Frank Gilfeather: By-elections a must following changes in circumstance​

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Why is there a reluctance to hold two Aberdeen City Council by-elections?

Councillor Jennifer Stewart had hardly unclipped her Liberal Democrat rosette after the local authority vote when she shocked her now former colleagues in the party by announcing she was to sit in the chamber as an Independent.

Do Lib Dem voters in Mrs Stewart’s Hazlehead/ Ashley/ Queens Cross ward feel mugged?

By-election anyone?

Then, newly-elected Tory Tom Mason, councillor for Midstocket and Rosemount, now finds himself in the Scottish Parliament as a list member, courtesy of Ross Thomson going from MSP to MP.

Mr Mason will not resign as a councillor – he will give his £17,000 salary to charities – as he looks forward to four more years in that role.

Shouldn’t he step down and trigger a local authority election re-run in his neck of the woods?

Or is there a little flutter of uncertainty that his party would struggle to retain the seat or that Mrs Stewart would be replaced for jumping ship so soon after the vote?

Maybe the administration takes the view that all will be well, as long as Mr Mason turns up for full council meetings to register his vote on crucial issues.

Other political parties have found themselves in similar situations and held dual roles, an unacceptable scenario.

Few, however, will have reacted as he did to the news that he now had two jobs.

“My leisure activities will suffer as a result,” he said.

“I won’t be able to play my croquet or visit my holiday home in Inverness or go diving anymore.”

Those ill-chosen words may just come back to haunt him.


Council gambling £51m of pension funds on fracking

I am unaware of a political view at Aberdeen City Council on the controversial matter of fracking, the technique used to exploit previously inaccessible shale gas and oil.

Scotland has a temporary ban on the activity but a new report by Friends of the Earth Scotland shows us that council pension funds have invested heavily in a wide range of companies it says are involved in fracturing underground rocks to extract shale gas.

Aberdeen City Council, you may be interested to learn, has placed £51 million of its pension fund on the fracking bet.


Queen’s speech hints May might be packing her bags

When is it safe for a political party to bury its manifesto pledges?

Any time after that party has been elected.

The Queen’s Speech, delivered with the Monarch wearing civvies, highlighted the reality that Theresa May will soon be calling in the removal men to No 10.

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