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Dumfries and Galloway Council

Question: Does being an independent Councillor make your job harder?

Asked by billy to Jane on 28 Sep 2010 in Categories: .

0 Comment on this question

  • Photo: Jane MaitlandJane Maitland answered on 28 Sep 2010:

    Well I try not to let it, because it is my choice. The big parties decide who is going to stand under their label at elections, and their councillors are then usually under some form of obligation to vote with the group, whether or not in their hearts they think it’s right or not. Independents can choose for themselves.

    I think people would be interested to know that at election time then it definitely is more difficult for an independent candidate. I write my own blurb, having no party staff and pay for all my own literature, and fuel and have to do my own knocking on doors. (no team of party canvassers) It is also more difficult to create publicity for oneself, though as an independent, you should be known in your area. Now that the wards are three times the size of when I started, that’s quite a big problem.

    There are two independent members, and because of the reality that Dumfries and Galloway council is now party politicised, George Prentice and I have linked up with the SNP group for purposes of getting places on committees. (These are allocated on the basis of proportionality)
    We are not in power, and have agreed nothing in advance other than to create a grouping of 12 members holding the balance of power between Labour with 14 and Conservatives+Liberals 21. We quarrel more or less amicably about issues, and when George and I do not agree with our grouping, we say so and vote so. George and I do not always vote the same way either. From time to time our SNP colleagues threaten to divorce us. We have come to an arrangement that seems to work.

    I hope that gives you an insight.

    The really difficult thing for an independent is that come an election, the voters really are (or not) voting for you personally. Party candidates can always hide, perfectly reasonably, behind the fact that the electorate is fed up with their party therefore they didn’t get in.