Frank Ross: Check the name on ballot paper when you vote . .

The Edinburgh council election is on Thursday, May 4.

Politics at a national and international level in recent months has seen some remarkable events.

First, the Prime Minister attempted to bypass Parliament on the Brexit issue and was forced by a member of the public through the courts to do a humiliating U-turn.

Then, the Tories took the UK down the road of hard Brexit, supported by their allies in the Labour party, that is not only to leave the EU, but also the single market, despite having no mandate from the electorate to do so.

Then, in response to the UK evoking article 50, the EU issued their draft negotiating guidelines (something the Tories have refused to do). The Tory response was, through an ex-leader, to issue a threat of war against a fellow EU and NATO member and finally the Tories see nothing wrong with proposing that the government can change laws without parliamentary scrutiny.

Crazy times indeed.

Here in Edinburgh, as we approach the council elections on May 4, things are more rooted in reality – or are they?

When the leaflets start dropping through your doors, advertising boards and window posters appear in your neighbours’ windows and people receive their postal ballot papers, you would think that voters could put a certain trust in the names of the political parties against candidates contesting the election. Unfortunately in many cases they cannot.

For example, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist, Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats all have one thing in common.

None of these organisations actually exist - are you surprised?

These names on leaflets and on the ballot papers you are asked to mark with your democratic preferences, are descriptions which have been registered purely for use at elections. That is, they are brands.

Voters quite rightly will and should ask why are the candidates who use the above descriptions not willing to be open and honest with them and state what political party they are standing for. Why do these organisations feel the need to disguise their true identities?

During the next few weeks voters should ask the candidates these questions on the doorsteps and at public meetings where they should be clear on their political beliefs, and more importantly, why they feel the need to use these somewhat confusing descriptions. Is it because if they stood in their true colours they would be unelectable?

Perhaps, despite constantly talking Scotland down, they see some value in identifying themselves as Scottish even if it is just to get them elected- what does their view of “Scottish” really stand for? Please remember, these are the people who will be representing you for the next five years, so make sure you know what they truly represent.

n Councillor Frank Ross is leader of the SNP Group at Edinburgh City Council

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