Westminster Behind the On-Going Gerrymandering of the Scottish Parliamentary Electoral System – The SNP needs to Wise Up and Sort Them Out



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The first parliament





Gerrymandering the Newly devolved Scottish Parliamentary Electoral System

In recent times Unionist party MSP and activists have been constantly bleating about the unfair electoral system in Scotland which they allege has allowed the establishment of an SNP one party state. But they had been hoisted on their own petard plotting and scheming for many months under cover of the Calman Commission, working in secret designing a voting system which (they delightfully assured themselves) would prevent the election to office of an SNP majority. Having guaranteed their supporters a Labour/ Lib/Dem government would be elected in Scotland in perpetuity they committed their efforts to backing the successful devolution process.



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The 1999 Election

Predictably, as planned, the election of the first devolved government to Holyrood in 1999 returned a Labour/LibDem  government.  A secret, secure future, free of the influence of the SNP had been delivered. Self satisfied and smug, members of the new government went about their business with breathtaking incompetence. Scandals, graft, nepotism, fraud and in fighting were prevalent. All the vices of unaccountable, dismissive despotic governance were deployed to the detriment of Scots.



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The 2003 Election

Reflecting increasing dis-satisfaction with the Labour/LibDem government a number of new parties, Greens, SSP and Independent candidates were elected reducing the number of SNP and Unionist supporting parties. The timely warning from the electorate was ignored by the government and the level of largesse, waste and incompetence increased.

The SSP imploded with the leader and membership bickering endlessly. The Greens appeared to be overwhelmed by the election of MSP’s which required them to give up protesting, substituting the loss with constructive dialogue, which did not suit the agenda of the Party.

The SNP completed a root and branch analysis of the party which had not gained the seats projected in the campaign period. This brought about a party reorganisation. Senior officers were appointed to posts more complimenting their abilities. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon took on leadership roles together with John Swinney. The fightback had begun.




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2007/2011 elections







The 2007 Election

Attempts at gerrymandering the 2007 election in favour of the Labour party were made by the Labour Party Secretary of State for Scotland, Douglas Alexander who employed the most complicated set of voting papers ever presented to an electorate combining two totally different elections on the same day.

The resulting debacle exposed the weakness of an electoral system put in place by Westminster civil servants and the Labour/ Lib Dem leaders to thwart the electorate. Scots, (fed up with the incompetence) returned SNP MSP’s in a majority.

With no overall control the SNP Party formed a minority government which (if defeat in parliament was to be avoided) would require the employment of first class political skills. Alex Salmond and his leadership team were up to the challenge and provided effective government in Scotland despite the odds being stacked in the favour of the unionist parties who resorted to spoiling tactics throughout the duration of the parliament.

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, believing he had all the power refused to acknowledge or meet with Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond in any capacity whilst enjoying friendly relationships with the leaders of other devolved governments. Hardly the behaviour of a statesman.





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2011 Election





The 2011 Election

The 2011 election delivered the first majority government since the opening of Holyrood, which was truly remarkable since the “mixed member proportional representation system” used to elect MSPs had been implemented by Westminster with the purpose of preventing the SNP achieving an overall parliamentary majority.




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2016 election






The 2016 Election

The outcome of the election was manipulated by the Unionist Press and Media who in the course of the campaign, relentlessly promoted the concept of “tactical voting” seeking to persuade the electorate to give their votes to the new girl on the block: Ruthie (put in place by MI6) Davidson (no mention of the Tory Party).

The tactics worked and the Tory alternate vote increased at the expense of the Labour and Lib/Dem vote which was significantly reduced but not transferred to the SNP.

The SNP was still returned to government in another landslide victory. but an increase in the Green Party vote meant that the SNP did not enjoy an overall majority in parliament.

This was construed by the Unionist Tory Party to be a signal from the electorate that their manifesto had been approved by Scots and the days of the SNP in government in Scotland were numbered.

The Unionist press, media and Tories, emboldened by a new found confidence that they are the next government of Scotland (in waiting) attacked the electoral system that in their view had failed, yet again to deliver the government it had been designed for. But the voting system had in fact saved the Unionist parties from electoral oblivion.

However, true to form the selective arguments they advanced in support of their whining conveniently failed to mention that, (had the election been conducted under the much vaunted “First Past the Post” voting system strongly supported by the Unionist parties in Westminster) the SNP with 42% of the overall vote would have swept the board and the unionist parties would have been wiped out. Indeed in the 2015 UK general election the Tory Party formed the next government with only 37% of the vote.

Scotland has been lumbered with an electoral system proven to favour poorly performing political parties with many more MSP’s than deserved. It is also evident that there is a democratic deficit in Scotland which needs to be urgently addressed. Wise counsel recently proposed the introduction of transferable voting and open lists, (allowing voters freedom of choice in their selection of transfer candidates) abandoning regional weighting which has been widely abused by the Unionist parties who persist in nominating questionable, poorly performing characters previously rejected by the electorate.

But the Unionist parties continue to deny Scots the benefits of progressive policy changes which would do much to improve the performance of Scottish parliamentarians, preferring to reward self interested party nobodies nominated through nepotism, with seats in Holyrood.



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Parliamentary Committees

The 2015 election brought Prof Tomkins to Holyrood (as a Tory list MSP). Proclaimed by the Unionist Media and Press to be an expert in constitutional affairs they widely broadcast to the Scottish electorate that he had a deal of input, through the Secretary of State for Scotland’s office, to the 2015 Scotland Act which delivered a limited range of newly devolved powers.

The Holyrood parliamentary committee system of political accountability, (through which the views of the electorate, media, business and opposition political parties can be fed back to government ensuring good governance) works well. But it is under attack by the Media Press and Unionist parties who constantly disrupt and frustrate the good work of committees.

The foregoing gives credence to reports that Prof Tomkin (with not at lot to do for his large salary) had been tasked to create alarm and despondency at Holyrood, undermining and discrediting the committee system so that he would be able to bring forward proposals for change which, if implemented as planned would weaken SNP control in committees, increasing the second placed opposition Tory party membership. A form of job creation for Unionist party MSP’s who would have nothing to do otherwise. This he has duly done. He doesn’t hang about this chap.



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Deputy Leader of the Tory Party in Scotland






28 October 2016: Tories set out proposals for Holyrood reform

A review, announced by presiding officer Ken Macintosh, follows concern that Holyrood is failing in its task of effectively holding the Government to account.

Backbenchers who represent the governing party at Holyrood should be banned from holding the key jobs on major committees, the Scottish Tories have said. The party also set out preliminary proposals that they said would ensure Scotland had a “parliament with real teeth” following the announcement that structures at Holyrood are to be reviewed.

If the measures are accepted SNP politicians such as James Dornan, convenor of the education committee and Local Government convenor Bob Doris would be stripped of their roles. The Conservatives also said that ministers should be quizzed by their opposition counterparts more regularly and that MSPs should serve on committees for the full parliamentary term.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The last parliament, when the SNP had a majority, exposed the flaws in our democracy. SNP MSPs toed the party line, put party before parliament, with the result that bad laws were railroaded through.”

* He conveniently forgets to refer to the Westminster, House of Commons legislative committees who’s membership also reflects the proportion of MP’s at Westminster.

He went on: “The Scottish public ended the SNP’s majority, and we now have a more balanced parliament. So we welcome the Presiding Officer’s plan to ensure we get a parliament with real teeth. We don’t need yet more politicians in Scotland. We do need a parliament with more clout which can hold this Government to account. Our proposals will help do that – and we hope they will attract cross-party support.”

* But this example of the 2015 Holyrood election reveals the inadequacies of the existing system. North East Scotland:

Tories: 85,848 votes returned 4 additional Regional member MSP’s ( 21462 votes per MSP)

Lib/Dem: 18,000 votes returned Mike Rumbles as a Regional member MSP.

SNP: 137,085 votes returned 0 additional Regional member MSP’s (effectively disenfranchising a very significant number of voters).

The Commission on Parliamentary Reform will study the role of Holyrood in scrutinising legislation, the committee system and parliament’s independence from the Scottish government. The study will be led by the outgoing Electoral Commissioner John McCormick.




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12 replies on “Westminster Behind the On-Going Gerrymandering of the Scottish Parliamentary Electoral System – The SNP needs to Wise Up and Sort Them Out”

Is this what Robin McAlpine meant by dirty tricks of Wheeshtminster in his Common Weal speeches for Independence strategies. Cloud the issues and spoon feed the Corporate media to the public. JUST VOTE SNP TWICE


But under the existing system a second vote for the SNP gained little. In the North East of Scotland 140,000 second votes gained nothing for the SNP yet the Lib/Dems get Mike (comatose) Rumbles into Holyrood with 18,000 second votes. Adding insult to injury the Tories get 4 MSP’s elected with 86,000 second votes. Where is the justice in that???


No matter what Ruth the Mouth or goat face Mundell say. or even dick head Wullie Rennie and the wee fat Dug. The SNP will always rule in Scotland. What will the Tory’s – Labour and Liberal do for Scotland nothing. All they can do is shout their big mouths off. They are as thick as the thing that made them.
And they are so far up Theresa May’s arse you don’t know whether they are human or animal if they want a Tory /Labour and Liberal party that much then fuck off down to Brexit County. Stupid Dorks.


“The resulting debacle exposed the weakness of an electoral system put in place by Westminster civil servants and the Labour/ Lib Dem leaders to thwart the electorate.”


“the “mixed member proportional representation system” used to elect MSPs had been implemented by Westminster with the purpose of preventing the SNP achieving an overall parliamentary majority.”

are a popular myth attributed to a comment by Jack McConnell as reported by Brian Taylor in his book.

It is just not true, I know why d’Hondt was chosen (and I can guess why it was Closed d’Hondt rather than Open d’Hont).

I know that, because 60 years ago, Donald Dewar told me in great detail about the plan for a for a Home Rule parliament, It was, he said, “….official Labour Party Policy” and it was “… be enacted by the next Labour Party government,”

He told me, in a one-to-one exposition worthy of a tutorial for a higher degree, about many voting systems, where they were used, for what, and the advantages and disadvantages. He told me about Founding Principles, petitions, PO and FM and even the seating arrangements in the chamber, and why these choices were made.

These things weren’t worked out by a teenage schoolboy in the five minutes before he told me about them, and in any case he emphatically and unequivocally deniedthat ANY of it was his idea. The plan must have been developed by many Labour thinkers (they had quite a few in these days) probably 1946-49 in preperation for the plebicite or maybe just after in anticipation of implementation,

In 1953- 57 when Donald was telling me of his vision, the Conservatives had more than half the votes in Scotland, and the SNP were a party of lost deposits. Kenneth Calman was in primary school. Jack McConnell (and Tony Blair) weren’t even born. It would be bizarre to think of gerryandering the new parliament to disadvantage the SNP. They were less of a threat to the government of the day than SGP are today.

I met some SNP activists. Oliver Brown, some McCormicks, William MacLellan, Maurice Lindsay. Their line was that if only the BBC and the Arts Council would promote the work of McDairmid, Ian Whyte and other high art creatives of the day, Scotland would bootstrap itself not just a cultural, but an economic and even spiritual renaissance. Francis George Scott was NEARLY as good a songwriter as Schubert, and still improving etc.

Your whole conspiracy theory rests on a grossly false premise. How can d’Hondt discriminate against one party and not every other party if the numbers fall that way? That’s innumerate as well as anachronistic.

Brian Wilson is, like you, an Authoritarian Follower, [You need to read Bob Altemeyer’s E-Book especially if Trump wins]. He used to say that List MSPs were a waste of space when the SNP gained list seats. I wonder what he says now.

It is difficult to take seriously your later accusations of undemocratic machinations when there is such bountiful evidence of incompetence, stupidity and ignorant metropolitan insularity dominating the Scottish Branch offices of all three Westminster parties. Incompetence and stupidity can surely account for much, and there is no need to postulate malevolance.

No conspiracy theory is needed to explain Scottish Conservatives claim to be the ‘Official Opposition’. Take your pick from (a) a HQ press release written by an under 25 PR ‘professional’ or Oxpridge ex-thinktank SPAD who has never been to Scotland; (b) ignorance of the place of the Leader of the Opposition in the British Constitution and at the Cenotaph in a few days time, or (c) just plan honest stupidity. All three are credible.

I am saddened that you have got things so badly wrong because I had found much of your writing to be of value, and have recommmended it to others. I will treat it with more circumspection in future.


Thank you for your articulate comments which I welcome since they add another dimension to the debate. In support of arguments advanced by myself I offer the advice given to myself, at dinner with a giant of a man John Diefenbaker ex Prime Minister of Canada who said “in politics always remember the truth has many faces” They say of John that he wasn’t always right; sometimes he was on the wrong side, but never on the side of wrong.'”.

I prefer to think that of myself giving precedence to broadcasting the truth as I perceive it to be..


Facts are chiels that winna ding.

What is consistent with what Jack McConnell said was that TB (whose understanding of devolution may not have been as deep as we would think it should have been) may have been sympathetic to the concept of devolution for perceived but mistaken party advantage.

If the inference from that is that TB was not giving the attention to his work, that was approprate, or that he is not as bright as he would like you to think he is, then I can live with that hypothesis.

What I can’t accept is a scenario where 1940’s Labour party strategists, ignoring the overwhelmingly dominant Conservatives [A one-party state?] to incompetently gerryander the parliament against the marginalised SNP, in anticipation of a change in circumstances which did not emerge for decades.

The fact that the scheme was worked out half a century earlier when there were only a handful of SNP voters is to the credit of unknown Labour party thinkers who focused on democracy, not party advantage.

Donald told me there were three possible outcomes: Majority, coalition and minority. While they meant different ways of working for both the lead government party and for smaller parties, all three were good because they reflected the wishes of the electorate and the change from one outcome to another was itself fruitful.

As Denis Canavan told Donald, it would be wise for Labour to be nice to the far left, as their support might be needed one day. Today it is SNP and SGP in that position. It also affects the behaviour of the potential minor party who would be foolish to adopt the overarching policy of SLAB, now even more enthusiastically adopted by Conservatives, and mocked by Cybernats as SNP=BAD.

Both these parties are in Westminster mode, because their strategy is designed by people whose framework of reference is the Westminster System where the duty of the opposition is to oppose. The duty of the opposition in Scotland is to work within the committee system to improve legislation.

So long as most of the SNP leadership can avoid being found having sex with minors or animals it is difficult to envisage the SNP losing their position as the largest party in only one election. That being so the smart thing for any party aspiring to government, would be to present itself as a potential and responsible coalition partner if that was needed.

Opposition for oppostion’s sake disqualifies Labour and the Conservatives from that role. They accept the likeliehood of defeat if they do that.

London strategists may not understand..

As I said above, there is no need for conspiracy theories to explain events when incompetence, distant and poor management and stupidity are everywhere, Conspiricies often get exposed. If that was not so Wikileaks would be out of business.

If political opponents are credited with the capability of devising and carrying out a ‘cunning plan’ without being found out, that at least that credits them with intelligence. The sad truth is that they are stupid enough to believe their own propaganda and a bunch of useless numpties.

They need to be told about their limitations for their own good.


Reply not to Clydebuilt, but to caltonjock’s reply to me:

That’ll be what people are calling ‘post truth’ then?

Either d’Hondt comes from the 1940’s not the 1990’s, or it doesn’t.

DD chose not to give me a straight answer on the preference of Closed over Open d’Hondt. I think the reason was to retain party control over the list and difficult to justify. He was, after all defending party policy, albeit one he personally supported and argued for, for almost half a century.


Donald Dewar just like all the Labour time servers. Never helped Scotland but were good at helping themselves. Look forward to the day Dewars statue in Buchanan st is sent packing down to his masters in Westminster where they can look at the monstrosity. It turns my stomach every time I see it – nothing but a sell out tractor.


Can These changes be made to the Comittees without a Parliamentary vote.
If there was to be a vote , what would the Greens do?


It appears the decision might rest with a committee reporting to the Presiding Officer who, (it is alleged by the Tories) called upon the independent Electoral Commission to investigate matters of discontent reported to himself. Not at all sure if he consulted the SNP government first, but I expect he didn’t since he is expected to be apolitical in the office of PO. But rumour has it he is seeking a peerage and will do anything to curry favour with the Unionist Parties at Holyrood since they will provide the key to the door of the house of Lords


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