07 May 2007

As things stand

The LibDems have seemingly ruled themselves out of Coalition talks with anyone at this time. Tavish Scott dismissed a third Coalition with Labour out of hand on television yesterday (a few minutes after John Reid announced that Gordon Brown wouldn't have the pleasure of sacking him - OK, he didn't put it like that, but the subtext was clear), and a phone conversation between Alex Salmond and Nicol Stephen ended when the referendum was raised. Salmond cannot drop the idea altogether, even if it is the barrier to Coalition government, so he has to pursue it in some form. Stephen cannot go all the way to an independence referendum as the SNP envisage it, so he has to find another way forward. That way has not been found, and unless Alex Salmond can pull something out of the bag (it's down to him now), there will be no majority Coalition.

The SNP, are, however, in talks with the two Greens, and reports suggest that there is an agreement in principle. That puts the SNP-Green alliance on 49 seats, to Labour's 46. If they do form an alliance with the Tories - which the Tories ruled out before the poll, but that was before the result - they would have 63 seats. The Tories' next manoeuvre is crucial.

The Parliament, as we know, has to elect a First Minister before the end of the month. Otherwise, we have to start all over again. Now, this might not necessarily be a bad thing - the voters might actually get it right this time - but it comes with pros and cons for all the parties. The SNP could consolidate their first place, or lose it. Labour could regain first place, or sink lower. The Tories could maintain influence or be overtaken by the LibDems. The LibDems themselves could erase the embarrassment of the results (actually losing a seat when most people could only see them gaining) or suffer even more reverses (Christine Grahame is still in a position to win Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale, for example), and the Greens could restore some of their fallen colleagues or lose their remaining members.

However, before an FM is elected, a Presiding Officer has to be chosen. I've floated Ted Brocklebank's name, and commenters suggest Bill Aitken might be the one. Margo's name is mentioned and contrary to my initial belief, she's actually interested in it. Whether or not she'd do it well, however, is another matter altogether.

Meanwhile, rumours abound of challenges to the election result being prepared by Allan Wilson (he alleges dodgy practices in the votes from Arran, which were lucky even to make it across the Clyde), and that a lot of people voted for Labour but not for him. This must obviously mean that the whole poll was flawed, and it should be run and re-run until Wilson wins, of course!

There's another possible challenge from a lawyer from Glasgow, whose main beef appears to be that an election should be declared invalid if a certain number of people find themselves unable to read instructions before their pencil goes near a ballot paper. Frankly, it wouldn't be invalid if they couldn't find their way to the polling place, so why should it be invalid now?

1 comment:

Richard Havers said...

Labour and particularly the Joker probably feel they came out of the election best of all the parties. I bet JM and his Labour heavies must have gone into the election expecting far worse. Even with the swing to Labour late on in the pre election polls I'm sure the Salmon would have expected better. Of course he'll never say that, but my money is still on the fact that Salmon is gutted.

The Tories, probably about even on expectations, although they certainly didn't expect to unseat Euan Robson. Stephen Nicol would undoubtedly have expected more - he's that kind of guy. The only one I'm not sure about is little cousin Robin and the Greens, maybe they were expecting a wipe out, then again the small brushes I've had with the Greens lead me to believe that their arrogance would have dictated otherwise