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Dumfries and Galloway Council

Question: Does being a councillor help you build more confidence?

Asked by mcclbruc to Ted, Sandra, Jane, Elaine, Alastair on 22 Sep 2010 in Categories: .

0 Comment on this question

  • Photo: Elaine MurrayElaine Murray answered on 22 Sep 2010:

    I think being elected to any position helps your self esteem and confidence – whether its the council, Parliament, community council or school council. Being elected means people have put their trust in you, which is a privilege and a responsibility. You get used to making speeches too, ist no so bad when you get used to it.


  • Photo: Jane MaitlandJane Maitland answered on 22 Sep 2010:

    There are two ways of looking at your question.

    Yes, I do think as councillors we can build confidence in our communities. We can lead individuals to know how to help themselves and their family in respect of Council services. We also monitor how the council treats people – it should be scrupulously fair. Voters want to see that, and if councillors stick to policies, confidence and certainty follow.

    If you were wondering whether actually being a councillor makes us more confident in itself, i rather think it shouldn’t – it ought to make us humble! I don’t mean weak, i mean very aware of the importance of other people, and of how much there is to learn.
    To be an effective councillor, I think you need to feel confident, but not arrogant.

    You’ve got me thinking here. My husband, in France a few years ago, got a speeding ticket. He showed it to his host, asking how to pay it. Monsieur was shocked – but that’s what you have councillors and MPs for – he indicated.
    What a horror story, and NOT true here!!


  • Photo: Sandra McDowallSandra McDowall answered on 22 Sep 2010:

    It most certainly does. Thinking back eleven years to my first committee meeting, I can remember feeling very nervous and unsure of myself. I can remember not understanding a particular report and eventually plucking up enough courage to say so. I was really surprised that a number of other Councillors felt the same; one said she didn’t like admitting it until I did. I’ve never been scared to ask a question since, no matter how silly it sounds.


  • Photo: Alastair WittsAlastair Witts answered on 22 Sep 2010:

    It does, as it forces you to think on your feet and speak out at meetings, so it has definitely helped my confidence. Having said that, I got good advice to start with and I took quite a while to play a big part at meetings, which was probably just as well until I ‘learned the ropes.’ Better that than to have gone in during the first weeks and said things which were just wrong or silly and make yourself look a fool. That wouldn’t have built confidence! As Confucius said: ‘ A fool may pass as a wise man if he remains silent!

    As for helping other people to be more confident, that is something that councillors should do, especially if you are helping people who are a bit unsure of tackling a big organisation like the council and you are convinced that they haven’t been given a fair hearing about what they want to be done. I once helped a young couple who felt no one was listening to them when they felt they should have been entitled to more points on a housing list. I think I gave them the confidence to stand up for themselves in the future, and showed them how to go about it.


  • Photo: Ted BrownTed Brown answered on 22 Sep 2010:

    Yes, I would say so. As with most endeavours, the longer you do it the easier it gets.

    There is a huge range of things to learn after you are first elected and it’s generally thought to be the case that many Councillors won’t reach their peak performance until they are in their second term of office.

    Some would argue that being a Councillor is actually a more demanding role than that of an MP or an MSP.

    Many an MP and a lot of MSPs first earned their spurs as Councillors and in my opinion they usually out perform those who haven’t benefited from that experience.