There are two votes on May 5th. The election of the next Scottish government is of vital importance to Scotland, but voters will also receive a ballot paper for another vote, the referendum on the voting system for Westminster elections.
The Westminster referendum has been regarded by many in Scotland as a waste of time. When asked about the vote on the BBC’s Question Time, Alex Salmond, normally a man of strong and definite opinions, was unable to muster much enthusiasm. It’s a vote which requires us to side with David Cameron and John Reid on the one hand, or Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband on the other.
The unfairness and democratic deficit produced the First Past the Post voting system currently used at Westminster elections are well documented. Unfortunately the proposed new Alternative Vote system is not much better than the existing First Past the Post. It will not address the deep rooted problems at the heart of British politics. Even Nick Clegg dismissed AV as a “miserable little compromise”.
Westminster politicians have foisted this referendum on us due to party politicking amongst themselves. There was no open debate or public discussion about the proposed change to the voting system. Worse, they have seen fit to hold it on the same day as the elections for the Scottish parliament, the Welsh Senedd and the Northern Irish Assembly, muddying the electoral waters and once again illustrating the low priority the so-called ‘devolved nations’ have in the eyes of Westminster politicians. In Scotland, there is added rancour caused by the Unionist parties blocking the SNP’s independence referendum. We are being given a referendum we don’t want by people who deny us the referendum we do want.
The respected online news and current affairs site Bella Caledonia is launching a campaign to make this irrelevant referendum relevant. Called the Alba Voice campaign, Bella Caledonia’s idea is for voters to write INDEPENDENCE across the AV ballot, thus spoiling their papers. Spoilt ballots must, by law be counted.
Bella Caledonia says: “This campaign is aimed at galvanising Scots who are sick of sops, fudges and worthless distractions into registering their dissatisfaction with this pointless charade.”
The plan forces the British state to host, pay for and count a referendum which they didn’t want us to have. As such it is groundbreaking in UK politics. Newsnet fully supports Bella Caledonia in this campaign.
Scottish independence is core to the reformation and renewal of Scottish political and cultural life. Bella Caledonia hopes that their initiative will put Scottish self-determination firmly in the centre of political debate and discussion.
Bella Caledonia’s article states: “None of the independence parties have made it [independence] their core message in this campaign. There’s good reason for this, it’s been a campaign where the SNP have fought on their record in office and their vision for the future. The Scottish Greens have campaigned on ecology and the SSP and Solidarity have campaigned for socialism. This is an opportunity to put the issue back on the map and remind the political authorities that the issue is live.
“So let’s turn a miserable little compromise into a voice for real change. You now effectively have 3 votes for independence on the 5th May – let’s make our voice heard. AV=Alba Voice. Vote Yes Yes Yes for independence!”