Tag Archives: scottish-parliament

The Janus faces of the commentariat

You wonder what planet these people are from sometimes. Iain Macwhirter writes:

The whole point of proportional representation is that it is supposed to prevent one-party rule.

No, the whole ‘point’ of proportional representation is that seats in the chamber should reflect votes. As it turns out, in Scotland, it has prevented one-party rule. A minority executive is neither unprecedented, nor necessarily unworkable.

Despite agreeing with 90% of the SNP manifesto – everything from local income tax to nuclear power – they refused even to sit down and talk about a coalition with the SNP, unless Alex Salmond abandoned his policy of a referendum on independence first.

This was something they knew he could not do, and was transparently an excuse for refusing to negotiate the coalition that Scotland expected.

The SNP hinted at a constitutional convention to look at the whole constitutional question – something the Liberal Democrats had campaigned for in the election.

Simply not true. The price the SNP were insisting on was Lib Dem support in Parliament for a referendum on independence, and that was the price Nicol Stephen was not prepared to pay. Sure, they were prepared to ‘compromise’ by making it a multi-option referendum, something which Salmond was confident he would be able to trash with the help of his pet millionaires like Souter. The Lib Dems would have been propping up an executive that was spending all its energies on making the case for independence. Something tells me that in a parallel universe where the Lib Dems did make this mistake, another Iain Macwhirter is currently ripping them to shreds.

The irony is that, across Scotland, Liberal Democrats and SNP councillors have been forming coalitions to run local authorities like Edinburgh.

That’s because the price isn’t a referendum on the independence of Edinburgh.

Moreover, it was the week Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness agreed a coalition in Northern Ireland assembly – but somehow the Liberal Democrat leader, Nicol Stephen, couldn’t even sit down with Alex Salmond.

That’s because even a former armed insurgent like Martin McGuinness isn’t insisting that Ian Paisley has to support a referendum on independence. Just what part of this aren’t you getting Macwhirter?

Now, Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, is in with a real chance of propelling Scotland out of the United Kingdom. It’s a funny old world.

Really? He’s going to get a referendum? How? Planet Macwhirter is a funny place to live.

Scottish Elections: it ain’t over ’til its over

Today’s poll in the Times alone does not indicate a trend, but it does conform with what I suspected would happen as we got closer to polling day. The only thing that seems to be losing public support more quickly than the SNP is Scottish independence. People want to give Labour a kicking, but the more polling day looms, the more the Scots appear to be realising that a populist demagogue like Salmond at the controls would be disastrous.

Meanwhile, Salmond appears to be in meltdown mode:

Mr Salmond warned of a “huge public backlash” if the unionist parties “cobble together to circumnavigate the will of the Scottish people”.

I’m sorry, but what? If the majority of the Scottish people reject the separatist parties, we should give them what they want anyway? Part of me would quite like to see us call the SNP’s bluff and let a referendum go ahead, but if independence is less popular than the independents – which it appears to be by almost 2-1 – perhaps Salmond ought to be a little less keen in pressing ahead regardless. The more he shrill he sounds, the more his support is likely to peel away.

He may be comforted to find he has an ally in Tom Watson, who appears to think that the fact that PR is preventing the Scots from having independence foisted on them without their consent is a bad thing.