May 8, 2007

This should be my final election post, unless something really surprising happens in the next few days. My thoughts on the whole afair:

  • The voting mechanism was too complex. 3 votes, one election. It’s no wonder people didn’t know the difference between a constituency and a region. It’s not a surprise that people didn’t understand where to put the numbers for the local council election. With regards to the numbers, how are they counted? Is only one number used? How are the numbers weighted? Does 1 mean ‘1’, and 2 mean ‘0.5’, etc? The instructions telling me what to do with my numbers were fair enough, but if people don’t understand why they have to follow these instructions, then of course things are going to go wrong.
  • The smaller parties may have been drowned out by the noise of hundreds of leaflets in my letterbox, handed out on the street, attached to lampposts, etc. In this case, three votes in one day may have worked for the bigger parties, and against the smaller parties.
  • Labour weren’t destroyed, they didn’t lose that much. A vote for SNP was not the protest vote against Labour the media wanted us to believe. It was a protest vote against the perceived lack of change post-devolution, considering that the only party to gain seats was the SNP, and all others lost seats.
  • The vote for the SNP became possible when they made it clear that the vote for the SNP was not a vote for independence. At that point they became a valid political party. In the light of the results, it seems clear that outright independence is something a lot of Scots don’t really want. That’s fair: a lot of Scots would have grown up through the dark years of post-war depression and attribute the spectacular regeneration of the UK to the Union, not to Scotland.
  • An SNP minority Government can’t be a bad thing. If it requires more discussion and debate, then these election results could be the best thing yet to happen to the Scottish Parliament.

That’s what I think, anyway. Time will tell.


April 26, 2007

I’ve written a couple of times on the topic of the upcoming Scottish elections on May 3rd. My choices are still not pinned down, in part because no party makes any clear point ahead of any other. The standout is SNP, if only because of their radical aims to see Scotland as an independent nation again.

I do find it interesting, however, to see one of the other parties creaking under its own weight. Labour’s landslide win at Westminster in 1997 was long overdue, and I think Tony Blair has done a pretty good job. No prime minister can ever be perfect, but I do think Tony’s done well in his fairly long term. (The Iraq war is probably his biggest slip, but interviews with him I’ve read/listened to via the New Scientist and Newsweek make it quite clear that he was/is passionate about this topic and that the war, for its flaws, will do good in the long term; to our credit, the UK arm of the war seemed to better handle the peacekeeping operation than the American troops, but perhaps that was the spin the UK press deemed appropriate for us.)

So it’s with great interest that look to Jack McConnell, leader of the Scottish Labour wing, and try to figure out why we have a First Minister who, essentially, bumbles his way along while avoiding the heavy topics.

Now, fair’s fair. Sitting at the top of the pile he’ll attract the Big Guns, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I think Labour’s trying to pull the tactic that worked so well for them in 1997 — dish the dirt on the other parties. Name-calling. I suspect this is something McConnell is not comfortable with, but he probably has his colleagues and a PR team behind him gunning strongly for this tactic. The impression of McConnell I get is that he would rather focus on the real topics that should be up for discussion, the old stalwarts of education, health, transport, taxation, etc. But sitting at the head of his party with a direction chosen by his PR team with which he is not comfortable, he squirms his way through interviews. I’d say it’s already a PR disaster, but everything’s too close to call before May 3rd.

For reference, I plucked the following Newsnight interview from over on Tartan Hero:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Interestingly, the majority of part three covers youtube, bloggers, and political bloggers.