All households in Argyll and Bute to be leafleted on how successful the SNP-led council has been

Yes – we know this is surreal but, as usual in Argyll and Bute Council these days, surreal is the new reality.

Last Sunday the SNP group apparently agreed unanimously to produce and distribute to all households in Argyll and Bute a leaflet explaining how successful the SNP-led council  has been.

The matter is clearly of interest only to the SNP but we do not know whether this indulgent exercise is to be paid for by the party, by a whip round from those who have agreed it – or from public funds.

It is unlikely that officers have the authority to block such a move but the excursion will hardly be regarded as evidence of responsible governance by the Audit Scotland commissioners, whose report on member-to-member and member-to-officer relations will be out in October.

One reality is that since February this year the SNP has been a minority administration – and sometimes a minority within its own party group.

A parallel reality is that there is a coalition in office, with a range of members of other groups still holding and being paid for posts of senior responsibility.

But this is a coalition that does not meet and does not act as a coalition.

This resembles nothing so much as a spacecraft hit in space by a meteorite [the SNP party hierarchy], smashed to smithereens by the impact and with its constituent parts orbiting independently as space junk.

The fact that council services keep on trucking reflects no credit of substance on the political leadership group. It is the officers and staff who see to these – and their lives have been extremely difficult in the continuing paralysis.

There is no certainty that we are even  nearing the endgame here.

The SNP group meets this Wednesday afternoon for a final vote on a coalition agreement with the Argyll and Bute for Change group, led by Councillor Duncan Macintyre. SNP members, however, will have no sight of the proposed agreement until they are in the meeting.

There appears to be no guarantee that agreement will indeed be reached, with some saying that, as matters have progressed, agreement has become less rather than more likely.

Should this prove the case – and, job done, the external SNP party would be delighted at last to see their councillors out of power here altogether – Councillors Macintyre and Walsh are unlikely to want to waste more time negotiating with the SNP group. They will turn to the Argyll, Lomond and the Isles group to seek coalition partners.

The Argyll and Bute for Change group has 16 members. The Argyll, Lomond and the Isles group has 9. Of these, Councillor George Freeman is certain, on the grounds of principle -  not to agree to go into coalition with the Argyll and Bute for Change group; and Councillor Elaine Robertson is unlikely to do so.

Other members of the Argyll, Lomond and the Isles group are likely to agree to coalition in order to try to bring some stability to the governance of Argyll and Bute This group, with the same focus on stability, had been constructive in its previous attitude to coalition with the SNP group – but the external SNP party formally forbade such an arrangement.

Assuming that this group agreed to coalition with Argyll and Bute for Change – but without independent councillors Freeman and Robertson, such a coalition would muster 23 members, with the opposition numbering 13, 11 SNP members and 2 independents. This would clearly be a workable majority and the core of the two potential partners worked harmoniously in coalition up to May 2012.

The SNP would then lead the opposition, with the external SNP party looking forward to the ease of such a role – objecting, criticising and looking for headlines.

That may have worked last time out during the school closures war. It will not play this time. No one has reason to give the slightest credence to any predictable howls of horror from the opposition seats in the chamber in this scenario.

The big unanswerable question is: ‘Why did you put them back into power? We voted you the lead role. You ran away from it.’

We have also established that there appears to be no authority anywhere for the calling of an election in a local authority area, in any circumstances. This is clearly a constitutional omission which requires attention.

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24 Responses to All households in Argyll and Bute to be leafleted on how successful the SNP-led council has been

  1. What a waste of good paper, at least it’ll not be a big leaflet. What could they even say?

    Just creep out of power quietly, my mind boggles

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 7

  2. Which SNP group is putting out the leaflet and will James Robb and Mary Jean be kept out of the group huddle?
    Its brilliant stuff because in Oban we have been knocked over with all the projects that have been completed?
    Still not a mention of TIF but I am sure that will be on the leaflet.
    It just gets better and better Roddy will need to bring out his own leaflet called ( WHO,S STABBING ME NOW ).
    Cheers Neil.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 12

    • Ever thought Roddy is at the back of this or James Robb or both. Not sure where this is coming from sounds like more speculation and Newsie has form for being way off the mark. Neil any truth in the rumour that Roddy is leaving the SNP?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 8

    • Spot on Neil if some SNP members hadn’t spent the last few months plotting to bring down their own man there would be no problems.
      We have waited years for the Oban projects under Duncan. It is taking Louise a few months to put this on the right track and sort out the mess he left. Making good progress now.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  3. Not coming from Roddy short and sweet and I would certainly not be surprised if he did leave.
    As for Robb he had Walsh in his pocket at the last meeting who will take the financial side for the SNP now and he will not be part of the Administration so Dick will have a free hand. Scary thought.
    Cheers Neil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

    • When he was in power not so long ago, Councillor Walsh traditionally reserved for himself the finance and economic development briefs – although an economic development strategy was and remains, hard to detect.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  4. I am with Short & Sweet with this one.
    Newsroom claims the SNP are to do a mailshot for A&B residents claiming how successful they have been. Really? Have you seen this leaflet? No, so it’s more speculation, this time that they will be blowing their own trumpet through the publishing of this leaflet, a position I’m sure the electorate would not see as justifiable such has been the performance of the few at the helm with self interests and the turmoil this has caused.
    Might it be the case that in this publication they will be explaining the current state of affairs, who and what the administration consists, their plans etc.?
    We are constantly being told on here that the SNP no longer rule the roost in Kilmory so how have an “SNP led” administration unanimously agreed to have this done if they are, as you say, doing all they can to surrender power to take up the position of opposition?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

  5. The kind of leaflet you describe is not the sort of thing that would be funded by the public purse unless it was an apolitical council leaflet. If it’s SNP, the SNP pay. Nobody would doubt it and I wonder why you do since the rules are pretty clear.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

    • Thank you for this reassurance.
      This is a very tough situation for the members of the SNP group who worked hard in power and who fought for the party to face up to its responsibilities and stay as the lead in power.
      A united party group, committed to delivering what the electorate had asked for and what the SNP had promised – fresh, open, straightforward, competent local government, abandoning the culture of fear – could have operated as a minority administration.
      Instead Argyll has seen a closed clique where the external party hierarchy has pulled the strings very much against the interests of Argyll and Bute; and where three SNP council leaderships have been overtly undermined from within – with members, on instructions, voting against their own party’s Council Leader in each case, in deliberate destabilisation attempts.
      Some members even joined other groups.
      The party’s Membership rule – which is also ‘pretty clear’ went by the board with members effectively given licence to behave counter to the rule – as they did.
      The external party blocked an agreed coalition that would have produced the most competent grouping in the chamber. It did so in an act of political discrimination against Liberal Democrats and Conservatives which did not govern the party’s coalitions elsewhere in Scotland.
      The SNP-made mess in Argyll and Bute has been the most unblemished political chicanery and a mass suicide that will continue to defy reason.
      The public know all this because they have seen it and they have seen the evidence for it.
      Those few who did try to deliver and did fight their party to try to stop this madness are in an unjust position of having their honest efforts overshadowed by the major imbroglio.
      If the SNP group had simply been left alone to grow into the job they were elected to do – without the constant manipulative local interventions they got from the very start and without the later active choreography from the party executive in Edinburgh, they would be in a very different position today.
      But those who thought they knew best and who were in a position to run the rule over events were given the latitude to do just that – and look what that has brought.
      Those who have been repeatedly betrayed by their own party – in full view – now have a decision to make.
      Remaining as members of a party that has let them down and has let Argyll down is against reason, would look weak and would not be sympathetically regarded by the electorate.
      The party left these people a long time ago. Why would they continue to hang on to its abusive coat tails?
      No one wants to see good and honourable people left unelectable – and who but the tribe is going to vote for what could well be more of the same at any time?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

      • Argyll is a better place because of the SNP Council Group. The only way they will let Argyll down is if they put Dick Walsh back into power.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

        • It’s nothing like as simple as this.
          How, given their known and trumpeted opposition, does the SNP group defend going into coalition with Councillor Duncan Macintyre – who leads the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance and who has made it known in Oban what his brief will be – Transport and Infrastructure?
          At the May 2012 elections the SNP group fought hard against this very councillor, with a concerted effort being made in Oban and Lorn to get him out.This nearly succeeded, since he was the last to be elected.
          How does that election campaign stance of putting clear distance between the SNP group and the former Alliance of Independent Councillors – on supposed grounds of principle – now square wth supporting them back into office, regardless of who leads the council?

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

          • It is that simple and it will be for individual SNP Councillors to explain their decision to their local electorate.
            The Constituency Association support for the SNP Council Group in its leaflet may stiffen a few spines.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      • James Robb caused all the problems in the SNP and should have resigned from the party. He is no nationalist and that goes for some of his associates. Most of what you write above is absolute rubbish. The councillors know, the members in the party know, and so will the rest of the folk in Argyll and Bute.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  6. “We have also established that there appears to be no authority anywhere for the calling of an election in a local authority area, in any circumstances. This is clearly a constitutional omission which requires attention.”

    It’s called ‘recall’ in the USA and used to remove offending politicians. I’m sure this can be established in Scotland, post 2014….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

    • I can understand the desire for some sort of ‘recall’ system (didn’t all the major parties agree to consider implementing one prior to the last general election only for the Tory/Lib Dem to back pedal once they were elected?) however I have never been convinced that its merits outweigh its pitfalls.

      With an active recall culture in place there isn’t a politician in the world (well there might be a small number) who would have the balls to make what is considered a difficult decision but made with a longer term positive outlook mind. We would be destined to have nothing but short term strategies and harmless, but ineffective policy making. Wind up one pressure group on one particular issue and you are out (as long as the pressure group is big enough or organised enough).

      They also make marginal seats/wards/councils almost impossible to govern properly as you normally need a far smaller number of people to sign up for a recall then you actually need to get elected. So if Tory candidate beats SNP candidate by say 9,000 votes to 8,500 it might only need about 2000 of the SNP voters to enforce a recall.

      The principle of recall systems is maybe far more palatable when it comes to accusations of corruption or breaches of standards however history across the world shows that this is very rarely the reason they happen. To deal with issues such as those what we need is a far more effective Standards Commission.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

      • Integrity that is what will happen anyway if Russell gets the SNP out of power. A short term council. Never mind a recall it only takes a few bad headlines on the blogs to have the alleged “independents” and a few SNP traitors to u-turn. The proposed political arrangements seems to be about a power grab and hiding places for weak councillors.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  7. Well said Anne. Lynda knows how to get the hits – just provide fodder for the Nat bashers.
    Will the SNP Group choose Dick Walsh over Roddy McCuish for Council Leader?
    The only accurate analysis in all this : The big unanswerable question is: ‘Why did you put them back into power? We voted you the lead role. You ran away from it.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

      • Robb took the SNP down a blind alley after McCuish gave up the leadership despite pleads to stay. Robb was not even elected in a vote deliberate coronation and against the SNP rules. Don’t believe me, ask the folk involved instead of making all this up. If they are SNP act like if not leave the party

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  8. I cannot recall ever posting a political comment, declaring any political affiliation or ever commenting on the debacle that is Argyll & Bute Council and the players therein and there abouts. It was a wee bit out of reach and my understanding, with the belief that it would soon be “sorted”. Not the case it would seem. I have, not as a challenge to anyone or body, copied some information below from this string which it seems is based on fact and the truth (debate but no withdrawls, retractions or invalidations) with some questions following.
    PARA (1)
    Instead Argyll has seen a closed clique where the external party hierarchy has pulled the strings very much against the interests of Argyll and Bute ; and where three SNP council leaderships have been overtly undermined from within – with members, on instructions, voting against their own party’s Council Leader in each case, in deliberate destabilisation attempts.
    Some members even joined other groups.
    PARA (2)
    The external party blocked an agreed coalition that would have produced the most competent grouping in the chamber. It did so in an act of political discrimination against Liberal Democrats and Conservatives which did not govern the party’s coalitions elsewhere in Scotland
    PARA (3)
    The public know all this because they have seen it and they have seen the evidence for it.
    PARA (4)
    without the constant manipulative local interventions they got from the very start and without the later active choreography from the party executive in Edinburgh , they would be in a very different position today
    PARA (5)
    But those who thought they knew best and who were in a position to run the rule over events were given the latitude to do just that
    PARA (6)
    Integrity that is what will happen anyway if Russell gets the SNP out of power
    PARA (7)
    o Mike Russell made us do it.
    Could somebody or bodies please answer and clarify (or refute ) the following questions and points
    PARA (1)
    name those in the clique and how it remained closed? Who in the external party hierarchy pulled strings, what strings, where and when? What member’s on whose instructions voted against their own council leader?
    PARA (2)
    Who in the external party blocked an agreed coalition (was there more than one?)
    PARA (3)
    Can somebody show me the evidence the public have seen or where it is?
    PARA (4)
    What were the local interventions, by whom and when? What was the later active choreography, when and by whom in the party executive in Edinburgh?
    PARA (5)
    Who was in a position to run the rule over events when and what did they do?
    PARA (6)
    How has Russell shown he wants the SNP out of power?
    PARA (7)
    What did Russell make Who do?
    I feel if the above generates a few dates, actions and names we will be able to see where elsewhere unwelcome little snotty snouts have been stuck in outwith their remit??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • No point In asking Newsie she makes most of it up or is talking to people wit a direct benefit depending on the results. This whole unholy episode is strewn with half stories untruths make up situations from start to finish- dreadful. Councillors need to sort this some appear to be trying but if it does not suit Newsie and are Helensburgh friends she will attack it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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