BRAVO to the councillors in Aberdeen who have defied the centralist attitude of all political parties who seem to think that they know better than local people and locally elected representatives of the people about what is best for the population (“Labour’s town hall turmoil over Tory coalition deals”, The Herald, May 18).
Before the “local” was taken out of local government in 1975 and we first had districts and regions before administrations became even more remote with the introduction of unitary councils covering populations of around 110,000 voters, Scotland had such a wonderful form of real local government, founded on the principle of being run by local people with local knowledge without interference from outside their area.
The relentless march towards central control by all political parties in Scotland has destroyed the idea of local government and devastated the very ideals of democracy and the much bandied-about idea that sovereignty lies with the people, not political parties.
Loading article content
We have seen in recent years the centralisation of further education, the police forces, the fire and rescue services and even the water supply that is God’s gift to Scotland. Does it not matter that civic pride seems to have evaporated since the days that town councils and county councils provided real services to the population and the areas they covered? Does it not matter that we have a skeleton service of roads maintenance and street sweeping; of waste disposal and waste management since central government (of every political persuasion) decided it knew best and rode roughshod over the wishes of the people?
Does it not matter that even in towns of around 6,000, which used to be the size of every local authority, we have no police station or even police presence and in some cases no fire station? Scotland used to be a great country, even under the panoply of the British Empire, but more so for hundreds of years before it.
When Earl David created royal burghs in the 12th century he made sure they meant something and even up to the disaster of 1975 these places were part of the judiciary and had to be included in the signing of treaties and trading deals. Alas, no more, and now even most elected councillors have to toe a party line and sign a document when they are elected to guarantee they stay in order.
That is not democracy any more than central government telling a council it can have extra millions of pounds to spend providing it spends it on what the ruling government party decides on its behalf.
I have been in my lifetime a member of two quite different political parties, each with their own agendas but mostly about control; control of the people and control of what now passes for local government. That is why I stood at the latest council election as an Independent and that is why Scotland must rid itself of the control freaks in all political parties who seem hell-bent on destroying democracy.
W Kenneth Gunn,
10 Halliday’s Park, Selkirk.
THE electorate in Aberdeen city decided to show their discontent with the lacklustre Labour administration and kick them out for what they have done and not done to the city centre.
Surprise, surprise to see that a rainbow coalition has been formed with the same faces doing the same things for another four years.
Is this the way that our democracy should work?
Dennis Forbes Grattan,
3 Mugiemoss Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen.
THE debacle in Aberdeen has exposed “Scottish” Labour for what it is, a toothless adjunct of the UK Labour Party.
The Labour Party is now fighting the UK General Election on a manifesto which containing many commitments that have already been introduced by the SNP in Scotland and some that are still in the pipeline. Meanwhile “Scottish” Labour is proving reluctant to join with the SNP to help deliver these new Labour policies at local level.
In Aberdeen newly-elected Labour councillors prefer the Tory manifesto to their own, even to the extent of accepting suspension from the party whose supporters voted for them only a fortnight ago.
A week after the local elections Labour councillors discovered that bad SNP policies are now good Labour policies, no wonder confusion reigns in their ranks.
In their confusion they appear to have decided that the best course of action for them is to follow the example of their leader at Westminster and vote with the Tories at local level too.
Kezia Dugdale is left supporting policies coming from party headquarters that she has opposed for years in Holyrood while trying to control her councillors, elected last week on now-ditched Labour policies.
No doubt some way of papering over the cracks will be found, probably soon after June 8, Labour will remain in open coalition with the Tories in Scotland and behind-the-scenes coalition with the Tories at Westminster on Scottish issues.
37 Echline Place, South Queensferry, West Lothian.
IT was intriguing to see that Labour has suspended nine councillors after they agreed a coalition deal with the Conservatives on Aberdeen City Council.
The Labour group signed a deal, forming an administration with the Conservatives and independents, allowing it to outvote the SNP, the biggest party. This was only for those Labour councillors then to be suspended by the party, a true “coalition of chaos”.
The rationale is that according to the Labour Party a deal cannot be done with the Tories as it would result in further austerity being imposed on local communities. However, up until three weeks ago Labour was in coalition with the Conservatives and three independent councillors in Aberdeen. Indeed, Labour was in coalition with the Tories in a number of councils across Scotland, including East Lothian, Falkirk, East Dunbartonshire, South Ayrshire and Stirling.
Dare I say, it is more than a little hypocritical for Labour to have been in bed with the Tories in town halls until a matter of weeks ago, imposing cuts on communities, and then cynically perform a dramatic u-turn, coincidentally only days before a General Election.
Flat 2, 77 Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh.
I HEARD Toni Giugliano on the radio last night (May 17) lining up as the most recent SNP candidate to claim that the General Election is not about independence. Even though this was on the radio you could sense him squirm uncomfortably as he stuck to his absurd claim under cross-examination. He is of course following the current party line that this election is all about Brexit.
Has he got his wires crossed? It wouldn't be surprising. Only three weeks ago Nicola Sturgeon was making the same astonishing claims. But after being brought to book by Alex Salmond she then proclaimed that independence would indeed be "at the heart" of the SNP's campaign. Not surprising really, since for her independence “transcends all".
However, ever since then we have heard not a word about independence or an independence referendum. Leaflets from SNP candidates contain no mention of the "I" word. Indeed it is the opposition parties, we are told, who are "obsessed" with independence.
Is there confusion in the SNP ranks? Or, in response to the opinion polls, is this just the most recent cynical ploy to try to pull the wool over the voters' eyes in order to maximise their chances? Can the SNP really believe that the voters are so gullible as to believe that independence is not "at the heart of" this election? Who are the gullible ones here?
3 Braid Hills, Edinburgh.
JEREMY Corbyn has pledged to raise billions of pounds from increased taxation across the UK (“Labour’s £50bn tax hike to boost public services”, The Herald, May 17). The bulk of this money will be spent in England, on free university education, nationalisation of the English water services and extra funding for the English NHS.
Any Barnett Formula consequences due to Scotland will be deducted from the block grant the Scottish Government receives from Westminster; leaving us back at square one.
The only Scottish policy Mr Corbyn appears to have is one he shares with his Conservative and Liberal Democrat fellow Unionists: to "campaign tirelessly against Scottish independence and a second independence referendum".
252 Nether Auldhouse Road, Glasgow.
WITH the state of the opinion polls in advance of the General Election next month, the time has come, I believe, for Jeremy Corbyn to play his final card for securing working-class support, that is to make more of his allegiance to Arsenal FC.
After all, a number of past Labour Prime Ministers played up their soccer connections: Harold Wilson was a fan of Huddersfield Town, Tony Blair of Newcastle United, and Gordon Brown of Raith Rovers. Every little could help and it might help people to appreciate that he has, contrary to widespread belief out there, an attachment to the real world.
Ian W Thomson,
38 Kirkintilloch Road, Lenzie.
SPRING must have arrived as I swear I heard the lesser spotted Tory Cabinet Minister. You can recognise it by the repetitive tweet.
61 Merryvale Avenue, Giffnock.
REGARDING Martin Ketterer's claim (Letters, May 18) that we do not wish another televisual pantomime for the 2017 election: Oh yes we do.
15 Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone.