Tuesday, 22 May 2012

First council meeting

Today was the first meeting of the council since the elections and if this is anything to go by, it's going to be fun.

On the face of it, most of the proceedings went to plan. Nominations from the SNP-led coalition for provost, council leader and respective deputes, were all voted in as expected. A call by the Labour group for all votes to be recorded as 'roll-call' (i.e. with individual votes recorded rather than totals) was perhaps a sign that the opposition is playing hard ball, but only time will tell if this becomes a regular feature.

Something else which may become a regular feature is the time-outs; twice adjournments were called - first by the Labour group which insisted it hadn't had enough time to consider proposals presented by the coalition during the meeting, then again by the coalition which wanted to consider amendments to its own motion to accommodate objections by the Labour group.

I hope my own position became clearer to both sides too. Playing hard ball does not endear me to anyone, and I did feel Labour's call for more equal representation on external committees in the interests of more consensual politics didn't sit easily with its own record when in power. I did, however, agree with its argument; but consensual politics is a two way street, and I'll be watching closely to see a commitment to this from both sides before deciding whether the motives are genuine or cynical.

I also don't take kindly to being bounced into making decisions. Politics should be about being in full possession of the facts, listening to both sides of the argument and then making an informed decision. Worryingly, I saw failings here today too. As it's the start of term and a lot of us are new to this game, I'm prepared to cut a little slack. But be warned; put forward a proposal without warning and no matter how sensible it seems on the face of it, don't assume I'll automatically back it.

It was all very enjoyable to be in the thick of it, and I look forward to further installments. However, probably the most exciting thing I did today was to finally start getting in touch with constituents whom I had spoken to on the doorsteps during the election campaign. This is getting off the ground more slowly than I'd hoped in some cases where I need to get some preliminary information from council officials first. However, I managed to phone one person and wrote an initial letter to another with more prepared, and that for me was the main achievement of the day.

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