Friday, May 04, 2007

Scotland's election

We had of course big hopes of the 'perrish cooncil' as T Blair (?) once described the Scottish parliament. But after the wonderful team that originally lead the parliament (Dewar and Galbraith, though Dewar was, shortly before his death described as 'Donald Dither', but a few months later found himself sanctified - having had to die for the privilege), it has been very much the B-team, with anyone who wants any real power going down to the London parly. The level of debate in Holyrood has often given a very poor reflection of the Scottish education system, and there was that education minister who famously stated that she wanted to have nothing to do with schools, and the culture minister whose most common saying was 'where's the fitba' in that'? (You know who you are and at least one of you has just been re-elected).

But all that pales into insignifance when you consider the total balls-up of the most current Scottish election. To be fair, not all was the government's fault (I'm sorry, the Executive's, we are not allowed to call it 'the government'; Mr Blair said so), but really:

  • the boat carrying the voting urns back from the Isle of Arran broke down and the urns had to be rescued
  • the helicopters due to pick up the urns from the Outer Hebrides were grounded at Inverness airport due to fog
  • a man went into a polling station in Edinburgh (sedate Embra!), and proceeded to smash voting urns with a golf club, and tear up completed ballot papers. Whereupon red-eyed polling officials were spotted trying to rejoin bits of paper, trying to match the handwriting on the different parts. The HAND WRITING on ballot papers?
  • because two elections with different voting systems took place on the same day, people got confused and mixed up their ticks, oh no, their crosses, and their numbers (or however the other voting system works - I did not get my ballot papers this year) - there are rumours of 100,000 spoiled papers (total population, including non-voters, 5.1 million)
  • a new electronic system was used to count the votes, where the voting papers were fed through some machine. It had great difficulties in dealing with ticks where there should have been crosses. Thus it was that the results for many Edinburgh constituencies, which did not have to get their ballot papers to cross water, were not ready until late today.
Wunderbar, as my boss, Mrs MrCreadie, used to say. Total Quality Management.

As for the result? The SNP has a seat more than the Labour Party, but both need a coalition partner to get the majority, for which they need 65 seats. Neither SNP or Labour would want to work with the Conservatives in Scotland (sometimes one feels sorry for them!). Neither have enough even with the Liberal Party, and I assume a tripartite coalition with the Liberals and the Conservatives will not go. So they need to work closely with the 2 Greens and Margo MacDonald, an ex SNP member (was she kicked out or did she resign from the party?) - gee, the power these three will have! Ms MacDonald is not known for being a follower...

I see the Scottish Socialist Party seems to be out of the parliament altogether; maybe they were unable to deliver on their promises, and perhaps also a bit colourful for their possibly very conservative (small c) followers. George Foulkes, the longtime Westminster MP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, has got in on the Lothians list, having retired from Westminster at the last election. I wonder if he still lives in Ayr? He was of course one of the directors of Hearts Football Club in Edinburgh, until he resigned in protest against the management practice of its 'Lithuanian' owner, Mr Romanov (he may have a Lithuanian passport, but is an ethnic Russian and may have Russian ways of doing business - it often causes problems, in Lithuania, too).