When the music stops everyone grab a chair!
It seems that the SNP and Tories in Ayrshire have sown up the game of council music chairs between them with the news that the SNP have taken control of East Ayrshire Council , with support from the Tories and that in South Ayrshire the Tories have taken control with the support of guess who -- yes you guessed it - the SNP. This game of musical chairs ensures that everyone gets a seat apart from the Labour councillors.
Should we mourn the passing of the era of guaranteed Labour control of many Scottish Councils? Absolutely not. This has nothing to do with Labour nationally or with the Iraq war or matters like that. It is a consequence of many years of voter weariness with Labour councils which had become staid and unimaginative. It is a consequence of arrogance by some in the Labour party that they were the natural party of Local Government.
Ultimately this can only do the Labour party good. There will be those of course in the local Labour party who will urge a return to the days of clause 4 and full blooded socialism. But that is folly. Those days are gone, never to return. The Labour party will never return solid majorities by returning to full blooded socialist roots. In that respect the New Labour project was exactly right.
Where the New Labour project went wrong however was in pushing too far and too fast towards market type mechanisms in organisations such as the NHS. These patently failed - as the criminal state of uncleanliness in some of our hospitals testifies.
Fortunately the electorate will soon begin to see through the facade of SNP/Tory councils. There will be many who have voted SNP who will have fantasised that somehow they would be braveheart socialists. Such people, feeling disenchanted with New Labour, will soon discover that the SNP is a strange and broad church. For such people the sight of SNP /Tory co-operation must be a strange sight indeed.
For those of a more right leaning persuasion the shock will be that the SNP does indeed harbour braveheart socialists who will push for a return to "true" Scottish socialist policies.
This is where the SNP hold on power may begin to unravel. For as the SNP takes the reins of power it will become apparent that within that party there may be a very wide and ultimately unwieldy spread of political opinion - held together only by the desire for independence.