Tag Archives: Gordon MacKenzie

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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