27 Feb 2013

STV’s Second Outing

In 2007 Scotland began using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for local government elections. The First Past the Post system - once used for all public elections in mainland Britain - was consigned to history. May 2012 marked the second outing for the system, and the first since elections to the Scottish Parliament were ‘decoupled’. Today we launch our report into that election. We have sought […]
15 Jan 2013

Putting your ideas to the test

On a chilly night in Edinburgh, ERS Scotland and the Public Policy Network at the University of Edinburgh held a participatory discussion on Scotland’s democracy in a lecture theatre. Not the ideal space for a discursive event, but thanks to excellent facilitation from Oliver Escobar the discussion was vibrant. The event, Politics is too important to be left to politicians, concluded phase 1 of […]
14 Dec 2012

How to ask one question

Guest writer Dr James Gilmour The Electoral Commission is assessing the question for the independence referendum proposed by the Scottish Government: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" The Commission must assess how intelligible the question is. They have an unenviable task! The question is short, is written in plain language and uses short words. So far, so good. It […]
15 Oct 2012

When No might not mean No

So we have a deal . We have a Yes/No question for a vote on Scottish Independence, and we can hardly contain our disappointment. This referendum has become a bit of a game with both sides intent on rigging the deck. We now have a deal that suits the interests of a few dozen people in Edinburgh and Westminster and excludes a large section of the Scottish people who want more powers within the UK. […]
12 Oct 2012

Politics is too important to be left to the politicians

As the first stage in a yearlong process to imagine what a ‘Good Scottish Democracy' might look like we asked for volunteers to take part in a discussion about the future of Scotland Democracy. Hundreds volunteered and this was narrowed down to try and reflect a wide range of backgrounds. Over 80 people came to Edinburgh for a day long discussion in July on ‘what would make a good Scottish […]
4 Oct 2012

The rights and wrongs of lobbying

Danny Zinkus, Co-convener of the Edinburgh and Lothian reform group, explains why he thinks the Private Member’s Bill on lobbying is so important. Lobbying is a an important part of a healthy democracy. Our public officials can’t be everywhere and they can’t know everything. It’s important that members of our community can bring problems to their attention and suggest solutions. Ordinary people […]
17 Jul 2012

Scots are ready for real, meaningful constitutional debate

Malcolm Harvey, ERS Scotland Since the launch of Yes Scotland and Better Together , the campaigns in support of independence and the Union respectively, the constitutional debate has entered a phase of relative quiet. While partisans and activists continue to fight the campaigns on the doorsteps and on street stalls (and, more vociferously through social media outlets,) the campaigns - at least […]
2 Jun 2012

A People's Gathering

Maybe our democracy never really worked that well. Maybe increased transparency and developments in technology mean that ordinary people are able to appreciate the realities of power and its misuse. Maybe the modern age has seen an erosion of values such as public service and duty that have led to a loss of trust in politics. Whatever the underlying causes, the truth is that trust in politics and […]
6 May 2012

Asking a different question on the anniversary of AV

A year ago the Yes campaign was soundly defeated in the AV referendum. Bad timing, an imperfect alternative and an opposition willing to fight dirty all worked in favour of First Past the Post, and 67.9% of voters opted for the status quo. However, the vote against the AV was not a vote of confidence in FPTP. Referendums, by their very nature, tend towards oversimplification in order to achieve […]
23 Apr 2012

When is a question not a question?

Whilst many people will mark today, the anniversary of the death of England’s patron saint St George, by flying flags, Morris dancing and campaigning for a new bank holiday, it also seems an apt moment to reconsider the ‘English Question’. Ever since West Lothian MP Tam Dalyell questioned post-devolution arrangements in Westminster, the issue of Scottish and Welsh MPs voting on legislation […]