Scots '˜have better things to do' than local politics

Scots have far better things to do than get involved in local party politics, according to a new poll.

Edinburgh councillors hold a public meeting to discuss budget cuts in 2015. Picture: Neil Hanna/JP License

A survey of more than 1,000 people shows that only one per cent of Scots say that local politics interests them more than TV, cooking, taking exercise or other hobbies.

A similar number listed knitting as their favourite activity.

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The poll was commissioned from the Electoral Reform Society by organisers of the Act As If We Own The Place campaign.

They said numbers are surprising given how engaged Scots are presumed to be in politics in the wake of the independence referendum.

They said the poll is a damning indictment of the lack of relevance local party politics now plays in people’s everyday lives.

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Researchers found that 51 per cent of all those surveyed would rather go to the pub with their friends than queue at the polling station.

And 46 per cent would prefer to stay in bed than vote in a local election.

Almost one-quarter said they would finish the ironing instead of exercising their democratic rights.

However, the poll also revealed that a significant number are interested in improving their local communities.

Of those questioned, 43 per cent said they would give up at least half a day a month to get involved.

Some 23 per cent said they would volunteer a day a month to help organise activity in their local area.

Willie Sullivan, director of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The big question is why would nearly one-quarter of Scots rather do the ironing than pull on the main democratic lever offered to them?

“Perhaps it’s because they don’t think that lever is working for them. Power in Scotland is too centralised, too top down, and too far away from most people.

“It seems it’s not only the US where liberal democracy needs a life-support machine.

“Our diagnosis is that people want power over their own lives and their own communities, and don’t feel the current set up lets them.”

The campaign, which calls on locals to take democracy into their own hands, will hold events in “most” towns and cities across Scotland ahead of the local elections in May next year.

Meetings are already planned in Dundee, Fife, Dumfries, Oban, Inverness and Kirriemuir in coming months.

Organisers want communities to have more say on issues that affect their quality of life.