The Hustings: Post Mortem and Nuff Said
In the absence of startling golf in a Force 8 wind I decided to content myself with the Berwickshire
, available in Norn Iron only in its electronic form. Although the nice Mr 'Rain Forest' Lamont's victory was given full coverage there was nothing on the council elections on the website so I still do not know how the three (Independent, Tory and LibDem winners polled-and how badly did Mrs O of the SNP)I have reprinted part of a letter from the former Councillor John Elliot with some interesting comment on the HustingsSIR, - Views on last week’s Scottish elections were immediately given at a national level. I contribute a view with a more local focus as a happily and newly retired former Independent Scottish Borders Councillor.
I had no problem voting but I say that because I had done my ‘homework’. Introducing multi-member wards requires an attempt to encourage electors to think out beforehand what to do. It is pointless encouraging voters to turn up and write 1, 2, 3 and so on without preparation. That is one problem – how to get voters to prepare themselves! This is clearly something the Liberal Democrats (and Labour) had not foreseen or chose to ignore when foisting this system on Scotland.
I received no election literature from council candidates. I live in a farm cottage so I do not blame the candidates as their canvassing task was impossible (as well as environmentally damaging). Without my local newspaper (but not everyone buys a local newspaper) I would not have had information with which to prepare myself.
Having read the candidates statements I decided to vote tactically and to only use a ‘1’. My tactical vote was an attempt to avoid the Conservatives having two members elected in the ward. I live in a three member ward but was not impressed enough to give anyone a ‘2’ or ‘3’. I fully understand the system and did not want the polling clerk to perhaps query my only filling one box. Since there were six candidates I used 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 as where there is a gap all higher numbers are ignored. I could equally have used 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Turning to the parliamentary votes, the rules of the list system are peculiar in that a party does not have to use its name! This was cleverly exploited by the SNP using ‘Alex Salmond for First Minister’. Because the ordering is alphabetic this took them to the top of the list in many regions. This SNP strategy worked for them – they have gained only 21 constituency seats out of 73 but 26 regional seats out of 56 – but possibly confused some voters.
The success of the SNP strategy, possible subsequent confusion leading to spoilt papers, together with the fact that the processing rules of the Scottish list system favour the larger parties, led to the suppression of smaller party representation in the new Scottish Parliament. Thus the very rules of the Scottish system should be subjected to scrutiny.
Councillor Elliot does not mention Mr Lamont's handout in which he cleverly 'advised' voters how to complete their ballot papers in which he had thoughtfully filled in his name and party in the appropriate columns plus more advice on which local council candidate they should support by name and number # One, naturally. So all that Konfused of Kelso had to do was to palm the slip and follow the instructions to the letter X and Number 1. It worked.
I feel sorry for Mrs O. She really bucked the trend in doing so badly for SNP but of course the Borders is not natural Nationalist territory. However unlike Mr Lamont, and rather similar to the departed Euan Robson she was largely invisible throughout the campaign despite the efforts of her children.
Mind you a lot of fuss has been made of the 140,000 spoiled papers-mostly in the more 'simple' Parliamentary elections. Come on. They were not that complicated and well explained in the case of Hutton by the officials manning the polling station. Some one suggested that the system was not 'Rocket Science' Some iijit of a commentator will always make thus point about anything remotely more difficult than filling in a lottery ticket. I think some one with a Doctorate in Rocket Science might have been the sort of person who would have found the different type of voting for different elections confusing. Their minds would have been on higher things, as it were. And anyhow a lot of them will have been ineligible or unable to vote being detained in
Abu Gharaib (and dreaming of a Nuclear Winter)