Friday, 4 May 2007

Environment and Democracy look to be the losers

The people of Scotland have voted for their local councils and the Scottish Parliament. The election has been dogged by problems. I know we live in a democracy and the problems are nothing compared to many countries across the world. However in the context of a Western democracy the following are very worrying:

Many people who registered for postal votes did not receive ballot papers in time;
The fact that the elections for the Scottish Parliament and the local councils were held on the same day using different voting systems was very confusing for the large proportion of the electorate who don't pay much attention to political process and resulted in a large proportion of ballot slips being declared invalid (a projected total of around a hundred thousand);
There are reports of intimidation at polling stations, including an incident in Edinburgh West where the ballot boxes were attacked by a man wielding a golf club.

There have also been problems with the electronic counting machines being unable to collate the votes in some areas and counts in the Islands have been delayed by transport problems.

When the problems have been addressed and all the votes counted, there is another serious concern. The Green Party over the last session of the Parliament have had 7 MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament). However because this election has been such a fight between Labour and the SNP, this looks set to fall to 2 MSPs. This is disasterous. All the main political parties now talk about the environment, but none of them genuinely prioritise the environment (though some individuals in Labour and the Liberal Democrats are fairly strong on environmental issues). This along with the general apathy of most Scots when it comes to environmental issues, means that the environment will lose in the Scottish Parliament, just when we need to focus on it as a defining issue.


sage said...

Interestingly, in the US, at least on National Public Radio, there has been coverage of the Scottish elections, but it's all focused on the Scottish party winning and what it means to Tony Blair and to the future of Great Britain.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Yes that's been the focus in a lot of coverage here too, that I think is why the environment has lost out, squashed in the fight between Labour and SNP. Interesting to know what coverage has reached the US!