Our current voting systems certainly have their virtues. or, As Winston Churchill famously put it, “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” I don’t find much common ground with him politically, but in this he may just have a point.
We saw Scottish voters exercise their right to vote for the party it would like to see in Government in May. More than half chose the SNP and returned 56 MPs to Westminster.
Did that bring democracy from Westminster to Scotland? No, it didn’t, because in the House of Commons with its 650 MPs, our SNP group struggles to get any real input to the policies of the Tory party. We don’t have representation that reflects the choice of most Scottish voters.
Which is why our Scottish Parliament and local government elections are so important. They deliver the outcomes that reflect the desires of the people who voted. That’s democracy. Our recent by-election successes have shown very clearly that the people of Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, with all its council wards, want the SNP in charge.
I’m delighted to see John Ross elected to represent Ward 19, Hamilton South. It’s an SNP ‘hold’, the seat having been vacated by Angela Crawley’s move to Westminster. She served as a great councilor and I’ve no doubt JR will do the same and with an increased majority.
I know it’s stating the obvious but people do want to have a Government that they voted for. That hasn’t happened in Westminster much in the last 30 years. In fact, Scotland keeps on getting governments it didn’t vote for. Each of the other three parties now has just one seat apiece in the entire country. David Mundell is the only representative that David Cameron has in Scotland. There wasn’t much competition for the job as Secretary of State for Scotland.
Scottish Labour has chosen Kezia Dugdale MSP as its leader. It’s not going to be any walk in the park. She’s the eighth leader in the last seven years and the 72 per cent of 21,000 Labour members who have voted her in know the challenges she has on her plate before our Scottish Parliament elections in May next year.
The SNP wiped Labour out, bar Ian Murray in Edinburgh South, at the Westminster elections and the self-destructive politics of the UK party don’t help Ms Dugdale at all. Indeed, the party’s performance next May will inevitably be heavily coloured by what happens in London on 12 September.
The Scottish Parliament’s electoral system, drawn up by Donald Dewar to prevent the SNP from winning overall power, has already been broken by the SNP once. Perhaps we will do so again. I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball that might shed some light upon the results to come and I would never be complacent, but there can be no doubting the fact that the wind continues to blow in our favour. There is only one reason for this: our politics reflect the mission and values that people want to see governing us.
But effective opposition is important in government. Whatever the chosen policies laid out in its pre-election manifesto, the party in power must always be accountable for its actions. The alternative to that is some sort of dictatorship and we cannot ever allow this to happen.