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SNP and Plaid Cymru attempt to change date of next general election

November 15, 2010

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards and SNP MP Angus MacNeil are attempting to derail Conservative and Liberal Democrat plans for the date of the next general election.

They are not the first to voice concern that the referendum on moving to the Alternative Vote system of voting may cause problems for the elections to devolved administrations. But today’s announcement would appear to be the first legislative attempt to alter the government’s plans for fixed-term parliaments.

2007’s election to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish local authorities was marred by a large number of spoiled ballots. A report found that since voters were being asked to use two different types of ballot paper with more than one method of voting, some got confused and accidentaly spoiled their papers.

MacNeil said:

“The ConDem Coalition have already ridden roughshod over the wishes of the Scottish and Welsh Governments by scheduling an AV vote on the same day as upcoming Scottish Parliament election. Unless we pass this amendment, we’re on course for another date clash in 2015.
“The Gould report made it clear that to avoid the difficulties of the 2007 elections, each election and tier of government must be given proper respect for the sake of the electorate, which is why the Scots Parliament approved the decoupling of the local authority and Holyrood elections in Scotland.”

The pair went on to call for Labour MPs to vote with them as they tabled their amendment to the government’s bill. Even if the nationalists secure the support of Labour MPs for their amendment, they are unlikely to be able to surmount the government’s majority without a substantial (and not unfeasible) rebellion from Lib Dem MPs.

Neil Pooran

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