Thursday, 8 May 2008

Nothing Changed.

Mr Smith came across a very obscure publication on the Scottish Government's website, "National Survey of Local Government Candidates, 2007 ... Reports the findings of a survey of candidates who were unsuccessful at the local government elections in 2007. Findings from a survey of successful candidates (councillors) also drawn in as appropriate."

To summarise all of the findings of the report would take a while, but Mr Smith was drawn to the contents of Chapter 4, the "Characteristics of unsuccessful candidates and councillors." This section states, "An unintended (but obvious) outcome of the introduction of STV and multi-member wards has been the significant drop in the number of candidates who stood for election ... One of the knock on effects of this has been that political parties appear to have (understandably) fielded mostly experienced candidates, rather than 'fresh faces', which has exacerbated the under-representation of women, particularly from ethnic minorities, and certain age groups among candidates ... The majority of unsuccessful candidates and councillors still match the stereotype of a Scottish councillor. Most are male, middle-aged, married, well-educated and have a relatively high income. The characteristics of councillors are reasonably similar to those of unsuccessful candidates. The main demographic differences are that councillors, compared to unsuccessful candidates, are less likely to have a degree, are more likely to be retired or work part-time, and are even more likely to be aged 55-64. In terms of political experience, councillors are more likely to have served as a councillor in the past ... There have been some changes in the demographics of unsuccessful candidates since 2003, as females are now even more under-represented among those standing for election, and people aged 55-64 are even more over-represented."

So to summarise ... not a lot changed at last year's Scottish council elections in terms of those who now serve as Councillors. They are white, male, older, not in active employment, less well educated and had served previously as councillors, despite the fact that the Scottish Executive spent millions of pounds on severance payments for those councillors that stood down and we spent millions more encouraging even fewer people to stand for election to their local councils. The report proves that all of the things our political leaders said last year about making local government more reflective of Scottish society didn't quite pan out. Labour lost a lot of white, male, older councillors only to have them replaced by white, male, even older councillors from a load of other parties. That was worth it then, eh?

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