Friday, May 04, 2007

UK elections

The UK has been going to the polls today to elect local bodies as well as MPs to the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments. The battle for Scotland will be particularly interesting - after eight years of Labour-led coalitions, it looks like the Scottish National Party are on the verge of power - and if able to form a government, they plan a referendum on independence. To have this happening just days after the 300th anniversary of the Acts of Union 1707 is an irony which can be lost on no-one.

In wales, Plaid Cymru is also expected to gain, though Labour will still hold onto power.

In the local bodies, Labour has been warned to expect a rout, with the Tories expected to pick up between 600 and 700 council seats due to dissatisfaction over Iraq. There is a silver lining, however: Tony Blair is expected to announce his resignation immediately after the elections. His departure won't fix everything that is wrong with British politics - far from it - but it will carry some of the stench away, and I for one will be very glad to see him go.

First results from local bodies and Scotland are already trickling in, while Welsh results can be expected from 14:00 NZ time. You can get an overview from the BBC here, or the Guardian has a nice set of graphical pages accessible from here (click "full results" to get a scrollable map).


People are voting _Tory_ because of Iraq? Am I missing something, or wouldn't they have been even more enthusiastic supporters of Bush if they'd been in power?

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 5/04/2007 12:21:00 PM

CMT: Pretty much - but they've kept quiet about it for the last three years, and now people are willing to overlook it in their hatred for Blair.

Halfway through in Scotland, and there's been a strong swing to the SNP. No regional results yet though (Scotland uses a version of MMP which is proportional by regions, but not overall; I'm not really sure why).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/04/2007 03:54:00 PM

cmt: Maybe not. Cameron is ambivalent about the Iraq war and there are a lot of Tories (like Max Hastings) who are fully opposed to it. Quite a lot of them have military backgrounds and are against unwinnable wars on professional grounds.

Of course, how long that would last in government remains to be seen. The "securocrats" are the ones who are really keen and their ability to drive policy is not to be underestimated.

Posted by Rich : 5/04/2007 04:08:00 PM

I think the Scots system allocates *regional* list seats based on *national* votes. I may be wrong though as I can't find a clear reference, e.g:

For a wee laff, see:
(the official languages of Scotland are Gaelic, Scots and English - on that basis England could claim English, Geordie and Saaf Londen as languages).

Posted by Rich : 5/04/2007 04:29:00 PM

But I'm wrong - here is the Scotland Act. All the simplified summaries of this are ambiguous...

Posted by Rich : 5/04/2007 04:50:00 PM

First regional results are in in Glasgow. And you can see the effects of the regional list system - on straight proportions, Labour gets a regional overhang of at least one seat 9at the expense of the Solidarity Movement), and maybe 2.

I'll do some national-level stats to see the overall disproportionality, but the idea that they'll all cancel one another out just isn't quite good enough. Why the hell did they go with such a screwy system in the first place?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/04/2007 05:56:00 PM

Dunno - to discredit PR and reduce pressure for it to be adopted for Westminster elections?

One reason might be that Scotland has fairly distinct divisions between the regions - Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Highlands and the south are all quite different, so maybe they considered it would allow a party that had a strong teuchter base to get MPs, for instance.

Posted by Rich : 5/04/2007 10:11:00 PM

what I'm hearing here in Edinburgh is that although the SMp party may win a majority, they're unlikely by virtue of PR to be able to form a sufficient majority to press the issue of independence.
The big story has been the farce of the electronic ballot counting machines.. it appears the traditional solution of grannies in pink cardigans manually counting ballots is a far cheaper and more effective solution than electronic technology..

Posted by Anonymous : 5/05/2007 09:39:00 AM