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Deputy PM considering moving 2015 Scottish Elections date?

September 16, 2010 2 comments

I am returning after a long spell away from this blog.  I am pleased to announce that my absence is now at an end, and I look forward to posting with my usual regularity – i.e. every now and then!

According to BBC News, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg, is in talks with the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, about moving the date of the Scottish Parliament elections in 2015.  Apparently, Mr. Clegg is concerned that the election will coincide with Westminster’s, assuming Mr. Cameron’s pledge to fix election dates goes through.

I am rather puzzled as to why Mr. Clegg is doing this.  Seeing as his party is currently pushing for fixed term elections for the House of Commons (of which I can appreciate the merits), I do not see how he can legitimately argue for Scotland’s Parliament to move for his convenience.  It defeats the entire point of elections being fixed.  Additionally, I do not see such a move being appreciated by many Scots, who will see interference in the Scottish Parliament’s electoral timetable (which is a Reserved Matter under the Scotland Act 1998), as unwelcome encroachment by Westminster.

The United States has a myriad of elections all the time coinciding on the same day, ranging from General, presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial and State elections.  It doesn’t seem to go down with any problems there.  Why not here?

It is for similar reasons that I question criticisms by some quarters that the planned referendum on electoral reform for Westminster in 2011 should not coincide with the Scottish and Welsh elections.  Surely maximum turnout can only be a plus?  Why would they be inviting lower turnout and increased cost, by forsaking the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone?

If anybody can propose a rationale for this, I would be interested to hear it.