Brand Salmond

Thursday, March 1st, 2007 @ 2:57PM

The Scotsman reported today on the great lengths that the SNP are taking to deliver a more favourable ballot paper for them in the forthcoming elections. One option includes using the phrase “Alex Salmond for First Minister” rather “Scottish National Party” on the ballot to ensure it tops the alphabetical list of parties.

I’m appalled - it’s insulting and patronising to voters. If the SNP haven’t won the arguments before they walk into a polling both then no mention of Alex Salmond (or Sean Connery for that matter) on the ballot paper will make a blind bit of difference.

However it does offer an interesting insight into how they assess their own strengths. Nicola Sturgeon must be sick that the regional list campaign is banking on the man fae Westminster’s popularity. The same man that’s made every effort to avoid the Scottish Parliament for the last however many years. And the same man that’s got the cheek to ask Jack McConnell why he wont come out to play on the tv!

The answers simple Alex, Scotland’s First Minister is too busy getting on with the job than to debate an election campaign that hasn’t begun yet.

There’s also a serious point to be made here about the publics perception of regional list MSPs. Something which all parties and all politicians have a duty to convey responsibly.

Casting a vote on the regional list is not a second preference vote. It carries equal value to that of the constituency vote and will produce 7 MSPs with equal responsibilities and obligations to the people of Scotland. There is no second best.

That’s not to discourage casting a preference for a different political party on the regional list to your local constituency. In my home town of Elgin, a vote for Labour in the Scottish Parliament election could be lost, but voting Labour for the Highlands and Islands List could return 2, perhaps 3 Labour MSPs to represent the North in Holyrood.

The list is designed to produce a body of 129 MSPs which fairly represents the diversity of political opinion the length and breadth of Scotland. The point is not to trivialise the list system by suggesting it’s a method of selecting the First Minister. That is deeply misleading – not a single poll or commentator is suggesting that the SNP will return the 66 MSPs they need to form a one party administration. Even then there’s no guarantee that Alex Salmond will get elected in either Gordon or from the North East list (another disgrace).

Whether the brand sells or not, it’s false advertising and the people of Scotland deserve better.

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Categories: PR and Voting Reform, Scottish Parliament Election 2007, SNP

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