Yesterday afternoon, Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart demanded action on declining voter turnout in local government, highlighting the democratic deficit that arises when every citizen does not exercise their right to vote. Ms McTaggart, a former Glasgow City Councillor and a current member of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, spoke about the importance of local government and suggested that local councils should be given a stronger mandate over decision-making processes within their jurisdiction. In addition, she emphasized the importance of distinguishing between the roles of central and local government.
Ms McTaggart stated “If people understand that their local council has the ability – and, crucially – the resources to bring about change to their community, they will understand the value of their vote. What is needed is a radical approach that provides for local government in Scotland, and affords opportunities for community development and the empowerment of ordinary people in the decision making process.”
Ms McTaggart also addressed the growing gender gap in local government, as well as the inequality in voter turnout for younger and economically-disadvantaged citizens, stating:
“We know that less than one in four Councillors are women, a figure lower than that for both MSPs and MPs. It is for both political parties and local government itself to reverse this trend, and we must ensure that we have a system of local government that truly reflects the diversity of the people that it claims to represent.”
To target these concerns, she proposed methods for increasing voter turnout, including enfranchising sixteen and seventeen year olds, creating better public access to political information, and introducing alternative voting methods.
Read Anne McTaggart’s speech in full here.
Watch Anne McTaggart’s speech from 1hr 29:50 onwards: