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16 October 2014

Digital sands

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Couldn't run an election in a brewery?

It’s the lunchtime after the night before, and I still don’t know:

- who is the largest party in Scotland.
- who will be First Minister.
- on what mysterious journey my ballot paper has been during the night.

Satisfied with the result locally. However, the way this election has been conducted, in Scotland, in 2007, makes me almost physically sick.

It does not make Scotland look good. It makes us look more like an Eastern European country before the wall came down. For whatever reason(s), the problems with postal votes and (b) the utterly shocking number of “spoilt” papers means that democracy has taken a bit of a backseat. 100,000+ papers not counted in a country of 5 million. Oh, and ballot boxes bursting open in Edinburgh, with forms being stuffed into carrier bags, the boxes themselves not being sturdy anymore but pathetic cardboard constructs vunerable to anything, software not working, remote communications not working, and not to mention the issues with transportation in Arran and here…

Locally, we had the first embarassment of the night in Scotland. To put a few things incorrectly mentioned on the news straight - there WAS NO BAD WEATHER IN THE OUTER HEBRIDES. Some complete ********, somewhere, decided that the helicopter would fly (seemingly at the last minute) from Inverness to the Outer Hebrides, then loop northwards picking up boxes on the way. Fog in Inverness meant no take-off - despite the Outer Hebrides having excellent weather, as confirmed by residents of Barra on the radio this morning. Worse, whoever was running this hadn’t learnt from previous helicopter unreliabilities.

People - that is residents and taxpayers who live here - were fuming in Lochmaddy this morning. Nobody finds it funny. Everyone expects better.

The more sensible approach would have been:

- have the helicopter in Barra SOONER.
- have a decent back-up plan. Not “Ah well, we’ll put the boxes somewhere overnight then take them on a ferry tomorrow”.
- build a few weather-proof tunnels so this kind of shambles - and that’s what it is - doesn’t happen again.
- ban the returning officer, and any other person who says “Well, this kind of thing happens in the Western Isles” on national TV, from ever having any position of responsibility, or media exposure again.

Mr officer, on your appearance on national TV last night, you made the islands look backwards. In my opinion, your comment was disgraceful and an embarassment. You have an unacceptably poor attitude, and you don’t fit into a modern island economy or infrastructure. Myself and many others here compete, against mainland companies, for mainland clients.

With your unacceptable attitude you’ve given a negative impression of these islands, which to put it very mildly, does not help local businesses. Do the right thing and resign. I hope you, and anyone else with your attitude, never holds a position of responsibility again.

Bottom line: just because we live on islands on the periphery doesn’t mean the infrastructure should be unreliable. Far more remote communities in the periphery, in Norway, Finland, Lapland and beyond, wouldn’t accept this. Why should we?

The future? As of early afternoon, the day after a supposedly hi-tech election, it looks like either Labour or the SNP being the largest party with a very narrow margin. This means four years of acrimony. Never a dull moment here.
Posted on Digital sands at 13:38


Nice post... :-) And I can understand your frustration ... But I think perhaps even people who *live* on the island would perhaps admit that things like this *do* happen in the western isles ... ! Perhaps because it is an easy and generic excuse for general ineptitude which isn't available to use for the same ineptitude in other places ... But myself, I find that there's a lot of ineptitude here that I don;t remember being used to when I lived on the mainland ...! PS: politicians and all sorts of officials, elected or not, mostly *never* do the decent thing and resign ... PS: your comparison with the nordic countries - all of these places have put into place methods of dealing with the common points of pain - e.g. weather ... They have no problem from snowstorms and ice ... Some places have under-road heating I believe ... And they use snow-chains ... Yet whenever a snowflake falls on the A9, or the M25 in England, life comes to a shuddering halt ... I believe this has to do with forward-planning, resource provision, and general levels of taxation to fund the above ... Plus an absence of wasting money elsewhere ... We could learn a lot from them ... :-)

soaplady from tittering with mirth

And another thing. How come BBC TV and radio were allowed to talk about the election but we weren't on the blog? They even had party political broadcasts that were clearly biased towards individual parties. Disgrace. Hope someone closes this loophole next time. (... unless tws wants a slot for his party and an exception could be made)

Annie B from the usual

i'm glad you put the record straight about the weather-I read on bbc world's teletext that bad weather ment the ballot boxes could'nt be taken to the mainland i'm glad to nhear of the scottish results-tomorow(sunday,its our secound round-help!!)

carol from feeling tired after 3hrs sleep

Too right. A rare occasion when we get on TV. And we are made to look like backward fools, again. The official was a disgrace. There were 14 people in our living room watching the tele; I cannot repeat the comments made about him.

Iain from Stornoway

I don't understand why the radio said it was foggy at Benbecula. It wasn't - I could see the airport lights from here!!! Total farce.

Angus MacDonald from South Uist, Western Isles

I remember in the olden days, the boxes were collected and taken up for the count on boats. Often, we were one of the first in the country to declare. There is a saying: "If it isn't broke - don't fix it"

Oldandgrey from Lewis, Western Isles

Did you expect any different? This is the same town where the airport is shut because the air traffic controller wants a tea break, where the kids are banned from the Arts Centre because four of them took seats without ordering drinks (shock horror!), and where a cafe is shut with the sign "Closed for lunch". I am surprised they got a result at all.

Shopper with intention from The land of few shops

Don't see what was wrong with the boats taking the boxes up, like they used to. Rarely failed. Perhaps they can't now the boxes are made of paper mache that dissolves when hit by seawater!!

She sells sea shells on the sea shore from WI

DS, hope you felt better after gettin all that off your chest.

Ruthodanort from Unst

Shambles. But do you expect any different?

Private from Outer Heb

So we had to wait a few more hours for the result. So what?

Relaxed about the whole thing from Lewis

I've read this blog somewhere else, Mr. Sands from Bernerey. Do you post this on another blog? Is that within the rules of Island Blogging? If you are found out, will you want to be left alone to sort it all out? It is a shambles, don't you think? Stornoway Chat is a lovely place to get lost in, and to see the views of hebrideans, before they appear on Island Blogging.

Nick Mavote from polland

I read this exact same post on Is the author of this blog the same person who blogged it on the stornowaychat website? I think we should be told, as it is word for word, check for yourself and see. This is a very poor show.

Murdo from Stornoway

If you are looking for a culprit for the **** up of the elections its Douglas Alexander who seems to have gone awol.

Jamie from Glasgow

Nick and Murdo. So what if the same "post" appears in different places. Is there a law against this? And where is "Polland", anyway?

Relaxed about the whole thing from Lewis

Nick, Murdo - I haven't got a problem with this at all. Digital Sands can post where he likes, it's his own work after all!

Anne from IBHQ

Nick, Murdo. I don't read - wasn't aware of, till "you" pointed it out - Stornoway Chat. And I daresay some Stornoway Chat people don't read this. Is that a problem? If one newspaper prints a story, should no other newspaper print it? I find it more curious how you both post in quick succession. And in the same style. What a coincidence...

Smelling something troll-like from Troll-hunters anonymous

Isn't that just typical of the BBC, more repeats.

Joe Cool from Stornoway

I feel sorry for the returning officer, and think he should come back to Orkney, where he will be treated with a damn sight more natural courtesy than he's getting oot west!

Flying Cat from in a fluff

Flying Coot: as the returning officer will hopefully appreciate, courtesy works both ways...

Where did the summer go? from Ness

I looked up the meaning of " TROLL" on wikipedia, and then clicked on a link, which explained everything that you need to know about "TROLLS" and the best way to deal with them is to ignore them, they will go away. i agree with some comments that the same person can blog the exact same post on another blog, so long as it is their own work. My name is Gordon and I do live in Stornoway, and I like Island Blogging.

Gordon from Stornoway

Oh the dear old Not the Nine O'clock News..."I like blogging, I like blogging, I like blogging and I like to blog!" I have always found your returning officer to be unfailingly courteous and, fortunately for him, possessed of a sense of humour. Which I hope will be standing him in good stead oot west.

Flying Kit from righting-a-wrong

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