After 2016, a year which produced many electoral surprises, 2017 promises also to be an interesting year for political anoraks. Politics does not exist in a vacuum. What will be decided this year by politicians, internationally, in Westminster, Holyrood and at the Local Government elections in May will affect the lives of everyone in our communities.
There are to be elections in France, Germany and other European countries which will affect how the UK’s Tory Government is able negotiate the way in which the UK leaves the European Union. The ‘Little Englander’ attitude of pro-Brexit Tory and Labour MPs is unrealistic and dangerous. Many of these MPs and Government Ministers truly believe that the sun did not set on ‘their’ Empire and that because they are England then everyone will agree to what they want. It is not even clear yet what the UK Government is actually planning and the judgement of the Supreme Court as to how much say Parliament will have in debating and deciding a plan for negotiations will be crucial.
In Westminster the so-called rise of the Scottish Tories is paraded as some sort of new dawn. In Scotland, however – and especially in Motherwell and Wishaw – people are not so easily fooled. We know that the next batch of Tory cuts, especially those to benefits, are fully backed by Ruth Davidson and her Scottish Tory MSPs. They are quite happy to discount the views of 62% of Scottish voters who want to keep our European Rights especially those related to work and travel.
The disintegration of the Labour Party in Scotland is an ongoing issue for all of us and permeates all levels of politics. Kezia Dugdale has moved her party so far from its roots that she now focuses not on fighting Tory cuts but in becoming Better Together’s prime cheerleader. Labour Councillors in London and Liverpool praised the SNP for following the Finnish model of Baby Boxes, gradually being rolled out across Scotland. They saw this as a bold step in closing the gap between the worst and better off households, Scottish Labour saw it as #SNPbad.
Locally Labour are falling apart. Riven by internal strife and knowing that they are highly unlikely to retain untrammelled power after the Elections in May. Former Labour Councillors are so desperate to throw off the Labour yoke they are standing as Independents under an Independents Alliance banner – a very crude attempt to garner votes.
The local elections in May will be a decisive moment for the people of Motherwell and Wishaw. A vote for change, a vote for the SNP in May could transform local politics beyond recognition.