Local government matters

British Labour in Scotland openly talking about coalition with the Tories, even at local government level, should be shocking. But it isn’t. In fact, it is now no more than people expect. What was once unthinkable now seems commonplace. After all, when there has already been widespread discussion of the realistic possibility of a Labour/Tory ‘Grand Coalitions’ at Westminster or Holyrood, the prospect of an alliance in Glasgow City Council is necessarily less fantastical than it once was.

Once again we see that the overarching divide in Scottish politics is between the British parties and the SNP. Between the old British political establishment determined to preserve the status quo, and a party newly adopted by the people of Scotland as their agent of change. Between unthinking allegiance to the old order and the old ways, and a readiness to embrace new ideas.

And we see fear. The fear of a historically entrenched power that is about to be found out. Just as the British establishment fears a Yes vote and the revelations of subsequent negotiations, so the British Labour ‘old guard’ in Glasgow are terrified about what may come to light when they are overthrown.

Local government matters. Education, social care, roads and transport, economic development, housing and planning, environmental protection, waste management, cultural and leisure services – all this and more is delivered by councils managing and aggregate budget running into billions of pounds. But the importance of local government has hardly been reflected in the turnout for elections. This may change next year as voters recognise the larger political significance of local authorities.

In Scotland’s present political climate, the British parties see councils as a power-base from which to obstruct and undermine the SNP administration at Holyrood. It is no coincidence that the four councils which broke away from Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) to form the Scottish Local Government Partnership (SLGP) include some of the most vociferous British nationalists. People like present Glasgow City Council leader, Frank McAveety, who were dissatisfied with Cosla because they felt it did not do enough to make life difficult for the hated SNP. for such people, it’s no longer only about protecting their fiefdoms and their personal status, it’s about preserving the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define their beloved British state.

The SNP, meanwhile, regard wrenching control of councils from the grasp of the British parties as essential to developing greater cooperation between local and national government, the better to deliver those essential services. That success in this area also benefits the independence movement is far from incidental, of course. But it should be understood that the SNP advances this cause by improving government at all levels, while the British parties’ purposes are best served by generalised failure or, at least, the perception of failure.

The independence movement needs to recognise that the struggle to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status is not only played out at the level of national or UK politics. Particularly in 2017, council elections are also a crucial part of the independence campaign.

And even those who, however inexplicably, are still unconvinced of the urgent need to bring all of Scotland’s government home must recognise the harm that will be done to Scotland by continuing to put the power of local government in the hands of those who subscribe to the dogma of British nationalism – ‘The Union At Any Cost!’.

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5 thoughts on “Local government matters

  1. Corrado Mella

    If a Red / Blue Tory coalition is what comes out of a few Council elections, the best course of action for the Scottish Government is to devolve all their flagship policies’ administration to the lower tier of government.
    Let Councils decide if to keep free prescriptions, or introduce fees to jump the queue at your GP. If to give 3-5 year old free school meals, or allow the greasy spoon joint sponsor schools lunches.
    In short, let the citizens get what they vote for.
    I’m sure that after a few months of such reality call, and comparing their situation with family members in other Councils, will come home to roost.

  2. Papadox

    The cat is oot the bag after 70 years. The labour, liberal and Tory parties in Scotland are two wings and the earse of the same craw. The biggest longest running con trick on Scotland since the Union of 1707. And still the yoons canna or dinna wannt tae see.

  3. Geejay

    You would almost think it’s a conspiracy. But it certainly seems there are co-ordinated moves being made to attack the SG/SNP by whatever means, whether by dissing public services or simply telling lies a la Carmichael. They would rather Scotland was a failure than the SNP successful.

  4. Jack Docherty

    I’m warming to this strapline ‘the Union at any cost’. I can see it getting more and more exposure as we go forward. A little phrase that will dwell in people’s minds and which hits the target in describing unimaginative, self interested unionist ideology.

  5. Iain Barker

    The Yoons are already up each others arses on Moray Council. At the last Council By-election the so called Independent Candidate was advocating privately that his voters go Tory for their second preference votes and the Tory carpetbagger naturally was reciprocating. This in Moray one of the worst and possibly most corrupt Councils in Scotland.

    It is pretty hard to see how the SNP could even make a dent in getting rid of one unholy Yoon alliance running Moray under the Yoon invented STV voting system. It is up there with the present Aberdeen Yoon Coalition and the Glasgow Liebore Mafia. Argyll & Bute sounds pretty grim as well.

    No the craven Yoon Alliance has been up and running since before the Indy Referendum and they aren’t even ashamed about it and low voter turn outs will ensure that the same corrupt Yoon canutes will be back after next May as well. That last Coatbridge by-election is warning enough of what to expect next May.

    The sleazy anti Scottish Yoons will still have control of the majority of Scotland’s Councils and thus the voters Registers again. If that happens again then we are wasting our time having another Indy Ref in the next 5 years.

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