An interesting finding has happened in the campaigning for the upcoming Stirling East council by election. It’s quite apparent that most constituents are unaware that the local council is a Tory- Labour coalition. To recap the last council elections, the SNP commanded the largest block of council seats with 9, but were short by 3 to make an overall majority. The Labour group with 8 seats, decided they would prefer to side with the Tory group with 4 rather than join with the SNP in forming a controlling bloc. There was one Green Seat in the returns, with a total of 22 seats overall.
In some ways it seems quite astonishing yet looking at the weekends momentous events in the UK Labour Party it is perhaps easy to forget just how far right Labour has drifted since the mid 90’s, to a point where it’s almost unrecognisable from the Tory Party and see’s itself more closely aligned there than with more progressive parties like the SNP.
While the Tory’s are a mere 18% of the administration it’s very much been the tail that wagged the Labour dog in recent years, with the controlling bloc falling out with the unions in a bitter pay dispute where the council wished to cut workers pay while at the same time cutting council tax, leading to the worst strikes ever seen in the area, and shelling out over £7Million in redundancy packages to laid off workers. In the 18 months or so the SNP group had to take the administration to task over leader Johanna Boyd rejecting £2million in needs based funding from COSLA.
It is imperative that the SNP retains the seat currently held in Stirling East, but vacated by our councillor Steven Paterson’s successful campaign to represent Stirling in Westminster. Gerry McLaughlan, the SNP candidate is a local man and will be fighting to preserve services needed in the area. He said “…talking to a lot of people on the doorsteps recently and it’s amazing the amount of folk who don’t realise it’s the Tories and Labour who run Stirling Council – as a formal coalition!”