Argyll and Bute Council’s Short Life Working Group on Political Management Arrangements met yesterday, 12th September, for the second time.
It is to report progress to the Council at the August meeting later in the month and will meet again in early September to continue its work.
However, a meeting taking place today is likely to make the all-party Short Life Working Group’s work redundant.
At 13.00 today, 13th August, SNP group ‘negotiators’ are meeting with the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance, led by Councillor Duncan Macintyre.
Having voted on the matter by 6-1 [with the current SNP Leader of the Council, Councillor Roddy McCuish, the single objector] the group’s aim is to ‘negotiate’ joining the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance, putting former Council Leader Dick Walsh back into office.
The one objective is to remove the SNP from the frontline power position they were elected to deliver and see it become no more than a junior member of a rainbow coalition.
That has been the long determination of the SNP party hierarchy, including its current constituency MSP who has been active in much of the upheaval in the local party that has seen its credibility plummet in Argyll and Bute.
The gutless Party central is terrified that their own troops on the ground may make locally unpopular decisions before the Independence Referendum in September 2014.
The word ‘negotiate’ used to describe today’s meeting is an overstatement. The SNP group, ‘led’ by newbie Councillor Sandy Taylor, a man who takes dictation faultlessly, is desperate to do as it has been instructed and get out of any semblance of power.
The longed-for backwater beckons – a berth the party will now find to hard to emerge from in this part of the world, anytime in the future.
They have themselves now written their ally-to-be, Councillor Walsh’s manifesto for the next local authority elections:
‘They don’t want power.They can’t handle power. They destroyed each other in the scramble to get out of power. They betrayed those who voted for them to put them into power. They are terrified of responsibility. Why would you elect them again? They’ll cut and run as soon as it gets difficult, They’ve now done that twice.’
Every voter knows that every word of this is accurate. For Argyll has published much of the documented evidence of the connivings, the threats and the external interventions.
No opposition forced any of this. It was entirely self-generated – and entirely unnecessary. All they had to do was get down to work and deliver the local government they had campaigned to be given and had been elected to lead.
The meeting today may well see new political management arrangements come into place at the August council meeting.
This will have come – not from the cross-chamber collaboration Audit Scotland and the electorate have been led to expect – but from a backstairs agreement which has excluded the most constructive group in the entire morass – Argyll, Lomond and the Isles.
The papers presented to the Short Life Working Group yesterday by some of its members, each proposing versions of new political management arrangements, make interesting reading.
Residents of Argyll’s five major towns will not be enchanted to see that the group they are shortly to see take power in Argyll, put there by the SNP group, chose, unlike other submissions, to make no mention whatsoever in its management proposals of the CHORD regeneration project for those very towns.
Argyll and Bute for Change is led by a group of independent councillors who have been responsible from the outset for the joke CHORD has become – spending a fortune on consultants and getting virtually nowhere after – how many years now?
Their own proposals to the Short Life Working Group indicate that Argyll and Bute for Change is seeking to distance itself from CHORD and to background rather than accelerate its work.