Politicians must engage on the issues we will vote on come May 5 - Scotsman editorial comment

What, exactly, are we voting on next month?

Is this "the cost of living election"? Is it about finding "hope"? Or is it about - more prosaically - schools, roads, the bins?

Big, national issues are helpful for political parties. Like the supermarket brands, parties can push a single message to get their tribes motivated and mobilised, avoiding all the fiddly local work.

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But, for Scotland's sake, we hope - perhaps in the face of available evidence so far - that debate will swing to matters closer to home.

Voters will go to the polls on May 5 for the council elections. (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Voters will go to the polls on May 5 for the council elections. (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Voters will go to the polls on May 5 for the council elections. (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

This is a rare moment where we can look at the state of our town and cities, and form a view as to whether the people in charge have done a decent job. In many places, the answer may well be "no". What we decide to do about it will have a real impact.

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Scotland's local council elections should be decided on local issues, not nation...

Superficially mundane decisions made in council chambers have lasting, daily repercussions for our quality of life. Just ask Glaswegians eyeing the state of their down-at-heel shopping precincts, or people in Edinburgh baffled by the complexities of their newly rearranged city streets. Then we have those in Falkirk worried about regeneration of their town centre, or islanders needing their voice heard over the ferry fiasco.

Local policy, services, representation: this is the work of councillors. It is not simply a training ground for future national politicians. And nor is it healthy that parties attempt to corral their vote based on national issues which no local politician, or decision, will ever influence.

Our politics remain beached on the issue of independence. But another referendum on that is years away. While we wait local issues, services and people need our attention.

The Scotsman will attempt to play its part in the weeks ahead. Our survey of the big issues running across council areas, running every Monday, has already begun. We will do all we can to amplify the voices of people wanting to engage on issues of genuine local importance.

We hope our politicians will play their part too. And, in doing so, help us all to remember what it is, exactly, we are voting on next month.

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