This year marks the first time that I’ve actually owned a property during an election of some kind. Whilst I’m aware that exercising one’s right to vote should not be dependant on owning a few bricks within the area, I’m afraid to say that this year is also the first election where I’ve taken any real interest in what’s on offer. That’s a sad reflection on either politics, my generation, or me. I can’t decide.
Anyway, armed with this new enthusiasm over the past week or so I have dived into the sea of information about the Scottish Local Elections, taking place on Thursday. I’m primarily interested in Langside (‘Ward 7’ – could that sound any more like the start of a horror film about some kind of epidemic?) and, obviously, the candidates’ thoughts on cycling will play a key role in deciding in what order I place my votes.
Turning to my reserve brain (Wikipedia), I was somewhat surprised to discover that eight folk are competing for the spot of Big Chief Langside. We’ve only had three flyers through the door (SNP, Lib Dem and Conservative), but no matter – surely the others have all the information online and are avoiding printing paper for environmental reasons?
It appears not. My ability to drag information out of Google is reasonably capable, but despite trying for more time than I’d like to admit, I struggled to find information on any of the candidates. Here’s a wee summary of what I found:
- Susan Aitken (SNP) – Little blurb on the SNP website and a reasonably active twitter (even if the background is a bit aggressive on the eyes). Nothing on what she intends to do.
- Paul Coleshill (Lib Dem) – A blog! Plus a flyer. Keen on recycling and maintaining green spaces and trees, and references the LD standard manifesto here (which doesn’t mention cycling at all)
- Cayleigh Dornan (Glasgow First). Nothing. Unless the twitter @caylz is hers (same name, and in Glasgow), in which case a single tweet: “Drinking bannana (sic) milk yummy!” from 2009. Moving on…
- Archie Graham (Labour). Fair bit about him online (he’s represented Glasgow City Council since it was formed in 1995, as it happens), but nothing about what he intends to do.
- Liam Hainey (Green). A twitter feed which over the past week has been primarily about football and the Ched Evans rape case. Scottish Green’s website has a bit more information, but nothing concrete about what Liam brings to the picture.
- Alex Hewetson (SNP). Dormant twitter plus a bio here. We may also have received something through the door, but it irritated my beloved enough to result in it being recycled.
- Russell Munn (Conservative). Aha. Again, not a great deal online (although he did attend a WWF thing on the 19th of April), but we also received a manifesto through the post. Sections include ‘What I stand for’, ‘My Priorities’ and a third of one side on nothing other than the Times Cyclesafe campaign, with some actual interpretation on how it might apply to Langside. Exciting stuff. Other points include improving collection of recycling, providing more recycling points, improving local green spaces and some stuff for local businesses. All seems a bit…Green.
- Ronnie Stevenson (Trade Unionist, actually part of the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition). I’m going to be biased here as I firmly believe that anyone who believes we can survive the current economic situation without cuts has their head so far in the sand they’re touching mantle. Opinion piece here, SACC stuff here. No news on how Ron intends to continue to fund services, but I’m sure it’ll all be gravy.
So that’s your lot. Clearly you should be making your own decisions based on your own research, but there’s not a great deal to go on I’m afraid. There’s a definite sense that some of the parties have token candidates in some wards just to make up the numbers, and a frustrating lack of any personality being conveyed by the majority.
Given the only candidate to mention cycling is also the only candidate to actually tell me what they’d do, I think it’s clear where my vote will go. This is unfortunate, as to say that the Tories are unpopular in Scotland is a similar understatement to ‘Ms Thatcher was occasionally somewhat forthright’. Still, stand up for your morals and all.
To end on a jolly note, according to Wikipedia Tory ‘derives from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe; modern Irish tóraí: outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”’. Isn’t that great?