[This article was due to be published visibly yesterday, 18th December, as shown. It was, however, disrupted by a power cut in the ongoing storms, lost its formatting and although technically published, remained invisible.]
Elected members at Argyll and Bute Council appear to have learned no lessons, if rumours circulating with some vigour are to be believed.
Relations are said to be far from serene within the new coalition which, eccentrically, is led by the smaller of the two constituent groups, Argyll and Bute for Change – a comedic misnomer – led by Council Leader, Dick Walsh, the subject of a formal complaint to Audit Scotland by the Actual Reality Trust.
The now larger Argyll, Lomond and the Isles Group, led by Deputy Leader Ellen Morton is said to have become a focus for division, with internal jealousies rampant amongst the Argyll and Bute for Change group on the grounds that the Helensburgh and Lomond members in their partner group are taking too large a share of the booty.
Access to the trough and resentment of those whose noses got their first is always a frontline engine of’ ‘civic’ life at Kilmory.
Beyond the disruptiveness of these tensions, Councillor Morton is said to have become very unpopular and a particular focus of revolt, with Councillor Walsh struggling to hold his coalition together. Indiscipline is, of course, a familiar characteristic of over large majorities, as is currently the case at Argyll and Bute.
There are said to be two mutually convenient Plan Bs in operation.
The story is improbable – but the one consistent identifier of life at Kilmory is the sheer improbability of what they do.
Councillor Walsh wants a backup arrangement to ensure he stays in power should the coalition around him descend into cannibalism.
SNP members want to be back in power. [We did say the story was improbable - but some people never learn]. The local SNP MSP and the Constituency Association Convener are said to be trying to persuading the departed members of the party group to return to buttress the rump that is the current SNP Group of 7 or 8.
Councillor Walsh is said to have trailed the bait before the slavering ones that, once the independence referendum is over, he will replace his current partners with the SNP group.
While this is about as bizarre a likelihood as one could imagine, some SNP councillors are said, even more surreally, to trust Councllor Walsh, to believe in his ‘offer’ and therefore to be offering little resistance to his regime, in order to keep the gate open for their later translation.
The one piece of circumstantial evidence that lends some credence to this mad narrative is that the SNP Group has been offering little or no opposition to the Walsh administration.
We had put this down to their obvious inability – but who knows? Perhaps it’s what passes for ‘strategy’ in these parts?
If this story has any substance, it is beyond belief that the SNP group would imagine that they could have any credibility in administration, after the external and internal sabotage that saw them deliberately wreck their own chance in local government and turn a real opportunity for change into the most shambolic and undisciplined ‘political charade even Argyll has yet witnessed.
And perhaps its not finished yet?
A thread in the current spate of stories we’re hearing is that the council may, at Thursday’s meeting, defer yet again any decision on political management arrangements.
Not that that matters anyway.
Councillor Walsh has already instituted arrangements which effectively usurp the role of the Short Life Working Group – the amusingly renamed ‘UHT Group’ – charged with the responsibility conferred upon it back in June this year, to bring recommendations to council on new arrangements of this kind.
The only thing that can safely be said about Argyll and Bute Council is that nobody knows what they’re doing – and neither do they.
It will be interesting to see, at Thursday’s December council meeting in Ardrishaig Public Hall – the venue of choice for all local pantomimes – whether Ali Baba and the Thirty Sieves [allowing for absences and a very few capable members] actually debate the challenging finance motion put forward by Councillors Robb and Breslin.