Never mind the ballots …

It seems Planet Hearts has created something of a stir in Scottish political circles after it announced the paper intends to field a candidate at the next local elections in Edinburgh.

Tom Ponton, the city’s longest serving councillor, is currently the chap in our sights after he ruffled a few feathers by calling in a proposed land deal in Gorgie, which would see Hearts FC allowed to buy land from the capital at an agreed price.

Ponton, if he is to be believed, wants to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money, and put a proverbial spanner in the works to delay it.

Perhaps if he cut down on a few of those expenses he submits, it would be a start in saving the city money as he claims to wish.
(This was after all the man who once claimed more in a year than the provost – or anyone else for that matter.)

But we just didn’t buy at, we didn’t believe his reasoning and indignation.

At first, we thought it was a simple publicity stunt by the councillor, a way to grab some headlines and get to kiss a few more babies. Admittedly a bit younger than the kids who were illegally sold alcohol in his bar while under-age, once-upon-a-time, but there you go.

But a teeny bit of digging, and low and behold, an email surfaces which suggest that Jenny Dawe, the Lib Dem group leader in Edinburgh (aka Tom’s boss) would also be happier if the land sale in fact did not go ahead as planned.

No. It seems that if it were to be thwarted, then there is a chance playing fields in her ward might be saved rather than being sold off for housing. And let’s face it, who could blame her.

Surely, then, she would not have been too disappointed if someone, say Tom, were to erect a stumbling block?

What hacks me off, isn’t so much the fact they want to delay the deal with a pointless exercise which will go over old ground already dealt with.

But the apparent sleekitness behind it.

They have tried to gain both publicity and political capital by gambling with the future of the football club, while claiming to be doing their best for the people.


They are looking out for themselves first, and punters second, while treating the community at large with contempt. That is why Tom Ponton and co have fallen into the paper’s sights, and why we plan to stand against him.

Some have suggested we take this protest – for that’s what it is – even further and field a candidate for the Scottish Parliament too.

But would that be a step too far?

These new fangled voting systems make it very possible a pro-Hearts, single issue candidate could have a dramatic effect on the process.

Which brings me to the point about Planet Hearts causing something of gnashing of teeth in some quarters.

First, the Edinburgh Evening News carried a page seven article on the fact we were to stand, followed up the next day by a couple of papers.

Yesterday, it seems The Scotsman’s chief football writer decided to get in on the act, and bump his gums about the folly of it all.

And today, would you believe, we’ve made it into the Sunday Times, Gillian Bowditch coming out in over single issue campaigns, suggesting she might stand naked.

All, it must be said, something of a surprise. Who would have thought we’d be causing quite so much consternation in the corridors of power to such an extent, that seasoned old pros would be bashing out column inches on the subject.

But whatever the reasons, whatever the outcome, and whatever people’s opinions on whether or not we are right to engage in this action – whether it is seen as democracy in action or as terrorism of the political process – it has ensured one thing.

That the land deal at Tynecastle, the merits for and against it, will be dealt with in the full view of interested parties, and not fall victim of backroom political deals.

And as would be candidates scramble to win votes ahead of May 3, it will be up to the people to decide the merits of our actions.

Not the critics with typewriters urged to take one side or another, no matter how many long lunches they may get invited to enjoy in the process.

Categories: Interviews and talks

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