Our hand in Borders’ plight

It is not by some inexplicable twist of fate, but by our own hand that we find the Borders languishing just outwith assisted area status – even when we are one of the lowest paid areas of mainland UK, have one of the highest unemployment figures in Scotland and a ward in Hawick with one the highest child poverty figures north of the border.

No, it is all done by our own hand. The hand that makes the marks on ballot papers at elections.

We in the Borders have suffered for decades for electing MPs, MSPs and councillors who are not aligned to political parties in power at either Westminster or Holyrood. Whether we like it or not, it is obvious that a party in power is more inclined to support an area wherein one of its own MPs or MSPs represents it, or if the constituency is identified as a target seat, or if it has political control of the local council.

Given that the Liberal Democrats have now committed political suicide in the eyes of their own supporters, never mind the rest of the electorate, we have to accept that in Scotland and England there are now only two real political heavyweights in each country. In Scotland, one is the SNP and the other is Labour, and in England, the Conservatives and Labour.

Is it not time to let our heads rule our hearts and vote with this in mind?

As Labour has never enjoyed any support here in the Borders, perhaps a vote for them may well be a wasted vote. A tactical vote may well serve to achieve an objective by keeping out other moribund political parties.

Perhaps we should consider jumping onto the investment bandwagon to try and get the much-needed financial investment into this region by voting for either the party in power in Holyrood or at least for a politics-free council in the Borders.

Given the national politics that currently exist in Scotland, is it not true to say a vote for the Conservatives or Labour in Scotland is a wasted vote? There is little point either in voting for Independents who will jump into bed with any political group of councillors just to become part of the controlling administration to grab a higher-paid position on the local authority.

Perhaps the ideal way to run Scottish Borders Council after the next election would be a coalition between the SNP and Borders Party, with all the other political parties where they belong – in opposition.

It is time to look for younger, fitter, intelligent councillors who have no political affiliations, particularly those from parties who are out of national favour. Genuine councillors who have the wellbeing of the Borders at heart and not their own personal interests.

Norman Pender

Cavers