IT’S local election day – so get oot and vote.

Why bother? OK, I’ll grant you, many people like myself think Scottish councils are too large and therefore too remote with too few weel kent councillors and too little cash raised locally to set the heather alight on election day. But that’s no reason not to vote.

Firstly – change. In many cities like Glasgow, it’s long overdue.

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Labour has had a controlling hand in the management of Scotland’s largest city for almost half a century. The party also controls North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire Councils and is the largest single party in Inverclyde, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, North Ayrshire and West Lothian Councils.

Scottish Labour crumbled at national level in 2007, but locally it’s still been powerful, running a third of Scotland’s councils and more than half of all local authorities in the west of Scotland. Long-term “ownership” of councils by any political party creates fertile ground for favoritism and cronyism and a lack of spirited opposition to controversial policies like outsourcing council services. Of course, there are some excellent Labour and Lib Dem candidates. But in most councils the folk providing imaginative political leadership are the Greens and SNP. This is an STV election where voters rank candidates in order of preference. So the advice is to “vote till you boak” -- ranking 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and more to ensure your least favoured option comes last. For many National readers that will be the Tories, unless of course you have a stoating local conservative or independent candidate in which case, use yer heid.

The second big reason to get out and vote today – is creating momentum for the ScotRef. Ruth Davidson has turned the local and General Election into verdicts on plans for a second indyref once more details of Brexit (or a Theresa-led walkout) are known.

Of course, the mandate for that second referendum has already been achieved by the SNP’s Holyrood victory in 2016 and the recent Holyrood vote. So local elections in an entirely separate tier of government should add or subtract nothing. But of course – they will.

Every party tends to treat local polls as a proxy for bigger national issues. And they don’t come much bigger than the looming disaster of Brexit and the prospect of a Scottish escape route via a second independence vote. To be fair, the Greens do have serious plans for powerful and truly local government, and the SNP have localised manifestos demonstrating quite a bit of focused thinking about each council area. All I’ve had from the Tories is a doubled-sided leaflet featuring an angry-looking Ruth Davidson (does she have another look these days?) encouraging voters to stick it to Nicola Sturgeon over indyref2.

So while the local election results shouldn’t have any impact on momentum for the second indyref – they will. Not least because Theresa May showed utter contempt for the local dimension by announcing a snap general election at the same time, thus confusing campaigns in the minds of media, party supporters and above all voters.

But that means the psychological impact of seeing Labour finally lose control of Glasgow Council could have a massive impact on the general Scottish mood before the snap Westminster poll.

And the third big reason to vote – keeping your hand in. Democracy is something we must all get more not less involved in, as long as there’s a prospect of Scots running our own country within the next 5-10 years. And there is. So independence supporters can’t miss a democratic trick.

But then you probably know that.

By reading this or indeed any paper you have self-selected as politically aware and socially keen. You’ve got the message and grasp the importance of voting, no matter how undervalued and low-key the election. But have your neighbours, your nearest and dearest or indeed your teenage bairns?

In these council elections – for the first time ever – 16 and 17 year olds can vote. I’m not sure a lot of people know that – including the teenagers themselves. Of course, everyone does know that this age group voted in the independence referendum and made the most of that opportunity -- 109,553 16-17 year olds registered and helped produce a stonking 90 per cent turnout amongst the 16-24 age group -- higher than the impressive overall 84 per cent.

But that was then – this is now.

The 13 and 14 year olds of 2014 are the voting teenagers of today – but they are facing this vote without the encouragement and focus lavished on the 16 and 17 year olds of the indyref who are young adults today. Hopefully that cohort picked up the voting habits of a lifetime in the indyref frenzy – but there again, a democratic baptism in 2014 might work against participation in more lacklustre elections which decide only who clears the bins. Now, council elections are about much, much more but that’s the way many TV and radio programmes frame the council vote. And basically if the media, parents, teachers and other adults don’t rate local elections it’ll be a minor miracle if 16 and 17 year olds do without a civic campaign to involve them.

And there are other deterrent factors.

Firstly, very few schools have done more than try to persuade eligible pupils to register for the council elections. Some pupils may have been sufficiently savvy to register for postal votes, but if they didn’t, there’s little likelihood local democracy will be uppermost on their minds today as the big hitters of the exam season kick in – Higher Maths and National Fives.

Secondly, since being able to vote in the indyref there’s been no regular pattern about teenage involvement. 16 and 17 year-olds could vote in the 2014 indyref but not in the 2015 General Election because it was run by Westminster not Holyrood. They did vote in the 2016 Scottish Elections but not in the European referendum a few months later because – once again – Westminster was in charge. Indeed, they can vote today but won’t be able to vote in June’s General Election – which is an outrage. With no firm pattern established, it wouldn’t be surprising if youngsters have just switched off.

Happily though there may be some encouragement to vote in schools thanks to the Modern Studies tradition developed in Scotland over the past 50 years.

Citizenship education in England has been steadily cut back since the Blair years and is now widely regarded as an opportunity for a bit of a carry on. Meanwhile Modern Studies in Scotland has the same exam status as history and geography and is recognised by all universities. Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament have done a lot to democratise secondary education -- indeed the Electoral Reform Society Scotland the EIS teaching union are planning pilots of The Democratic School in which pupils are fully involved in decision making – not just occasional voting on school councils.

But none of this will come fast enough to get exam-focused teenagers voting unaided today.

So if you are a mum, dad, sibling, teacher, neighbour or friend of a 16 or 17 year old, why not chum them along to the voting station or give them a lift?

It’ll provide a break from revision madness and start to build a teenage voting habit Scotland will depend on very soon, when the second independence referendum comes along.

So chum a teenager to vote and help create good democratic habits across the generations at a vital time in our history.

Polling stations are open till 10pm tonight – so c’mon, what else are you up to?