During the build up the mood balance seemed to be shifting to the SNP (Scottish National Party). Labour have held a stranglehold in Scotland since the early 60’s and while the SNP have gradually built support, it tends to fall back at the election. Over the last few days Labour started to pull back some of the gap, so it really is too close to call.
The star of the night has turned out to be the humble ballot paper. The election process was changed this time round, and the Scottish Parliament had to do a PR run to explain to people what to expect. Personally I didn’t even get my polling card this time, maybe because I’ve been critical of Labour, and they didn’t want to risk me voting against them…which is exactly what I’d have done. I at least got the satisfaction of watching my local Labour MP fall to the SNP in a shock result. I’m not sure I endorse the SNP, but they seem the best of a bad lot.
The counts are still continuing, and the story of the night is not about any party….but about the number of rejected ballot papers. We have a proportional representation system here, which means that it’s all but impossible for any one party to take overall control…..this means a coalition government. Apparently this system was predicted to cause these types of issues when it was tried at the London Mayoral elections, but was voted good enough to be used.
There has to be an inquiry into the amount of spoiled ballot papers this time. The numbers have shot right up, the reason is the new confusing voting system being cited by most pundits. There is a lot of focus on the electronic counting system, whereby each paper is scanned, and if it does not pass the required standards, it is held and referred to a human to check.
My summary of the parties and their messages during this election.
Labour – Mostly negative “fear the SNP and their crazy independance talk which will destroy Scotland“. They always knew they wre going in as an unpopular government, and had to fight back in the only way they know…….scare people into voting for them. The landscape has changed, their tactics have not.
SNP – Reasonably positive with little policy, and taking easy hits on Tony Blair over Iraq. I never saw an answer to my “give us the pro’s and con’s of independance” question, so I’m not sure they’d have gotten my vote.
Conservatives – I actually found them refreshingly honest (in comparison to the others). That could be down the the fact that they know they’re always going to be a minority party in Scotland, and don’t have dillusions of granduer about winning power.
Liberal Democrats – The way I see the world, I am a natural LibDem, but Nichol Steven rubbed me up the wrong way from day one. The only thing I spotted over and over and over from him was “we are against independance, and against a referendum for independance“. That translates to me as “we don’t trust you to decide for yourself, so we’re not going to ask you.” I find that incredibly condecending.
Green Party – Their contribution was minimal, as you’d expect with their funding etc. I did get a leaflet from them for the first time though. I do see them as a positive force, but set their standards for being environmentally freindly too high for most people. I think if they got more realistic, and toned back a bit….they could do a LOT more.