Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Scotland: Again?

If the Edinburgh Pandas do give birth to a single cub – there will be as many Pandas in Scotland as there are Labour, Liberal and Conservative MPs combined.

But how much of a tizzy should we get into about this (sensational) result and how should the UK Parliament respond?

First the result is a freak result from our lottery election system.

ERS Twitter Feed: Scottish Votes & Seats

ERS Twitter Feed: Scottish Votes & Seats

But to get 50% of the vote is pretty shattering.

So there is now talk of throwing more red meat at the Scottish Tiger in the form of even more devolution – such as full fiscal autonomy. It might just make the Tiger hungrier! Assuming of course that the government is right in assuming that everyone in Scotland is a separatist and can only be appeased by more devolution. And to mix the metaphors the tail would be wagging the dog.

We need to pause, take a deep breath and consider what is going on. Last year 45% voted for independence; now 50% vote for the SNP. Now that is a little worrying – if everyone who voted for the SNP was genuinely voting for independence (even though Nicola Sturgeon said it was not a vote for independence – wait for next year).

Some may have been voting to give the old parties a good kicking – and succeeded. Others may have been more focused and expressing frustration with Westminster and all it stands for. Their vote could be just as much a final frustrated call for reform as a call for independence.

Well south of the border many seem incapable of realising what is different about Scotland.

  • A National Identity
  • A National Parliament that is not as dysfunctional as Westminster
    • It is more representative
    • It is more responsive
    • It is better behaved
    • It is comparatively untarnished by scandals
  • A history of a variety of Administrations that have done at worst a reasonable job (at least compared to most Westminster Governments)
  • A voting system that takes account of voters’ preferences, where the vast majority of votes count, and
  • A competent party that is anti-Westminster

So is it a surprise that half the people vote SNP?

(Imagine if the North of England was to develop a regional identity – we are just as frustrated and fed-up with the Whitehall-Westminster system. But we do not currently have an alternative.)

But what might happen if Westminster reformed:

  • House of Lords – radical reform: either a genuine Senate representing the regions or a pool of experts charged with commenting on but not blocking legislation.
  • Voting System reform: so the vast majority of votes count, the Commons represents the diversity of opinion in the country, and most people have a representative with they can politically identify. (It can be done – and is done elsewhere)
  • A parliament able to hold the government properly to account
  • Better behaviour
  • Devolution (of non national functions) to all parts of the country so that Westminster is not seen as so controlling.

Or is it too late?


That a 50% vote lead to an SNP landslide (~95% of seats) is not so much a comment on the SNP juggernaut as a comment on the stupendously stupid voting system – again a stupidity unique to Westminster in the UK mix of parliaments and assemblies.

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One thought on “Scotland: Again?

  1. Peter on said:

    We are always hearing of people complaining about the voting system, yet in 2011 the population voted overwhelmingly to keep the ‘first past the post’ system.

    Either the electorate does not want to change the political map significantly, or it was manipulated by Labour and Conservative bullshit which convinced people that the status quo was fine. Of course both Labour and Conservative are very keen to keep the FPTP voting system as it gives both far more seats than any other method.

    I suspect the latter. The electorate appears to continually fail to think things through.

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