Thursday, May 13, 2021

Presiding Officer election confirms SNP will *not* be a minority government

Today's election of Green MSP Alison Johnstone as the sixth Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament puts the final touches to the new parliamentary arithmetic, which looks like this... 
SNP 64 
Conservatives 31 
Labour 22 
Greens 7 
Liberal Democrats 4 

Presiding Officer (non-voting) 1 

SNP: 64 seats 
All others: 64 seats 

Pro-independence parties: 71 seats 
Anti-independence parties: 57 seats 


The SNP are no longer a minority government - with exactly 50% of the voting members they're neither a majority or a minority, and the media should be picked up if they inaccurately use the term minority government. However, this is only the starting position, and we know from past experience that at some point over the course of a five-year term it's highly likely that at least one or two SNP MSPs will lose the whip. There'll be the odd personal scandal along the way, and of course Fiona Robertson will be gutted if at least five MSPs aren't expelled for "transphobia". We also hear that three or more MSPs were thinking of defecting to Alba if Alex Salmond had been elected, and they'll still have that option at a later stage if the SNP drag their feet too much on an indyref. 

So we probably will revert to minority government eventually, but for now that's not where we are.


  1. What happens on a tied vote?

    1. Alison Johnstone has the casting vote, but is expected to exercise it in line with convention and precedent. Generally that means if the government are trying to change the law, she'd vote against the government, but if the opposition parties are trying to amend legislation or a government motion, she'd vote with the government.

    2. Thanks, so competence for indyref2 she would vote against it?

    3. Nope, she doesn't *vote* on competence, she *rules* on it. That's a completely different matter, and conventions about breaking a tie are irrelevant.

  2. A pro-indyref2 presiding officer, at that. Important, as it's their call as to whether the matter is a reserved power or not. Such as, oh, say a non-Section 30 referendum, should that bridge need to be crossed.

    This is much better news than any of the 3 Brit parties taking the job!

  3. Had the SNP put indy first they would have done a deal with Alba or the Greens and would have reduced the Brits to a tiny rump - they would likely have gotten their overall maj as Greens voted SNP in some seats. Indy is third behind covid, and trans rights - still we should spend this HR term preparing indy instead of the embarrassment of rubbish answers during the HR campaign.

    1. It's non SNP folks that spend all their time taking about the trans GRA thing and not focusing on indy.

      You can see it just from posts on here. SNP/Green voters rarely if ever mention the minor domestic issue. However, non-SNP/Green devote entire websites to the subject (e.g. Wings over Bath) and post about it incessantly.

  4. You are assuming that no unionist MSPs lose the whip during next 5 years.

  5. A good poll now would be to ask people how likely they reckon a section 30 request for a second indyref will be made in this parliament. (Are they all 5 year terms now?)

    My gut feeling is it’s 50/50 we even take step 1. But I’m very open to being positively surprised! Just can’t keep counting on it. Not after these last few years.