|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The Scottish Parliament has a system of proportional representation where the voters select one candidate from two lists. The constituency list is first-past-the post. The regional lists, covering wider areas, top up the representation according to some formula which needn't detain us. The system was used in two elections and worked fine. It wasn't broke. Someone decided to fix it.
Apart from replacing two lists on separate ballot papers with two lists on one paper, and presenting the voters with another ballot paper, using a new and different voting system, for a different election on the same day, and implementing a completely unnecessary and expensive electronic counting machinery which broke down repeatedly and spectacularly on the night, the geniuses who signed off the arrangements which resulted in a hundred thousand rejected votes ... never thought to user-test the new voting forms.
But enough squabbling amongst ourselves! Let's turn and face the real enemy, the Judean People's Front! Thanks to its divisions the far left has been wiped off the electoral map, going from six MSPs to nil. The Scottish Socialist Party was not only beaten handily by Solidarity - in five of the seven regions it won fewer votes than the Socialist Labour Party.
The what? Precisely. The Socialist Labour Party has next to no presence on the ground in Scotland (*). Socialist Labour got one election broadcast, fronted by the popular English actor Ricky Tomlinson, who emphasised that the party stood firmly against Scottish nationalism. Around a third of Scotland's far-left voters must have agreed.
* The Socialist Labour Party was founded by Arthur Scargill back in the 90s and was immediately joined by a plethora of far-left groups. Scargill cannily courted a succession of these groups, using each one that rose to the top of the stack to displace its precursor. After thus getting rid of the Trotskyist sects one by one he repeated the process with at least two sects of Stalinists, and then delivered the coup de grace to the last one standing. This single-minded application of salami tactics left him holding that twisty bit of cellophane at the end and not enough salami to cover a biscuit.