‘Tory-free’ wish banned from Edinburgh 2050 word cloud after party complaint

The word cloud was generated from people's hopes for the Capital in 2050.
The word cloud was generated from people's hopes for the Capital in 2050.
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CONSERVATIVE councillors were unhappy after the Edinburgh 2050 campaign’s word cloud, generated from people’s hopes for the Capital, revealed “Tory-free” as part of their vision for the future.

The phrase appeared under the heading “My Edinburgh will be...” alongside others like “more inclusive”, “litter-free”, “carbon neutral” and words such as “vibrant”, “cleaner”, “greener”, “fairer” and “proud”.

Tory group chairman Jason Rust welcomed the move to ban the phrase. Picture: Greg Macvean

Tory group chairman Jason Rust welcomed the move to ban the phrase. Picture: Greg Macvean

The 2050 Edinburgh City Vision campaign, originally launched in 2016 and rebooted last month, invites residents to share their hopes for the future of the Capital and help shape what the city will be like in the year 2050.

But after spotting the “Tory free” wish, the Conservative group on the council wrote to Lord Provost Frank Ross, protesting that overtly political messaging in the campaign was unacceptable.

Cllr Ross then contacted Marketing Edinburgh, which is in charge of the campaign, and the phrase “Tory-free” has now been added to a banned list.

Tory group chairman Jason Rust welcomed the move to stop the phrase appearing again.

He said: “As a group we found it completely and utterly unacceptable. This campaign is meant to be about a positive future message and to a lot of people it would be invidious for any group to be barred from Edinburgh.

“They are talking about barring the group which currently has the largest number of seats on the council and had the largest number of first preference votes at last year’s elections. If that’s what their vision is about it seems very negative.”

Marketing Edinburgh chief executive John Donnelly said the word cloud constantly updated in real time to reflect the hopes people were sharing, but at the start of the project a list of words had been agreed with the council which would not appear automatically.

No thought had been given to political party names at that stage, but they had now been added to the restricted list.

He said: “It remains our aim to capture inclusive, inspirational visions to positively inform planning and, as such, keeping the project apolitical. The entry about the Conservative Party should not have been included in the word cloud and has been removed. As a general rule, entries relating specifically to any political party will not be included.

“It is an apolitical campaign and it’s best to keep politics out of it.”

But Leith Labour councillor Gordon Munro said he did not support banning the phrase “Tory free”.

He said: “If that has been part of the public response it should be in the word cloud. I thought 1984 was last century.

“You have got to admire these citizens and their vision for the future.

“And given Leith and Leith Walk wards are Tory-free, it’s a legitimate future scenario.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com