With less than a fortnight to go before the local council elections are officially called, candidates for the different parties are beginning to make themselves known over social media and the local rumour mill is in full force filling in any gaps. There has been an interesting development up here; a Tory Councillor from Inverness has announced that he will stand in our constituency as he feels not enough is done for rural communities. He has been getting himself involved in local issues for a few months now which seemed strange but now makes sense and in the press release he states that he is relocating here.
Needless to say, a few paragraphs in and that statement no longer seems so sure and changes to feeling almost compelled to move up here – definitely not the same as I am moving. Knowing how long it takes to find a suitable property, I wonder when he will start this process; now? Or after he is elected – if he is elected which would give him a pretty decent opt out clause. Surely he is no fair weather gardener though? I understand that this is not the first time that he has felt the need to move to a different ward but has failed to find anything that is appropriate and has had to stay where he is; not difficult or much of an issue when the two wards are only a few miles apart, similar demographics and in the same city, but a completely different scenario when they are over 100 miles away from each other and wildly different in electoral needs.
His need to stand here despite being in a relatively safe seat would of course have nothing to do with him, as leader of the Tory Group on the council standing against the leader of the SNP group on the council. The SNP are favourites to become the leading group on the Highland Council this year and some would argue have effectively been leading it in the last few years instead of the largely inept coalition made up of the Lib Dems, Labour and the infamous Independents. Notorious for voting against everything that the SNP come up with, it would be horrific for anybody local who voted for him on the value of his promises to see him reject everything that is put forward to improve the opportunities proposed. Caithness has suffered from years of neglect it is true but this has begun to turn around in the last few years due to the hard work of the SNP group and it is disappointing to realise that the continued investment in the county will be jeopardised.
Largely invested in a local pressure group who continue to claim they are apolitical despite one of their spokespeople announcing they will stand as a LibDem candidate, you wonder what will happen. If elected, the candidate would be unable to deliver all the financial investment that this group has been calling for over the last year or so and may explain why they are moving into a different area of pressure and the Inverness based Tory candidate has now taken over. Their assertions over the lack of local investment are regularly debunked but the Tory candidate keeps repeating them regardless. It has been interesting to see the focus of local pressure groups change over the last few years as their dire warnings failed to materialise. The new safer maternity model did not lead to increased levels of child mortality, indeed it actually reversed it as was its aim, so the focus is now on the lack of gynaecology services locally and to reinstate services that never actually existed here in the first place. With roads, there has already been a large amount of work done so their focus has now switched to the energy crisis.
You would never know that the Tory candidate is a Tory candidate however unless you are into local politics as his social media fails to mention that. With no party name linked to him, the assumption made by many is that he is an independent; a “non party” Councillor here in the Highlands who actually have their own group and generally are Tories who can’t admit it. The other interesting aspect of this story is that although you would never know it, Wick and East Caithness already has a Tory candidate who was elected the last time and promptly disappeared from view. It is stated that he will instead stand in Inverness but whether that is a ward swap or more statements of non-fact is not clear. It will certainly be an interesting election up here anyway and I’m looking forward to doing my bit to ensure that our ward is a Tory free zone!