Saturday, 29 March 2008

Local democracy, the Labour Party way

Just caught a wee bit of Labour's Scottish conference. Doesn't take much thinking to work out, I wasn't really that impressed.

I saw an interview with Des McNulty MSP and Councillor Lesley Hinds, former Provost of the City of Edinburgh Council, in which they consistently set out Labour's opposition to the SNP.

What I found interesting about that interview was that, on the one hand, Des McNulty, was emphasising that, while Labour councillors were still not happy with the parliamentary group for putting through STV for local government elections, the new system was more democratic.

At the same time, Cllr Hinds was making the point that, with the historic concordat, councillors were afforded more leeway in terms of decision-making - although she hadn't seen any of it, being that she was in opposition. So rather than being happy that council colleagues have been allowed more decision-making ability on the basis of the reduction in ring-fencing, she argued that more, not less, direction was coming from the centre.

So, from that interview, I got that Labour support more democracy in local government but also don't support more democracy in local government.

Labour MSPs are mad at Pat Watters for agreeing to the concordat which brought more democracy to local government, yet they passed a system of PR for local government - which also brought more democracy to local government.

Labour councillors are mad at their MSPs for accepting STV as a voting system for local government (which cut their representation dramatically) that brought democracy to local government, but are more than happy - despite the picture Lesley Hinds painted - with the concordat.

So there we go, Labour's position on local government.

Clear as mud.

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