STV, Provosts, and Mayors

On 4 May, we could have people being in key positions in our main cities as a result of behind-the-scenes bargaining and exchange between parties – that’s a worry:

Here in Scotland, if you asked your average punter who the leading lights were in any of the parties standing in Edinburgh or Glasgow, they’d be struggling. Voters are being asked to choose the parties they want to lead their local councils; we are not to be trusted with actually electing the people to lead our cities. That is a matter to be carved up behind closed doors, either as a choice from that group’s members, or possibly as a result of negotiations to form a coalition administration. On 4 May, we could have people being in key positions in our main cities as a result of horse-trading – people few will have heard of, have had the chance to scrutinise, or would have chosen if they had been given a direct vote.

In Edinburgh, the civic head is the Lord Provost (convenor of the council, also Lord-Lieutenant of Edinburgh and Admiral of the Firth of Forth). In the City Chambers you can see lists of names in gold paint of men (and two women) who have held that office since the 13th century. None were directly elected by the people of Edinburgh.

Click here for an online vote at Kate Higgins’s BurdzEyeView: Should Scotland have elected mayors?

Now about the Single Transferable Vote.

There is understandable confusion about the mathematical mechanics of this new voting system. It is intended to allow voters to give their preferences on as many candidates as they wish. A matter of consideration and choice for voters – also a judgement on past performance. If their first preference last time round has had a little calamity or two, then the system allows that candidate to become a 2nd or 3rd choice rather than no choice at all.

Apparently the parties are nervous enough of their track record to be demanding that their party members only vote for the party candidate and forsake giving any other candidate a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th choice. Oh, the playground nature of party politics! This election is about representing the people of Edinburgh, not party points scoring – I don’t forget that.

As the excellent Liberal Sellout blog advises:

We also already know there will be no majority administration. So why, therefore should you slavishly vote for a donkey with the ‘correct’ rosette? You the voter have been shorn of that duty to take the dullard in order to deliver a party majority for the ‘greater good’. So please don’t do it.

And with the Single Transferable Vote it is possible to be particularly sophisticated with that vote.

But one word of warning. Make sure that this candidate really does back your cause, this is a heart felt commitment, not a platitude on the back of a leaflet. Ask yourself this: will they commit to this policy beyond May 3rd, when it really matters?

I welcome your questions. My professional focus has been on the statutory repairs scandal for some time now – but I’m no one-trick pony.

Posted in Elections 2012. Tags: , . Comments Off on STV, Provosts, and Mayors

It’s not just the trams

Alan Cochrane (Telegraph, 16th April) calls it “the policy that dare not speak its name”, “the shambolic farce” – the trams. He asks

And so, with local elections looming who is to blame for this fiasco and who should be punished in the polling booth?

and his answer is:

If I know my local politicians they’ll all say, in relation to The Trams fiasco: “It wasnae me.” But it was them – all of them, who’ve served on that council in recent years. So let’s get rid of the lot.

Least culpable, I suppose, are the SNP representatives. That party has always been against the project and, to be fair to them, Alex Salmond and John Swinney, his finance minister, tried to axe it when they first came to power in 2007. However, in those days they were outvoted by Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats.

Those three parties, in both Holyrood and the City Chambers, are most to blame and while they all now try to heap all the ordure on each other, the voters are entitled to apportion responsibility for the foul-up fairly evenly.

That said, 2007 also saw SNP councillors going into partnership to run Edinburgh – voluntarily, it must be said – with the Lib Dems and they must surely accept a share of the blame, therefore, for the appalling descent into even greater chaos.

Astonishingly, Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and SNP have all published Edinburgh council election “manifestoes” and none have even mentioned The Trams. Incredible. To me that is proof positive of their collective and individual guilt.

National politics played out in Edinburgh have brought national shame upon our City.  As far as the trams are concerned, a laughing stock rather than a rolling stock.  We are also lagging behind in delivery of basic, fundamental services  – take home care for the elderly as one example.  Edinburgh is in 7th place out of 10 Councils. Too much time spent by the present incumbents on vanity projects, embroidering party rosettes and climbing the greasy party political pole and not enough time representing the people of Edinburgh – time for a new broom to sweep health care for the elderly into perfect shape and sweep incompetent, scandalous waste into history.
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