:: Friday, May 06, 2005 ::

The Election in Scotland

Well the night went pretty much as I thought. Labour were punished but were not beaten. Good results for the left in some places particularly for Respect in a few English seats. It will be interesting to see how the Respect project develops now. Full left results can be found at the Socialist Unity Network site.

Below is a report on the elections in Scotland I have done for International Viewpoint.

The elections in Scotland saw voters punishing New Labour across the country. Tony Blair's party lost five seats while the Liberal Democrats in particular picked up votes. The Liberal Democrats were the main vehicle for those voters who wanted to protest against Labour and in particular against the Iraq war. They overtook the Scottish National Party to become the second largest party in Scotland. The SNP had hoped for a breakthrough under their returned leader Alex Salmond, but despite picking up some seats they only showed small progress.

The first past the post electoral system mitigates against smaller parties and the switch to the lib-dems hit the Scottish Socialist Party. The SSP share of the vote was down on the last General Election. The party gained 42,633 votes across Scotland having stood in all but one of the seats in Scotland, which was 1.9% of the vote, down from 3.1%.

SSP leader Colin Fox said the results were disappointing but not unexpected.

Colin continued;

"The SSP team is ready for the next game against the leaders of the G8 however. This month we contested 58 out of 59 Scottish Westminster seats, distributing over 3 million election addresses and increasing our membership by ten percent.

"In July we will mobilise tens of thousands against the criminal policies of G8 leaders like George Bush and Tony Blair.

"In doing that we will link up with all those who used their vote to protest in these elections and explore with them the future of all forces in favour of a collective solution to the future of our planet."

Taking up the question of the voting system Colin said;

"The biggest obstacle for smaller parties contesting the Westminster elections is the first past the post system that gives just three establishment parties a monopoly on media coverage and means that not a single Scottish vote for radical minority parties can have any result whatsoever."

:: Alister | 10:26 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


From Colin Fox's comments it looks like its blindfold on - no real analysis of why the SSP has taken 4 years to do worse than we did in the 2001 elections - and instead jump into the next round of activism for activism's sake?

Come on Ally! You're gonna have to do better than that. Whats your real feelings on why the SSP has been going backwards since May 2003?

By Blogger Kevin Williamson, at 4:30 pm  

We need to take the time to have a calm analysis on our result. I stand by what I said. This isn't May 2003 and this isn't the Scottish Parliament elections. I think that's a facile comparison. That we have been seen to be divided doesn't help, it never does. We need to remain united and focused, although I fear we may hear some familiar voices putting a different view.

By Blogger Alister, at 7:29 pm  

I'll put my hands up straight away and declare that I am no supporter of the SSP and that I don't live in Scotland, but, as an exile...

... One, I was shocked at the SSP vote (I think it was 1.9% of the overall Scottish vote??).

And, two, I didn't know you were split, apart from the bonkers moralising that came out of some sections of your party over the Sheridan resignation - a terrible trait that has been witnessed on the left in Scotland since, well, forever (Willie Gallagher and his temperance nonsense spring to mind, while on a more contemporary level we have had the anti-abortion anti-gay proclamations from those such as Galloway and the SSP's very own support for single-faith schools).

I'll stop cos I'm rambling now, but do you see what I'm getting at?

By Blogger Reidski, at 8:44 pm  

You're right about the need for a calm and thoughtful analysis. Colin, for all his talents, isnt really the person who is going to instigate that kind of thoughtful reflection, and maybe its not his job to do that anyway. That job lies with all of us.

My worry is that some folk in the SSP will jump from the election into campigning on the G8 summit - without any calm reflection on why we only got 1.8% of the vote 4 years after getting almost 3% of the vote in the same elections in 2001.

Activism for activism's sake is always counter-productive. It just burns people out and gets nobody anywhere (unless you've got a "political profile" to build for yourself by being seen to be in the "leadership" of such movements.)

We cant just blame the system either because people didnt vote for us. The analysis has to go much deeper than that.

I feel we need democratic dialogue and purposeful reflection - among ourselves - on where we are going and how we are going to get there, much more than a call for unity for unity's sake.

(Recall too how we hated calls for unity when, for our sins, we were both in the Labour Party in the 1980s? We knew then it was to suppress debate and paper over genuine political differences.)

There are REAL differences on a number of issues and on strategic thinking within the SSP and we should be thankful that there are.

Cos it means independent thought is not dead and the party is all the better for it.

Am interested in your own thoughts on this. Although I recognise some aspects of these discussions are of a more internal nature as far as the SSP goes than on a public blog.


By Blogger Kevin Williamson, at 1:23 pm  

There is, for once, a useful discussion going on in the new yahoo group on this kev, mostly initiated by some forthright comments from Hugh Kerr but with contributions from outside of the usual suspects. So you should sign up for that if you haven't already. See also the new frontline with a wide ranging debate on the future of the party www.redflag.org.uk

By Blogger Alister, at 1:49 pm  

Well simple Me had to have it explained why we have 2 SSP debate arenas, but I do understand now! Yeah folk being a bit bolder on the new list, than on the main forum. I've tried to keep out of it, as I'm always shouting my mouth off. But yeah, I've wanted to cheer at some contributions. However there is always the temptation of the superficial, sidetracking one from the important.

By Blogger Beverley Jean Smith, at 8:26 pm  

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