Has the coronavirus lockdown muddled the minds of local politicians?
A swathe of Aberdeenshire Council’s Conservative and SNP members have abandoned their respective parties and returned to a bygone age when “independents” – usually Tories – ruled the roost.
Alastair Bews, who represents North Kincardine, left the SNP group for “personal and professional reasons”, whatever that means.
Like SNP colleague and fellow quitter Leigh Wilson, he’s chosen to be an independent councillor. Mr Wilson, by the way, cites “professional circumstances” as his reason.
Professional circumstances? A quote plucked straight from the “meaningless statements” section of the politicians’ manual.
No sooner had Jim Gifford, an excellent and long-term leader of the council, stated that he looked forward to working with them as “elected councillors” – except they weren’t elected as independents – than he had jumped the Conservative Party ship.
But Councillor Gifford and fellow Tory mutineers Michael Roy, Lesley Berry and Jeff Hutchison had only just walked the plank before being pulled on to the independent lifeboat to form a new gang aboard HMS We Have No Policies.
Their principal aim, it seems, is to continue to trouser a taxpayer-funded salary having discarded the banner under which they were elected.
Is cheating too harsh a description for such behaviour?
Meanwhile, Councillor Roy, a Conservative representative for nine years, spoke out to inform his constituents that “recent changes in the party’s group will put greater emphasis on politics with a capital P”.
He wasn’t comfortable with that.
Had it just dawned on him after almost a decade in local politics that he was elected because he nailed his colours to the Conservative mast?
Why didn’t he and his new non-political pals stand as independents in the first place?
Coming soon at Aberdeenshire HQ, a full council meeting where the only item on the agenda should be: By-elections in the wards of all defectors.
Tea and biscuits will follow.
Hypocrisy from our FM on coronavirus
The first minister continues to dumfound me.
She warns that meeting people from other households puts you, them and others at risk of contracting the coronavirus and possible death.
This is the same Nicola Sturgeon who oversaw the transfer of almost a thousand elderly and frail patients – not tested for the virus – from infected hospitals to care homes where many people sadly subsequently died.
Big guns beating small businesses
Life is tough for the small, independent retailer on Britain’s high streets.
Many have gone under. Others are struggling.
The current arrangements for Aberdeen’s Union Street crudely blocked to traffic between Bridge Street and Market Street – apparently to make it easier to social distance – gives it the look of a scene from a wartime movie in which the streets are bare of people and vehicles.
Pavements are scheduled to be widened to accommodate non-existent crowds with nowhere to shop on this one-time hive of hustle and bustle, now almost an irrelevance in what is often described as “the retail experience”.
Covid-19 may have exacerbated the difficulties faced by those small businesses battling big guns, but after a saunter down the thoroughfare, once the jewel in the Granite City’s shopping crown, the question now is: What is the point of Union Street?