Cllr David Meikle is a Conservative councillor in Glasgow.
Nearly a year ago I wrote an article for Conservative Home about the council election taking place in Glasgow in May 2017. When I wrote that piece I was the only Conservative councillor in the city and had been for ten years. I said then that I believed we had a real chance of increasing the number of Conservative councillors in Glasgow. And we did.
Not only did we increase the number of councillors, but we increased our vote and became the third largest party in the City Chambers. To go from one councillor to eight was an achievement delivered by hard-working candidates, a focused Association, a team of dedicated volunteers and the people of Glasgow voting for strong local voices on the Council. For me personally, I was delighted to be re-elected for a third term but also to see seven colleagues elected and have someone who could second a motion at Full Council.
What made the result even better was that we won in all parts of Glasgow. In fact, we now have three councillors covering the southside, two in the West End and three in the East End – showing that our campaign for every vote across the city paid off. To give you an idea of how successful we were our vote went up from 8,567 in 2012 to 25,018 in 2017 – or from six per cent to 15 per cent.
Glaswegians who voted for the Conservatives elected a group of councillors who will work hard for local communities and over the last eight months each of us have done just that. As Group Leader I have ensured we question the new administration and try to deliver on our ‘5-point plan’ focusing on issues like creating jobs and growth, fair Council Tax, and a cleaner, greener Glasgow.
In the same article I wrote for Conservative Home, I also said that Labour was failing Glasgow, they had controlled the Council for too long and had taken the city for granted. The voters agreed and Labour lost control after four decades in power, resulting in the Council now being run by a minority SNP administration.
The SNP promised change but so far we have seen little evidence of that since they took charge. Instead it is pretty much business as usual with a timid restructure and even their aim to deliver 25 pledges in 100 days is a failure.
We will be watching to see if the SNP council works for Glasgow; is not the mouthpiece of the SNP government; and fights against centralising power in Edinburgh. We also will be watching to see if they work for everyone in Glasgow and do not use the City Chambers to campaign for another independence referendum.
This year many challenges face the Council: setting the £2bn budget in February, addressing equal pay claims, and continuing to deliver the City Deal. Glasgow Conservatives are up to the task of challenging the minority SNP administration on this and we will continue to work together to be a strong opposition.