Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Salmond 'frit'

First Minister of Scotland and 'all round good egg' [not] Alex Salmond thinks so little of the voters of Scotland that be believes they will be confused if they are asked to vote on two matters at the same time. The UK government proposes to hold a referendum on whether the voting system for Westminster elections should be changed from the traditional 'first past the post' (FPTP) to the 'alternative vote' (AV) system on the same date, 5 May 2011, that the next elections will he held for the Scottish Parliament . A subtext to this fear on Salmond's part is that his party, the SNP, did pretty poorly in the recent Westminster elections, managing only to maintain its number of MPs at 6 (out of 59), when it had hope to raise its Westminister representation to 20. Mr Salmond has therefore written a rather laughable letter to David Cameron, the new Prime Minister, pleading his partisan case:


"I believe that your proposals to hold a referendum on the same day undermines the integrity of the elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"These elections are of profound importance to our citizens and I believe they have the right to make their electoral choices for the respective devolved chambers without the distraction of a parallel referendum campaign on the UK voting system.

"When you visited Edinburgh shortly after your election, you placed great emphasis on what you called 'the respect agenda' between the UK government and devolved administrations.

"It is not clear how the decision to hold the AV referendum on the same date as our elections, and to do so without any prior consultation, fits into the spirit of that framework."

The Coalition Government's (Lib Dem) Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has rightly dismissed Mr Salmonds's 'mewlings' thus:


"To say that this will confuse voters is to underestimate the intelligence of the Scottish people.

"Many countries routinely hold elections and referendums on the same day. I am confident that Scotland can do the same.

"There will be ample time in the election campaign to debate all the issues facing Scotland, and for Scots to make their judgment about who is best placed to deal with them."

Of course Mr Salmond knows that relatively few people, whatever they may say in opinion polls, are actually prepared to go into the voting booth and vote for the 'fantasy politics' that the SNP specialises in. At the May 2010 Westminster election the SNP managed only 19.9 per cent of the vote in Scotland (up from 17.6 in the previous election) although it edged past the LibDems into second-place in number of votes. Bizarrely the SNP suffers from the same problem as the Scottish Conservatives in that their support is too thinly-spread around the country to gain very many seats under an FPTP voting system, so it is possible that an AV system would be to its advantage, just as the d'Hondt voting system for the Scottish Parliament has unquestionably benefitted the SNP, even though it has allowed it to operate only as a minority Scottish Executive (aka 'Scottish Government') since the last Scottish parliament elections in 2007.

Salmond knows that his only hope in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections in 2011 is to stir-up discontent with Westminster in the hope (probably vain) that he can increase SNP support. The reality, Mr Salmond, is that the vast majority of Scottish people are far to savvy to fall for your brand of 'snake-oil' politics. The referendum on the UK voting system and the 2011 Scottish Parliament election should go ahead on the same date next year; the Scottish people are plenty intelligent enough to decide and quite importantly it will save quite a lot of money to do so. Why does Salmond believe the Scottish people cannot be trusted?

PS/ This is my 3,000th blog-post since I began this blog in April 2002. How long will it take me to get to 6,000 I wonder ...

3 comments:

  1. Congrats on the 3000th post Bill. I've just reached 600, so I'm impressed - that's a lot!

    On topic, do you remember the 2007 vote in Scotland? Do you remember how many spoilt ballots there were with people not understanding how to vote in 2 different elections on the same day?!

    In fairness, I think you have a point - it is patronising in the extreme to suggest that the people who voted HIS party into government are not smart enough to fill out two ballot papers - but surely you can see where he is coming from when the last experience we have of a dual-vote was such a disaster!

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  2. Yes indeed, Malc, I can see his point following on from the disaster last time around. But that had a pretty complicated two-votes on one form, so far as I recall, plus not a referendum about the introduction of a new voting system, but the actual introduction of that new system on the dual form for local government elections. One almost wonders if Labour (Dougie Alexander, wasn't it?) wanted the new system to fail.

    I don't see why a simple yes/no referendum will cause confusion when people in Scotland are already familiar with the two-vote Scottish Parliament system. Unless the Scottish people really are thicker than I believe them to be.

    It's purely politics on Salmond's part - he wants to create friction with London, but is finding it more difficult with Cameron/Clegg and the ConDem coalition (as they have been proactively cordial toward the Edinburgh Executive, than he found it with Labour, who never really accepted that Scotland would dare to vote anyone other than Labour into the Scottish Executive.

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  3. Thanks, Malc, by the way, for your kind comments about having reached 3,000 posts; hopefully at least some of them have been of value and interesting. Or perhaps their sole value has been to allow me to vent my spleen ;)

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