Back from Sweden

I’ve been away for the weekend to Sweden to our companion diocese of Gothenburg.

It was rather frustrating to be away from all the political news this weekend. You go away for the weekend and come back to political turmoil. Honestly, you can’t turn your back for a moment.

Anyway, this democrat thinks there is no question. With 100000 or so spoilt ballot papers and all kinds of other issues going on, the election should clearly be rerun. Easiest way for that to happen is for the new politicians at Holyrood to refuse to name a new First Minister in the next 23 days. Just say no, brothers and sisters. Just say no.


  1. I don’t think so. I’m not a Nat, and I didn’t vote for them – but I’m pretty appalled at the Lib Dem stance on this. If there was a re-run, I’d be tempted to vote SNP just to prove a point. You *can’t* expect the majority party to go back on a manifesto promise – and I don’t think it’s morally on.
    If the Lib Dems had won under the same circs, would you still say this?

  2. The difficulty I have with the whole situation is that there was multiple adverts, leaflets, etc describing the voting methods. The returning officer at my local council distributed a special leaflet – before all the political leaflets deluged me – setting out the way to vote. I also felt the voting papers were clear in their directions. Even the party literature gave directions on how the voting took place and how to vote for a particular candidate/party.

    I do not think were are in a Florida situation were the voting papers could possibly be misunderstood by the way the place for the holes to be punched were interleaved, and the holes where not always completed punched through.

    On the Scottish Parliament Paper it was clear to me that one cross went in one column and one cross in the other column. The second paper for the local councillers was to rank the candidates in order.

  3. vicky says

    I agree with Stewart, but I struggle a bit with Chris’s point. I think that politics by referendum is always problematic and we have a representative democracy for historic reasons (to protect from civil war if you care to go back to the 1640-60s and see why the subsequent Restoration Government worried so much about government by petition, which it is hard not to view an independence referendum as.) For my mind there is no concensus about a referendum and the Lib Dems were right not to sign up to a coalition when such a central issue is on the table. Perhaps a minority government, however, might be a more liberal one any way? (though, it is more likely to descend into a power manipulating fiasco….)

  4. kelvin says

    Chris – I don’t agree. The nature of coalition is trying to make an agreement that you can both agree on. Both Labour and the Lib Dems had to compromise last time and each were unable to implement their manifesto in full. I think that kind of compromise is probably good for Scotland, even though, like anyone involved I would like to be able to implement a manifesto fully that I believe in.

    We are so unused to coalition talks that we don’t know what to do with them. There is no reason why the Nats should not try to govern as a minority government. There would be many measures that the Lib Dems (and even Labour) would support them on. There were times during the last sitting of the parliament when I thought that we would have been better to have a minority Labour government.

    The Lib Dems could no more become a government delivering a referendum when they had said they would not than the Nats could become part of one which didn’t when they said they would. It works both ways. The Nats didn’t have a majority and have no mandate to force through anything. I’m happy with the idea that law is made on the basis of what happens in a parliament rather than what is put in a manifesto.

    Stewart – clearly you understood the process involved. That does not seem to me to cancel out the spoiled ballot papers. We don’t know yet why so many went uncounted, but we do know that it was far, far more than ever before and that they could have affected the result. I’d like to think I would take the same view about the need to rerun the election whatever the result.

    Vicky – I’m also inclined to be suspicious of government by referenda. Big Brother has taughts us, amongst many things, that we could have a vote every evening on any issue of the day. However, governing by plebiscite is governing without either scrutiny or loyal opposition.

  5. I think that the SNP calling itself Alax Salmond for First Minister party had a lot to blame for the confusion. The voter should have been presented with a column of parties and a column of candidates. What we got were two columns apparently starting with candidates. Think how the brain scans the voting paper – title, first in each column, then the detail.

    It is simply appalling that so many votes were lost. Ideally, we should run the election again, but I really wonder if we collectively can face it. If no FM/PO declared, then we have to do it.

  6. vicky says

    As the numbers of spoilt ballot papers rise…I think we have to give in and hold another election….:(

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