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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK
Election result: Your reaction
Jean Turner
Jean Turner, who fought against a hospital closure

Scotland is heading for another Labour-Lib Dem coalition government after Thursday's elections.

However, the big story from the poll results are the rise in the fortunes of the Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and independent candidates.

The latter includes one MSP elected on the basis of her opposition to a hospital closing in Glasgow and another from a party campaigning for senior citizens' rights.

How do you see the results? Does the voting system in Scotland allow for more voices to be heard? Why did Labour and the Scottish National Party lose seats this time round? What's important to you from the new parliament?

This forum is now closed. Read your comments below.


Although the turnout for the election was disappointing, it was very encouraging to see so many people who might otherwise have been apathetic making a real change by voting for Green, SSP, and independent candidates. The so-called 'Other' parties are now collectively as strong in government as the Liberal Democrats, and only one seat short of the Conservatives. Congratulations to the people of Scotland for keeping the faith required to break away from the politics of disillusionment!
Hamish Allan, Scotland

I can only say that I think the Scots are a nation of blatant hypocrites. Consistently a majority are voting for unionist parties, yet when England are playing a football match, who will most of them be cheering? It's high time Scots grew up and took responsibility for the governance and destiny of their own country, something an extra layer of (largely powerless and grossly expensive) bureaucracy is never going to achieve! The Irish worked hard for their economic success, it's time Scotland took an example.
Mr M, Scotland

Well done to the SSP and Greens, but it is interesting to note that even with PR, you have the strange situation of the Greens getting more MSPs than the SSP, despite getting fewer votes! I wonder how many MSPs they might have got, had they stood on a joint platform!
Davy Jones, England

Now we've got the next cohort of MSPs, can the Scottish Parliament please do something constructive this term. How about concentrating on creating jobs - then we can pay them the 7 minimum wage Tommy!
Fiona Middler, Scotland

A four party coalition including the Greens and the Tories makes about as much sense as a coalition between George Bush and Fidel Castro.
Peter, Scotland

What is sad is that Scottish Labour actually still draws. Its manifesto is outdated and its candidates are lacklustre. It is small wonder that the turnout is as low. On the other hand, great news from a diversity perspective on the showings from Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and independent candidates. Maybe there is hope!
Des Docherty, USA

Why apathy? Perhaps because Labour will always win because of the flock of sheep in the west who'll vote for a cardboard cut out if it wears a red rosette.
Chris, Edinburgh

Although the turnout here in the Highlands was higher than in the central belt, it was still low. I am not surprised. For a start, in this constituency the Lib Dems' literature claimed "it is a two horse race between the Liberal Democrats and Labour". In other words, voting for anyone else is a wasted vote. (Yes, this really is the very same Liberal Democrats that have themselves campaigned for years against the wasted vote!) This statement was never true, and in fact the SNP yesterday polled more votes than the Labour candidate. But since the likely outcome was always going to be a Lib-Lab pact no wonder many people didn't see any point in voting. Ah, get your opponents' supporters to stay at home. Politics is a dirty business.

But there is also the matter of the electoral system. So much for its supposed qualities. Why do Orkney and the Western Isles have their own constituency MSPs, with populations of under 20,000, while we mainland Highlanders must share a single constituency MSP with twice as many people, many of them over 100 miles away, on the other side of the country, with different needs and issues? How enfranchised does that make me feel? On the list, the 'region' covers geographically about half of Scotland. How can people feel represented properly in such circumstances?

The list system seems to be designed mainly to get the parties' favourite candidates in by the back door if they don't make it through the front. Isn't it ironic that it has also saved the Scottish Tories from oblivion to make a modest comeback - the party that has always opposed any form of PR? The best things that can be said for the list vote is that it at least gives the Greens and the SSP a chance, and it is a whole lot better than the farcical, unelected House of Lords.

Finally, the SNP have made a terrible mistake this time. Instead of telling us their key message, they have tried to be as much like the other main parties as possible. There's little real, significant difference between the actual policies of Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and SNP. Let's have a real choice!
John Wood, Scotland

New Labour would be better forming a coalition government with the Scottish Tories as they appear to have more in common with them than the Lib Dems.
John Graham,

I can't believe that Scotland is still under the misconception that Labour are a left of centre party! Scotland is, however, fundamentally socialist - although perhaps not quite as far left as the SSP. A Tory is a Tory is a Tory. And I thought we didn't like Tories - after all, is that not why they are political minnows here? Now, do we believe that 'Scottish' Labour is different in any way from London Labour? Of course not. Until we have different parties in power in Scotland and England, we will never see any change. The SNP and the other parties need to swallow their pride and work together to bring forward a referendum on independence. With the exception of the Tories (whether they be red or blue), they all believe in it. Of course, I know that the Liberal Democrats don't believe in independence. But if they're so democratic, surely they will support the referendum. Surely this is the basic principle of the party - or are we getting yet another brand of Tory?
Alan Rae, Alba

Your country would do well to elect someone of our President Bush's character. The Liberal Democrat way is not the way to go, and neither is Socialism. Take a look at what happened in history when nations resort to Socialism. Don't let that happen to your Scotland. Capitalism and free enterprise have worked well here in America, maybe you should try it and watch the good that will happen. I also just wanted to thank all of you that supported and prayed for our country after September 11 and the following war on terrorism and for sending your boys to help us in Iraq. It does not go unappreciated.
Heather Lynn Dowe, United States of America

Firstly I would like to congratulate the SSP and the Greens on their massive victories. I think the days of people voting Labour out of habit are now numbered. I think at this stage in their development, though, the Greens and the SSP should only have stood as list candidates. They have created a divide in the pro-independence vote which, in key marginals like Glasgow Govan has just played into Labour's hands in the first-past-the post vote.
Iain, Scotland

Does anyone know why there are 700,000 fewer votes for the regional candidates than the constituency candidates? As far as I can see 700,000 people forgot to cast half their votes, even though they had bothered to go to the polling station!
Graham Bartram, UK

Maybe it's just me, but I thought that the Scottish National Party had a very weak campaign. With their less than breathtaking "Release Our Potential" slogan and a leader who, compared to Alex Salmond, is about as charismatic as mince and tatties, it's a miracle that they didn't do a lot worse.

It's great to see that the Greens and the SSP have benefited from the system of proportional representation. People have voted tactically in order to punish Tony Blair for the War for Oil. Now environmentalists and anticapitalists have a powerful voice in government. Their power can only grow stronger in coming years as the children and teenagers who protested against the war in Iraq reach voting age.
Owen Duffy, Scotland

At last, we Scots are recognising alternatives to Labour and the other main parties. Yes it's tempting to vote through habit, thinking "what's the point.... won't get in anyway. Guess what, at the next general election, I'm going to vote with heart and mind. Are you other voters out there up for it?
Nancy Joy Cooper, Scotland

A great night for Scottish politics - apart from the blinkered Labour voters, most of whom, I suspect, vote Labour 'cause ma maw and paw were Labour, and their maws and paws an aw'. The war of attrition on thoughtless voting continues, and the 'main parties' of Labour, SNP, Lib Dem (joke, surely, to include them in this) and Tory (bad joke, surely, to include them) will be feeling a little nervous this morning.

I hope that the new MSPs can quickly add a decent level of debate to the parliament, and maintain their high moral standards. I think over the next four years, comparing the MSPs of the mainstream parties, who cosy up to each other and pander to vested interests, with the independents and the newly elected SGP and SSP MSPs will be enlightening for many. Especially those Labour MSPs - who talk like and even now look like the Tories of old.

As for the despicable 50% who couldn't be bothered to walk round the corner to vote - if they are this disenfranchised, then give them their wish - strip them of their votes and then next time the turn out % will be far higher. Use it or lose it, people!
Fergie, Scotland

Why not a coalition of parties supporting independence or Scotland as their first priority, SNP, Greens, SSP, etc? Why just let Labour and the Libs form a coalition and take it? Are they not allowed to be challenged any further?
Iasos, Alba

Why do BBC broadcasts today seem to have mentioned and commented on the SSP about twice as often as the Greens, who have performed better and are a bigger parliamentary party as a result of this election? Britain has had much more successful socialist parties many times before - but this is the electoral peak for UK environmentalism: isn't that a bigger story? (I speak as a former BBC journalist (aware of often unconscious news desk bias) and Labour supporter (so I am not blowing my own trumpet).
Brian McTavish, Scotland

How comforting it was to see Brian Fitzpatrick unseated by someone with principles. This man who voted himself the massive MSP wage hike despite constituents being against it only has himself and his greed to blame. The voters of Bearsden saw him and new labour for what they are money grabbing chancers. If only he'd voted against the wage rise he might not have lost the last 500 votes and still be in his seat. JUSTICE!
Robert, Scotland

Perhaps now the Scottish National Party will get back to being an independence party and stop playing at party politics.
Alistair J Dunlop, Scotland

As a Scot living in England I am impressed with the new mix of the Scottish Parliament. I hope that this makes Scottish politics more interesting and - dare I say it - exciting(!) I also hope that the generally well received alternative voting which was used south of the border can now be introduced on a wider scale, especially in General & Scottish/Welsh elections. this will hopefully see an upturn in the low turnout - particularly in Scotland.
David Cranson, UK

It beggars belief that there are still thousands and thousands of people in Glasgow and the West of Scotland who are prepared to vote for a Labour Party that has consistently failed to deliver time after time - for generations. It seems inconceivable that anyone could vote for this inept shower on the basis of their performance to date. For the record I would dearly love our parliament to be better represented by independent candidates whose sole purpose was to look after the interests of their constituents rather than the self serving, snout-in-the-trough mob we are lumbered with.
Forbes, Scotland

I think the Scottish Green Party deserves great credit not only for their results but for the way it exemplifies a new form of consensual, deliberative, and constructive politics appearing in Scotland. It provides a much needed contrast to the conflictual politics so prevalent in Westminster.
Stewart Davidson, Glasgow

It is very encouraging to see that the results show that people are now starting to understand our new, fairer, more representative, PR system of voting, which has made this new Scottish Parliament more diverse and more reflective of the views of ALL of the people of Scotland, despite the continued abysmal/non-existent efforts of the authorities to clearly explain how the voting system actually works.

Let's hope that Labour do not renege once again on promises for more representative voting for the next local Council elections to reinspire interest in 'mainstream' politics.

Hearty congratulations to the Greens (and to the SSP) for making impressive gains and giving the "Other" parties a clear reminder that environmental and true social justice issues are of vital importance to many Scots' hearts and cannot be treated as optional extras to be mouthed at election times and forgotten between times.

And with no less than 15 of our new MSPs representing 'non-grey' choices, perhaps the BBC, too, should reconsider its inappropriate and offensive bundling of these new and inspiring MSPs under the derisive "Other" banner in your headline scorechart?
David, Scotland

I am concerned to see the 'smaller parties' such as the Greens and the SSP increasing the number of seats. If the situation remains unchecked by the major parties, Scotland will one day be governed by a coalition made up of numerous small parties. This would be a recipe for weak government.
John Ip, Scotland

After the dour bickering of the grey parties, what a relieve to see the Greens (and the SSP) at last bringing a gust of fresh air to Scottish politics. Not for the first time the BBC has been caught on the hop - get you web-site updated/re-designed to include the "smaller" parties!
Karen Allan, Scotland

Congratulations to the Scottish Conservatives in last night's minor victory. Even greater heart should be taken from good results in English local elections. I sometimes wonder if Conservative victories could be increased with greater voter numbers? When questioned about low turnout, Margo Macdonald stated that she felt voters were disheartened by weak, glossy politics which lacked substance.

This thought agrees with my own that New Labour reads like a Teflon coated copy of Hello! magazine. Do the electorate forget the numerous stealth taxes (MIRAS abolition, Married Tax Allowance, Child Tax Allowance etc.)? Couple this with the petrol crisis a couple of years ago.

All this, yet Tony and the Teflon Boys continue to bulldoze away at society values. I sincerely hope everyone thinks carefully about the values they want from society and our government in plenty of time for the next Westminster elections.
Neil, Dunblane, Scotland

A victory for PR - delivering the parliament that people voted for. As in so many things I am envious of you Scots!
Andrew, England

Driving to work this morning I was amused to hear that a NEW MSP for Clackmannanshire was already the depute presiding officer and a new Edinburgh MSP was already an MSP. The system can allow candidates to be elected win or lose. Prospective MSPs should either be candidates or on the "list" but not both
Ken Moran, Scotland

The UK BBC coverage (non-regional)persisted in referring to the Scottish and Welsh elections as "local" too, something which is not accurate. Scotland also had a local election, but that is separate to the parliament election itself. I also don't believe that the Greens should have been lumped in with "others" as their results show, they are now the sixth party in this country.
Raymond Bell, Scotland

I am afraid these elections have set us up for another four years of ineffective power and unworthy and contemptible policy decisions when Scotland so desperately needs a strong government making tough decisions on the economy, growth, health, transport etc. I am afraid to say with the new setup of more SSP and Green Party members the standard of politics in this country will be further reduced from the already inept standard deployed by the Lib/Lab pact.
Alec Pearson, Scotland

I am delighted to see the Scottish Socialists doing so well in Scotland. There is mass disillusionment with the larger political parties, and the SSP provide a genuine alternative to Labour. They are a party committed to fighting injustice in society, and have a charismatic and persuasive leader in Tommy Sheridan. Long may their success continue!
Francis Hamilton, England

We think that the Scottish Socialists should rule the planet, seeing as they're the only party, (in our opinion), that has any idea of how things should work!!!!
Nikki and Kate, Scotland

It's great to see minority parties winning seats, and even more pleasing to see individuals, such as Jean Turner, winning seats. It goes to show that our PR system is fairer and represents more than the 'main' parties. May the policies reflect those elected!
Kristofer McGhee MSYP MYP, Scotland

I had hoped Labour would lose more seats given their deplorable record, both in Scotland and in the UK as a whole. I'm fed up with the traditional parties tweaking it here and nudging it there instead of tackling important issues head on. We need something radically different. Congratulations to the Socialists and the Greens on their gains. I hope they manage to make a difference in the parliament.
Deborah, UK

Congratulations to David McLetchie and all his team - a great result for the Tories both North and South of the Border.
Stewart MacDonald, UK

Besides the lower turnout and the increase in protest voting, the big story of the Scottish parliamentary elections is the success of the Greens. Much was and is being made of the expectations and successes of the SSP, but in terms of increased vote share and seats, the Greens have marginally outperformed them. In our six-party system, it did seem odd that the BBC chose to disaggregate the SSP from the 'others' category in its election night coverage, but not the Greens. Clearly, what this election showed was that as the electorate becomes more familiar with the electoral system, the 'others' have become a more important focus for analyses of voting behaviour.
Mark Shephard, Scotland

So the Tories are finished are they? The SNP are the ones in danger of being wiped-out in the longer-term. The one good aspect of devolution is that it has killed the SNP.
Stanley Nowak, UK Yesterday's poor turnout confirmed my view that the majority of the Scottish public are apathetic towards the devolved Scottish Parliament. Whether it is due to disillusionment over the unbelievable costs of the Holyrood building or the realisation that the Scottish parliament has no real power, I'm not sure. However, one thing is clear, the major political ideal in Scotland since devolution is "none of the above"!
Gary Henderson, Scotland

I think it is great that some minority voices get their say in parliament and that some independent candidates get elected. These people are probably more representative of the people than the parties are who usually have to do what they are told. Some people I know would never want the Greens in power. It is wrong to deny them a say in the way the country is run.
Tam McLaughlin, Scotland

Delighted to see the Scottish Socialist Party do so well at last a party in the parliament who will tell it like it is. Put poverty on top of the political agenda and put the pressure on those professional politicians. Can't believe Govan re-elected Gordon Jackson. I hear he left the count early as he had a big case on this morning.
Jennifer, Glasgow, Scotland

I am utterly delighted with the results for the Scottish Socialists and the Green Party too. Although I disagree with certain aspects of the SSP's policies, which I won't go into here, I do fully support them in the work they've been doing and look forward to, what I hope will be, an exciting and productive political term for booth. Good luck.
Gerry Calderhead, Scotland

The highlight or lowlight of the BBC coverage was watching Peter Snow open the night with the prediction that the Tories were set to win just 10 seats. Did you retire that needle thing he uses to predict UK elections? Is Peter next? Everyone was so excited about the nanny state parties, Greens and the Socialists, wins but it was the Tories that offered the real surprise winning 18 seats. But there is no fun in being centre-right for smaller government in any election as far a the academics, pollsters and media are concerned. Only yougov polling got the Tory vote right! Congratulations!
Steve Dull, USA

Why do persist with the use of the term 'others' to describe the SSP and Greens (and, ironically, other parties)? This leads not only leads to a lack of clarity but also to an unintended concentration on the 'main' political parties. Given the spectacular success of the Greens and SSP, I hope this practice will cease.
Des Johnston, Ireland

The results for the Greens and the SSP is fantastic news. Hopefully over the next four years they can exert great influence over agenda setting and decision making. It still mystifies me as to why people in Scotland persist in voting for the traditional 'grey' parties. Change is the way ahead!
Derek, Scotland

Wonder why no-one is suggesting a four party coalition in Scotland: SNP, LibDem, Tory & Green government?
Alex Porter, Scotland

Congratulations to David McLetchie and the Scottish Tories - finally three constituency seats to cap a great night for the party! A clear, calm and focused campaign has clearly paid dividends and the result is no less than deserved on this occasion.
Ben Chapman, Aberdeenshire

Hopefully people will take pride in the parliament this time round. Various factors, most notably the building, are still going to overshadow the first few years of this term, and the media will report on these because bad news sells. Hopefully the people of Scotland will see that they have an efficient parliamentary system in place which is capable of delivering results. With proportional representation really coming to the foreground this time around then it should also help shake things up. I foresee that more private member's bills will be created, which should hopefully lead to the people of Scotland's voice being heard, and laws that benefit them being implemented.
Stephen, Scotland

The electorate have produced a very canny result and have issued Labour with a clear warning. Root out your party's corruption. Don't take Scotland's votes for granted. Don't think you can spend vast sums of money without any accountability. Prioritise the things that matter to people above the more absurd initiatives on political correctness steer a bit left. It'll only take the loss of a very few seats next time to deny a further Lab-LibDem coalition.
Maurice Franceschi, UK

My concerns are raised by the low turnout in these elections. How can any party truly say they have the mandate of the people when less than half the population can be bothered turning out?
Allan Isdale, Scotland

I'm very, very glad to see the Greens do so well.
Gerard, Scotland




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