The Borders Party was founded to reinvigorate the tradition of independent local politics.
Councillors who represent national parties aren’t properly accountable to local voters on council issues because they have to toe a party line set by their masters in Edinburgh or London.
So we think the council could be better directed by people with local rather than national political interests, and we are developing radical ideas on schools, planning, boosting jobs and reforming local services by reconnecting them with local people.
But there’s another reason why we would be better off without national politics in local government. At UK and Scottish levels, politics have become embittered by professionalism – debate and free thinking have been overtaken by spin, smear and mud-slinging. We don’t need that here in the Borders.
So I was a little alarmed to read a letter by Lorne Anton, of the Campaign for Borders Rail, in these pages last week. In it he claimed that I had “links” with an organisation called the Institute of Economic Affairs, as if this provided me with some kind of sinister motive for my opposition to the Borders railway.
I had barely heard of the IEA until I read this (from what I can gather they are a perfectly respectable think-tank with “links” to the Liberal Democrats). It transpires that one of my Borders Party colleagues worked for them for a while a decade ago.
It looks as if Lorne has been doing some digging, apparently in an attempt to smear me, perhaps at the suggestion of his political friends – I hope not.
I respect those who still want the railway. I disagree with them, but have always assumed they act with the best of intentions.
Public debate should be civil and reasonable. Those tempted to drag things into the gutter should know better. The decision will be made one way or another before long, and I know that if the Borders Party is on the losing side we will accept it with good grace.
(leader, the Borders Party)