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Handforth Parish Council video goes viral, prompting EUSA comparisons

The viral video of Handforth Parish Council’s committee meeting highlighted the nastier side of politics.

The internet sensation has become an unlikely metaphor for many things: short fuses; the struggles of the elderly as they attempt to grasp the mechanics of online calls; and the various tribulations that typify local government.

Ms Weaver insists that the behaviour seen in the video is not uncommon in parish politics: “There is an element of bullying and bad behaviour in local councils and a lot of us are working very hard, and that includes central government, to try and do something about that.”

On Friday, the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) joined the masses in poking fun at the calamities in Handforth.

In a Facebook post advertising their upcoming council meeting, the Students’ Association stated “We can’t promise Handforth Parish Council level drama at our Student Council meetings.”

But the Student’s Association has not been without its share of political fireworks.

The Student committee member Liberty Phelan describes, “I’ve definitely been in meetings with student versions of Jackie Weaver.

“It reminded me of student societies and their committee meetings,” Liberty continued, “it always seems funny how ridiculously formal it all is.”

Minutes taken from November’s student council meeting show that, like Handforth Parish, they too are weighed down by political pageantry.

The opening hour of the ninety-minute meeting was spent entertaining committee formalities, with just half an hour given to discussion of three motions.

Furthermore, like their Handforth counterparts, EUSA had come under criticism for failing to fulfil the expectations of their office.

On January 29 the council voted 97 per cent in favour of supporting ongoing rent strikes organised by Rent Justice Edinburgh.

Clause one of the approved motion stated an intention to “promote Rent Justice Edinburgh’s (RJE) campaign amongst students through the Students’ Association’s social media pages, emails, and website.”

However, two weeks later EUSA is yet to have acknowledged their support via any of the aforementioned platforms.

While Handforth has a population of just over 6,000, EUSA represents a university community of around 40,000 students.

But the most recent figures for Handforth’s East ward show a 53.93 per cent turnout whereas last year’s EUSA presidential election saw votes from only 13 per cent of university students.

Despite having an electorate of 34,000 less voters, Handforth Parish received more ballots in 2019 than any of EUSA’s 44 non-sabbatical elections.

For all their joking, EUSA may have more in common with Handforth Parish Council than they would like to admit.

Image: Violet Colley