Last day of council campaigning before country goes to polls
VOTERS SHOULD prioritise “real local democracy” in the first council elections in five years tomorrow [Thursday 4 May], according to the Scottish Greens.
With all parties putting forward their platforms ahead of the vote, a swathe of political material has focused on Scotland or UK wide constitutional issues – and was then further compounded by the announcement of a snap UK General Election in the middle of the campaign.
However, MSP Andy Wightman, meeting activists in Edinburgh, encouraged all voters to focus on revitalising local decision making and improving local services when they cast their ballots.
Scottish Greens call for local democracy
Wightman, a local democracy spokesperson, said: “Scotland needs a revitalised local democracy where citizens can play a full part in matters affecting their communities. Green councillors will ensure neighbourhoods can make real choices about the services they want and how to pay for them.
“After decades of centralisation, local democracy hangs in the balance. More Green councillors are sorely needed to help return power to local level.” He called for voters to “elect advocates of real local democracy, people who understand that local services and accountability matter.”
SNP: ‘Back us for better community services’
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon positioned her party against the threatened rise of the Tories and long-held Labour councils: “Councils have a key role in driving our economy, building and protecting our communities and providing vital local services.
“Tomorrow’s vote is about choosing who is best placed to take decisions about the future of our communities. We know that Labour have for far too long put their own interests before those of the people they represent, while the Tories are intent on a damaging cuts agenda, while proposing no positive policies in this election.”
The three unionist parties have all – to different degrees – claimed the local election is a vote on a future referendum on Scottish independence. Conservatives have made the issue the top concern on its election material, with some letters to voters mentioning the issue over a dozen times.
Labour: Reject “two opposing nationalist forces”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said the vote is an opportunity to elect “a local champion” and reject SNP and Tory plans.
“On Thursday, every Labour councillor elected will fight to make their local community stronger,” she said. “A local champion who will protect local services from the Tory and SNP cuts. A local champion who will be the last line of defence between the services people value, and the narrow-minded dogma of two opposing nationalist forces.”
Meanwhile, LibDem leader Willie Rennie said party councillors would back the public interest as well as opposing independence and Brexit: “Every Liberal Democrat Councillor will be a local champion that communities deserve. They will work all year round, not just at election time. Despite the Greens and the SNP wanting to put independence back to the top of the agenda, Liberal Democrats will serve to deliver the improvements to local services that we need.
“Our plan for a strong economy and a fair society contrasts with the reckless hard-Brexit of the Conservatives and the divisive approach of the nationalists.”
Polls open early tomorrow morning, with counts taking place across the country from Friday 5th May.
Picture courtesy of Alister
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