The Scottish Parliament elections were held on Thursday. Interesting times, as they say. The reaction to it has been even more interesting, however.
The rules: the Additional Member System is designed to deliver minority administrations and bigger opposition parties. The more constituency members elected in a region, the less their list votes ‘count’ towards electing list members for that region. That is the way it was designed (by the Labour government of the day, by the way). If you’re interested in the details of how it’s worked out, here you go.
Now to the frothing, swivel-eyed reactions:
The SNP did not win a majority of the vote. Well, there were five ‘major’ parties out there (plus UKIP and all the various socialist factions. Yes, I use the word factions deliberately), so you wouldn’t really expect one party to be getting more than 50% of the vote.
The SNP did not secure a majority in the Parliament. Correct. That’s the way the system is supposed to work. It’s supposed to promote coalition, co-operation, a consensus style of politics. That was the make-up of the 2007 – 2011 Parliament, and I think that was a good way to do politics. I look forward to it happening again.
The SNP is obsessed about a second Independence Referendum and now they can’t do that. If you’d bothered to listen to the SNP before the election, you would know that they are no more obsessed with another Indyref than they were when I was first dragged off to Bannockburn by my parents in 1976. It is still on the agenda, as it always was. But in the wake of the 2014 referendum, the SNP is not champing at the bit for another one – they are going to work at increasing support for Independence before they do that. The BBC, the Daily Mail, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party (or the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party to use their Sunday name) on the other hand, are all obsessed with another referendum, and they won’t shut up about it. If I were a member of the SNP (and no, I am not one), I would be thanking them for all the energy they are putting into digging that hole for themselves.
The SNP doesn’t have a mandate for a second referendum. The SNP is the biggest party in the Parliament. If it can get a bill through the Parliament for another referendum, then it’s got a mandate. Self-determination is a human right, and if the SNP stands for the Scottish Parliament with a referendum as part of their manifesto, then they have the right.
Nicola Sturgeon is this, that and the other… This is known as the ad hominem fallacy, and it is a very easy way to lose an argument. You do not attack the person, the person deserves respect – you attack the quality of the ideas that they espouse. Play the ball, not the man, or it’s a red card and an early bath, think about what you did wrong…
The Tories! Who votes for the Tories in Scotland? Pre-1979, lots of people in Scotland voted Conservative. Some of them started voting Labour when the Thatcher government started dismantling Scotland’s economy, because Labour opposed Thatcher at the time. But the current Labour Party does not really oppose David Cameron, they spend too much time abstaining. In fact, some consider that the SNP are the new opposition at Westminster. So you can hardly blame people who oppose Independence for voting Tory – Labour isn’t representing them.
The Greens are Kingmakers! Patrick Harvie is this, that and the other… First up, the Greens are pro-Independence, but they are anti-oil industry, anti-fracking, anti-roadbuilding. The SNP is not that radical a party any more, they are far more likely to find allies to push them over the majority in Labour, Lib-Dems or Tories than they are the Greens. The Greens are pro-Indy, but like the SNP they know that a second Independence Referendum would have potentially disastrous consequences (see Quebec for details) if it resulted in a No vote. Also, Patrick is a wee sweetie, and ad hominem attacks are so uncool.