Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The first thought I and anyone else from a party other than the SNP thought when they saw the party designation for the SNP's list candidates; 'Alex Salmond for First Minister' was to cringe. The Nats were moving into personality politics over policy to get their chosen goal.
Ron Gould the Canadian electoral expert who is looking into what happened in that election points it out as one of the reasons there ended up being 140,000 spoilt ballots on the day. In an Ad Hoc Westminster committee to look into proposed technical changes for Scottish Election Dundee West', Labour MP Jim McGovern asked the SNP by election winner from Glasgow East last year John Mason whether he believed the tactic "was deliberately deceitful or just a bit naughty". The response from Mason was "I accept it was a bit naughty".
The use of this of this moniker was two fold. Starting with an A lifted the SNP's list candidates to the top of the ballot paper instead of down at S alongside all the other mainstream parties. Lifting a party to the top of the ballot may well get the undecided or hurried voters vote. Also putting the name of someone that the people were not directly electing on the ballot, but an undoubted personality, shies away from the way that British elections have been fought in the past.
We live in a constitutional democracy and we do not directly elect Prime Ministers or First Minister's. That role is decided by the people we do elect MPs and MSPs, either from the largest party or from the largest grouping of parties that are willing to work together or vote for a minority leader to hold that role as was the eventual case with Alex Salmond.
The electorate themselves ended up with MSPs that they will have the chance to judge in 2 years time, in return for an administration that they also have the right to judge in 2 years time on the basis of that one name.
It may be naughty and nice in the SNP's eyes but don't forget they want to win a referendum on a major policy shift for Scotland and it is a trick of personality that cannot repeated to win the debate on independence.