Saturday, 10 December 2011

Dial M for Machiavelli

Things are certainly heating up in the letters page of the Midlothian Advertiser as we head towards the local elections in May, and my old adversary, Councillor Milligan has clearly been hard at work behind the scenes.

Unfortunately for him, I do have my moles in the Midlothian Labour Party and I am well aware of what's going on. The letters, written by his close associates, all bear the hall marks of issues he's fond of complaining to his comrades about. Whether it's my involvement as a community councillor, the town's Twinning Association or the community council newsletter, all his favourite grouses appear in most of the letters. One of this week's letters even suggests the Council's Audit Committee might take an interest in the fact the twinning association merged with the community council. I suspect the the Audit Committee has enough to be going on with over the Bonnyrigg Rose car park saga than concern itself with this - after all, unlike with the car park, no public money has been lost.

It's a pity the Sherwood Management Committee has been dragged into all of this. Having met with the committee I was under the impression the matter of the Bonnyrigg Primary snagging problems had been resolved. Do these people realise they have to work with councillors of all colours, not just the ones they favour? The partisan views expressed (in a highly unprofessional manner) by a body which receives grant funding may attract the attention of, er, Midlothian Council's Audit Committee.

News has just reached me, however, of something altogether underhand, and which is further proof of the threat Councillor Milligan regards I pose to his chances of re-election in May. On Sunday, the candidate selection meeting was held for Labour candidates in the Bonnyrigg ward. There are currently two Labour councillors, Derek Milligan and Jackie Aitchison. Jackie's problem is his name begins with A and Milligan's with M, and it seems that most people who trundle into the polling booths in Bonnyrigg and want to vote Labour don't bother more than looking down the list and voting '1', '2' against Labour candidates. Bad news for Derek!

So 6 months ago (according to my Labour mole), he and another Labour activist, Louie Milliken, recruited friends and family ahead of the deadline to ensure they would be eligible to vote in the selection process. You can guess the rest - Aitchison out, Milliken in, and the problem is solved.

It's not for me to interfere in the internal workings of the Labour Party, but to date, sitting councillors are normally only deselected if they've been particularly bad boys or girls and in all my years in Bonnyrigg, I don't see that Jackie has done anything bad.

What happens next will be interesting. When your cupboard is crammed with skeletons you need to be careful about how you treat those who hold the keys.