“If you accept mediocrity that’s almost certainly what you’ll get.”
That was the football mantra of the late Dundee United chairman and manager Jim McLean.
We should heed his wise words at the next election.
Jim’s motto demanded the best from his players every time they took the field and that stipulation should also apply to those who we entrust with our votes to run our towns and cities.
His words should be uppermost in all of our minds when it comes to casting our votes at both national and local elections.
Because it’s very clear that in too many cases that as voters we’ve been far too ready to accept not only mediocrity but incompetence and ineptitude from those we’ve chosen to represent us.
And we find the cost of such mediocrity is the squandering of millions of pounds of our hard-earned taxes, while no blame is ever accepted or apportioned for the huge waste of resources.
‘Answer lies with the voters’
Fellow columnist Steve Finan has rightly kept up the pressure on Dundee council over their amateur hour mishandling of the Olympia leisure centre debacle, which has seen the facility need £6 million of repairs while undergoing a 27-month closure.
Steve has pointed out opposition councillors and MPs and others have called for an investigation and The Courier has continued to ask hard questions of those responsible for the shambles.
But, ultimately, the answer lies with us the voters.
We’ve too often been prepared to cast our votes on the basis of our tribal party loyalties instead of looking hard at the actual individual abilities and experience of those putting themselves forward as councillors, MPs and MSPs.
As a result we’ve concentrated great power in the hands of many folk in public office who lack both basic life and business experience and skills.
Too many of these individuals are completely out of their depth in making decisions which require a solid understanding and comprehension of many professional, business, and trade skills and requirements.
They are often involved in making major decisions for which they have neither the competence nor proficiency.
In voting blindly for parties and not the best individuals we’ve ended up with too many elected officials promoted way beyond their abilities, making massive and long-lasting decisions for which they simply don’t have the required level of professional skills or judgement.
Because of their limited abilities and knowledge they are also potentially easily manipulated and swayed by those who advise them as officers at council level, or at Holyrood or Westminster by civil servants wanting a cushy life.
‘Accept mediocrity – or quiz elected representatives’
As Steve points out in the Olympia case, council leader John Alexander has cited failings in “everything from location, to maintenance, to design and construction quality”.
He claims “several people must take responsibility,” but doesn’t say what that responsibility is, who is to take responsibility or why.
So if no one in power is prepared to apportion or accept blame for an unholy mess of the magnitude of the Olympia fiasco, and opposition and media calls for transparency are rebuffed and ignored, the answer must lie with us as voters.
If we’re prepared to accept mediocrity in the running of our cities and towns or indeed our parliament then that is almost certainly what we’ll get.
Alternatively, we can each make the effort to put pressure on local councillors and other elected representatives come election time and refuse to vote for those whose administrations have resulted in cack-handed costly cock-ups like the Olympia.
Top notch music
I said last week I’d be getting out more in future and so it continued last Friday night with a sojourn to the recently reopened Clark’s bar in Dundee.
Like many I was delighted to see the much loved music venue open for business again and they’ve a great list of forthcoming acts.
Covid and tight finances have hit many venues hard so it’s good to see some green shoots of recovery; the renaissance of the former and also much missed Groucho’s in the Nethergate as a live music venue is also a big boost.
As we danced and birled to one of the city’s favourite bands, Boogalusa, with their irresistible eclectic mix of Cajun-zydeco swing, Clark’s bar was rocking.
A Glaswegian in our company who’d been bemoaning the state of the live music scene in his own city was having a terrific night.
He reckoned the dear green place had nothing like Clark’s and it would go down a storm there.
Sometimes when the wind is blowing and the chill is in the air, it’s an effort to go out, but it’s worth it when the venue is like an old friend’s reunion and the music is top notch.