2007 - 2020

Voting Sham

This editor has been busier than a BP lawyer in the last few days so to catch-up on some great commentary that’s been hitting the informational super-highways here’s a brief resume of the best on AV, Referenda and green and nationalist strategy between here and next May…

Over at SNP Tactical Voting Jeff nails the absurdity of the proposed coming referendum…

“So we are holding a referendum on a supposedly more representative voting system, adversely affecting the Scottish Parliament elections that will be held on the same day and the result would either be the status quo or a voting system that actually gives a less representative result? It makes one wonder what the Lib Dems think about it all…” (any Lib Dems out there? – Ed)

While across the way that overly-anxious Peat Worrier is also sceptical about the motives of The Cleggeron-With-No-Mandate:

“Like me, I assume that most of you aren’t steeped in the sections and procedures that were agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding, transacted between the UK Government, Scottish and Welsh Ministers and the Northern Irish Executive Committee in March 2010. Many of you, I suspect, might be aware that the Memorandum provides the broad terms of reference for the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC). The fourth article of the JMC’s terms of reference is to “consider disputes between the administrations”. Today’s Herald contains an article, suggesting that the Scottish Government is considering using this very dispute resolution mechanism to try to prevent the coupling of the 2011 Holyrood election and the UK referendum on AV, presently being insisted upon by Nick Clegg and the Coalition Government, despite strenuous objections from various quarters.”

Third (and this example is used in part, to be honest because it contains a reference to George Foulkes buffoonery and electoral disasters that I find irresistible) over at Scottish Left Review Peter McColl has an interesting (and I think overdue) analsyis of the need for the Scottish Green Party to strenghten and widen their appeal..

“There’s another reason why Greens need to widen their appeal. The appeal of environmental issues is simply not enough to ensure that Greens are able to win enough elections. Green politics goes way beyond the environment. It has a foundational critique of the consumerist, market driven society and economy we live in. It is this that will return more Green members to Councils, the Scottish Parliament and other bodies. These representatives, with their very presence and by their actions will put the environment up the agenda. They will also fight for a fairer, more equal, more just Scotland. The development of the SNP provides an interesting blueprint for Greens in this area.” Read the full thing here.

…and finally my compadre and fellow-fan of the Goal Machine that is White and Green asks simply:

“Do you want to be crucified for the next decade as part of a bankrupt broken Britain? Or are you prepared to embrace a new beginning as citizens in a prosperous independent Scotland?”

…As the electoral dust settled over the new look ConDem Nation almost every political commentator agreed upon one thing: Alex Salmond and the SNP had been dealt the best possible hand given the circumstances. The UK’s coalition government – with just one Tory MP and 11 LibDems out of a possible 59 – have no democratic mandate north of the border. Throw into the mix a much-trumpeted budget deficit “crisis” – and a ConDem austerity programme consisting of the most savage public sector and benefits cuts in living memory – and the ingredients are there for a potentially bruising constitutional battle between Scotland and London. Taking into account the Independence Referendum Bill – due to go before the Scottish Parliament sometime between now and May 2011 – you’d be forgiven for thinking that Alex Salmond and the SNP simply have to play the cards they’ve been dealt, at the right time, in the right order.

The most obvious winning strategy for the SNP is not exactly rocket science. Oppose both the savagery and democratic legitimacy of the ConDem cuts; explain they are an ideological choice rather than an economic necessity; and rally a Scottish public around the only viable alternative on offer: Scottish independence via a democratic referendum. But thus far it hasn’t happened. The independence card hasn’t been played. And, perhaps, more tellingly, neither the First Minister nor any of his closest colleagues have questioned the validity of London’s neoliberal agenda nor its democratic legitimacy in Scotland. This is baffling and alarm bells are ringing.”

More at Scottish Left Review here.

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  1. James says:

    The AV referendum is on the same day as the Scottish Parliament election because of fears of a protest at a democratic deficit in England. They don’t have a parliament, so this is something extra for the English voter on that day.

  2. DougtheDug says:

    Mike,

    Clegg is not only going against the spirit of the Gould report recommendations by holding two polls on the same day he’s going to have to change the law to make it possible.

    When refering to the holding of the local and Holyrood elections at the same time Gould says:

    All this considered, we are convinced that combined elections are not only a disservice to the local councils and candidates but also to the electorate as well. In essence, the local government elections are not simply about ensuring a reasonable number of voters show up at the polls on polling day. More important is that they engage with the campaign in a meaningful manner and make a knowledgeable decision on their ballot paper. Therefore, we recommend separating the Scottish parliamentary and local government elections, preferably by a period of about two years.

    This applies equally to holding the AV referendum and the Scottish parliamentary elections on the same day.

    The legal problem is because:

    An order created when the Scottish Parliament was set up specifically prevents the authorities from holding a “combined poll”, where two polls are wrapped together in one. While an exception is made for local government votes, the body which oversees elections in Scotland – the Interim Electoral Management Board – has written to Scottish Secretary Michael Moore to warn he must change the law if he wants to press ahead with such a move.

    The Scottish elections will be overshadowed by the AV media circus coming from London and the SNP will be sidelined in the media again. All courtesy of Nick Clegg who is riding roughshod over the recommendations of the Gould report and who will have to gerrymander the law to get his AV poll run at the same time as the Scottish elections.

    I’m not that worried about the lack of electioneering from the SNP yet as the election is still months away but they’ve got to start becoming more visible fairly shortly. They’ve also got to start to expose the false idea that AV is in any way proportional and that it is simply First Past the Post mutated into First Past the Fifty. If they can use the JMC to put a spanner in the works of a voting system which actually makes things less proportional in Scotland all to the good.

    I don’t think that questioning the, “democratic legitimacy”, of the Conservative-Liberal coalition in Scotland is a smart move. In the Westminster election the vast majority of Scots voted to be ruled by Westminster and that will be pointed out straight away to the SNP if they use it as a campaign theme. If you vote to be part of the UK then you can question the choice of the UK electorate when they elect a government but not the legitimacy of that Government to rule across the UK.

    Despite the repeated mantra that there is no option to the cuts the SNP have to show that there is an option to look up from the parochial idea that Scotland has no options beyond obeying the financial dictates of Westminster and that it can simply leave the UK and to run its own finances and control its own resources.

  3. jimmykerr says:

    Surely no-one buys the idea of London cuts being imposed on Scotland, or London-centric economic policies. These arguments are bizarre. If Scotland were to become independent tomorrow, this wouldn’t change the nature of the Scottish Economy. We would still be faced with the stark choices that the UK faces. Of course the choices that we are presented with are false, but what are the SNP saying about that…nothing, just give Scotland more powers and everything will be alright.

    Well not necessarily.

    We certainly have a choice, when it comes to public services and its about what kind of society we want to live in, in fact the choice is whether or not we want a society. We also have to answer fundamental questions about the nature of Government and what kind of economy we want, what kind of jobs, what kind of communities.

    I support the idea of independence, but not just for the sake of it, but because this may provide the means to creating a more just society, one that could perhaps have a future on the planet.

    The first thing we need to do is rethink our entire approach to the economy and stop our strange obsession with economic growth. You would be hard pressed to find a politician taking this line.

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