Scottish Parliament election: There's no reason why it cannot go ahead in May with proper Covid safeguards – Angus Robertson

Both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have said that elections north and south of the border should be able to go ahead in May (Picture: Rui Vieira/PA)Both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have said that elections north and south of the border should be able to go ahead in May (Picture: Rui Vieira/PA)
Both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have said that elections north and south of the border should be able to go ahead in May (Picture: Rui Vieira/PA)
The wheels of democracy continue to turn. Elections have been held around the world throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been presidential elections from the US to Iceland, parliamentary elections from New Zealand to Israel and local government elections from the smallest global communities to Indonesia where 100 million people were eligible to vote.

On May 6, voters are scheduled to elect the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd while in England elections will take place for 24 county councils, 127 unitary, districts and borough councils, 13 directly elected mayors and 40 police and crime commissioners.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Many of these contests have already been delayed by a year after a recommendation by the Electoral Commission, while the current term at Holyrood has already been lengthened for timetabling reasons.

Read More
Scottish Parliament election: The real reasons why the SNP, Labour and Tories mi...

In Scotland our electoral registers have been updated, candidates for the Scottish Parliament elections have been selected and the regulated period for campaign spending began last week.

Despite restrictions on leafletting and canvassing because of the lockdown, political parties will be still be able to communicate with voters; leaflets and letters are being printed and online campaigning is taking on new importance.

Contingencies have been made to ensure voting is safe, with a special bill passing the Scottish Parliament to manage amongst other things the significant uptake in postal voting, with the prediction that this will reach 40 per cent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently spoke in support of the current election timetable. “I see no reason at this stage why the election would not go ahead," she said. "I think everyone would agree it's really important our democratic processes continue and elections happen.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he still expects the elections to go ahead despite the complications from Covid.

The country’s leading election and polling expert Sir John Curtice said: “I think, in the end, it will be a UK-wide decision because there are elections across the whole of Great Britain scheduled for the beginning of May, some of which have already been delayed for 12 months.”

Sir John predicted that even if there were to be a delay it would be short: “I suspect waiting until June, I think, might be something they would agree on but given that a lot of elections in England, including the London mayoralty and the other mayoralties, are already 12 months overdue, I suspect there will be a reluctance to any greater variation."

Some opposition and media voices have been raised in Scotland to suggest that the elections should be delayed, although it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the high poll ratings for the SNP play a role in their thinking.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I am one of the many candidates preparing to run for the Scottish Parliament this year and recognise that the circumstances are unprecedented. This faces all candidates and all parties who have managed perfectly well during recent contests.

Throughout 2020, local by-elections elections were held in Scotland with Covid-safe campaigning and an appeal for postal vote take-up.

The pandemic has led to a whole series of massively difficult decisions on public health, the economy and society. As recent events in the US have shown, democracy is precious and fragile. We should do all we can to protect it. That’s why we should continue to hold elections as planned with proper health safeguards.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.