COUNCIL COMMENT Reflections on election battles
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