Was the editor right
I wanted to thank Kenneth Roy for his latest piece (3 May). I have come to exactly the same conclusion about not voting, for the first time in my life, in Kirkcaldy. Local governance outside of rural communities and big cities appears to most of us here like a club of old insiders protected by a monstrous machine of bureaucracy. Yes let's have a mayor who is visible and who will stand up and be responsible directly to local residents.
I sympathise with Kenneth Roy's predicament and Ayrshire sounds even worse than Highland – and that is saying something. A plague on all their houses, certainly, but not voting, no, that's not going to send anyone a message. Too many people have sacrificed too much, including their lives, for you not to vote, no matter how it sticks in your Iberian craw. Yes, I know you've heard that a million times before.
I agree that no-one has made any effort to visit anyone in the run-up to this election – here in Caithness as well as you down there. You got a leaflet...you are lucky! It's as if the councillors know they are compromised, rubbish, powerless, unloved, to blame and are too inarticulate, hampered, conditioned, managed, feckless to admit it.
I would say that right now these local elections are the most important elections we have had in some time because politics in Scotland has to come down (to come home) to your community, your street, your crofting township. When Scotland becomes independent – and I sincerely hope she does – the political gravity will have to become more specific, more local not less. Otherwise Scotland will struggle to create the intellectual oxygen she needs to breathe, let alone the political muscle she needs to develop in order to change. Most of the candidates standing today are not up to the job – the parties know that, they know that, we know that. Let's vote them in then sweep them from power.
I have just been to see 'King Lear'. Remember what the King said to the Fool. 'Nothing can be made out of nothing.' Dear Kenneth, think again.
Strong stuff by Kenneth Roy in Thursday's editorial. After 40 years working in and with local authorities I felt a bit shocked that in a democracy an influential journal would argue against voting. But I found I could not disagree with what he had written.
Things have indeed come to a sorry pass. There is great sadness there also. Sadness of failed hopes. Also sadness of failed endeavour. Above all, sadness of the failure of our institutions to engage with people. There is much to learn from what the British often call 'overseas', a quaint way of referring to the rest of the world. As in all countries many of our most intimate and vital daily services are provided through the local structures we choose.
The great conundrum of the modern world is how to find the best route through on the one hand, increased knowledge, skill and science, and on the other increased personalisation and localism.
I shall not vote for I am 'overseas' and failed to organise a postal vote in time. But I shall watch the Highland results with interest and hope they stand up well in terms of those voting. The key questions are not who but how many? How low, and this applies in England also, how low can polling rates go? And then what solutions? Whilst the Ken and Boris show is quite fun it is on its last legs. The astute and feisty Liam Byrne may liven matters up in Birmingham. I cannot see anything similar for any part of Scotland. Still, Ewan Aitken might have made a good elected mayor for Edinburgh.
Kenneth Roy is right. Radical change is needed. New thinking. Why not 400 local authorities? Volunteers as leaders? National collaboration on shared services – electricity, commissioning, road works. Local engagement on what works best, locally. The most democratic act tonight is not to vote. Let's work for that not to be true in eight years' time.
Thank you for Kenneth Roy's article. It convinced me and many other Scots
not to bother voting.
I much appreciated Kenneth Roy's article on the subject of a few, or indeed many, reasons not to vote. I also appreciated his phrase describing local councils as 'convenience stores', as the same councillors seem to keep being voted back in. Nevertheless, while heeding Kenneth's views, I didn't follow his advice and went up to Erskine Hall here in Anstruther to perform what I thought was my democratic duty.
Out of five, a mere one party was represented out of the nearly empty hall and worse was to come as I was presented with my voting slip, into which I was asked to choose my favoured candidates from one to five. The menu was hardly tasteful, ranging from Conservative and Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, quite amazingly, x 2. My initial reaction was why would I ever vote for the Liberal Democrats again, after they, so shamefully, sold their soul to the Conservatives in the 'Fawlty Towers' of the present coalition government. At least 'Fawlty Towers' was a comedy compared to this tragedy cutting my choice in one stroke from five to three. Of the three, UKIP seemed not to be a choice at all.
Now down to two, my choice was reduced to the somewhat predictable SNP and Labour. My next reaction was where are the Green Party, of whatever shade and where is any mention of socialism, a word, according to the lone party representative standing outside the hall, the Labour Party can no longer even spell. With little hesitation in these circumstances my number one went to the SNP, although given a wider choice, it might have been different. Thereafter, I was struggling, not over my remaining choice, but rather if I had a remaining choice.
Reluctantly, Labour, by default, won my silver medal, but sadly has it come to this? Perhaps, Kenneth Roy is right in answering a bold no to the query: 'To vote or not to vote, that is the question'.
Since Kenneth Roy is so disgruntled with South Ayrshire Council (and rightly so from what I've seen in recent years when I visited) why doesn't he stand for election as an independent? Surely it is people like him who should be on South Ayrshire Council and who would help prevent the on-going destruction of the quality of Ayr.
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