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Voting system goes to voters

Brian Taylor | 10:17 UK time, Thursday, 17 February 2011

And so the calendrical concatenation, promised or feared, is to take place.

The AV referendum will be on the same day, 5 May, as elections to the Scottish Parliament.

The House of Lords finally backed down at the last moment.

For Nick Clegg, one can understand the timing. He wants, he needs, the referendum on Alternative Voting for the Commons. He desires to demonstrate to his own party a concrete gain from the coalition.

Yet, at the same time, he knows that voting reform is scarcely the talk of the steamie or its modern post-industrial equivalent.

So what to do to ease that mismatch between party dreams and popular focus?

There you have the people, still angry about Commons expenses and disinclined to concentrate on the mechanics of parliamentary elections.

And there you have his party, still taking to the barricades with their ancient cry.

"What do we want???" "The Single Transferable Vote in multi member constituencies!!!"

"When do we want it???" "In due course, following a properly constituted plebiscite!!!"

A snag. The solution, of course, is to hold the AV ballot on the same day as devolved and council elections which might attract a modicum of interest, even from those disenchanted with partisan politics. Plus, it is stressed, it will save money.

But, in Scotland in particular, that has caused some disquiet, on two grounds.

Firstly, it is argued that it will be confusing for voters to be considering both the future devolved governance of Scotland and the future electoral machinery of the Commons in the same time frame.

Secondly, it is feared that there will be potential problems at the ballot box and/or delays at the count.

Mr Clegg and the Scottish Secretary Michael Moore have insisted that these problems have been exaggerated by critics: that the people and officials of Scotland are eminently capable of surmounting such a challenge.

On 6 May, we will know whether they are right.

PS: Wasn't it entertaining to see a 40% rule featuring in the ping pong between the Lords and the Commons over this issue? On this occasion, it was an attempt to insist that the turnout in the referendum must be 40 plus before the result would be valid. Those of us with longer memories will recall the rule imposed on the 1979 Scottish referendum to the effect that 40% of the registered electorate must vote yes for the measure to carry.

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  • 1. At 11:21am on 17 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:

    I'm still witing to find out how the referendum result will be declared -

    Only at UK level?
    At national/regional level?
    At constituency level?

    Anyone know the answer?

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  • 2. At 11:33am on 17 Feb 2011, sid_ts63 wrote:

    morning, so we get a referendum that we don't want at the same time as the Scottish Parliament elections.
    who gets to run the election and the referendum is it the same people??

    As we all witnessed at the last debacle having council and Parliament elections on the same day was a disaster BUT all the spoilt papers must be counted.
    I am aware of a campaign to spoil the referendum paper by writing Independence across the voting paper which if it takes off could lead to spoilt papers out numbering the yes or the No's in Scotland.
    Sid

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  • 3. At 11:40am on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:

    I will be doing exactly as sid_ts63 says.

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  • 4. At 11:44am on 17 Feb 2011, Ric Hardacre wrote:

    Frankly I think the suggestion that:

    a) Holding the referendum on the same day as other elections and/or
    b) that the proposed system - writing 1,2,3 instead of an X

    are things that we, the electorate, will find confusing insulting and patronising.

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  • 5. At 11:46am on 17 Feb 2011, handclapping wrote:

    #1 reincarnation

    Now, now, you know that passing a law never solves anything. That's why the Electoral Commission needs 10 weeks to sort it out.

    You must surely remember Gordon Brown's Budgets where the presentations to the House were great; it was only when you read the Treasury backing papers that you found you had been shafted yet again.

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  • 6. At 11:56am on 17 Feb 2011, Alba4eva wrote:

    I will be Writing 'SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE' across my AV ballot paper!

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  • 7. At 11:56am on 17 Feb 2011, EphemeralDeception wrote:

    "Wasn't it entertaining to see a 40% rule featuring"

    It may be entertaining for some but all it really shows is the continuing travesty of democracy that this broken union ceaselessly provides.

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  • 8. At 11:57am on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    "Firstly, it is argued that it will be confusing for voters to be considering both the future devolved governance of Scotland and the future electoral machinery of the Commons in the same time frame.

    Secondly, it is feared that there will be potential problems at the ballot box and/or delays at the count."


    These are not the only concerns. Nor, I would venture, the most important ones. Many people are concerned about this breach of the convention that referendums are to be strictly non-party political. It is for this reason that it is felt essential that referendums be clearly distinguished and separated from the electoral process. Whether intentional or not, scheduling a referendum on the same date as party political polls must surely tend to politicise the process or, at least, link it to the necessarily politicised electoral process.

    Quite apart from all this, the inevitable controversy surrounding the scheduling of the referendum has tended to divert attention from the matter of what the referendum is about. It is in the nature of such plebiscites that they should be preceded by a substantial public information exercise and at least some public debate on the issue at hand. In the case of the AV referendum such debate as there might otherwise have been will surely be swamped by election campaigning - particularly in Scotland.

    We cannot help but wonder whether this is intentional.

    AV is, after all, the very worst form of PR. So deficient, in fact, that many democracy campaigners refuse to acknowledge it as any kind of PR at all. There are those who, for whatever reason, will be seeking the rejection of AV. There is also a campaign to persuade people to boycott the referendum altogether. It is now going to be all but impossible for these groups to get their message across. The government must be aware of this. So, either we believe that they have deliberately sought to stifle debate, or we believe that they don't consider this essential part of the democratic process important enough to safeguard.

    Either way, it does the Tories no credit. While their LibDem accomplices should be burning with shame.

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  • 9. At 12:16pm on 17 Feb 2011, P190RSF wrote:

    #6 I don't think that will fit in the box - I'm going for an X myself.

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  • 10. At 12:26pm on 17 Feb 2011, spagan wrote:

    Writing "Independence" across the AV ballot - good opportunity to show how irrelevant Westminster is to Scotland.
    Liberal ConDems - "Vote Cuddly - Get Cameron".
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 11. At 12:28pm on 17 Feb 2011, X_Sticks wrote:

    Brian,
    "Those of us with longer memories will recall the rule imposed on the 1979 Scottish referendum to the effect that 40% of the registered electorate must vote yes for the measure to carry."
    I for one will never forget. They're going to score a goal, Mrs T. Well, just move the goalposts then. This was the point when I decided I no longer wished to be ruled by westminster.
    I'm glad we'll have the AV vote on the 6th. I look forward to writing Scottish Independence on it, and I may well add Stuff your Scottish Bill too.

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  • 12. At 12:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, redrobb wrote:

    #6 don't quote me but I think you just spoiled sumfink, no silly not your underware!

    Here we have yet another game of smoke & mirrors, I can see FUBAR written all over it..........................

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  • 13. At 12:50pm on 17 Feb 2011, fairforfochen wrote:

    #9
    It doesn't need to fit in the box in fact we're fed up fitting into a box of others making, a thick black marker pen will be in my pocket. I too will be writing Scottish Independence

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  • 14. At 1:16pm on 17 Feb 2011, james_414 wrote:

    So if a great number of Scots write "independence" or other on the voting paper, will there be a count of these to show how many of the spoilt papers were due to this reason? Or will all spoilt papers be deemed "spoilt" with no elaboration?

    I only wonder as I agree with writing "independence" but I wonder if the message will be heard if not counted seperately.

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  • 15. At 1:19pm on 17 Feb 2011, brigadierjohn wrote:

    I'm all for inclusive democracy, but does anyone believe that our fellow citizens who have difficulty with something as simple as a ballot paper will be able to make enlightened and informed decisions about the actual issues?
    All the parties will pay lip-service to spreading information while secretly hoping that a bit of confusion and spin will work in their favour.
    Then we'll have post-match arguments about which party suffered most from spoiled papers. I'm really looking forward to the confrontations: "Naw, naw... oor supporters are dafter than yours, so it wisnae fair.!

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  • 16. At 1:22pm on 17 Feb 2011, X_Sticks wrote:

    For those interested in the Scotland Bill, Mark D'Arcy has some interesting things to say about the timing of the commons committee on his blog:
    "Meanwhile, watch out for some rather technical devolution-related exchanges when MPs question the Leader of the House on future Commons business - because there's concern that Westminster's about to step on Holyrood's toes."
    Masterly understatement...

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  • 17. At 1:28pm on 17 Feb 2011, Addicted to Joob-Joobs wrote:

    Interesting comparison, Brian, between the corrosive farce that was the 1979 devolution referendum and the impending imposition of the AV vote upon our own elections in May.

    The UK's attitude towards the Scottish people's right to a free and fair democratic system can be clearly gauged by successive historical attempts to derail or marginalise that process whenever it may look like we are about to vote to strengthen our own constitutional position.

    The deviously poisoned challice of the unionist Scotland Bill is but one glaring example - the AV referendum but another.

    Because free and fair elections, and the entitlement to choose our own country's future, are our sovereign rights, not concessions granted from Westminster, as they would have us believe.

    As such, the AV referendum is the perfect opportunity for Scots to write 'INDEPENDENCE' boldly across their ballot paper - an opportunity waiting to be grasped by all Scots, myself included, who believe in the sovereign democracy of their country.

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  • 18. At 1:33pm on 17 Feb 2011, Calum McKay wrote:

    "And so the calendrical concatenation, promised or feared, is to take place."

    I thought the liberals did not wish to naval gaze with constitutional plebiscites during tough times and recession?

    I see, only when these votes decide the future of Scotland.

    So that means liberals think more of voting reform in an other country than they do of Scotland – fancy that!

    This is the most important issue for liberals for nearly 100 years, and know what, they will get spanked, big time. I would normally be well disposed to such a vote, but the way the liberals have gone about securing the vote, ……………………, I look forward to seeing their faces when it all goes pear shaped.

    tories must be laughing, you’ll have the liberals to thank for that!

    union is not working!

    C McK

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  • 19. At 1:37pm on 17 Feb 2011, Dewi_H wrote:

    Which poll will be counted first?

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  • 20. At 1:38pm on 17 Feb 2011, StationX wrote:


    As far as I am concerned AV for the UK is just a paperwork exercise done on behalf of the flunking LibDems to try to convince their disappearing electorate that they are not actually turncoat traitors. No one down there in Westminster really wants it and when they want to stop something like that, that’s what they do, they add in an anti-democratic trick like the 40% rule to ensure its failure.

    What can I say, they must know it's going to fail anyway or they would have done it.

    I agree with #6 Alba4eva's 'SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE' across my AV ballot paper!


    It's about time the truth came out about this, there is still the question of the locker room for that particular flight being broken into that night and it's cover up until the trial was over.

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  • 21. At 1:39pm on 17 Feb 2011, LondonSteve wrote:

    14. James

    I believe the point is that if there is an unusually high number of spoilt papers in scotland then the reasons would perhaps be looked into why so many are spoilt. Then Independance would get an airing in the MSM. At the count they would just be counted as spoilt.

    Actually is it spoilt or spoiled? Nae idea!

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  • 22. At 1:42pm on 17 Feb 2011, Alba2014 wrote:

    Like other posts I will be writing INDEPENDENCE across the RIDICULOUS AV referendum voting paper.

    What ever happened to "call me Dave's" RESPECT agenda. Oops sorry I forgot it went out the window with the baby's bath water.

    With regard to how the result will be declared it is obvious to me that they will only declare the NATIONAL result. The powers that be will be terrified to announce any other result.

    Can you imagine the Scottish result....

    Yes 150
    No 150
    Spoilt (INDEPENDENCE) 3,599,999

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  • 23. At 1:55pm on 17 Feb 2011, brigadierjohn wrote:

    It's really quite disturbing that so many people are going to march self-righteously to the polling stations with the intention of spoiling papers. That'll show em, eh?

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  • 24. At 2:00pm on 17 Feb 2011, Grahame wrote:

    2. sid_ts63

    I too shall be writing SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE over my ballot paper. It will be the first time I have spoilt any ballot, and I look forward to doing so.

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  • 25. At 2:02pm on 17 Feb 2011, cwh wrote:

    If, as has been suggested, the referendum count takes precedence over the counting of the votes in the Scottish Election then what security measures will be put in place to safeguard the voting papers and who will be responsible for keeping the papers safely and free from interference?

    Serious questions -any serious answers?

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  • 26. At 2:12pm on 17 Feb 2011, cwh wrote:

    #11. At 12:28pm on 17 Feb 2011, X_Sticks wrote:

    ""...Brian,
    "Those of us with longer memories will recall the rule imposed on the 1979 Scottish referendum to the effect that 40% of the registered electorate must vote yes for the measure to carry."
    I for one will never forget. They're going to score a goal, Mrs T. Well, just move the goalposts then. This was the point when I decided I no longer wished to be ruled by westminster.""

    -------
    It would seem you have forgotten X-sticks.

    The Scotland Bill, which was the subject of the referendum vote, was brought in by the LABOUR Government of James Callaghan in 1978. The 40% rule was an amendment introduced into the Bill by a LABOUR MP, George Cunningham who was, I believe, a Scot who sat for an English constituency.
    The Referendum was held in MARCH 1979 and Mrs Thatcher came to power in the General Election of MAY 1979.

    So she had nothing to do with any of it. It was wholly down to Labour.

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  • 27. At 2:15pm on 17 Feb 2011, Alba2014 wrote:

    #19 I think I read recently that Westminster has decided that the AV referendum count will take place first.

    So not only are we having an unwanted referendum foisted upon us, we are denied a REAL referendum that we DO want and the unwanted referendum count will take precedence OVER the Holyrood election count.

    Something STINKS here.

    What part of SCOTTISH CONSTITUTION, TREATY of the UNION or CLAIM of RIGHTS do Westminster NOT understand.

    Westminster may THINK they RULE Scotland, well guess what They DON'T. They NEVER have. They currently DON'T. NOR will they EVER rule over Scotland.

    For so long as 100 of us remain alive we will NEVER submit to English rule!

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  • 28. At 2:31pm on 17 Feb 2011, snowthistle wrote:

    I'll be spoiling my ballot

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  • 29. At 2:34pm on 17 Feb 2011, paul Hunter wrote:

    It just goes to prove once more...there's no respect for Scotland from Westminster. Nuff said.

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  • 30. At 2:38pm on 17 Feb 2011, Anagach wrote:


    The issue is not the complexity of the voting.

    The real issue - all the media (London based and elsewhere)
    will dedicate it political coverage to the AV vote in the UK.

    The idea of prime time leaders debates for Wales or Scotland
    or indeed anything approaching real debate will just not happen.
    Also we will see Westminster politicos and pundits filling the
    air time - and I am sorry to say that they are not just hostile
    to the policial situation in Scotland and Wales but manage to
    ally that to a woefully ignorance of anything North of Watford or
    West of Oxford.

    Never mind we can all enjoy the Royal Wedding.

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  • 31. At 2:38pm on 17 Feb 2011, handclapping wrote:

    #25 cwh

    The Returning Officer for each constituency has the responsibility for the safekeeping of the ballots, and associated papers, until one year after the day of the election. It will depend on each individual RO.

    Sworn Polling Agents of candidates may affix their seals to ballot boxes after the polls have closed in their polling station(s).

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  • 32. At 2:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, Alba2014 wrote:

    #25 SHHH! Your NOT supposed to ask questions like these. :)

    Don't you know this is Britain. NOTHING can possibly go wrong. After all NOTHING went wrong with the Glenrothes by - election did it? Oh perhaps except for the last minute arrival of the mass postal votes followed by the almost immediate disappearance of said same papers.

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  • 33. At 2:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, Grahame wrote:

    25. cwh

    they might store the ballot boxes in Glenrothes?

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  • 34. At 2:46pm on 17 Feb 2011, Skeerbs wrote:

    What a stitch up. The Unionist parties know that this means their paltry gerrymandering of england will be given precedence in the meeja over the arguments from the Nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales and thus prevent the important issues in the Devolved Countries being aired. They know this will make it harder for Nats to get their voters out. It's just another way of shoring up english Colonialism, oops, sorry we're supposed to call it Unionism aren't we.

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  • 35. At 2:49pm on 17 Feb 2011, kaybraes wrote:

    As long as the Labour party don't have anything to do with organising the referendum and / or the election, everything should go smoothly.

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  • 36. At 2:59pm on 17 Feb 2011, ayoungishlefty wrote:

    #27 What a bizarre and, if I can put this gently, 'out there' posting. Whilst I'm fully aware there is a plurality of views about our constitutional status quo, and of course I have my own, it is nevertheless the status quo. The question mark is over whether or not to remain within the union or not; in it however we most certainly are.

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  • 37. At 3:08pm on 17 Feb 2011, wilddog wrote:

    I only hope that the BBC,STV and the press don't use this as a way to minimise the importance of the Scottish Election,we don't want televised debates on this but we do need them for the four leaders to hear their policies for Scotland which is much more important to us than AV.As people have said before I will be putting independence on my paper.
    I listened to the Scotland Bill being discussed yesterday and the more you hear its cr*p and only being used to tie Scotland more into the union,as for Moore,well he just seems smarmy *****with his snide grin.In all this Scotland and its people are being treated as second class.

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  • 38. At 3:10pm on 17 Feb 2011, Skeerbs wrote:

    The mods are on a go slow today, aren't they.

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  • 39. At 3:23pm on 17 Feb 2011, cheesed_off wrote:

    So the dead will be voting yet again only this time they don't have to leave their resting place to do it.

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  • 40. At 3:25pm on 17 Feb 2011, AlastairGordon wrote:

    1. Write whatever you want on the ballot paper. It will just be considered 'spoiled'
    2. If 100% of the papers were marked "Independence" there would just be a 100% count of spoiled papers.
    3. No one would ever contemplate publishing the fact that so many papers were spoiled in such a way
    4. Wendy Alexander is not standing again for Holyrood, does she want to spend more time with her family or has she seen the writng on the wall?

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  • 41. At 3:26pm on 17 Feb 2011, spagan wrote:

    "the Donnie and Marie Osmond of Scottish politics"
    Oh No!!
    A tragedy for Scotland!!
    What will New Labour do without another Management Consultant?
    If wee Wendy had a brain the size of 2 large refridgerators - does that mean that New Labour in Scotland has lost 50% of its IQ?
    I wish "Marie Osmond" a long and happy retirement.
    She's provided us all with much jollity over the past few years.
    I also wish her New Labour colleagues a long and happy retirement in a couple of months.
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 42. At 3:28pm on 17 Feb 2011, Alba2014 wrote:

    Now Grahame what are you saying?

    I always thought Glenrothes was a nice wee place:)

    Surely you are NOT implying anything untoward could POSSIBLY happen to ballot papers held in that nice wee toon? :)

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  • 43. At 3:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, Wee-Scamp wrote:



    I see Wendy Alexander has quit to spend more time with her family and won't be standing at the May election.

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  • 44. At 3:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    23. brigadierjohn
    "It's really quite disturbing that so many people are going to march self-righteously to the polling stations with the intention of spoiling papers. That'll show em, eh? "

    What's "disturbing" about it? Spoiling ones ballot paper is always a valid option. Spoiled papers are counted. It is a meaningful gesture.

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  • 45. At 3:59pm on 17 Feb 2011, Alba4eva wrote:

    Just spotted that Wendy Alexander has now finally realised her true calling in life as a housewife. haha!

    Well, that's one incompetent Labour MSP away, only another 40'odds to go! happy days :o)

    ...In those famous words... Bring it on!

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  • 46. At 4:03pm on 17 Feb 2011, cwh wrote:

    To those who replied to my post at #25 - thank you. I did not want to mention the wee place in Fife incase I was sent to the naughty step.

    Iain Macwhirter was in fine form today worth a read

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  • 47. At 4:04pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    36. ayoungishlefty
    "The question mark is over whether or not to remain within the union or not; in it however we most certainly are."

    But Scotland has its own constitutional status within the UK. It is this that successive Westminster governments have sought to undermine. The Scotland Bill that Wendy Alexander is currently trying to avoid scrutiny of is a perfect example of this. The original Scotland Bill was a constitutional settlement according to the will of Scotland's people expressed by democratic means. The new Scotland Bill seeks to dramatically change that constitutional settlement without further reference to the Scottish electorate.

    Indeed, the very nature of the measures proposed in the new Scotland Bill strongly suggests that its main purpose is to reassert the sovereignty of Westminster. The Scottish Parliament must reject this Bill, if only to confirm that it is being imposed against the wishes of the elected representatives of Scotland's people as well as without their consent.

    The AV referendum and its scheduling exemplifies the same attitude to Scotland's constitutional status and the same intent to undermine that status be treating a relatively trivial referendum as if it were more important than the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

    I will be spoiling my AV referendum ballot paper in protest. Unfortunately we are afforded no democratic means to have the Scotland Bill dealt with in the same manner.

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  • 48. At 4:05pm on 17 Feb 2011, Grahame wrote:

    42. Stirling_Brig_1297

    I'm merely implying that possible voting irregularities might occur.

    Scottish Governmental elections should take priority over this AV rubbish.

    Hoping to be at the Edinburgh count.

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  • 49. At 4:05pm on 17 Feb 2011, Paul McDonald wrote:

    "Firstly, it is argued that it will be confusing for voters to be considering both the future devolved governance of Scotland and the future electoral machinery of the Commons in the same time frame.

    Secondly, it is feared that there will be potential problems at the ballot box and/or delays at the count."

    Brian, you continue to overlook the MOST IMPORTANT reason for not holding the two elections on the same day - that the media coverage of the Holyrood elections, and subsequently the electorate's attention, will be sidelined by the AV referendum (and the Royal wedding, of course). Exhibit A is your blog and the fact that you consistently fail to acknowledge this.

    You, and the BBC, are doing democracy in Scotland a great disservice in my opinion (words carefully chosen in light of inscreased moderation lately).

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  • 50. At 4:06pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    37. wildjackamo
    "I only hope that the BBC,STV and the press don't use this as a way to minimise the importance of the Scottish Election..."

    You may be certain that such is the intention. The AV referendum, like the Scotland Bill, is Westminster spitting on the people of Scotland.



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  • 51. At 4:07pm on 17 Feb 2011, minuend wrote:


    Something really bad must going down for Wendy Alexander not to stand for election.

    Looks like Labour is in free-fall in Scotland.

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  • 52. At 4:19pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    40. AlastairGordon
    "Wendy Alexander is not standing again for Holyrood, does she want to spend more time with her family..."

    Does her family get a say?

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  • 53. At 4:33pm on 17 Feb 2011, Jules wrote:

    Brian, why do you not 'tweet' from FMQ each week like the other BBC guys do for PMQ ?

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  • 54. At 4:34pm on 17 Feb 2011, Joe wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 4:34pm on 17 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:

    51. minuend

    Copied from another place

    At least with Wendy's disappearance, there is no need for conspiracy theories. Her seat (Paisley N) disappears going 40% to Renfrew N&W, 35% into the single Paisley seat, and the rest(?) into Renfrew S.

    To keep her seat, she would have to displace one of the other MSPs and let's face it, people in the Labour Party don't get on with her!

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  • 56. At 4:34pm on 17 Feb 2011, ayoungishlefty wrote:

    #47 Many thanks for you comments, thought through as they are. Its not that I wholly disagree with you, I think the point I was making there was that this 'Westminster doesn't rule us/never has/never will/whilst 100 of us breathe' stuff (I've omitted the upper casing) is a bit silly. Westminster holds legislative competence over foreign affairs amongst other areas policy. Personally I consider myself Scottish and British and so I am in favour of Scotland within the United Kingdom as a broad principle but also support the Dewar approach to devolution which was all but that which is explicity reserved is ipso facto devolved. I think a debate about Scotland's future is a good thing but getting hysterical gets no one anywhere irrespective of their point of view and its that that I was suggesting was 'out there'. Thanks again :)

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  • 57. At 4:37pm on 17 Feb 2011, gavin wrote:

    It is a pity we are to have a referendum on a voting system very few people advocate.It makes it worse that it is to be held on the same day as the election for our national parliament.As for Wendy,her career has been a disaster for someone so highly punted by labours high command and the media opinion formers.

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  • 58. At 4:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:

    Appart from a few labour folk she will certainly not be missed.
    Her bahaviour during the Scotland bill commitee brought shame to Holyrood,
    not forgetting her dodgy donation being swept under the carpet by the gutless electoral commission

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  • 59. At 4:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, Andrew Dundas wrote:

    Suppose a majority of Scottish electors vote against AV? Suppose the Conservative led coalition goes ahead anyway with Liberal-Democrats in support?
    What should be our adopted system in Scotland?
    Should we continue with STV for Holyrood, first-past-the-post for Councils and AV for Westminster elections?
    It's all very well for you Brian, but having three different voting systems in Scotland is just too confusing for me.

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  • 60. At 4:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, Addicted to Joob-Joobs wrote:

    #40 Alastair Gordon

    1. The AV referendum is not an issue that will significantly benefit Scottish democracy, and indeed its imposition upon the elections to our own Parliament are a flagrant slap in the face to that democracy.

    2. So, the significant thing being ‘spoiled’ here will be the opportunity to make a massive public statement if we don’t take the opportunity to declare ‘INDEPENDENCE’.

    3. Any significant number of such papers would be hugely publicised, as they were in the case of the previous Westminster-run Holyrood voting chaos, and the more of these bearing the word ‘INDEPENDENCE', the greater the publicity.

    (4. I believe the fateful shots came from the depository, not the alleged “grassy knoll”.)

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  • 61. At 4:52pm on 17 Feb 2011, GBC wrote:

    It's a day for breaking news, I've just heard that the film that is currently being made about Mrs T has been put on hold.

    Apparently they are awaiting her demise so the film can have a happy ending!

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  • 62. At 4:58pm on 17 Feb 2011, GBC wrote:

    40. AlastairGordon
    "Wendy Alexander is not standing again for Holyrood, does she want to spend more time with her family..."

    I hope she wasn't plotting against her leader. Why spend more time with the family when they are off to school?

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  • 63. At 5:01pm on 17 Feb 2011, minuend wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 64. At 5:08pm on 17 Feb 2011, akava77 wrote:

    With Richard Baker and Iain Gray having been exposed as complete hyprocrites, an opinion poll showing the SNP now slightly in the lead over Labour (despite the fact Labour were recently over 15% ahead) and the Scottish election now an open contest, and now Wendy Alexander announcing her departure as an MSP, it really has been a couple of disastrous weeks for the Labour party in Scotland.

    Either way it doesn't look good for Gray, either Wendy left because she wasn't prepared to serve under him as First Minister, or she's seen from the inside how bad things are and thought there's no way Labour can win so she's getting out while she can.

    I hope before leaving parliament she will apologise for her disgraceful treatment of Professor Drew Scott and Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett.
    And George Foulkes should apologise for the disrespect he has shown towards the Presiding Officer.

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  • 65. At 5:16pm on 17 Feb 2011, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #44 EH: Recently in the arab world, but in countries worldwide, people are dying for the right to participate in a democracy. Spoiling a ballot paper is slapping democracy in the face, especially when it's unprincipled - as in "I can't win this on terms of my choosing, so I'll attempt to wreck it."
    Those with aspirations to govern need to win arguments and win elections to gain credibility. Spoiling papers is childish.
    All kinds of claims, totally unprovable, will be made in the aftermath of the vote as to the number of political statements written on papers. It will be poetic justice, I think, that these factions will be included among those who were simply too daft to cope with two separate ballot papers.

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  • 66. At 5:17pm on 17 Feb 2011, paul Hunter wrote:

    Who said there's not such a thing as a coincidence? I was just watching The Wizard of Oz with my granddaughter and they were singing 'Ding dong the witch is dead' then my friends phoned me and told me Wendy Alexander is leaving politics. Who's next...the Cowardly lion, tin man and scarecrow on the Labour front bench...?

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  • 67. At 5:18pm on 17 Feb 2011, snowthistle wrote:

    #61
    Poor taste

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  • 68. At 5:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    Am I sensing the beginning of a spoilt ballot paper movement.

    I like it.

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  • 69. At 5:32pm on 17 Feb 2011, john wrote:

    #58

    I suspect that we will be subjected to her a lot more on TV as an "independant" pundit.

    John

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  • 70. At 5:41pm on 17 Feb 2011, wilddog wrote:

    Wendy is standing down therefore as far as I'm concerned she should now stand down from the chair of the committee of the Scotland Bill,I wonder if the 2 Profs.giving a toast to her just now.Will we have Brewer praising her tonight on Newsnight.
    Here's another thought is Mr Ferguson still digging into her dodgy donation and maybe come up with something new,just wondering.

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  • 71. At 5:41pm on 17 Feb 2011, cheesed_off wrote:

    65. brigadierjohn
    "Spoiling a ballot paper is slapping democracy in the face"

    As usual you talk without understanding what you are talking about it is a recognised way of showing dissent. As to the riots those people are voting for food that they can afford and think that democracy will give them that.

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  • 72. At 5:49pm on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:

    61.
    Nice one.
    LOL.

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  • 73. At 5:53pm on 17 Feb 2011, Addicted to Joob-Joobs wrote:

    #65 Brigadoonie

    We will have seperate ballot papers for the Scottish elections and for AV.

    The fact that they are even being held on the same day is the real affront to democracy.

    Therefore, a positive vote for the Scottish Government and a constructive statement on the AV sheet would represent very legitemate and effective twin strikes for democracy, albeit by contrasting methods.

    You seem to be struggling with the basic concept that a clear and deliberate statement on a significant number of ballot papers can make a very positive statement indeed.

    Or is it that you just don't believe in legitemate civil protest???

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  • 74. At 5:57pm on 17 Feb 2011, TheBlameGame wrote:

    As someone who posts on BBC Westminster blogs, living in England as I do, I come across the occasional complaint from Scottish posters about BBC bias in Scotland.
    Thought I'd drop in and see if there was anything to these complaints. From a personal pov I believe it is for the Scots to determine their future, which seems a fairly obvious and sensible approach, but have no affiliation or loyalty to any of the main parties. (Voted Green in the last two elections.)

    Going back through the last dozen or so entries by the author I'd say they have every right to complain. The sneering undertones with regard to the SNP or anyone anti-unionists are consistently apparent. It's pretty poor coming from a publicly funded corporation. Shameful. Be nice if retribution came at the ballot box.

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  • 75. At 5:58pm on 17 Feb 2011, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    I will try again, purely in the interest of "free speech" and anti-oppression.

    I intend to spoil my paper. I would not suggest to others to do the same, but obviously they could do so if they wished.

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  • 76. At 5:58pm on 17 Feb 2011, Anagach wrote:

    65. At 5:16pm on 17 Feb 2011, brigadierjohn wrote:
    Those with aspirations to govern need to win arguments and win elections to gain credibility. Spoiling papers is childish."


    In a representative democracy with a very limited choice spoiling
    a ballot paper is a valid action. It can be done for many reasons,
    not having a choice that represents the views of the voter - or
    denial of choice a la referendum issue, or disagreement with the
    whole system. Its better than staying away and not voting, since it
    registers a disapproval/disagreement with the choice.

    Indeed in countries where it is a legal obligation to vote - spoling
    papers is critical.

    It is childish to think that everyone should 'fit in' in such a
    limited set of choices or that British Democracy is actually
    anything to shout about.

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  • 77. At 6:26pm on 17 Feb 2011, gavin wrote:

    This will be the third strong minded woman to have left under Fudds watch. A problem there perhaps?

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  • 78. At 6:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, skoubhie_dubh wrote:

    #65 brigadierjohn

    boo! Yee! flubba dub a flooby loo.
    Aye, yir right, it probably is childish.
    I'm just getting in some practice.
    I might just do my 'independence' vote in coloured pencils.
    'saorsa-a-nis' may also be another possibility I add. I am yet undecided.
    any suggestions what colour of pencil I should use.

    seriously, as I understand it, there are 2 options to vote on.
    The status quo, which would not be one of my options.
    The new AV version, which also would not be one of my options.

    As I don't want any of these 2 options can you suggest a 'grown up' way to proceed to register to the authorities that I am not impressed by any of the options that they are putting for my consideration.

    I grew up understanding that my vote was a precious thing and that I should use it each and every time I get the option, so not turning up is not an option. As I don't like any of the options available, I am happy to take any suggestions on board, that are 'more grown up'. I will vote, there is no doubt, unless incapacitated in some serious way. At present I will be registering my displeasure. Please suggest a different way to do that and may allow me to feel part of the adult world.

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  • 79. At 6:33pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    56. ayoungishlefty
    " I think a debate about Scotland's future is a good thing but getting hysterical gets no one anywhere irrespective of their point of view and its that that I was suggesting was 'out there'."

    Then again what you dismiss as "hysteria" might well be the justified anger of those who are sufficiently well-informed to recognise the implications of things like the Scotland Bill and the AV referendum. The fact that you and other unionists don't care about Scotland's constitutional status does not, in itself, make this a non-issue.

    The fact that you are content to see the settled will of the people of Scotland blatantly subverted in no way sets an example for less apathetic individuals to follow.

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  • 80. At 6:36pm on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:

    God the BBC northern branch news is all over Alexanders departure like a rash.
    I dont understand why they think a second rate dispicable labour wretch is so important?

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  • 81. At 6:44pm on 17 Feb 2011, skoubhie_dubh wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 82. At 6:44pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    #51 - "Something really bad must going down for Wendy Alexander not to stand for election."

    On the last blog, I thought a sacrificial lamb might be offered up. Surely not Wendy though, eh?

    Of course, this could be the fallout of Wendy being e-mailed by Jack Straw whilst the grayman was kept out the loop over Megrahi.

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  • 83. At 6:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 84. At 6:47pm on 17 Feb 2011, skoubhie_dubh wrote:

    #65. brigadierjohn wrote:

    "Those with aspirations to govern need to win arguments and win elections to gain credibility."

    And therefore the point you are making is that the Lib Dems and the Tories have no credibility.

    Finally, we seem to be winning you over. Welcome to the dark side.

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  • 85. At 6:49pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    #62 - "Why spend more time with the family when they are off to school?"

    It's amazing the number of people who've all made that very same point. Wonder why.

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  • 86. At 6:54pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    #65 - "Recently in the arab world, but in countries worldwide, people are dying for the right to participate in a democracy. Spoiling a ballot paper is slapping democracy in the face, especially when it's unprincipled - as in "I can't win this on terms of my choosing, so I'll attempt to wreck it.""

    No, not bothering to turn up to vote is slapping democracy in the face but making the effort to turn up and spoil your paper is a legitimate tactic, regardless of your claims otherwise. Remember, our political masters serve us (yes, we all know you still doff your cap to every jumped up politician who serves the union, most of us aren't like that), so if they ignore a call with decent support for a referendum, making excuses that don't hold water in doing so, then people are entitled to attempt to change the rules by other means.

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  • 87. At 7:17pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    65. brigadierjohn
    "Spoiling a ballot paper is slapping democracy in the face, especially when it's unprincipled - as in "I can't win this on terms of my choosing, so I'll attempt to wreck it.""

    Very clearly, and not at all surprisingly, you completely fail to understand the issues here. In the first place, and as has already been explained, spoiling a ballot paper is a perfectly valid democratic action. It explicitly says, "Nonoe of the above!".

    And those stating their intention to spoil the referendum ballot paper are not concerned about winning anything. It is intended as a gesture of protest at the referendum being scheduled on the same day as the Scottish Parliamentary election. Which, for reasons I cannot even hope that you would comprehend, is Westminster spitting on the people of Scotland.

    Also, I am aware that some people will be spoiling their referendum ballot paper because they are dissatisfied with what is being offered. Many of these people are not in Scotland. While pro-independence activists may choose to spoil the paper by writing "INDEPENDENCE" across is, others will choose other means to the same end.

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  • 88. At 7:23pm on 17 Feb 2011, kaybraes wrote:

    Off subject maybe , but,
    Quote --- " Politicians always say they are quitting to spend more time with their families ; on this occasion it just happens to be true ". ,, Wendy. -- Aye right !

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  • 89. At 7:34pm on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:

    Labour politicians normally use the ill health porkie.

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  • 90. At 7:36pm on 17 Feb 2011, Mike wrote:

    I may have missed the debate but why are UK voters only being offered two choices First Past the Post (FPTP) and Alternative Vote (AV)?

    When New Zealand changed we were first asked whether we wanted a change to the existing voting system, (FPTP) and then to indicate support for one of four reform options: MMP, the Single Transferable Vote (STV), Supplementary Member (SM) or Preferential Vote (PV). Of those who voted 85% voted to change the system. In the second part of the poll, 70% favoured MMP.
    The second, referendum was a run-off between FPTP and MMP - was held at the same time as the 1993 general election. The campaign was fiercely contested. The turnout was 85% (do you ever get such high figures now in the UK) MMP was backed by a comfortable margin, 54% to 46%. New Zealand was to have a new voting system. At least the Voters had a choice between five different systems. Again I ask why only a choice between FPTP and AV? Kiwi Mike

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  • 91. At 7:41pm on 17 Feb 2011, brigadierjohn wrote:

    Okay, enough! Spoil the AV papers if you wish - almost any slogan, eg "free by 93," will let people know where you're at.
    Don't worry about AV, because the other ballot will tell its own story. Anyone for spoiling the Holyrood paper?

    Farewell again, for a while.

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  • 92. At 7:45pm on 17 Feb 2011, CassiusClaymore wrote:

    Good riddance to Wendy Alexander - an overpromoted mediocrity who was extremely lucky not to be prosecuted for her illegal campaign financing.

    CC

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  • 93. At 7:46pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    #89 - "Labour politicians normally use the ill health porkie."

    Mmm, it would need to be a bit exotic though, or a combination of both excuses - munchausen by proxy, anyone?

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  • 94. At 7:46pm on 17 Feb 2011, Colkitto wrote:

    Labour falling apart at the seams. Wendy resigns and reports of infighting....

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  • 95. At 7:53pm on 17 Feb 2011, X_Sticks wrote:

    26. At 2:12pm on 17 Feb 2011, cwh wrote:
    "It would seem you have forgotten X-sticks."
    Indeed I had cwh, funny how the memory plays tricks the older you get. I had totally forgotten Cunningham, though now reminded, I can remember how angry I was at him at the time. That referendum was the starting point for my interest (or loathing) of politics. Them wuz the daze.


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  • 96. At 7:56pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    #91 - "Okay, enough! Spoil the AV papers if you wish"

    Thanks, brig. We'll go forth and spoil with your blessings. See you around aout the end of April, eh?

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  • 97. At 8:06pm on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:


    93.Munchhausen, sounds about right.

    I remember wee joke taking a DAY OFF FMQ,s because of bronchitis.

    How sad is that, has wee joke got a miracle cure or was he feigning it?
    I know which I believe

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  • 98. At 8:15pm on 17 Feb 2011, kadok wrote:

    Will Wendy be applying for a teachers assistants job at her kids school?

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  • 99. At 8:17pm on 17 Feb 2011, cwh wrote:

    The AV voting system was debated on Newsnight, (the main programme) last night with a studio audience and pro- and anti- panels. I caught the tail end of it and heard Jeremy Paxman ask the pro-lobby why they were promoting the AV system when, apparently, only two countries in the world use it and one of those was papua New Guinea. Lots of spluttering before they came up with the fact that lots of companies and groups use AV - so that's alright then.

    As regards Ms Alexander being told by Jack Straw about the UK government's position on the release which someone raised above: She was Labour leader in Holyrood at the time i.e 2007 so that is why she would be considered as someone to be informed rather than Gray. Ian Gray did not take over until the summer of 2008.

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  • 100. At 8:18pm on 17 Feb 2011, X_Sticks wrote:

    74. TheBlameGame
    Hi TheBlameGame, good to see you over here. I watch Nick's, but don't often contribute, unless he winds me up over Scottish issues. Thanks for the support for our right to determine our own future. I actually think England could do very well from an independent Scotland, especially the north. It would redress the north-south divide somewhat. If I'm ever lucky enough to get a vote in a free Scotland I might well vote green myself.
    There are certainly some valid complaints here in Scotland about bias. It's not just the bbc, but pretty well the whole MSM here in Scotland is against independence. Most have links with london if not wesminster itelf. It's the establishment of empire (or should that be empire of establishment) we're up against, but as we are seeing in other places the old order is done and here at least I would hope that we can negotiate our independence without any tanks on the streets (though it wouldn't be the first time here in Scotland).
    NO TO THE SCOTLAND BILL

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  • 101. At 8:20pm on 17 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    I fear that for once I have to side with the brig. Whilst deploring the timing of the AV referendum to co-incide with national general elections, I agree that mass spoiling of ballot papers will do no good at all and may do harm if it is widely reported - as it is bound to be - in the MSM whilst simply ignored by the UK Electoral Commission and actually promoting the cause of the backwoodsmen of the red and blue tweedles.

    As the date will not be changed, I remain to be unconvinced why the best should not be made of the situation and people encouraged to express their own opinions in the ballot box. My own opinion is that AV is less undemocratic than the 1872 plurality system currently used and thus a tiny step towards fair voting.

    It also prompts me to wonder why - while doing their utmost to change the date of the referendum for obvious reasons - the SNP, Plaid and any pro-democracy Northern Irish parties such as the SDLP have not collectively publicised proposals that the results of the referendum should not only be counted nationally (rather than state-wide) but be implemented nationally not only in sending their representatives to the UK parliament but, at the discretion of each national legislature, for such other elections as those legislatures choose and for all such decisions to be implemented nation by nation.

    Not only would that drive home to each national population the unequal nature of the current UK, but it would help emerging parties in England to gain at least a toe-hold for home rulers in that nation - potential allies of the other "home" nations and a niche strangely absent since the L-Ds abandoned their federalism.

    Even at this late date, it would be possible for the necessary legislation on this to proceed in parallel with the state-wide referendum, since the ballots themselves would not change but at worst the counting instructions to the Electoral Commission. If nothing else, any adverse reaction from the ConDem coalition would play well in the Holyrood hustings by highlighting how unequal the four home nations actually are.

    It does surprise and, to some extent, sadden me that to the best of my knowledge the SNP have neither formally backed nor opposed AV. Plaid deplore the timing but, like the SDLP, support AV as a tiny step toward democracy.

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  • 102. At 9:10pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    91. brigadierjohn
    "Okay, enough! Spoil the AV papers if you wish - almost any slogan, eg "free by 93," will let people know where you're at."

    Seems that, despite all the explanations, you still haven't grasped that the spoiling of the AV referendum paper has nothing to do with the Scottish Parliamentary election and is only incidentally connected to the independence campaign in Scotland.

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  • 103. At 9:11pm on 17 Feb 2011, am firinn wrote:

    As you say, Kadok, "the BBC northern branch news is all over Alexander's departure like a rash". Good, isn't it? The fact they think a "second rate despicable labour wretch is so important" merely serves to point up how what they regard as talent is deserting the sinking ship. It just comes so beautifully after yesterday's poll you would almost think that sharp young Kevin Pringle had arranged it!

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  • 104. At 9:12pm on 17 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #1 reincarnation
    "I'm still witing to find out how the referendum result will be declared ... Anyone know the answer?"

    I suspect that very few do know, as having transmogrified from a bill to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 after receiving the Royal Assent on the 16th, there is no reference to it's "final" form on the parliament.uk site. It has yet to appear on legislation.gov.uk which already has more than 523 Acts passed or amended in 2011, so I imagine it will appear there fairly soon. On the Electoral Commission website, they know the act has been passed and will presumably put a link to the bill here when the final text is actually published. A detailed examination of Hansard might allow one to construct the Act from the Bill and the amendment motions, but it would be a thankless and intricate task. I do know that some Lords amendments were approved and at least one amendment proposed related to publication of detail at a local level, but I have no idea whether it survived into the Act.

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  • 105. At 9:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    101. Barbazenzero
    "It does surprise and, to some extent, sadden me that to the best of my knowledge the SNP have neither formally backed nor opposed AV."

    The SNP are due to announce their position on the AV system for Westminster elections within the next few days. For obvious reasons they have been focused on the matter of the scheduling of the referendum on the same day as the Scottish Parliamentary elections. However, the party has made clear that it supports the STV system for Westminster elections.

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  • 106. At 9:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Having succeeded in getting the AV bill turned into an Act and in the process trashed their own "respect" promises, it seems the unL-unDs are attempting to kiss and make up if I understand this website's new UK government offers Holyrood five-year terms aright.

    It quotes Clegg as saying: "We are now giving Holyrood the complete freedom to decide, by a particular majority, to change the date - either bring it forward to 2014 or defer it to 2016. And we are doing that in a spirit of respect - respect for those strongly held views across all parties in Scotland, so that Holyrood can decide for itself when the election after next will occur so we avoid this clash from arising in the first place."

    A bit late for that, I would have thought, and a complete denial of any vestigal Liberal principles of home rule and democracy.

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  • 107. At 9:38pm on 17 Feb 2011, cheesed_off wrote:

    David Cameron should expel Scottish Tory for his misogynistic views on rape

    Labour one minute Lib Dems another now the Tories there must be a link, unionists comes to mind.

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  • 108. At 9:55pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    #99 - "As regards Ms Alexander being told by Jack Straw about the UK government's position on the release which someone raised above: She was Labour leader in Holyrood at the time i.e 2007 so that is why she would be considered as someone to be informed rather than Gray. Ian Gray did not take over until the summer of 2008. "

    Oops, forgot that Call-me-dave stated that the previous labour government ceased all their machinations to get Megrahi released before the grayman took over.

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  • 109. At 9:58pm on 17 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #105 Electric Hermit
    "The SNP are due to announce their position on the AV system for Westminster elections within the next few days. For obvious reasons they have been focused on the matter of the scheduling of the referendum on the same day as the Scottish Parliamentary elections. However, the party has made clear that it supports the STV system for Westminster elections."

    Thanks for the info. I do fully agree with your and others' posts concerning the scurrilous timing of the referendum, but I also think that one should make the best of a bad job.

    Plaid seem to me to have the right right approach in deploring the timing, backing AV because it is less awful than the current system but refusing to campaign for it because more important matters are at hand.

    I do think it could do no harm to take it a wee step further and join forces with other home ruling parties in demanding that the decisions should be national rather than one single state-wide yes or no. It would cost neither of the ConDem parties anything to agree but give them an even larger mountain to climb in the Scottish and Welsh general elections to disagree.

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  • 110. At 10:27pm on 17 Feb 2011, spagan wrote:

    First Minister Alex Salmond described her as "the most intellectually substantial figure in the Parliamentary Labour Party in Scotland".
    Well said Alex!
    Best back-handed complement I've heard in a long time.
    She's the best they had - and she's realised that the game is a bogey.
    New Labour - now a cortex short of a brain?
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 111. At 10:47pm on 17 Feb 2011, moujick wrote:

    How does that phrase go again? Oh thats it,

    Wendy, don't let the door hit yer hinend on the wiy oot!

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  • 112. At 11:07pm on 17 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    106. Barbazenzero
    "...so we avoid this clash from arising in the first place."

    How can you avoid it after it's happened? The boy's an idiot!

    And the emptiness of the "respect" rhetoric is apparent from the emphasis given to Westminster's "generosity" in "giving" us something that is ours by right.

    The boy's a condescending idiot!

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  • 113. At 11:24pm on 17 Feb 2011, ForteanJo wrote:

    So the rumour mill claims this was about the finance minister job in the grayman's cabinet (should labour win in may, of course). Mmm, interesting.

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  • 114. At 11:25pm on 17 Feb 2011, sid_ts63 wrote:

    one wonders what all of the private polls that "Scottish"labour have commissioned are really telling them on the lead up to the Scottish Parliament elections ???
    Sid

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  • 115. At 11:27pm on 17 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #112 Electric Hermit
    "The boy's a condescending idiot!"

    Quite so, but he's clearly also frit, having too late realised what a bad decision the simultaneous timing was and what damage it may do to his party.

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  • 116. At 11:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, Mike wrote:

    Sorry and I know that this and the Scotsman forums are very personal between a few players but I would really appreciate a brief answer to my question at 90.

    Why are UK voters only being offered two choices First Past the Post (FPTP) and Alternative Vote (AV)?

    When New Zealand changed the voters had a choice between five different systems.
    First Past the Post (FPTP); Mixed Member Proportional: (MMP); Single Transferable Vote (STV), Supplementary Member (SM) or Preferential Vote (PV).
    MMP (similar but I believe better than the Holyrood system) won by a comfortable margin.

    Again I ask please, why only a choice between FPTP and AV?
    Kiwi Mike

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  • 117. At 00:02am on 18 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:

    116. Mike
    "Again I ask please, why only a choice between FPTP and AV?"

    It's because you live in a democracy (even though it has inherited the English doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, your politicians know that they would be thrown out immediately if they treated the people with disrespect.

    In England treating the peasants with disrespect is the starting point, This referendum is nothing to do with democracy. In fact the LDs don't really want AV anyway, their preference was STV, but their new buddy Dave said that wasn't on.

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  • 118. At 00:09am on 18 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    116. Mike
    "Why are UK voters only being offered two choices First Past the Post (FPTP) and Alternative Vote (AV)?"

    That question should really be put to those responsible for the proposal. But it is fairly safe to assume that the political establishment - basically the two "big" Westminster parties - is terrified of their grip on political power being broken.

    FPTP puts massive power in the hands of the executive. Even more since the days of Thatcher and Blair. Both the Tories and Labour crave that power.

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  • 119. At 00:11am on 18 Feb 2011, AlastairGordon wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 120. At 00:12am on 18 Feb 2011, soosider wrote:

    116. Mike
    A very good question, the answer to which is no one is quite sure. To my mind it ties in with the long talked about reform of the Houses of Parliament, brought into sharp focus by the expenses scandal. Labour were elected in 1997 part of their manifesto was reform of said Houses, duly they set up a commision under Jenkins, he reported fairly quickly on a whole range of matters, included in these were four proposals about changing the voting system, the one least recommended was the AV system. The report was kicked into the long grass, or parked on a shelf to gather dust. Come 2009 and Gordon Brown looking for policies remembered this report and pulled the AV rabbit from the hat, no discussion in Parliament, no discussion or debate it became the only show in town. The other London parties jumped on this as a good idea, I assume because it is not really a big change. Tories get elected, and push the Bill through Parliament.
    For my own mind I am absolutely fuming about it and the process, the people decide how they want there government to be not the Government. It in microcosm epitomises what is wrong with the Houses of Parliament.

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  • 121. At 00:29am on 18 Feb 2011, AlastairGordon wrote:

    #73
    You are the one missing the point!
    It doesn't matter what you mark on the ballot paper, anything other than 'X' in a box makes it a spoiled paper. Putting a line across the sheet is equivilent of writing the Old Testement on the ballot paper, its just a spoilt paper!
    Have you got that now?

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  • 122. At 00:42am on 18 Feb 2011, Mike wrote:

    117. reincarnation
    118. Electric Hermit
    Thanks for that. I really was puzzled why, at last realising that First Pass the Post (FPTP), is blatantly undemocratic (what use to happen here in New Zealand, a party such as Social Credit, could get over 20% of the vote and only get two seats) the UK electorate was given a bit of a Hobson's Choice.

    Our present system 'MMP' gives a Parliament with a greater selection of views from the electorate. Proponents of FPTP would claim that it gave ‘strong’ government, which really meant a ‘dictatorship’ of a cabinet or leader where a single party with a large majority of seats but often less than 50 % of the popular vote could do ‘all sorts, like get you into a war, no one wanted.
    The choice between FFTP and MMP was close here until one great New Zealander cartoonist showed a iconic Kiwi spouting,
    “I you want to know why in the referendum you should vote for MMP just look at the people who tell you not to.” Honestly it swung the vote.
    It’s a bit like, look at the people who consistently cry, over the past four years“ SNP accused of.....”

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  • 123. At 00:52am on 18 Feb 2011, JTomlin wrote:

    But wait. Haven't Scots been told time and time again that referenda are too expensive during an economic downturn? Hypocrisy much?

    And in the meantime, is Bill Aiken, MSP, really telling the people of Scotland that gang rape is all right if a woman is dressed wrong?

    And so Wendy Alexander decides at the same time that her twins are old enough to go to school that it's time to stay home and spend time with them?

    Honestly, I couldn't make it up and I write fantasies. *boggle*

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  • 124. At 01:16am on 18 Feb 2011, Mike wrote:

    120. soosider
    “... no one is quite sure.” “.... the one least recommended was the AV system.”
    Thanks for the answers. It looks like the politicians are using a smoke screen. Offering a change from a undemocratic FPTP voting system to one not much, if indeed any, better.
    Both encourages the two party adversarial system (which unfortunately the Unionist parties mind set at Holyrood still firmly adheres to) where voters are ‘feart’ to vote for a smaller party, who they really want to represent them, as it lets the one of the ’big’ two that they don’t want in.

    NZ’s MMP system and it’s ‘almost’ Scottish equivalent is supposed to encourage compromise and ‘working together’ for the benefit of the nation. Not too obvious watching the venom of Ian Gray et al every week. Of course no country is perfect but here we have an alliance of the ruling NZ National Party, with a group of others including the Maori Party, normally associated with the opposition Labour Party, who had until the last election won three consecutive elections, after leaving their change from their right-wing phase (see Rogernomics similar to Blair/Brownomics).
    One advantage of being a small nation, at the bottom, (or top) of the World is we watch developments in larger states. Many Scots in the Antipodes watch FMQ every week and the feeling is AS leaves all for dead. Unfortunately other only read the Scottish press and after sorting out the Fitba headlines what’s happening on Corrie Street or some other reality show (little to do with Scotland) they find a very, shall we say one sided view of the proceedings, especially if the read who most be the most blind sided journalist on the planet Alan Cochrane.
    BBC and STV Scottish political shows are not allowed to be shown here and we must wait until some kind and clever individual puts it on YouTube - please whoever you are keep up the good work.

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  • 125. At 04:21am on 18 Feb 2011, Calum McKay wrote:

    Three words for the ballot - "Gome Home Please!"


    Some play has been made by unionists on the previous blog about the descriptions of Mr Gray, Iraq war and Trident, but to name a few.

    A question for unionists':

    What other country has diplayed the maturity and adopted non violent means to oust a coloniual power?

    C McK

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  • 126. At 05:26am on 18 Feb 2011, Alex Bisset wrote:

    I've often felt that those who "allowed" devolution were hoping it would be a bigger version of the old Strathclyde Regional Cooncil, but to their absolute horror, it turned instead into a successful entity, with the result of a clear demand for more devolved powers. I fear the new Scotland Bill will go someway to return the plan to the original plan - Just a big Council.
    ps anyone seen Margaret MP/MSP?

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  • 127. At 07:57am on 18 Feb 2011, Anagach wrote:

    116. At 11:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, Mike wrote:

    Why are UK voters only being offered two choices First Past the Post (FPTP) and Alternative Vote (AV)?


    This is Westminster. They dont do change, progress, development.
    So its a poison pill - only one alternative, one that many think is
    flawed, and then arrange things as much as possible to prevent any
    change at all, see under mixed election dates, royal weddings,
    extended holidays and party campaigning against...

    We'd still have rotten burghs, property requirements to vote and
    unpaid MPs if the rest of the World had not thrown a few revolutions.

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  • 128. At 09:05am on 18 Feb 2011, Grahame wrote:

    127. Anagach

    This referendum is a waste of time, it isn't a change to the voting system, it's a whitewash.

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  • 129. At 09:10am on 18 Feb 2011, John Ruddy wrote:

    Since one of the problems about holding the referendum on the same day as the SP Elections is said to be that people will get confused between the voting papers, surely a campaign to spoil the AV ballot paper with the word "Independance" is counter-productive?

    What if people spoil the wrong ballot paper? Or will that be the excuse if the SNP dont win the election?

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  • 130. At 09:13am on 18 Feb 2011, Alba4eva wrote:

    Anyone see the 'Wendy Alexander Love-in' on Newsnight Scotland Last night?

    Who is that cringeworthy woman I keep seeing pop up on Newsnight Scotland? What qualifications does she hold? How is her opinion important? I fail to see a possitive answer to any of these questions!

    It is clear she is Labour through and through... simply by the way it made my finger automatically twitch towards the TV remote. I managed to over-ride my body's natural response and continue watching though, which was worth it for her statement that; "Wendy was a 10 ideas an hour politician... Ok, 8 of them were rubbish!" Haha :)

    Says it all really! ...Instead of having one good well thought through idea say a week, that will really make a difference to the people of Scotland like the SNP, this daft woman describes Labourthink to a tee.

    Easy question for you all (particularly the unionists on here), do you really want folk who think like this running things?

    ...in fact i'll answer that; No! (Because all the unionists who occationally visit here wouldn't even admit to voting for guff like that)

    I am now of the opinion that the SNP are now a shoe-in to Holyrood in May.

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  • 131. At 09:21am on 18 Feb 2011, Grahame wrote:

    129. John Ruddy


    i'm pretty sure the people of Scotland aren't simpletons and can tell the difference between the two ballot papers.

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  • 132. At 09:30am on 18 Feb 2011, Diabloandco wrote:

    " Whitaboutery" Mr Ruddy ,and will be treated as such.

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  • 133. At 09:43am on 18 Feb 2011, PeeJay wrote:

    #116. At 11:29pm on 17 Feb 2011, Mike wrote:

    Why are UK voters only being offered two choices First Past the Post (FPTP) and Alternative Vote (AV)?

    I firmly believe this is a cynical ploy by the Tory side of the coalition to be seen to be appeasing their coalition partners without actually offering anything and with the risk of losing nothing.
    If, as you outline in your earlier post about NZ, we were being offered a choice of PR systems, then there is real risk (to the Tories) that the electorate would vote for change.
    By offering a single choice of FPTP of AV, many people will vote to retain FPTP as they see AV as inadequate and will want to continue to argue for better reform.
    The Tories will take this and spin it as a resounding vote in favour of keeping FPTP as the settled will of the people - which it may not be - it's just that AV is not the solution people want to see. By not asking the question about whether we all want reform in the first place, they mitigate the risk that we say yes thus not allowing any apparent evidence against the way they will spin the result.

    As for the spoiling of ballot papers, I see the Independence markings mentioned by many as a bit of a red herring - although I do see that it could be an opportunity to highlight the clamour for an independence debate. I think the spoiling of ballot papaers is a clear and democratic message to the government that their questions and choices are utter bobbins. Not spoiling ballot papers to make it clear that the questions are the wrong ones serves only to legitimise the underhand tactics at play by the Tories. And don't start me on the complete and utter lack of respect for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections by the ConDem government...

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  • 134. At 09:47am on 18 Feb 2011, Diabloandco wrote:

    I look forward to the AV debate twixt all parties being given full coverage by BBBC UK and I hope for input from those in New Guinea who employ this particular system.


    Of course BBBC Scotland will have to give priority to the the Scottish Leaders debate which I am certain will be far more enlightening to the sovereign people of this land.

    I just can't wait! After all Mr Dimbleby holds the reigns of QT and decides what is important to the people of the UK, I can surely expect those at Pacific Quay to realise the importance of a Holyrood leaders debate to the sovereign people of Scotland.

    We don't need to inflict it on the English.

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  • 135. At 09:48am on 18 Feb 2011, john wrote:

    #129 John
    "Since one of the problems about holding the referendum on the same day as the SP Elections is said to be that people will get confused between the voting papers, "

    That is not the problem with the election date. This point is just put about by unionists to discredit those that don't want the election and referendum on the same date.

    The real problem is the amount of airtime that the referendum debate will take away from the election debate. Full stop.

    "surely a campaign to spoil the AV ballot paper with the word "Independance" is counter-productive?"

    I agree with you here. I want our electorial system to move forwards (AV is a small step forwards IMHO). I don't think that any spoiling campaign will get enough airtime to be meaningful, and will therefor be counterproductive. It will just be a waste of a trip to the polling station.

    "What if people spoil the wrong ballot paper?"

    Now, who's calling the electorate simple? (I know the point you're making I just thought I would tease you a bit...). It does however highlight the fact that spoiling ballot papers is meaningless. After all, there may have been a campaign to spoil ballot papers at the 2007 elections, it's just that none of us heard about it.

    John

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  • 136. At 09:50am on 18 Feb 2011, John Ruddy wrote:

    Grahame @ 131

    I totally agree with you. However, thats not what Alex Salmond said. He said that the referendum shouldnt take place on May 5th because people will get confused between the two voting papers, as they did in 2007.

    I think a better reason for holding the referndum on a different date would be so that the arguments for and against can be debated without being clouded by party political considerations - just as the Welsh referendum on additional powers is.

    But thats not the argument the SNP have used.

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  • 137. At 09:51am on 18 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Arguably even more relevant to any polls they conduct prior to the Scottish general election [see previous thread] than to polling for the AV referendum, Mike Smithson's Political Betting site has an interesting new article on YouGov's weightings based on newspaper readership: Has YouGov failed to keep up with the Mirror’s decline?.

    This shows that in a GB context:
    "The result is that the views of readers of the Mirror and its Scottish sister, the Daily Record, appear to be given a value of 80+% more in YouGov polls than the latest circulation figures suggest - and what could that be doing to the findings?"

    We're bound to have a glut of polls between now and the simultaneous real polls in May [most on AV with tiny Scottish sub-samples], but the YouGov ones will clearly need to be taken with a large pinch of salt, especially any Scottish ones, bearing in mind the continued decline [in relative terms] of the Record vs the Scottish Sun, as reported by allmediascotland.

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  • 138. At 10:20am on 18 Feb 2011, govanite wrote:

    too much complacency going on right now, nothing is decided or given - the game is still being played

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  • 139. At 10:32am on 18 Feb 2011, pabroon74 wrote:

    @Mike from New Zealand.

    I know people have answered but, it boils down to Westminster not trusting the people. It is a thoroughly arrogant institution that believes the voters need to be protected from themselves and it does so by limiting choice.

    That this limited choice across all of the UK also maintains the status quo, by which I mean the two party powerbase isn't entirely coincidental.

    For what its worth, since I'm confident I can tell the difference between ballot papers, I'll probably be writing independance on the AV slip. For me, Westminster is so far removed, it doesn't matter how I vote any more, it makes no difference whatsoever; we'll get either Labour or Tory (served on a bed of libdem) both main parties have nothing to offer at all except cynicism and lies.

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  • 140. At 10:36am on 18 Feb 2011, wilddog wrote:

    Future Scottish parliament terms could last five years instead of four, the deputy prime minister has said.

    Nick Clegg said Holyrood could hold the 2015 Scottish election a year either way of the date to avoid a clash with the UK general election.

    The UK government offer came in a letter to the Scottish Parliament's presiding officer.

    The proposal would mean the contest could take place anytime between May 2014 and May 2016.

    Nick Clegg told the BBC: "We are now giving Holyrood the complete freedom to decide, by a particular majority, to change the date - either bring it forward to 2014 or defer it to 2016.

    "And we are doing that in a spirit of respect - respect for those strongly held views across all parties in Scotland, so that Holyrood can decide for itself when the election after next will occur so we avoid this clash from arising in the first place."

    Clegg take this and stuff it where the monkey stuck its nuts,respect you have no respect for us its only that you want a bit of power and you are willing to jump into bed with anyone to get it.

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  • 141. At 10:55am on 18 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #135 john
    "The real problem is the amount of airtime that the referendum debate will take away from the election debate. Full stop.
    ...
    I want our electorial system to move forwards (AV is a small step forwards IMHO). I don't think that any spoiling campaign will get enough airtime to be meaningful, and will therefor be counterproductive.
    "

    Excellent post, and I agree entirely on both airtime points you raise. On the election debates, Hamish Macdonell in the CalMerc opines that "Labour strategists believe that their man will benefit from the leaders’ debates, and they may be right".

    Unlikely as it sounds, could it be that it is the Labour party who will push the BBC and STV into airing them? Personally I would have thought that from their point of the less visibility dour Iain has the better in terms of electoral success, but to quote a retiring Labour politician, bring it on!

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  • 142. At 10:57am on 18 Feb 2011, Gaavster wrote:

    @129 - John Ruddy

    Personally, I'll be writing 'Independence' John

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  • 143. At 10:58am on 18 Feb 2011, spagan wrote:

    139 Pa Broon
    In 40 years, I've always voted and never spoiled a voting paper.
    Whilst I respect that AV may be a step in the right direction - it is such a small one - as to make no difference whatsoever to Scotland.
    Liberal = Westminster Tory Establishment rules.
    New Old New Labour = as above, but with more growlers within the H of Lords.
    Tory = as above, but with more Old Etonians.
    If the proportion of spoiled papers is larger than normal, a small point has been made. Every journey has a first step .......
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 144. At 11:00am on 18 Feb 2011, StationX wrote:

    I had a look at the papers this morning and I noticed noted that not a single one had the headline "Disgraced ex-Labour leader resigns"

    In fact none I saw even mentioned it on the front page, I wonder why that is?

    I didn't buy one.

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  • 145. At 11:07am on 18 Feb 2011, ross_shire_lad wrote:

    Does the resignation of Wendy not warrant a posting on the blog Brian?

    Surely the 'spending more time with the kids' statement warrants further discussion.

    It seems that the stories in the Times about Gray choosing Kerr over Alexander for the finance brief may warrant further digging or perhaps something along the lines of the 'rodents deserting the sailing vessel which is clearly taking on water'

    Silence......says it all about the BBC's approach to any story where investigative journalism might have to play a role.....has their been a briefing from the Gray man to sweep this quietly under the carpet....wouldn't want to rock the boat further now would we.....

    RSL

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  • 146. At 11:20am on 18 Feb 2011, Electric Hermit wrote:

    136. John Ruddy
    "However, thats not what Alex Salmond said. He said that the referendum shouldnt take place on May 5th because people will get confused between the two voting papers..."

    This is politics. Possible confusion is certainly one of the reasons for objecting to the scheduling of the AV referendum. Citing this particular reason allows the SNP to remind people of the mess the British Labour & Unionist Party made of the 2007 election.

    Also, it is easier to explain than the constitutional objections. Which is important when there may only be a minute of airtime available. The constitutional objection is well rehearsed in printed publications and online.

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  • 147. At 11:22am on 18 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:

    137. Barbazenzero
    "the YouGov ones will clearly need to be taken with a large pinch of salt"

    You may have missed Anthony Well's initial response to this issue

    "Essentially the YouGov newspaper weighting isn’t intended to exactly match newspaper readership figures (and certainly not newspaper sales!), it’s a much looser figure based on what people read most often.

    It’s purpose is really to balance the Labour vote, to make sure there are enough traditional tabloid-reading working class Labour voters compared to left-liberal Guardian reading types.


    In other words it doesn't matter whether people read the Sun or the Record. Where Scottish newspaper readership will matter is that they don't seem to have a mechanism to make their English based adjustment outlined above - and with the much higher Labour VI in Bearsden/Eastwood compared to their English equivalents, what are they using instead?

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  • 148. At 11:33am on 18 Feb 2011, John Ruddy wrote:

    @142 Gaavster

    I'm sorry for my typo - I only realised it after I had hit "Post Comment".


    Regarding Clegg's latest offer - this is just masking the fact that westminster is being forced to a 5 year term that isnt natural. It should be a 4 year term for Westminster - the same as the devolved administrations, European elections and local government. That way no elections will co-incide with each other.

    This is about the need for the coalition to be in power for 5 years hoping that the economic situation will have improved enough for the tories to bribe the electorate.

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  • 149. At 11:35am on 18 Feb 2011, Mickey wrote:

    I will also be spoiling my referendum paper. It's time people, it's time!

    Tiocfaidh ar la!

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  • 150. At 11:38am on 18 Feb 2011, John Ruddy wrote:

    Electric Hermit @ 146

    I see. So when Alex Salmond says its about not confusing Scottish voters, its because its easier to explain than obscure constitutional issues, but when one of the other parties uses the same explanation its because they think the electorate is stupid or ignorant.

    Glad we got that one cleared up.

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  • 151. At 11:48am on 18 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #147 reincarnation
    "You may have missed Anthony Well's initial response to this issue"

    Many thanks for the detail and yes, I did miss it. Clearly I scanned both PB and UKPR too hastily.

    I do understand AW's point, but find it hard to believe that many "tabloid-reading working class Labour voters" do not read Murdoch's less than august competitive organ, and some may even be swayed by the different, albeit still unionist, line pushed. With the Record trailing further behind in the Scottish tabloid war, significant shifts from one to the other must have some impact on voting intention.

    Off out now, but back tonight, I hope. On recent trends, this thread may well have closed by then so I may have to post any reply in another place.

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  • 152. At 12:04pm on 18 Feb 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #1 reincarnation

    PS to my #104
    legislation.gov.uk have just made the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 available here.

    Currently, it is only available as a PDF download but presumably it will eventually be available in HTML. Really off now.....

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  • 153. At 12:11pm on 18 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:

    148. John Ruddy
    "It should be a 4 year term for Westminster"

    I think their choice of 5 years for Westminster was more basic than hoping to get the economy right in this Parliament. It is actually centred around a rather arrogant Westminster-centric view of politics. Whatever happens elsewhere really doesn't matter. That European/devolved elections are distorted doesn't matter.

    Had the Coalition partners any real wish to improve the governance of the UK, then a standard 4 year term for everybody - with elections for 1 tier of Government every year would have been a valid proposal.

    Selecting 5 years simply demonstrates a disregard for anything ot body outside England.

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  • 154. At 12:25pm on 18 Feb 2011, edinchris wrote:

    I'm struggling to see what the big problem is here. One of the best things about the proportional representation system in the Scottish elections is that your vote counts for something - unlike the Westminster first past the post system. Now we have an opportunity to change the system in Westminster to make it more democratic so surely we should take it!

    Having the vote on the same day saves time and money and means that schools don't have to close for an additional day - what is the problem?

    As for the people who want to write "Independence" on your ballot paper, the main person to blame is Mr Salmond. Elected on a platform to hold a referendum within 100 days, he first of all prevaricated and spent £500K on a "National Conversation." He then missed a golden opportunity to present his referendum bill before Parliament with (the soon to be departed) Wendy Alexander's infamous "bring it on" comment in 2008 before finally bottling it completely on St Andrews Day 2010! What are they going to put in their manifesto this time? "We're going to spend another £500K having a conversation about it" "We might introduce the bill if we win 70 seats" - what a waste of time!

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  • 155. At 12:42pm on 18 Feb 2011, John Ruddy wrote:

    Heres a thought - if FPTP is replaced at Westminster, should it be replaced in the consituency elections section of the Holyrood elections too?

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  • 156. At 12:43pm on 18 Feb 2011, RandomScot wrote:

    Edinchris

    You are incorrect.

    Wendy's "Bring it on" was meaningless because the only way to do that would be to totally ignore Holyrood's procedures. She may have viewed that as acceptable, I suspect Holyrood might not have

    The Unionist parties played a trick on Margo MacDonald's bill for assisted suicides to ensure that they got control of the committee that would scrutinise the bill, I think the Calman debacle shows the danger there.

    The Unionist weould not allow a referendum, not even one where their views were on the paper, and yet they claim there is no support.

    I think it is Labour, Conservative and Liberal, particularly the Liberals (going against their own traditions of 'democracy', though Uturns by Jim Wallace for a sniff of power showed how much they cared about that) , you should blame for this

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  • 157. At 12:59pm on 18 Feb 2011, Addicted to Joob-Joobs wrote:

    #154 edinchris

    As you should be well aware, the single barrier to an independence referendum has always been the blinkered, self-serving refusal of the unionist contingent to do anything other than block the Scottish people from being allowed any such decision on their country's future.

    During her particularly farcical week of political flip-flopping, Bendy Wendy did purport to offer the postured support of the Labour group (on the Tuesday, if memory serves). Apart from the fact that her leader, G.Brown would in any case have summarily overruled her, and that, of course, the SNP manifesto held the commitment to the referendum to an organised and principled timetable, it was ever blindingly obvious that these frenzied tactics were symptomatic of a desperate opposition to the referendum at all costs.

    And, as ever, the Scottish Government's commitment to consult and offer the people their sovereign right to decide their future, is in marked contrast to the unionist alliance, who will not even risk putting their own stitch-up Scotland Bill to the vote!

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