View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 6 May 2011

Scottish elections - Friday 6 May

The elections for the Scottish Parliament have yielded a clear-cut winner, the Scottish National Party. Although not all results have been declared as I type this (2.30pm), the SNP is heading for a thumping victory. It needs 65 seats for an outright majority, and right now, that total stands at 63, with about 30 seats left to be declared. The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Iain Gray, will stand down as partyleader. The Liberal Democrats, once a party of government, are now down to 4 seats. Alex Salmond will remain as First Minister for Scotland.
EDIT: The overall majority for the SNP has now been confirmed.

Here in the Western Isles, the sitting MSP, Alastair Allan, has been returned to his seat, with a majority of more than 5000 - the total number of votes cast was about 8000, a turn-out of nearly 60%.

In my perception, the Liberal Democrats have crashed as a result of their party's involvement with the coalition government in London, a participation that is deeply unpopular. The Labour party have lost because their campaign was focused on Westminster (the coalition) rather than Scottish issues - and because of complacency. The Conservatives do historically poorly in Scotland; they only have one MP in the Westminster Parliament, but about 10 in Holyrood.

The SNP stands for full independence for Scotland, but the public mood is not in favour of that. The party has pledged a referendum on independence by about 2014.

Thursday 5 May

The day of the Scottish Parliament elections saw the return of more average weather: overcast, misty and occasional light rain. The results will be coming in from 2 am onwards, with the last MSPs due to be declared on Friday afternoon. There is a convoluted system of proportional representation in place to determine the election of regional members of the Scottish Parliament.

I had a further look at the witnesses that gave evidence to the Napier Commission in 1883, and also unearthed more 19th century newspaper articles. One gave details of a long-forgotten shipping tragedy, which left the wreckage of dozens of fishing boats strewn on the shoreline north of Ullapool. Earlier this week, I came across an article on the Royal Wedding - of 1894. And distant memories of visits by Queen Victoria to Aberdeen, with her train being met by crowds at the city's station. Different days, by far. The newspapers from about 1800 show the letter S in some cases as 'f', minus cross-stroke.

The Coastguard helicopter put in an appearance this evening, practicing its winching procedures behind Goat Island. An object was dropped in the water, and the winchman was lowered down to retrieve it.