Friday, 2 July 2010

Crowded Fifth of May Next Year !?!

Anybody who's anybody in Scottish politics or with an interest in it will remember the last time Scotland went to vote for its own Parliament. Many recall it like a nightmare only we were in an upright position and awake all night living through horrendous images with no net result. One thing that was clear was that people did seem to want to give preferential votes to candidates however they wanted to do it on the wrong ballot papers, or indeed on only one side or the duel purpose Parliamentary ballot paper.

However, there is news that a referendum on AV for Westminster will take place on the first Thursday of May next year. A date which has long been in my diary as the next Scottish Parliamentary Elections. On Wednesday night at the Edinburgh Central hustings a question about the clash of an AV referendum and the fact that one of the four of us would be fighting for the seat did come from the floor, and what impact would it have on the campaign.

Personally I know first hand that voters expect their MPs or MSPs or candidates to be well versed on all areas of political influence, even if with devolved governance to Holyrood or Council level they may not necessarily have responsibility for that area of policy directly for the person they seek to represent. The number of times you have to say this is devolved, Westminster or council issue before giving an answer shows this.

My plans for the next year are to secure more Liberal Democrat representation in Holyrood. It is why I've put myself forward into the fray is the way I have for Edinburgh Central. In the Lothians it will be a bellweather indicator of how well the Liberal Democrat message is radiated with people. We'll be fighting to get across the message of what Liberal Democrats can do and in fact have been doing in the other levels of governance that represent the people. First and foremost next May will be about the governance of Scotland, I doubt any of the parties in either Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will be concentrating on the referendum they'll be focusing on the more pressing issue of winning seats in constituencies and votes across the regions.

Also personally I'm not really geed up by AV. Is it really a step towards more proportionality or is it a road block in the way to more? An appeasement to lure in Lib Dems to give the Conservatives more than many of us wanted? I don't think it is radical enough, it doesn't give the people a say over who really represents them, merely which party representative does. It maintains party politics above the ability to vote for party but reject objectionable individuals.

In Linlithgow and East Falkirk where I stood in May AV wouldn't have changed the result, Michael Connarty won with 49.8% which with none transfers from other candidates would mean that he would have been secure even if he didn't pick up the remaining 0.2%. However, lets assume STV had happened across the West Lothian and Falkirk Council area.

The vote was*

  • Labour 74,056 49.0%
  • SNP 40,869 27.1%
  • Conservative 17,162 11.4%
  • Lib Dem 17,130 11.3%
  • Others 1,794 (1.2%)

Now it would have given Labour 2 secure seats, however the third may well have gone, indeed a real propability, to the party that 27% of people who had voted for the second biggest party in all three seats; the SNP. Who because of the votes in excess of 45% for Labour in the three seats would not under AV had the change of winning their proportional share for over half of Labour's vote.

* This of course assumes no tactical voting had gone on under the restrictions of First Past the Post

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