Edinburgh Council will miss Conservative councillor John McLellan (and I was once a Labour one) – Susan Dalgety
I was disappointed to learn my old boss and mentor John McLellan has decided not to stand again for the City Council.
The Conservative councillor for Craigentinny and Duddingston is going to focus on his other interests, including public interest journalism, teaching and writing, activities he says he has struggled to fit in with his council duties.
I suspect he has also found his enquiring mind and direct manner has been too challenging for many in the City Chambers. I sympathise.
In a previous life, I too was a city councillor – a Labour one – and I decided to stand down after only two terms because I couldn’t find a way to combine being a councillor with a career.
I was also frustrated by the games that elected politicians must play if they want to get on. I have never been good at keeping my mouth shut if something upsets me, or if I think it should be changed, but I found that openness isn’t an essential requirement for a political career.
A nod and a wink or a whispered request in someone’s ear are often how things get done, and that is just not my style.
Edinburgh City Council didn’t miss me when I stood down in 1999. I was a councillor in my 30s, and on reflection I think I would have brought far more to the role as an older woman, but I did learn a lot.
And the biggest lesson for me was that a city will only thrive if it has experienced, talented, courageous people at its helm.
Running a complex metropolis like Edinburgh is not for the faint-hearted, or those only interested in toeing their party line. It is a serious job for serious people.
You regularly have to take decisions that will directly affect people’s lives – from parking to social care – and you are responsible for shaping the future of an area, from the number of school places available to safety on our streets.
Edinburgh City Council was lucky to have someone like John as an elected representative. As a former senior newspaper executive, he brought unparalleled business skills as well an intimate knowledge of the many complex issues facing the city. Edinburgh City Council needs more people like John McLellan in charge, not fewer.