02 May 2007

For what it's worth

Barring any last-minute shocks, this will be my last post before the results come in. I will be spending Thursday night with one eye on BBC Scotland, and another on my keyboard, typing in a frenzy. So, I thought I'd take this last opportunity to share my opinion.

Regular readers will know what side my political bread is buttered on, so this won't come as a total surprise to them, but here it is anyway: I believe the best outcome of the elections and the Coalition negotiations that follow is an SNP-LibDem Executive, led by Alex Salmond, deputised by Nicol Stephen.

What will the present Scottish Executive be remembered for? I'm genuinely asking, because I have no idea. Free personal care for the elderly would be a possibility, but the delivery of that has been a disaster. Following the death of Donald Dewar, and the fiasco that was the Henry McLeish administration, the McConnell Executive has been one of anonymity, afraid to be radical, afraid to think for itself, afraid to step out of the shadow of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. What a shadow! Cash-for-honours, the Millennium Dome, the London Olympics, a continual erosion of civil liberties, and of course, the War in Iraq. At least, unlike McConnell, Blair will be remembered for something.

Further, this Scottish Executive has failed to advance any positive case for the Union or a continuation of their government. Their slogan may as well be, 'Vote for us, because we don't like Alex Salmond.' Contrast this with the SNP, who have advanced the cause of independence (which I support), proposed stronger local democracy and greater accountability in the NHS, and supported greater rights for patients and a phasing-out of prescription charges (which Labour in Wales have had the guts to do), offered a radical change in student finance. On all of these things, Labour stand for an unsatisfactory status quo. The SNP have advocated extending the largesse the Executive showed towards road bridge users on the West Coast to bridge users on the East Coast, a move Labour resisted until the start of the election campaign. The SNP has stated categorically its stance on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. On this issue, McConnell has waited until the last possible moment, and then meekly fallen into line with the Westminster Government, even when Scottish Labour MPs were themselves unwilling to do that. The SNP want to radically change local taxation, while Labour want to tinker around the edges. Alex Salmond has recognised the need to work with a Gordon Brown Premiership. Gordon Brown has said he will take the huff with the Scottish Executive if the Scottish electorate have the cheek to vote for the SNP.

In short, Labour offer nothing but the status quo and tribalism. The SNP offer progress and leadership. As for the Liberal Democrats? I take the piss out of them, their campaigning methods can be nothing short of exasperating, and they do have to take some share of culpabilitiy for the things that have gone wrong over the past eight years - they were a part of that - but in the main, they have just got on with things and done a reasonable job. Plus which, on most issues, the LibDems and SNP can do business with each other. The main sticking point is independence. If that can be overcome, an SNP-LibDem Executive can work well together, and that is why I encourage voters to cast whatever votes are necessary to achieve that: I suggest that you support the SNP on the Regional Vote and use your best judgment on the Constituency Vote.

Now to the Councils. The state of Local Government is best summed up by looking at our good friends the Kellys, Terry and his daughter Rayleen, both a part of the Labour junta in Renfrewshire. Think of the contempt he shows anyone who challenges his narrow view of the world. Think of Dennis Goldie in Falkirk, calling other councillors Nazis. Think of how Labour has turned its guns on itself in West Dunbartonshire. Think of how Labour incompetence led to the party losing control of South Ayrshire Council to the Conservatives. Think of the Leader of North Lanarkshire Council completely ignoring the smoking ban. Labour have had a lock on power in local government, a power that they have abused and taken for granted. Thanks to the new voting system, you the voters have the best opportunity you will ever have to remind them who is really in charge: you. I want the radical, positive change that I want for the Scottish Executive to spread to local councils, so I ask for a #1 vote for an SNP candidate, and where there are several candidates, your next preferences to stay with the SNP. What you do with your following preferences is totally up to you, but when you consider Labour's approach to local government, it is clear that they do not deserve any number, any preference. Leave the Labour candidates' boxes empty.

That said, the most important advice I can give you is this: vote. You have 15 hours, between 7am and 10pm, to get down to your polling place, so many of you will have the time at some stage. You have a wide range of parties to choose from, with differing views for how Scotland should be governed, so don't say they're all the same. How Scotland will look in 2011, when we do this again, will depend on the outcome of these elections. If you have any opinion on what should happen to the country in the next four years (and if you're reading this, I suspect you do), vote. You will not get as good a chance to influence the process until 2011.


Surreptitious Evil said...


Please. There are no "SNP" candidates on the Regional votes - there are "Alex Salmond for First Minister" candidates instead.


Will said...

Sorry, S-E, I should have said, "Vote SNP, T/A Alex Salmond for First Minister" instead. I stand by the sentiments of my post though!

Anonymous said...

We must have change.

If it comes out something like what we have now then Westminster knows it can do anything to us.

The Dave Cameron Tories take over in 2 years , for a lengthy period no doubt , what price the Barnett formula then?

Ed said...

[What you do with your following preferences is totally up to you, but when you consider Labour's approach to local government, it is clear that they do not deserve any number, any preference.]
Oh dear. How kind of you. If you assume that your opponents are either fools or villains, it's probably says more about your own prejudices, than anything worthwhile about them? Nice to mention Nazis and juntas, didn't Labour bring in the Scottish parliament? Didn't the exec introduce STV for local govt?
Btw won't the SNP's 'local' income tax remove power from councils more effectively than Layburrr ever managed?

Will said...

I have to be totally blunt here, Ed, your comment took the art of taking a remark out of context to a whole new level - it would appear that you've just picked out words from that paragraph.

Anyway, the point I was making was that Labour have effectively 'owned' various Councils,and their predecessors since their inception,and that a culture of those Councils being personal Labour fiefdoms has emerged. You have the Kelly heredity in Renfrewshire (though Rayleen has lost her seat, I understand), Dennis Goldie flying off the handle and accusing other Councillors of Nazism - if you don't like the use of the word, talk to Dennis Goldie, who I was quoting, as is blatantly clear in the phrase 'Dennis Goldie in Falkirk, calling other councillors Nazis'. You had the internal squabbles in Council groups, as witnessed in West Dunbartonshire, financial incompetence in South Ayrshire and to top it off, a Council Leader in North Lanarkshire ignoring a law that had been passed by his own Party. That is what Labour represents at Council level and I stand by my remarks. Many Councils need a change desperately and this might give Labour a much needed boot up the jacksy in various parts of the country where complacency has been the order of the day up to now.

Labour offered the referendum on the Scottish Parliament in 1997 - the people supported it. Labour's position on devolution was less clear in 1979, and indeed a Labour amendment to the law killed off the 1979 Devolution proposal even after a majority of those voting supported it. And the Exec did offer STV... at the behest of the LibDems.

Re the LIT: I'd have preferred a system where Councils could set their own rates, within reason, and I hope that if there is to be a Coalition involving the LibDems, that's negotiated into things. But I prefer even the proposals as they stand, which are at least based on what the householder can afford, to the current system, which is based on what the house would have been worth in 1991!

Ed said...

"boot up the jacksy"... are you trying to say jackboots? You just can't help yourself.