Council by-elections, unlike those for parliamentary seats, are not usually used by the electorate for the purposes of a mid-term protest against the party or parties in power.
Instead, the few people who bother to vote usually do so according to party loyalty or because they think one candidate or other will be a good councillor. Yes, some voters make a protest with their vote, but it is the parliamentary by-elections, both for Westminster and Holyrood, where real protest votes are seen.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – especially the latter – have been humiliated in Westminster parliamentary by-elections since the coalition came to power three years ago. (Is it only three years? It seems like decades of misery.)
The rise of Ukip has also confused matters down south, and I believe that party’s ascent to prominence shows the fundamental difference between the nations of England and Scotland at this time – I’ll explain why later.
The result of the Donside by- election in Aberdeen was predictable, in that my party, the SNP, always looked likely to hold on to the seat with a reduced majority, not least because the late incumbent, that fine man Brian Adam, had a huge personal vote in the constituency.
Mark McDonald will make a very good replacement, and the best news of all is that the SNP retains its overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.
At our own local by-election, Labour’s Keith Robson won the vacant seat in Liberton/Gilmerton caused by the death of Tom Buchanan, who is already much missed. I congratulate Keith and wish him well as a member of the council’s ruling Labour/SNP coalition – that well over 60 per cent of the local electors voted for those two parties endorses this coalition. Derek Howie was a fine candidate for my party, but it just wasn’t to be his day – he must try again in future.
The most pleasing aspect for me was that Ukip got just 235 votes or 3.21 per cent, proving they are totally irrelevant to politics in Edinburgh. They also lost their deposit in Donside – yippee!
If any one thing can be concluded from the Donside and Liberton/Gilmerton by-elections it is that Ukip’s anti-Europe and anti-immigrant policies have been resoundingly rejected by the Scottish electorate. While they grow in England, Ukip are dead in the water here.
We have seen clean through Nigel Farage’s bluster to realise that Ukip is really the extreme right wing of the Tory Party, or the left wing of the British National Party if you prefer. If Farage could be politically honest, and that I very much doubt, he would now rename his party by the description it really should bear – the Little England Independence Party.
Scotland doesn’t want Farage, we don’t want Ukip, and their rise surely proves that in political terms, England and Scotland are now set on very different paths.
Labour made gains in both Aberdeen and Edinburgh, and that is to be expected as they are the main – indeed, the only credible – opposition to the SNP. Labour’s policies are not unsound – apart from their disgraceful attacks on universal benefits, and hasn’t Johann Lamont shut her trap on that lately.
If only we in the SNP could persuade the best elements of the Labour Party in Scotland to join us in an independent country, just think how progressive and fairer this nation could be.
Mile debate must listen to residents
The ongoing debate about the future of the Royal Mile and environs will hopefully not descend into a squabble between those who live there and interfering
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most important
people in this debate are the
residents of the area, and our politicians should take most heed of their wishes rather than impose some daft planner’s nightmare upon the city.
Anyone doubting the Royal Mile is also a very good place to do business
should know that one shop that recently came on the market is now leased at an annual rent of £65,000. Trade is booming, so I’m told.
SFA must guard against clowns like Romanov
There is one person to take the overall blame for the disaster at Hearts FC, and that is Vladimir Romanov. The Lithuanian clown conned too many people into losing their money on his lunacy, and now it’s the fans, as always, who will have to save their club.
This can never be allowed again in Scottish football. The SFA must bring in new rules tightening up who can own clubs. Wealthy investors must post a bond of, say, £5 million, before they can own a Scottish club, with the money being used to pay creditors should an insolvency event occur.
Also, anyone who has significant holdings in clubs elsewhere must be barred. They could call them the Romanov Rules.
Bypass plan is on right road
PEOPLE in high places obviously read this column. A fortnight ago, I wrote about the appalling state of the Bypass, particularly Sheriffhall Roundabout, and late last week the Scottish Government announced that a feasibility study would be commissioned into a possible flyover or underpass at the blackspot. It’s welcome news, even if at least a decade overdue.