Voting in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections – for an Independent Green Scotland

The Scottish Parliamentary Elections for 2011 take place May 5.  Additionally there is the AV Referendum.

Will you be voting? Do you share who you vote for or believe it should be a secret? Certainly that is your constitutional right – usually exercised by Conservatives!

I voted today by post.  I am quite comfortable with voting this way – security is paramount and I believe that is as achievable by post as with the traditional ballot box.  I am pretty sure technological means would be as secure and more efficient.  I would have quite happily texted my vote today had I the opportunity.  Perhaps in the second half of this century we will get that opportunity.

For the Alternative Vote Referendum I voted yes.  I am not going to rehash the arguments given in previous posts – I have heard nothing further to persuade me to change my opinion that we need to ditch First Past The Post – and AV is a first if tiny and imperfect step toward doing so.

For the Scottish Parliament I was more uncertain.  I decided to compare manifestos and found this tool on the BBC News website very helpful toward that end.

The Banking Crisis of 2008 was a seismic event – not just economically but politically. It really gave the lie to unfettered unregulated capitalism. And when it came to it that New Labour were every much signatories of Crony Capitalism as the Conservatives were.

Yet there seems to be only populist rhetoric against the banks by the mainstream parties not matched by very substantial actions.  As if they would wish the issue would go away – they have to play golf with these bankers after-all!  And this is reflected in their manifestos – I had to dig deep to find policies and comments on the banking crisis – it should not be tucked away but one of the main platforms of their manifestos. Only the Green Party manifesto addressed this issue in any substantial way.

The Scottish Parliament

For my Regional ballot though the Greens alas were not an available option.  It was a choice then between the SNP and Labour.  The key dividing issue for me here is Scottish Independence.  I have some ambivalence toward the issue – I live and work in Scotland and my father’s family are Scots.  My mother’s family on the other hand is English and Welsh and I was born and brought up in England.  I am in fact a typical Brit.  And I feel English and British as much as I feel Scottish.

However I do think that Scots should have the right to determine their own independence and to be asked by a referendum.  Scotland is traditionally Labour and yet many elections return Conservatives to Westminster – it is easy to see their frustration and disconnect with London and England.  Though on this basis the North of England could also consider independence!

I understand Scottish Labour’s opposition – it is Real Politiks – if Scotland is independent then a huge swathe of their vote is lost to the UK Parliament – an English Parliament is almost certainly Tory.

Scottish people do need to be asked about Scottish Independence – so then I voted for the SNP.

On the Constituency ballot I did have the option to vote Green.  Here I had to choose between them and the SNP.  I liked the SNP’s green policies too.  But as said felt the Green’s response to the banking crisis most chimed with my feelings.  I also liked their proposals to abolish the Council Tax and replace with a Land Value Tax. They also propose a small half-a-percent rise in tax which I felt was honest in the context of the voodoo economics of monetary debasement and or fiscal austerity of the other parties. We have a huge deficit caused by bailing out the banks and yet all the other parties focus mainly on cutting back services and not raising taxes in any substantive way.  I am not for over-burdening taxes either but feel we no longer have the balance right – the gap between rich and poor continues to widen – we cannot expect quality public services without being prepared to invest in them.  Low to zero taxes and quality public services is not a circle that squares.

Today is International Mother Earth Day – not a reason for voting Green of course – but it felt fitting too.

And of course because of the proportional voting system we have in Scotland I was able to vote for a smaller party knowing that my vote will still matter.  In the UK I have to vote Labour just to counter the Conservatives – that is a negative rather than positive vote.

You know – vote yes to AV!

Alternative Vote – but not too alternative…

I heard on the BBC World Service ‘Politics UK‘ program this afternoon an argument put forward by its presenter Dennis Sewell that AV should be opposed because it could elect minority parties such as the British National Party.

What that is saying is that we should support systems that make elector’s votes worthless.

We have many minority parties – I loathe the BNP but support a lot of the policies of another minority party the Green Party.  We cannot cherry pick in a democracy – it should be a platform for all views and no-one should be arbiter over what views are and are not acceptable, and gerrymander systems to ensure some sections of the electorate are disenfranchised.

If we don’t like the views of a particular party we should not suppress those views rather argue against them.

One reason of course why political parties are small is that they are unpopular – like d’oh! Alternative Voting is not an act of magic that will transform a minority party into a majority party.

AV should ensure that we are ruled by a government that speaks for at least half of us – I was born in the 1960’s and this is something that has yet to have happened in a General Election in my lifetime – that is all I believe a democracy can hope for – that what we are thinking and feeling is represented whatever those thoughts and feelings might be.

AV – I will be voting yes

Yes to AV LogoI wish to be ruled by a party or parties that have at least 50% of the popular vote as otherwise they have no democratic mandate. The leading three parties do not command any such mandate alone being three large minorities and multi-party government must be the way forward. This electoral reform would better reflect the diverse opinions of the British public which is far more important than all this mythology about strong governments – I want a smart pragmatic government not an ideological one with narrow political values and interests.

I would rather be ruled by a government I did not vote for but which had more than half the vote than ruled by a government which I did vote for but that had less than half the vote.

I believe we have a democratic deficit between the governing and the governed in this country and one of the reasons is that so much of the electorate feel disenfranchised under the present system, that there vote does not count in most cases.

AV is not my preferred choice but I do prefer to our current system and hope that it will be a gateway to an ever more representative system in the future.