BILL HEANEY’S ELECTION NOTEBOOK

BILL HEANEYIf today’s General Election is going to be all about Europe, then we can take it – if we can presume anything at all these days  – that the majority of voters in West Dunbartonshire will vote for the candidates who want to remain part of the EU.

The number of votes cast in the constituency for REMAIN in the 2016 Referendum was 26,794 while just 16, 426 votes were cast for LEAVE.

But, as we all know, everything changes and some things  more than others, change markedly.

The parties who want to remain in the European Union are the SNP, the LibDems, Labour, The Greens and Independents.

The only party that wishes to take us out of Europe is the Conservatives.

So, if you want to be part of Boris Brigade, then vote, vote, vote for Alix Mathieson.

However, from where I am sitting, Ms Mathieson has only two chances. A dog’s and none. More seasonally, she hasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell. Hers will not be a happy Christmas, certainly not politically.

I think we can also write off Peter Connolly of the Green Party, who may not quite be the little boy that Santa Claus forgot if only because his colleague Ross Greer MSP did so much for the Save Loch Lomond campaign earlier this year.

Andrew Muir is the Independent and the only candidate who lives in the constituency. In Dumbarton. Mr Muir is sanguine about his chances.

He knows he can’t win but seems content that this election gives him a platform for his strong Catholic,  fundamentalist views on abortion, same sex marriage, mental health matters and alleged corruption at West Dunbartonshire Council.

So, as we enter the final part of our journey, whose reindeer will have the strength to pull their Santa Claus all the way to the finish and a comfortable seat on the green benches of the House of Commons?

It could be said that the Labour Party have handicapped themselves by entering Jean Anne Mitchell.

Dumbarton-born and Clydebank-bred, Jean Anne is not the most experienced political candidate.

This manifested itself this week when she found herself caught up in a row about anti-semitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

A more experienced politician would have given that one a body swerve.

Her campaign team are equally inexperienced, and there is little evidence on the doorsteps of Labour enthusiasm for the fight to win.

This may have something to do with behind-the-scenes resentment of the fact that West Dunbartonshire was designated a “woman candidate only” seat and that some men with ambitions and aspirations wish to make West Dunbartonshire their route to Westminster.

The disappointment is written on the faces of the men who were excluded from the candidate selection process. They have been denied a shot of the SATNAV on the Labour Party sleigh.

However, Jean Anne did come closely behind the SNP candidate, Martin Docherty Hughes, in the 2017 election and was just over 2,000 votes behind him at the polls, which makes the seat marginal.

Lord McFall and Gemma Doyle, former holders of the seat for West Dunbartonshire.

Unlike the 2015 election when Martin molicated the youthful Gemma Doyle, who succeeded Lord McFall for Labour after he went to the House of Lords.

With a bit more luck and less in-fighting and in-party jealousy we might have had  as our MP Ayisha Hazarika, the former special adviser to Harriet Harman and now accomplished political and media pundit for Sky Television on the Press Preview and in the London Evening Standard.

Labour supporters still cover their ears when they hear that result, which was Martin Docherty Hughes (SNP) 30,198 and Gemma Doyle (LAB) 16,027.

The other candidates in 2015, including the Helensburgh Tory, Maurice Corry, and Aileen Morton (LIBDEM), whose returns were abysmal, might as well not have got out of bed to take part in the election.

Everyone says this is the most important election in their lifetime, but in truth it has been a remarkably quiet affair, apart from Boris Johnston making a buffoon of himself by refusing to take part in that interview with BBC’s Andrew Neil and hiding in a fridge where he refused to speak to a reporter from Good Morning Britain.

The television channels were doing an early morning  story on Johnston delivering milk round the doors in Leeds. Some would say milk is the only thing Johnston could safely deliver.  Or am I just being sour?

McColl under coverThese episodes were almost as stupid as the decision taken by the SNP’s own buffoon-writ-large, Council leader Jonathan McColl, pictured left, for persuading the SNP to ban and boycott The Dumbarton Democrat.

This was for asking to have the sound turned up in the Council chamber so that the press and public could hear what was going on at council meetings.

Fortunately, there was not much worth listening to since the SNP are inclined to redact great screeds from their reports and minutes, and hide important business documents away in cupboards. That is when they are not having the public excluded from meetings to discuss sensitive matters, such as the £5 million that has gone astray.

And locking the press and public out of meetings, which they are perfectly entitled to attend, not to mention the attempts to cover up the police inquiries into graft and corruption; reporting the most astute and experienced councillor to the Standards Commission for showing the rest of them up; failure to implement proper procurement policies, and dining high off the hog with contractor, who were awarded contracts worth at least £9 million.

Oh, and that little matter of £5 million which they have already overspent on a communal heating system at Queens Quay in Clydebank.

If all politics is local and if there is any justice in this murky world which these shameless politicians occupy then Jean Anne Mitchell will win West Dunbartonshire for Labour.

If there is not, and widespread ignorance of this bourach exists, then Martin Docherty Hughes will win and take the seat for the SNP home to his husband for Christmas.

No wonder the affable Mr Docherty-Hughes mentioned the SNP only once in his 4-page election leaflet.

He must be aware of that old Scots saying that if ye fly with the craws then ye get shot wi’ the craws.

My prediction is that the SNP will win the race by a short antler. And that we will not see a second referendum on Scottish independence at any time in the next 20 years.

Everything changes though and not always the way we would wish them to change.

Anyway, good luck to all the parties on the big day.

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