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Will Scottish Labour's election chances be hit by their Town Hall sleaze?

While the Twitter scandal last week caused Stuart MacLennan to be ditched as the Labour candidate for Moray the English media have given less attention to the greater scandal of Glasgow Council Labour leader Steven Purcell. He resigned due to cocaine use but the Labour councillors have blocked an inquiry into wider implication of gangaster associations and sleaze involving Labour Party donations and Council contracts.

The Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy represents East Renfrewshire. This is the 133rd target seat for the Conservatives and it is near Glasgow. Murphy held a fund raising dinner attended by a gangster. East Renfrewshire Council has an equal number of Conservative and Labour councillors - but it has a Labour administration as they are propped up by the SNP and the Lib Dems. There are no Council elections in Scotland this year. Due to the appalling system of proportional representation I suppose getting an overall majority on the Council will be a challenge even if we win the Parliamentary seat.

The Conservative candidate is a sound man called Richard Cook, a director of a recycling business He has denounced the Council for failing to back residents fighting anti social behaviour because of its ideological attachment to the "right to roam." He has also attacked them for wasting money - for instance watering hanging baskets in the rain. He is a fearless opponent of political correctness and Director of Think Scotland.

Among the other nine target seats two are in Edinburgh, where the Council is run by a SNP/Lib Dem coalition.  They are Edinburgh South (a Labour seat that is the Conservative's 108th target although one that involves leapfrogging over the Lib Dems.) Then more of a stretch is Edinburgh South West, our 163rd target it is currently held by Alistair Darling. There are 11 Conservative councillors in Edinburgh with 17 for Labour. Given that Labour's strongest areas, such as Leith, as not in our target seats, these figures seem encouraging. When Labour ran Edinburgh they came up with a Congestion Charge proposal - but it was roundly defeated in a referendum five years ago. Yet under the SNP/Lib Dem the persecution of motorists has continued. Edinburgh has the highest parking fines per person in Scotland.

Dumfries and Galloway (Conservative target 55) has a Labour MP. But the Council is a Conservative-led coalition with the Lib Dems. Another encouraging sign.

Labour-held Stirling (target 100) seems less encouraging. The Council is run by an SNP minority administration and while there are eight Labour councillors there are only four Tories. The Council sends its staff on "positive thinking" workshops.

Similarly in Angus we are seeking to take the seat from the SNP. It is only target 39. Yet while they have 13 councillors on Angus we have five.

Perth and North Perthshire is a seat where the SNP beat us only quite narrowly last time. It would be a wonderful seat to gain back to honour the splendid Sir Nicholas Fairbairn and is Target 30. We have 12 councillors on Perth and Kinross Council while the SNP have 18 and ran it with Lib Dem backing. They spent £114,000 upgrading gypsy sites. I am puzzled why Ochil and South Perthshire (Target 87) has not made it in to the top ten targets.

Argyll and Bute (Target 122) is currently held by the Lib Dems. The (Independent/SNP led) local council has eight Lib Dems and three Conservatives. Another target currently held by the Lib Dems is Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Target 121.) Here the local government indications of comparative strength are more promising. On Scottish Borders Council there are 11 Conservatives and 10 Lib Dems while on South Lanarkshire there are eight Conservatives and two Lib Dems.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Target 171, is another seat in our sites currently held by the Lib Dems. In comes under Aberdeenshire Council where there are 23 Lib Dems and 13 Conservatives. But that Council also has the Gordon constituency which is rather stronger Lib Dem territory saw the composition for the releant areas is rather closer.

All this analysis is with the proviso that the imposition on Scotland of the odious, incomprehensible alien PR voting system makes the picture very unclear. Instead of clear winners and losers we have seen local democracy north of the border reduced to mush.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale is currently the only Consevative seat in Scotland.


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