Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A whole new political dynamic ...

I think the recent chaos - how else can you describe it - surrounding the future of educational provision in Edinburgh has thrown up another, wider issue that's received precious little press comment ... the relationship between national and local government in Scotland - between a new Parliamentary authority AND the new proportionally-elected Councils (mostly coalitions) at a local level.

It is a crucial relationship to get right - as the Old Scottish Executive often found out to its cost - because if the lawmakers (as that's what they are) at Holyrood want their laws to be effectively delivered by the service providers (as that what THEY are) at Council level, then they have to have a constructive relationship based on respect and parity of esteem.

I'm not sure the new Scottish 'Executive/Government' has given this crucial relationship enough thought - that's NOT meant to be a political criticism, just an opinion based on some evidence of how this has worked (or not) at the Edinburgh level to date. I hear on the grapevine that similar tensions are bubbling away in all of Scotland's cities and even in some of the rural Councils.

There's a whole new political dynamic here - between a minority national Government and mostly Coalition Councils - that's never been tried or tested before and I do think that both sides need to start thinking far more seriously about how to make that dynamic work ... essentially towards the best outcomes for the people they're supposed to be serving.

At the minute, given experience in Edinburgh to date, I'm not at all convinced that this is happening ... yes 'Oppositions' have a role, but this is primarily about power and how its used; and that, ultimately, is an issue for the myriad new 'Administrations' in Scotland.

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