Liberal Democrat Heaven

The LibDems came nowhere (sixth) in Glasgow North East, and it would be cruel to say that's because they don't have any particularly relevant political policies. But the one thing they are consistently good at is pressing for electoral reform, and STV in particular. They deserve praise for that.

I watched the coverage of the Glasgow NE by-election last night on the other STV. Scottish Television's coverage was very good, and the delay in announcing the result meant that the discussion became quite wide-ranging. It eventually got round to the subject of electoral reform and my title comes from this quote:

This is just Liberal Democrat heaven ... I mean, talking about proportional representation at half-past-one in the morning.

This is what we live for!

As we've had a few discussions about how STV would work in Wales in the past week, I thought it would be good to show an extract of that part of the discussion. It's particularly relevant to Scotland since they have four different electoral systems—First-Past-The-Post for Westminster, a National List for Europe, an Additional Member System for Holyrood, and Single Transferable Vote for local elections—and therefore have some first hand experience from which to speak.

As not many people will recognize all the faces, the four politicians are, from left to right:

     • Bill Aitken, MSP - Conservative
     • Alex Neil, MSP - SNP
     • Iain Gray, MSP - no excuses for not recognizing the Scottish Labour leader
     • Willie Rennie, MP - LibDem

     Bernard Ponsonby was in the chair and the anorak was Prof Bill Miller.


A couple of things I would pick up on are what Iain Gray said about grouping of candidates from the same party on the ballot paper, and that the order should be randomized so that no party or person is alphabetically disadvantaged. These are things that I agree with completely and mentioned in the previous post. You will note that Mr Aitken disagreed, but I think (at least I hope) it was meant humorously. I was saddened that Iain Gray said that these proposals had been rejected by the other parties.

I also agree with what Alex Neil said regarding a possible referendum on the Alternative Vote system for Westminster, namely that it should include options such as STV as well.


Yet I can't help but be cynical enough to think that by the time a politician is in a position of power, his or her views on the merits of various options for electoral reform are shaped more by which one is likely to be most beneficial for their own party than by what is fair.

And that perhaps explains why the LibDems are so consistently right on the issue of electoral reform. They never get into power, so they are never tempted to compromise the impartiality of their position by manipulating the system so as to keep them in power.

I only hope that my own party—now that we are at last in government, and looking likely to increase our share of the vote—never compromises its position on STV.

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Anonymous said...

'Iain Gray, MSP - no excuses for not recognizing the Scottish Labour leader'

It's a bit of a running gag up here that nobody knows who he is lol...!

Where did you find this video? I really enjoyed the STV election night banter and would quite like to re-watch it - especially as there were several moments when people talked over each other or mumbled things I couldn't hear (espeically Gray - get some confidence man lol).

MH said...

Fair point, PoliticsScot. Labour are trying to choose a new leader in Wales right now, and I'm sure he or she will be every bit as unrecognizable!

I captured the video as it was being streamed live on STV's website. I doubt that STV would have an on-demand version.

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