‘Interesting, but not likely to be decisive’

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Labour has effectively fired the starting pistol in the race to next May’s local authority elections.

In a pre-manifesto move, the party says that if it takes back the city council it will create new “co-operatives” which will give people more control over a number of key local services.

They have energy, housing and childcare in their sights – and the latter idea, to run after-school and breakfast clubs collectively, will be particularly interesting to parents.

The idea at least puts some clear “red” water between Labour and their rivals, but it’s unlikely the co-ops will be the deciding factor in how most people cast their votes. Two other issues loom larger.

The first is the council’s controversial plans to outsource some services to private firms.

That idea was temporarily stymied by the SNP last week in a move which could yet split the party from its Lib Dem coalition partners. Labour is also opposed to any privatisation, and has in part designed its co-op plan to counter the move.

The other crucial issue will of course be the trams.

Neither are clear cut when it comes to predicting electoral gains and losses, but the trams is the messier of the two. As the News has said before, none of the council’s political groups have come out of the saga with much credit.

Unfortunately, the SNP government is dragging its heels over the public inquiry that could shed some light on this before next May’s poll – which probably means everyone will share the blame, co-operatively...

Trick or threat?

will you be answering your door to ghosts and ghouls tonight?

Many people will not, and there’s no doubt there has been something of a backlash to the over-commercialisation of Hallowe’en.

It is a shame that police in Midlothian have felt it necessary to hand out posters which residents can put up to warn off guisers. At first glance this might seem unnecessary and even mean-spirited.

But unfortunately it isn’t just the expense of ever more elaborate costumes that we have imported from America, as “trick or treating” has grown in popularity over here.

Some kids – many of them teenagers who think wearing a hooded top constitutes dressing up for the occasion – take it badly when they don’t get any, or enough, sweets.

The result can be “egging” and other forms of intimidation. So the police posters make sense, though they will only work if the same sense is shown tonight by everyone.