We are now into the final six days of the campaign and according to recent opinion polls the SNP have managed to overturn a substantial Labour lead to become the party most likely to win the election. As Scotland has a modified form of PR, very similar to that used in Germany, winning an election rarely, if ever, means winning an overall majority of seats in the Parliament. It looks like the SNP is on course to become the largest party, but nothing can be taken for granted. Polls continue to show a large number of Don’t Knows and a lot can happen in the last few days.
So Labour might still pull it off and win most of the seats. It does look unlikely and in truth they do not deserve to return to power. They have a very weak and uninspiring leader in Ian Gray, who has twice been caught out running away scared. Once from meeting members of the public and once from meeting up with Alex Salmond. The Labour campaign has been pretty pathetic. They have run a relentlessly negative campaign and with the exception of their discredited policy on carrying knives, have come up with nothing new or even interesting to offer the Scottish electorate. They even started by trying to fight a rerun of the last UK election. Belatedly they have now turned their ire on the SNP, but by pinching key SNP policies, such as no student fees and a council tax freeze, Labour has very little positive to say. As Malc, one of the contributing bloggers on Better Nation, puts it, “I don’t know that much about what Labour are about - and I really don’t know what they’d do in government.”
All in all it has been a pretty uninteresting campaign. Both the LibDems and the Tories have been hamstrung by the Coalition at Westminster. Most Scots just don’t trust the Tories and the LibDems are suffering the consequences of their sell-out in London. The Greens, as usual, have been pretty much ignored by the media, despite their regular presence at Holyrood and appear to be on course to increase their number of MSPs, if only slightly. While the far left has never overcome its disastrous split. Which has left the SNP and Labour to slog it out. The SNP has run on its record as a minority government and offers a bit more of the same. A competent, if unadventurous team. It may be enough and should be enough, given the lack of thinking from the Labour party. However there are a lot of serious issues facing Scotland in the near future, in particular the structure and delivery of public services. It would have been nice to have seen them debated in seriousness during the election.
Not everything can be blamed on the parties as this has been a most unusual campaign. While the parliamentary elections have been the main topic up here in Scotland, there have been two other matters of UK wide significance battling for media and popular coverage. The AV referendum has taken up more of the airspace on UK wide media, while there has been the small matter of a royal wedding to distract everyone. The wedding seems to have gone off successfully and as Alex Salmond was invited to attend, let’s hope that the SNP have an equally successful day on May 5th.