Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Do You Know The Name Of Your Local Councillor?
Everyone in the UK must know by now that the election for the Mayor of London will take place on 5 May. Many people even know the names of the main candidates though they have little or no interest in London politics.
The London-centred media has ensured that each day exposure is given to the Boris/Ken circus and excitable political journalists pick over every word uttered by the candidates.
On 3 May there are local council elections in Scotland. With the exception of a couple of television public service videos, there has been less than a tepid reaction from Scottish political commentators. Part of the reason is our media is so fixated with the independence referendum - apart from the Scotsman which doesn't have its troubles to seek - they appear to have deleted the local elections from their schedules and that includes the BBC and ITV. I suspect there will be a couple of highly scripted leaders' programmes on both channels nearer the date, but there will be little intelligent debate.
However, a couple SNP local manifestos have been launched with the focus on transport. I had to smile at Edinburgh's SNP promise to 'carry out vital roadworks at key points in the city to make it as attractive as possible to investors'. Would an accurate translation be 'we will tidy up when the trams eventually become operational?
What about Labour? Hardly a whisper has been heard from Johann Lamont in recent weeks. Maybe she was writing her party's manifesto. Inspiring? No. Comparing Alex Salmond to Craig Whyte isn't a sensible move although Ms Lamont is very possibly aiming her comments towards the Glasgow electorate who have also been treated to the SNP manifesto by Nicola Sturgeon.
Johann Lamont's speech more or less admits defeat but is this a tactic? It worked for the Glenrothes by-election in 2008 when Ian Gray, (the ex-leader), admitted several times they expected to lose yet they won with a majority of 6,737, but will it work again? I don't think the electorate will be fooled by the underdog approach, particularly when Glaswegians seem to be slowly realising how corrupt their council has been for decades.
Years ago, when I was actively involved in politics, local council elections were vibrant events in which communities participated. Now few people even know the name of their local councillor. Why have so many lost interest?