Tag Archives: Edinburgh council elections

Making the LibDem Mistake

20 Scottish Labour, 18 Scottish National Party, 11 Conservative, 6 Scottish Green, and 3 Liberal Democrats. Now before the election all of the parties were talking about the necessity for “interparty cooperation”, but this is… well.

Dan Phillips at BetterNation:

So now comes the hard part. If you follow conventional wisdom, Labour gets to govern and SNP form the opposition, giving the Tories the mathematical possibility of getting in bed with the Reds while the Greens and Lib Dems are left in the cold.

For me that would be a crazy conclusion. Continue reading

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The Day After The Count

My new rules for a better election system.

I think the STV system used in Scotland is good even if it does require a computer to do the count, but here’s the next set of thoughts:

If you don't vote, you don't get to complain

One: The local authority in which you live is legally obliged to make sure that everyone who is entitled to vote is registered to vote, and special arrangements must be made for all those who would find it difficult to have a polling card delivered or to get to a polling station. Non-registration of those eligible makes the local authority subject to prosecution.

Two: Everyone is legally required to vote in the first election for which they are eligible.
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Filed under Elections, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff

Leith Ward – Results

The candidates on 3rd May were:

The incumbents were Munn (SNP), Munro (Labour), Thomas (LibDem). The turnout last time was 8,391 out of 16,178. The 2012 results are all on Edinburgh Council Elections, Ward 13 – Leith.

So on 3rd May at noon I made seven predictions. How well did I do? Under the cut.
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A more equal council for Edinburgh?

Brian Monteith wrote just before five o’clock today:

we may at last be seeing the beginning of a much needed realignment of Scottish politics.

But in one huge respect, Scottish politics is still aligned exactly the way it was before the elections.

From 2008-2012, Edinburgh Council had 15 women councillors out of 58. (Elizabeth Maginnis, elected to Forth Ward for Labour in 2007, died in 2008, and the seat was held for Labour by a man.) From 2012-2017, unless by-elections change this, there will be 15 women out of 58.
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On Election Day

In just under three hours, the polls close. In about 20 hours, we’ll know the results.

I voted this morning before I went to work – I usually do. I share Dawn Foster’s love of voting:

I’ve always woken early on polling day, taken my card to the school, church hall or scout hut that’s been commandeered for the day, and purposefully put my cross or numbers next to my preferred candidate. The stiff ceremony of those five minutes never dulls: knowing that the mark you make with the pencil provided is your physical mark on our democracy is uniquely pleasurable. Then there’s the slight anti-climax you feel once you’ve posted your slip into the ballot box, tempered by wondering how those walking in as you leave will vote.

I wrote about my predictions for Leith Ward. I was grateful to several locals who thanked me for my report on the Newington/Southside hustings.

And I thought about why we are all so unenthused about this election. During the anti-SPUC pro-choice demo last Saturday, while standing around Lothian Road defending a woman’s right to choose, we talked about the upcoming elections – a bunch of politically-minded, engaged, informed, and responsible people – and found that we were all feeling an entire lack of enthusiasm about the candidates we had to vote for and the expected results no matter who we voted for. None of us except myself were actively hoping for any one person’s success today, and my own quixotic support for an Independent in another ward is admittedly out of character for me – tribal Lefty since before I could vote.
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Predictions for Leith Ward

Although I’ve been campaigning for Gordon Murdie, I can’t vote for him (Though I would put him first preference if I could.) Southside/Newington is a ward where I don’t think any prediction is possible – not even by looking at what happened last time.

Whereas in my own ward (ward 13, Leith) I think I can make predictions. There are 7 candidates standing, and 3 seats. The incumbents are Munn (SNP), Munro (Labour), Thomas (LibDem).

  • Chas Booth: Scottish Green Party
  • Irvine Wallace McMinn: Liberal Party in Scotland
  • Adam McVey: Scottish National Party
  • Rob Munn: Scottish National Party
  • Gordon Munro: Scottish Labour Party
  • Nicola Ross: Scottish Conservative and Unionist
  • Marjorie Thomas: Scottish Liberal Democrats

Turnout last time was 8,391 out of 16,178. Four candidates must be eliminated and three will get seats. What’s my predictions?

North Leith Parish Church on Polling Day Vote2012

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Hyperlocal hustings – Southside

I’ve never organised a hustings before. But I may well do so again.

This one was almost impromptu. As I have mentioned, I’m backing Gordon Murdie – and he’s not standing in my ward. So instead of voting for him, I’m managing his blog: Gordon Murdie.

Southside/Newington hadn’t had a hustings at all: Steve Burgess, Gordon MacKenzie, and Cameron Rose, three out of the four incumbents, had been invited to speak at other non-local hustings. (And Rose had also subbed in for the Tory candidate for Leith Walk in the Spurtle hustings.)

This is by no means a formal, full, neutral report – I don’t take shorthand, there were two or three hyperlocal questions where neither question nor answer was fully comprehensible to someone from outside the area, and in all honesty, I took more detailed notes where the candidates’ answers interested me and rested my hand when the speaker wasn’t holding my interest. Politically, tribally, I’m pro-Labour and Scottish Green, anti-Tory, and (at least prior to the UK coalition) was prepared to consider voting LibDem and equally prepared to consider SNP, certainly in a council election. But in general I found at this hustings that my interest was held by the speaker rather than the party.

Place: The proprietor of the Braidburn Inn donated the use of his function suite and a few plates of sandwiches, very welcome since the hustings began at six. (I was last there for a Christmas Day lunch with family in the 1990s, but it’s the local pub/guest house for our chair and for Gordon Murdie. We could probably have fitted five dozen people into the room and it was small enough that microphones were not needed.)

Chair: Owen Dudley Edwards. He is a marvellous speaker and well-experienced in keeping a meeting pleasantly in order and keeping candidates to time. (One member of the audience said to me afterwards “He just radiates calm…”) Though I had to borrow an heirloom wristwatch off Gordon Murdie to let OWD keep time – I use my mobile phone for occasions like this, and Owen Dudley Edwards does not do digital technology.

Who Came And Who Didn’t: The hustings was organised on a week’s notice, on Tuesday 1st May, in order to give as much notice as possible while not using up a candidate’s time on the last night before election day. Proper hustings etiquette would have been to contact all candidates before fixing the date, but sheer pressure of time made that really impossible.

All of the election leaflets available for this ward are listed at Liberal Sellout.
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Insult to Injury

Edinburgh Trams - Not travelling down Leith Walk in 2014Leith Walk and Constitution Street have indeed suffered from the trams over the past five years. We’ve lost the bronze pigeons, Sherlock Holmes, quite a few businesses have closed down…. it’s a mess. Edinburgh Council has a vision and 3.4 million, which carefully and sensibly spent might make this one of the finest streets in Edinburgh. (But who trusts the council to spend sensibly and with regard for what people want?)

Besides, there’s a million pounds worth of work to be done fixing the roads before the “vision” work can start.

I wrote in March:

Leith Walk is one of the most characterful, the richest in variety and busy with local businesses and people who live and work there. I want Edinburgh Council to treasure what the city has. I don’t believe they do.

Ray Perman wrote in May last year:

The Walk is wide enough to have a broad central reservation with shrubs and trees – like the one which runs along the broader part of East Claremont Street. But what do we have instead? The cheapest, nastiest black rubber blocks, bolted together. If they weren’t ugly enough, they are flanked by unnecessary white lines, hatched on the road. For what? To deter motorists from parking in the middle of the road?

The whole effect is ghastly, but just think what Leith Walk could become. Continue reading

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Monday links roundup: timey-wimey detector

Tracked you down with this. This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there’s stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at 30 paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I’ve learned to stay away from hens. It’s not pretty when they blow. Doctor Who

Science-fiction remakes reality: we now look at police telephone boxes and see TARDISes. When the Doctor set the TARDIS down in London, 1963, so that his granddaughter Susan could go to an English secondary school, he set the Chamelon Circuit to “police box”. If he’d wanted Susan to go to James Gillespies High School, his TARDIS would have looked like this.

Doris Lessing on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature:

“Oh, Christ. It’s been going on now for thirty years, I can’t get more excited. I’m sure you’d like some uplifting remarks of some kind. … Look, I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I’m delighted to win them all.”

Corey Robin writes of Lavatory and Liberty: The Secret History of the Bathroom Break:

Inspired by all this libertarian talk, I dug out an old piece of mine from 2002, in the Boston Globe, that talks about a little known fact: many workers in the United States aren’t able to exercise their right to pee on the job—due to lack of government enforcement—and it wasn’t until 1998 (!) that they even got that right, thanks to the federal government. The piece pivots from there to a more general discussion about coercion in the workplace and its history.

Jo Davidson writes of Ched Evans and the rape culture that wants to blame his victim for being drunk

And then they talk of a golden future, ruined. Not hers, though; they haven’t even thought about that. It’s the rapist’s; because he’s a footballer.

Peter Maxwell’s Political & Social Musings on the manifestos for the Edinburgh local Council elections 2012

Despite my holding the current Westminster government in utter contempt, I did decide to be fair and at least skim read their local election manifesto. I feel further comment is unnecessary.

It is absolutely impossible to summarise this blog post. You just have to read the whole thing. But it is really the most cheering and wonderfully random thing I have read since the election leaflet in 2007 from the man who could levitate and heal with crystal energy and wanted our votes so that he could make us all better people. And I suspect he had hidden and possibly unsound motives, whereas the Bloggess is just benevolently awesome.

If you fancy an Edinburgh TARDIS you can buy one – set your own price, add on £100, and get your bid to Lothian and Borders Police by noon on 31st May. Or of course you could simply make up your mind you intend to buy a TARDIS, take collection on 1st June – they weigh 2 tonnes in this dimension and are bigger on the outside than they are on the inside – then use it to go back in time 24 hours and deliver your bid. That should work. I think.

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big bowl of wibbly wobbly timey wimey… stuff. Blink

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Male, Pale, and Stale

James Brinning, a 19-year-old student at Cardiff University, had only one obvious qualification for being a Labour candidate in the council elections: he’s male.

That apparently was good enough for the selection committee, who do not appear to have bothered to even look at his Facebook profile.

This came to my attention when a friend apostrophised this young man’s attitudes to women, ethnic minorities, and other “banter” as “Labour candidate suspended by being a 19 year old on Facebook”.

Young white men “banter”. That is, they engage in amusing-to-them abuse of others who are funny because they are not white, young, or men. This behaviour is widely regarded as perfectly normal and not deserving of any negative consequence. I’d agree that what a teenager said and did shouldn’t necessarily be held against them in their adult years… but this teenager was actually standing for election.

Meantime in the Scottish council elections:

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Tories admitted on Thursday that action was needed after two Edinburgh university academics disclosed – not for the first time – that fewer than one candidate in four on 3 May will be a woman.

It’s an issue raised forcibly too for Holyrood, and Scottish Labour – a party often seen as packing its benches with the male, pale and stale – has told the Guardian it has a target to make sure a full 50% of all its council candidates are female within the decade.

Despite Scotland’s first PR elections in 2007, using the single transferable vote, less than 22% of Scotland’s 1223 councillors in the last administrations were woman. That will not improve next month: the number of women councillors has flatlined at 22% ever since Scotland’s 32 unitary authorities came into being nearly 20 years ago, in 1995.

Of Scotland’s 32 local councils, only three are led by women: one Labour – Rhondda Geekie in East Dunbartonshire, two by Lib Dems, Jenny Dawe in Edinburgh and Anne Robertson in Aberdeenshire.

As Doctor Meryl Kenny (UNSW) and Dr. Fiona Mackay (Edinburgh) point out:

Change can happen when there’s a shake up of the system. Reformers had high hopes that the introduction of a PR-STV electoral system in local government in the run-up to the 2007 elections would rejuvenate local politics and provide new opportunities for women to be selected and elected. However, progress did not materialize, instead depressingly, it was more of the same. In fact, there was a marked drop in the number of women candidates selected and a small decrease in the number of women councillors elected.

As I asked on 13th April:

Why shouldn’t all five of the main Scottish parties have policies against excluding women from the candidates lists? It’s too easy for parties not to – to tell themselves they select on merit, and it’s just that women are less interested in politics than men.

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