THEY’VE been called grubby. Or backstairs. And doubtless, outwith public discourse, something rather more earthy.

From whatever angle you peer, the final makeup of many of Scotland’s councils following the May 5 poll could hardly boast that it ­fairly represents the will of the voters.

Labour, you will recall, was forbidden by its Scottish leader to go into any coalition with anybody to preserve its, er, purity of thought and intent. Yet they would appear to be cheek by jowl with the nationalists in Dumfries and Galloway. Doubtless a form of words has been found to ensure a deal has not really been a deal at all.

It would also seem to be sharing a council bed in the nation’s capital, in Fife and in Stirling with those of an indy persuasion. Plus being in something of a menage-a-trois in East Renfrewshire and South Ayrshire. Daring stuff.

Meanwhile the LibDems, who suffered a near-death experience after they ­coalesced with the Tories nationally in 2010, would seem to have erased that disturbing ­memory at council level.

They’re now propping up the Tories in Perth and Kinross, Highland, East ­Dunbartonshire, Angus, Aberdeenshire and my own dear Argyll and Bute.

Ah, Argyll and Bute! Where the ­largest single party is the SNP but the new ­administration will consist of Tories, ­LibDems, and seven Independents, some of whom are rather more independently ­minded than others. (There are parts of Scotland where Independents style ­themselves that way in case a blue rosette frightens the local horses.)

In Argyll and Bute, the LibDems ­decided cuddling up to the Conservatives was a price worth paying for making off with the council leadership. Meanwhile, we have a new Provost! Well, more of a re-tread, ­really.

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Maurice (Steuart-)Corry is what we might call the whackamole candidate; no matter where and when the electorate slaps him down he pops up again in another guise.

He was a local councillor once before, and hung on to that place for no little time after also getting into Holyrood on the ­Tories’ ­regional list. In fairness he had boosted his party’s vote in 2016, getting ­almost 5000 votes out of the 35,598 cast.

He lost that parliamentary berth in 2021 due in no small part to his colleagues ­bumping him down to number eight on the list where once he had been ­number four. See friends? See that Ruth ­Davidson’s vetting process?

However, being a public-spirited sort, he asked to be co-opted on to the ­community council. Before standing again for the big council in Dumbarton this May and ­getting in! And landing a chain of office forbye. He is my provost, no less. Jings.

(Maurice, who has served in both the armed forces and the territorials is ­entitled to put TD after his name thanks to getting a long service medal from the latter. It’s called the efficiency medal. Make of that what you will.)

But I digress. What distresses me about this whole shebang is how little weight seems to be given to the preferences of the poor bloody voting infantry. It seems as if administrations are too often a matter of horse trading than accurately reflecting their wishes.

When the then first minister Jack ­McConnell brought in proportional ­representation for council elections I was among the cheerleaders. I’ve always found First Past the Post the bluntest of electoral instruments and am yet to be convinced that the Additional Member System deployed by Holyrood is the ideal form of PR.

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For me, the fatal flaw in both systems is the ability of individual parties to game the system; to rank colleagues on their lists in ways which they absolutely know will mostly give them a better than even chance of a seat or will pretty well ­guarantee they end up among the also rans.

If this exercise was done honestly, ie parties always choosing the best women and men for the job in hand, this might be fine and possibly even dandy. However, we know, do we not, that it’s often a way of parties to favour blind loyalty or settle old scores.

It’s not difficult to find examples in the Holyrood lists, for instance, of ­successful candidates who have found favour with their bosses or, conversely, those who have committed the cardinal sin of ­querying the party line.

At council level there are other ­problems. It’s shocking to observe that some wards in Scottish councils were ­uncontested due entirely to lack of ­interest in becoming a candidate for anyone at all. Shocking too to find areas where two thirds of the eligible electorate couldn’t bother their backside to put a cross anywhere.

You might put both of these things down to a situation where councils who ­technically are in charge of some of the ­services which matter most to us ­locally like roads, transport and waste ­management, are not infrequently ­hamstrung by budgetary headaches over which of the non-mandatory services they cut to try and balance the books.

If the power you wield is not so much the “great aphrodisiac” as defined by Henry Kissinger, but the ability to choose which door you’ll shut on which service, you can imagine why there is a lack of four deep queues desperate to chuck their headwear in the ring.

My other local elections hobbyhorse is that they should be doing what it says on their tin. I voted for folk who had either fixed something important to us locally, or whose track record suggested they probably would in the future. One of the candidates at whose name I entirely failed to put a cross was nevertheless amongst the three elected.

That’s democracy for you. At least you have to hope it’s democracy. You have to hope, since this is supposed to be about what needs sorted/promoted in your own backyard, that voters aren’t merely using the poll for entirely party-political ­reasons.

Amongst the headline campaign ­slogans were those urging the electorate to give Boris a kicking or send him a ­message. To let Westminster know that we wanted wur referendum and we weren’t going away.

I have no problem with those ­propositions in the general scheme of things. If Boris finally got the ­message that running a menage would be ­beyond his capacities, nobody would cheer ­louder. If the Scottish Government launched its ­referendum campaign ­tomorrow ­morning, ditto.

However, I hae ma doots that Boris has even heard about the stushie over the ­future of Kilcreggan Pier. Or that Nicola has developed a hitherto unremarked skill at filling holes in the road.

Yet these are among the hot topics round my way.

Tories like Ruth Davidson and Provost Maurice Corry always 'pop back up' despite the electorate

Of course there are issues which straddle both national and local camps. The cost of living impacts every single voter with the possible exception of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his cabinet table colleagues. Sunak and his lady wife have just emerged on this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. They will not be pondering which food bank to favour with their custom.

However, the time to give proper weight to these urgent matters is when a general election is called. That’s when we can send the messages which will determine the direction of travel in the following five years.

On May 5 what we should have been doing was looking at the quality of ­candidates on offer and looking past their labels. One of my votes went to someone with whom I disagree profoundly on the future of Trident and the date of the next Scottish referendum on independence.

Neither of which will feature on the Argyll and Bute council agenda any time soon. Mind you if the candidates in whom I’ve invested my trust don’t do the local biz, a kicking will be along shortly.