Salmond: ‘Poll date clash will undermine Scottish election integrity’

17
552


First Minister Alex Salmond has denounced plans to hold a referendum on electoral reform on the same day as the Scottish parliamentary elections .

In a letter to PM David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg the SNP leader has warned that holding the two ballots on the same day risks undermining the integrity of the Holyrood poll and argues that debate over voting reform will distract from the Scottish campaign as the “London-based UK media” sidelined the devolved elections.


First Minister Alex Salmond has denounced plans to hold a referendum on electoral reform on the same day as the Scottish parliamentary elections .

In a letter to PM David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg the SNP leader has warned that holding the two ballots on the same day risks undermining the integrity of the Holyrood poll and argues that debate over voting reform will distract from the Scottish campaign as the “London-based UK media” sidelined the devolved elections.

In his letter the First Minister said:
“I believe this could have an adverse and distorting effect on the political debate around the devolved elections and dilute the focus that these elections deserve.”

Mr Salmond also drew Mr Cameron’s attention to the last Holyrood election where mass confusion led to 180,000 votes being discarded and resulted in an independent investigation that concluded that different ballots should never again be held on the same day.

The First Minister also highlighted the chaos experienced at the recent general election where people in England were turned away from polling stations as turnout rose unexpectedly.  The First Minister suggested that such scenes could be repeated in Scotland and that management at polling stations could find itself under additional pressure as a result of having two different counts.

Mr Salmond said:
“I believe there is a real risk that these problems could be exacerbated in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales … Returning officers will face additional difficulties with counting arrangements arising from the number of different ballot papers.

“The question also arises as to which count should take place first.”

There has been widespread anger in Scotland at the poll date announcement with the Tory-Lib Dem coalition being accused of showing a lack of respect to Scotland.  The SNP immediately criticised the poll clash and were joined by Labour politicians who also claimed the move showed disrespect.

Earlier this week the Lib Dems were accused of planning a ballot for a system of voting that they themselves did not even support.  There are expected to be amendments to the bill tabled when it comes before Westminster and opposition MPs are expected to suggest a more proportional system.

It remains to be seen whether the Lib Dems will vote against an amendment containing their own preferred option in order to preserve the coalition with the Tories.

Meanwhile:
Conservative MP David Mundell has come under pressure to explain apparent discrepancies in documents detailing his general election campaign costs.

The Herald are today reporting that the Scottish Office junior minister may have committed a criminal error by overspending in his campaign.

It is claimed that Mr Mundell signed off documents that attributed £700 in campaign costs to the wrong part of his campaign and, had it been attributed correctly, would have seen the Scottish Tory MP exceed the limit.

Figures released last week under election rules show David Mundell spent a massive £40,747 on regaining his Dumfriesshire seat.  According to the released document, he contributed no money to the campaign himself but managed to secure £59,379.16 in donations made up of a number of individuals contributing amounts from £50 to £1,000; businesses contributing cheques of up to £6,000 and a large donation from his local party.

It is an offence to make a false declaration about election expenses, doing so could result in a jail sentence of up to a year.

If you found this article interesting why not make a small contribution in order to help keep the site going – see the paypal button on the right.

newsnetscotland.com