A bad night for democracy, but an historic night for politics

Welcome to the first roundup to be posted since the results of the election have come in. Inevitably, the aftermath of the election is the dominant topic.

On the night itself, a variety of us were liveblogging events as they happened. The star of the night was undoubtedly Mr Eugenides, who clearly had a lot of contacts around the country. In many cases, readers of Mr E’s blog will have had a better notion of how the counts were going than viewers of BBC Scotland.

Grant Thoms was also updating direct from the Glasgow count, and he had a number of scoops too. Readers of Tartan Hero knew that Tommy Sheridan was on his way out long before the mainstream media mentioned it, roughly three hours before the declaration.

However, Clairwil provided me with the biggest laugh in her last missive before hitting the sack:

01:52 Airdrie and Shotts Another Labour win. A big rough lassie in a cheap white jacket. I’ll bet she’s not wearing pants.

And here is the election from the inimitable Flying Rodent’s view.

They, like me, had the wrong idea. Given the problems with the counting, Holyrood Watcher was perhaps right to be liveblogging through the mid-morning and afternoon instead of overnight!

Since election night fizzled out and became protracted election night,-morning-and-afternoon, the bloggers have been getting over the sleep deprivation and gathering their thoughts on the results and the various controversies.

It seemed like it was going to be “one of those nights” from the very start. The first real piece of news after polling places had shut was that a helicopter could not leave to collect ballot boxes from the Western Isles due to fog. Then a boat carrying votes from Arran broke down in the Clyde.

Then came the news that somebody smashed open ballot boxes in Edinburgh and proceeded to rip up ballot papers. But those preliminary problems were just the start of what became little short of a democratic catastrophe.

Immediately, the main story was not the SNP victory, but the number of spoilt ballots. Pat the Chooks observed the elections, and posts various thoughts. There is also a comparison between the ballot paper used on Thursday with the one used in New Zealand under a similar system.

Kevin Williamson has a theory that the design of the Scottish Parliament ballot paper is to blame for the mess and has scuppered the smaller parties in the process. It is a popular theory because the number of spoilt ballots in the local council elections was five times lower!

SSP supporter, Alister Black, is also convinced that the smaller parties have been hit the most. He says it was “a terrible night for democracy.”

Anastasia Beaumont-Bott was actually at a count, and reports on some of the weird and wonderful ways in which ballot papers were spoilt. Apparently, one person had just put a number 4 in one of the boxes, and nothing else!

Akatsuki had sympathised with the Scottish electorate, until she actually saw the ballot papers. Should have been simple enough, in her view. Liam Murray is also shocked at how people couldn’t understand the system.

Rob Mack is also critical of those who are blaming the system. But here, Billythekid reveals how he almost spoilt his ballot.

Niall at The Mushkush Miscellany has a simple two-step solution to avoiding voter confusion in the future. Surely, when we have reached the stage where we have four different systems for four different elections, it is time to settle on one form of PR then leave well alone.

Here is a BBC Have Your Say discussion. There is a clear split. One group of people think the spoilt papers are down to the stupidity of voters. Another group found the system complicated and anyone who thinks the problems are down to stupidity is being snooty.

That debate will no doubt rage on. But it is impossible to think that there won’t be changes made next time round. Let’s just hope they’re the right changes.

On to the other major problem — the e-counting systems. Surreptitious Evil called the situation, with counts being postponed, a pathetic farce.

Fitaloon has been warning about the e-counting systems for a while, and here are his thoughts on the fact that the fears became true! He’s not the only person to suggest that lawyers will be rubbing their hands.

Reluctant Hero at Our Scotland looks at the problems with postal votes and e-counting as well as the spoilt ballots:

People have got to decide what they want. Do they want council elections turnout to be 20 odd percent? If so let’s have it on a separate day. Do they want proportional representation where every vote counts, or do they want first past the post?

Somewhere along the line people have got to take responsibility for themselves. Despite numerous advertisements in the press and media, despite clear instructions on the ballot paper, despite Labour guys handing out “sample” voting papers, there was still something like 10% of the ballot papers not counted because they were filled in wrong.

Time to put that controversy to the side and reflect on the actual result. Will Patterson notes the SNP’s historic achievement.

Here are Richard Leyton’s thoughts. Boorach is glad to see the back of Labour.

Demea at The Select Society is glad that the predicted result, an SNP–Lib Dem coalition, can’t come about. James Graham always has a thing or two to say about the SNP, but he seems to be stumped over this election result.

Reactionary Snob reminds us that, whoever you vote for, the government always gets in.

Well, it looks as if the bastards are out and have been replaced by another shower of bastards.

But now that the results are in, it’s time to turn our attention to messy coalition talks. And the Lib Dems have to decide which of those bastards he is going to team up, or indeed if he is going to team up with any at all. Holyrood Watcher asks, What would you do?

Richard Havers says that the Tories should team up with Labour and the Lib Dems. Also worth reading are his thoughts on the list results.

Spare a thought for Neil Craig, whose 9% Growth Party came last in the Glasgow region.

The controversy over this election never ends, and the latest news is that at least one Labour candidate is considering legal action over the result. Richard Thomson says, produce the evidence of how the result was flawed.

John Kirriemuir assesses the map of constituencies, and the yellow–orange mass in the north is striking. All-in-all, though, the constituency map doesn’t look all that different (the change in Stirling is probably the most striking). And John notes,

Despite the biggest political shift in exactly 300 years and two days 🙂 the sun still rose this morning, the tide has come in, and then out, there’s nothing worth watching on TV, the lambs are jumping around outside and there’s coffee brewing inside.

There is life apart from elections, so let’s talk about something else instead. Politics! And Colin Will at Sunny Dunny reflects on ten years of Labour rule.

Craig Murray asks, is Dundee University a tool for New Labour?

And that is the roundup! I’ve not decided yet whether the next one will be on Wednesday or Sunday. It depends on how quickly the news moves. But whatever, please send your nominations in to scottishroundup@gmail.com.

I will work on a really simple way to nominate blogs and blog posts very soon, but I am a little bit snowed under at the moment (ha! And I’ve been spending half of this week blogging!), so it will have to wait a couple of weeks. Please do email or leave a comment if you have any suggestions though.


  1. A kind comment from you there at the top of the roundup, but a slight exaggeration; a handful of activists at counts in various places, a candidate or two, and a friend whose paid job involved crunching numbers as they came in, nothing more.

  2. Not an exaggeration at all Mr Eugenides I think that the comment “The star of the night was undoubtedly Mr Eugenides” is spot on. Your live blog coverage was great and I hope that you do it again come the GE.