members – Ryan Edwards (an Independent elected on the platform that he would never align himself with any political party) and Walter Wilson (a Conservative who said he could not stand by as plans were made to cut services).
Finally they have Councillor Derek Ross, who pledged never to sully his independent role by joining any formal group.
The meeting opened with an appeal for unity from the Leader of the Council, George Alexander, who pointed out that entrenched positions would do no real good for the people of Moray. He even offered up his own head on a plate if that is what it would take to get all 26 members to work together.
He might as well have been talking to an empty room. The four clearly had their own agenda – dismissing his appeal immediately, with the SNP joint group leader Graham Leadbitter giving a convincing speech on how his group had to stick to the party principles that their voters demanded.
And to be fair, he, at least, had a point.
The stage was then opened to the new Alliance – and they tore into Councillor Alexander like a pack of wolves. It was not pretty. It was extremely nasty, not to mention ill-informed, but above all it was extremely personal to the point where the Convener had to step in and separate the combatants.
Nasty – the video recording did the four no favours, as their facial expressions matched their words, this was not good viewing for the Moray public who must now wonder what on earth they have done in voting this lot in.
Ill-informed – Councillor Divers complained of the 6-4-1 committee membership proposal as undemocratic, saying he would complain to COSLA and the Scottish Government about the manner in which the administration group were acting.
Later statements from both organisations made it clear it was not something they would intervene with, while officials and even legal advice also pointed out there was nothing wrong with the proposal.
Personal – this came over as a recriminatory act, with the two former Administration members trying to retain the external organisation posts they were voted into as representatives of the Administration.
Councillor Edwards was cut off twice – once when he launched a very personal attack on the Leader, and then when he attempted to hold on to his external role only backing down when it was pointed out to him that role had traditionally been held by a senior member of the Administration group. Having held the job for over six months, you would think he would have known that.
The combatants meet again exactly one week from today. I would respectfully suggest that they all – but in particular the Alliance Group – get their act together and remember that the public is watching, a repeat performance of this magnitude is just not welcome.