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Enter a new motley crew in Scotland

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THE results of the Scottish local authority elections are in, and they are depressingly predictable – more SNP, a swing to Labour from the Conservatives and people still voting for unicorns and Green fairies.

There are a few new councillors worth remarking on as they illustrate the characters being elevated into positions of power across Scotland.

Nadia El-Nakla won a seat in Dundee for the SNP. Nadia, an ex-aide to the ex-SNP Health Minister Shona Robison, is described as an SNP activist: she certainly knows her way around the party. While married to her first husband, Fariad Umar, Nadia had an affair with SNP councillor Craig Melville. Umar, an IT expert, used computer software to examine her mobile phone history and uncovered a trail of anti-Muslim texts. He emailed some to SNP and other politicians complaining about Melville’s racist behaviour.

Melville ‘resigned’ his post as a Dundee City councillor and aide to SNP MP Stewart Hosie, then husband of Shona Robison (Nicola’s ex best pal – are you keeping up?). A three-day trial found him guilty and fined him £1,000. Melville lost his job as environment convener on Dundee City Council and his ‘political career was destroyed’.

Nadia, however, went on to marry the current SNP Health Minister Humza Yousaf. Her success in last week’s ballot makes her the first minority ethnic SNP candidate elected in Dundee – known as the People’s Socialist Republic. She hopes to inspire other women to get involved in politics.

SNP council leader John Alexander said: ‘I think this is going to be one of the most diverse councils we’ve ever had – that can only be a good thing, a council that reflects the make-up of the city.’

The card that was missing from the Dundee pack was played in Glasgow as a trans woman, Elaine Gallagher, won for the Greens in Southside Central. This is in the Scottish parliamentary constituency of one Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister for Scotland. Previously and more honestly known as Govan, it is the most densely populated and controversial district in Glasgow. It includes the Gorbals, Govanhill, Queens Park, and Crosshill.

Elaine’s win supplanted one of the First Minister’s allies, Mhairi Hunter, described as her ‘right-hand woman,’ and a well-known SNP activist.

Old traditions were not entirely lost. Henry Dunbar was elected for Labour in Airdrie North, a ward in North Lanarkshire. Dunbar is a former world leader of the Orange Order as Imperial President, and ex-Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland. He is not the first Orangeman to be involved in Scottish politics but the most senior.

Mr Dunbar, 66, was a prominent pro-Union figure in the independence referendum in 2014 and organised a march of 15,000 Orangemen and women through Edinburgh the weekend before the vote. He told the crowd: ‘Mr Salmond, you will not con the loyal Protestant people of Scotland. No to Independence and No Surrender to separatism.’

The Orange Order is widely viewed as anti-Catholic. When Mr Dunbar was chosen to be a Labour candidate, the ‘Call it Out’ campaign against anti-Catholic bigotry in Scotland called it a ‘slap in the face’.

Some have criticised Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, on grounds of his naivety and lack of cultural sensitivity. Mr Sarwar said he expected Labour candidates to have ‘no hatred against anybody in our communities, I will root that out. I won’t stand for it’. We will watch his efforts with interest.

So, in conclusion, everything in Scotland stays the same – the economy is a basket case, the NHS a disaster, education a lost cause. The SNP claim the results show a strengthened appetite for independence, Labour say it’s a thumbs down for independence but a thumbs up for their socialist policies. The Conservatives hunker down looking for yet another new Scottish leader, Alba is still wandering the hills, liberals still don’t know what a woman is, and the Greens don’t know what day it is. A miasma of weariness covers the land.

Time perhaps to follow the advice of that much-missed sage, P J  O’Rourke : ‘Don’t vote – it just encourages the b*stards.’ 

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Kate Dunlop
Kate Dunlop
Kate Dunlop is a mediator.

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