I read Norman Pender’s letter published last week about the May 3 council elections.
I am glad he is encouraging voters to think about how they use their vote, but I disagree with his reasoning.
Firstly, he is wrong to suggest that Borderers have elected politicians “not aligned to political parties in power” at Westminster and Holyrood.
There are two Westminster MPs representing the Borders – one Conservative and one Liberal Democrat, which is in line with the ruling coalition at Westminster. Scottish Borders Council is also currently controlled essentially by a Conservative- Liberal Democrat coalition. One of our two Holyrood constituency MSPs is a member of the SNP, which controls the Scottish Government.
He should look for more convincing reasons why the Borders are “languishing” and “have suffered”, rather than blaming voters for failing to vote for parties in power nationally.
Secondly, he is wrong to say that “Labour has never enjoyed any support here in the Borders”.
This will come as a surprise to the thousands of Borderers who voted for a Labour candidate in the 2010 Westminster and 2011 Holyrood elections.
To call a vote for Labour this time round a “wasted vote” is ridiculous. The council elections are using the Single Transferable Vote system, where voters can put candidates in order of preference 1, 2, 3 and if their first-choice candidate is not elected, then their vote goes to their second choice candidate. With three or four councillors elected in each ward, there is no need to vote tactically – voters should vote for who they want to represent them.
The only “wasted vote” is the one that is not cast at all, and it would be a great pity if people did not use their vote because they thought it would make no difference.
Thirdly, the call for “younger, fitter, intelligent councillors” seems pretty ageist to me.
I would hope that all voters have a good look at all of their council candidates and make informed judgements on their ideas, track record and commitment to their local communities, rather than how old they are. There are some excellent candidates among them of all ages, and plenty of new as well as incumbent candidates, so there is no need to dismiss any candidate or party out of hand.
By all means take into account which party they represent, but ultimately be positive, not negative, and vote for the individuals who you think will best represent you on SBC. This, I would suggest, is the best way to make democracy work for us and have, as Mr Pender puts it, “genuine councillors who have the well-being of the Borders at heart”.