I like to read campaign leaflets sent out by political parties before each election. It’s a great way for candidates to explain to voters what they have done and what they would like to do.
If the leaflets are to be believed though, we have simply had a Conservative council ruling us for the last five years.
They take full credit for all achievements and claim that they have managed not to cut any frontline services. As anyone who has had any involvement with children’s, older people’s and community services will know, this really is stretching the truth – our important public services are being dismally cut.
Liberal Democrats do not talk about any major achievements, but just fill the space with waffle such as “greatly experienced” and “much respected” to describe their candidates.
Even though they have shared power with the Conservatives over the last five years they do not want to talk about their part in cutting – sorry, I mean “transforming” – public services. Their best idea seems to be to reintroduce area committees so that local communities have a bigger say in whether new housing developments are built.
This sounds good until you remember that the Liberal Democrats voted with the Conservatives to abolish area committees only two years ago. So do they really believe in them, or are they just trying to win votes?
One thing that neither party mentions in their campaign leaflets is that they decided straight after the last local authority election to share power and work in coalition with each other. This happened in the Borders in 2007 and again after the general election in 2010 – vote Clegg and get Cameron as Prime Minister. The old story that voting Liberal Democrat is the best way to keep the Conservatives out is no longer true.
No political party is putting up enough candidates in next week’s election to give it a chance of running Scottish Borders Council on its own.
It does seem likely that if the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats win enough seats between them, they will probably power-share again and exclude the other parties. Their joint agenda of cutting public services will no doubt continue.
I think the good people of the Borders deserve something better. We need new voices, a new broom to sweep out the old. Let’s elect councillors with a social conscience this time.
In Tweeddale East, Robin Tatler (Labour) and Stuart Bell (SNP) are campaigning for meaningful local issues, spelt out clearly in their campaign literature.
A vote for the Liberal Democrats this time round will simply put the Conservatives in control again. But don’t expect to read about that in their campaign leaflets.