COUN­CIL COM­MENT Re­flec­tions on elec­tion bat­tles

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Council Comment -

The last cou­ple of months have been hec­tic for those in­volved in pol­i­tics, with two sets of elec­tions con­tested.

Now that the dust has set­tled some­what, it’s pos­si­ble to re­flect on these.

The snap gen­eral elec­tion sur­prised many peo­ple. It seems the full con­se­quences of this have still to play out, but it is clear that the Prime Min­is­ter’s gam­ble has some­what back­fired.

Lo­cally, I was ab­so­lutely de­lighted to see Neil Gray re-elected as MP for Air­drie & Shotts be­cause he works so hard for the con­stituency, and I was par­tic­u­larly pleased to see him be­ing se­lected as a front­bench spokesper­son.

At the same time, it was sad to lose some ex­cel­lent SNP MPs, and in par­tic­u­lar Alex Sal­mond, a man who has given great ser­vice to Scot­land. How­ever, I’m sure he will still have much to con­trib­ute in the fu­ture.

We only have to go back 20 years or so to see the SNP fight­ing as a rel­a­tively small party, which rou­tinely lost de­posits at elec­tions.

De­spite the spin put on the re­duc­tion of SNP MPs by some com­men­ta­tors, to win 35 of the Scot­tish seats – more than the other par­ties put to­gether – was still a great achieve­ment this time around.

A few weeks ear­lier I was pleased to have been re-elected to rep­re­sent the peo­ple of Air­drie Cen­tral in the coun­cil elec­tions.

When all of the re­sults were de­clared and it was clear that the SNP had won North La­nark­shire Coun­cil, my first thoughts were of for­mer col­leagues who are sadly no longer with us, and of how pleased and proud they would have been.

It was a happy SNP mem­ber­ship that left Raven­scraig that evening.

Three days later, at our first group meet­ing af­ter the elec­tion, I was pleased to be unan­i­mously elected as Group leader.

Our thoughts turned to how we could work with our col­leagues to best serve the peo­ple of North La­nark­shire, who had clearly in­di­cated that change was re­quired af­ter a long pe­riod of Labour con­trol by re­turn­ing the SNP as the largest party.

Sadly on the two oc­ca­sions we made con­tact with Labour, ver­bally and in writ­ing, it was clear they weren’t in­ter­ested in form­ing an al­liance with us, de­spite the SNP be­ing the largest party.

I’m sure that not only mem­bers of the SNP group, but peo­ple across North La­nark­shire and be­yond, will have been sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed at the re­turn of a Labour-led coun­cil, propped up by Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors.

Al­though dis­ap­pointed to have won the elec­tion but to be pre­vented from form­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of North La­nark­shire Coun­cil, our job now is to fo­cus on do­ing the best we can for the peo­ple of this area by en­sur­ing the present ad­min­is­tra­tion are held to ac­count for their poli­cies.

This will be no mean task, as it is clear that Labour can con­sis­tently rely on the sup­port of their Tory col­leagues now, help­ing them to push through con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies such as cut­ting of class­room as­sis­tants and pre­vent­ing full pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on is­sues such the changes to cleans­ing up­lifts.

The fact that the leader of the coun­cil feels able to go back on well-pub­li­cised prom­ises given merely days be­fore the elec­tion on this lat­ter is­sue demon­strates how com­fort­able he now feels of the sup­port of his Con­ser­va­tive al­lies.

We re­ally are see­ing some strange turns of events in pol­i­tics.

On a brighter note, huge credit should go to ev­ery­one in­volved in bring­ing Elton John to Air­drie.

This was a mas­sively en­ter­tain­ing show en­joyed by many lo­cal peo­ple, whilst also ben­e­fit­ing other busi­nesses in the area. Here’s to the next time!

It was sad to lose some ex­cel­lent SNP MPs, and in par­tic­u­lar Alex Sal­mond, a man who has given great ser­vice

Elec­tion count My SNP group were proud to win the most coun­cil seats

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