A week to go

A week today, Scotland goes to the polls. Two polls, specifically – the Scottish Parliament elections, and the local council elections.

I used to be very political, and especially party political, but then I realised that things aren’t always black and white (or black and fluorescent yellow, as is my leaning) and have since enjoyed observing politics as a (sometimes) impartial observer. I am still motivated and interested in the same sorts of issues, I just don’t personally feel that a partisan, party political process is always the channel for my views. I even enjoy, at times, prolonged periods of apathy.

But I always vote, as is my right and responsibility. I might just blog my voting intentions later on in the week, but in the meantime what I will say is that regardless of your party views these elections are the most exciting in many years and they will absolutely, clearly, change Scotland. Here’s why:

  1. Uncertain outcome – it’s hard to call who’ll finish up the biggest party in Holyrood. The SNP‘s poll performances have been higher than they’ve ever been this close to a vote, and you’d be a brave person to put any money on the outcome. There’s also a higher than ever number of minority parties, who threaten the presumed votes of the bigger parties. This means that people’s votes will count more than ever.
  2. Independence – whether you want independence or not, it’s a core question in the Scottish Parliament election campaign, and people are talking about it more than ever. Although the issue would be subject to a later referendum, your vote next Thursday could still influence whether the United Kingdom continues to exist, and that’s a pretty significant potential outome. Incidentally, it’s been ironic to note that the unionist parties criticise those like the SNP for talking about independence, saying that it’s actually the “real” issues that matter. Yet the unionist parties seem to be talking about independence more than anyone else – firstly by devoting so much energy to attacking the pro-independence parties’ thinking and number-crunching; and secondly by proclaiming loudly that they are campaigning on “real” issues and not independence. Result? Everyone’s talking about it in some sense or another.
  3. STV – council elections are, for the first time, going to be conducted by the Single Transferable Vote. I’ll not bore you with the mechanics of it, but it basically means that, thanks to multi-member wards, it will no longer be possible for one party to win a vast majority of councillors on a minority of the vote. My current council, Glasgow, is a prime example – Labour won about half the city’s vote last time, but about 90% of the councillors. That will come to an end, as will the careers of many dinosaurs of local government. So your vote will probably bring in new coalitions and administrations, and a whole raft of fresh blood to local government. Because of the services councils provide, this will make a real difference to people’s daily lives. But exactly what difference, depends on how folk vote.

So, a week to go, and I can’t wait.

5 thoughts on “A week to go

  1. I think it’s a shame that the first-past-the-post system is no longer favoured. Proportional representation, while it sounds so utopian, almost inevitably brings about coalition governments, and personally I feel a majority government gets a lot more done than a coalition. Discussion and compromise ad infinitum isn’t so effective. I would far rather trust the building of my house to one man than a committee.

  2. Interesting analogy Niall. But what if you liked two different builders for different things, and wanted them to work together to incorporate their strengths? Or if individually they didn’t quite have enough labour to get the job done on time?

    And in any case, politics is about discussion and compromise even with single-party rule. Just think of Labour, and how some of the most important debates in the country have been internal in the party, rather than with other parties, because of their strength in Westminster. Even a single party government needs to use discussion and compromise to get anything done, especially with a slender majority.

    Far better, in my view, that under proportional representation parties are forced to talk to each other, to identify common ground, and work together where they feel they can – something we often criticise Westminster for lacking.

    And BoardtoCertainDeath – watch this space…

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