Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Scottish Elections

The Scottish parliamentary elections are on Thursday 3 May and I’m still trying to decide who to vote for. I see that Colin Will has also been considering the issues, as has Andy Philip.

By a process of elimination, the choice becomes clearer for me. I will not vote Conservative. Not even if they paid me a million pounds to do so. I won’t vote for the extreme left parties, as they tend to get more obsessed over ideology than real people. I won’t vote for the extreme right because I disagree entirely with them. I won’t vote for any party that wants to take us out of Europe. I won’t vote for the Liberal Democrats because they stood last time on a platform of abolishing student tuition fees and promptly sacrificed that as the price of a coalition with Labour – I don’t like people who sell out their principles so cheaply.

So effectively, that leaves the centre-left Labour and the Scottish National Party, a centre-left group who believe in an independent Scottish nation (within Europe).

If it were a UK election, I wouldn’t consider voting Labour because of the Iraq issue, but it’s not a UK election. However, the Scottish Labour Party give me a strong impression of being in Tony Blair’s pocket. I have tended to vote Labour in the past. All through the bleak years when the Conservatives were in power in the UK, I voted Labour. And when Labour were finally elected, things looked promising. I think the UK Labour Government has been much better for Scotland than the Conservatives would have been (shudder). But I don’t trust them an inch, and I feel that getting a real gubbing in the Scottish election might lead the Scottish Labour party to distance themselves more from their UK counterparts.

The problem with voting SNP is that I am not a nationalist. I don’t feel particularly patriotic. Indeed, I feel quite critical about many aspects of Scottish life. I would like to think that independence would give us a new sense of belief and confidence, but I suspect the politicians would make a mess of things and people would become even more cynical than they are now. On the other hand, at least we wouldn’t have anyone but ourselves to blame if it all went wrong, and this might be good for us. If we broke with the UK and got into a mess, we might make genuine changes to the political system rather than mirroring Westminster politics. We might even manage to dig our way out of a self-inflicted hole. Or we might lie down and die.

The choice isn’t easy. All the polls show the SNP well ahead, which could trigger a constitutional crisis in itself.


McGellie said...

Hmmm, seems that your argument for the SNP is your strongest. McGellie

Rob said...

Or maybe the strongest argument is not to vote at all.

apprentice said...

Rob you've pretty much said what I'm thinking - and yet not to vote feels very wrong too. As I posted on my own blog that's part of my problem, I just feel out of sympathy with the process, and all politicians must take a fair share of the blame for that.

The polls look like the vote is now firming up evenly between the SNP and Labour, so it will be down to the Lib Dems to act as king makers again, unless their vote slips too. Clearly "independence lite" isn't any more attractive than the full-blown version.

There was a great exchange of letters on the election on Radio 4's BH on Sunday -it's worth a listen again if you have the time.

Sorlil said...

Voting SNP is unlikely to lead to, in a hurry anyway, the end of the union. If they are returned as the largest party it certainly means that there will be a referendum on independence and they will probably form a coalistion with the Lib Dems. But what it really means is the possibility of the implementation of some, what I consider to be, exciting policies such as the replacement of the Council tax with a fairer system and the abolition of student debt.

As an ex-member of the SSP I now see the SNP as the only party with the policies and the possibility of making a difference and this, for me, makes voting for them worthwhile.

Rob said...

I'm going to have to make my mind up quick. We (my wife and I) have about 4 hours before we go to vote.

One disasterous scenario could be this. The SNP win marginally and form a coalition with the Lib Dems. A large Labour opposition, furious and humiliated at the result, fan the flames of their exisiting hatred of the SNP by doing anything they can to undermine the new administration. The whole thing becomes a total mess.

The we get our referendum on independence. At that point, the Scottish people get cold feet, as we are basically a highly conservative nation which doesn't like change, and we vote against breaking from the UK.

The UK elects the Conservatives in Westminister.

So we're then stuck with a devolved Scottish parliament holding its own internal war, under pressure from a hostile Tory administration in London that seeks to curtail its powers. Everyone starts to regret not voting for independence, but the Tories won't allow another referendum, and stay in power for over 15 years.

That's a worst case scenario, but not an entirely unlikely one.

Sorlil said...

"the Scottish...are basically a highly conservative nation which doesn't like change"

I'm afraid I thoroughly disagree, and even if your worst case scenario did play out I still don't think that would be a disaster - it would make for interesting and dynamic politics and would be a million times better than the last decade of apathy under tory blair.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, good luck with your voting choice!

Rob said...

Don't know how much we really disagree, sorlil. I think I will go with the SNP, which will be a first for me! I don't have high hopes of them though. But yes, a challenge to apathy is better than no change.

I noticed that the Lib Dem leader has been saying he will never accept a referendum on Scottish independence, which seems a strange stance if the Scottish population do vote clearly in favour of having one. Of course, we all know how much a Lib Dem principle means if they can sacrifice it for a crumb or two of power. But they might go with Labour, even if the SNP got a small majority.

I still think that Scotland is a deeply conservative place though - maybe that's our disagreement. I think our entire history points firmly to that conclusion.

apprentice said...

I agree Rob, we're frightened of risk - maybe all the risk takers left!

I'm not sure your scenario will play out as I'm not sure the Conservatives have the capacity to rally to previous heights - Cameron is doing a poor imitation of Blair - just when everyone has rumbled Blair.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. I'll be especially interested to see if Labour carry Fife, GB's heartland.

And I hope PR transforms the local authority political map, as that's where Labour needs a kick up the bum.

Cursed Tea said...

Great blog by the way. I am a disenfranchaised Scot living in New Orleans USA. (I can't vote in the Scottish election but as a British citizen I can in the UK one - so there is no such thing as a Scottish citizen!!). I wrote a long ranting post on the election and independence on my blog. People can easily ignore me and I can say anything I want as I canny vote!!
Anyway, I think independence is the way to go - the devolved parliament is pathetic and gutless and toothless; the Scottish predisposition to think ourselves incapable of running our own affairs is pathetic and more than a little embaressing!! I wish there was a great political figure to galvanise everyone but there isn't. Perhaps if we go it alone we'll quit whinging about others and look at Ireland and fulfill some of that potential we are all so keen on bragging about to others!

As I said - I canny vote....

Best Wishes

Rob said...

Ah well, Kirsty, the nationalists won, but I don't think we're going to get a referendum, as Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems all oppose having one.

I can't even imagine the negotiations going on behind the scenes at the moment.