Harvie slams Scottish parties over election fiasco

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A leading Green politician in Scotland has said that the voters were “left out in the cold” in May’s Parliamentary and council elections as a new report has heavily criticised the four main parties.

Patrick Harvie MSP, who is bisexual, said that the conclusions are taken on board by the political parties and ministers in London and Edinburgh.

Changes to ballot papers had caused confusion and 140,000 Scots voters were disenfranchised when their papers were declared invalid.

An independent review into the election carried out by international expert Ron Gould, the former assistant chief electoral officer of Canada, reported yesterday.

It concluded that political partisan interference by the four larger parties prior to the election caused huge problems, and that the voter was treated as an ‘afterthought.’

The Scottish Green Party is the fifth-largest party in the Scottish Parliament after the SNP, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.

Mr Harvie was elected on the regional list for Glasgow, where 9,000 ballots, or 4.17% of votes cast, were rejected.

He told PinkNews.co.uk: “I think it is vital that the conclusions of this report are taken on board by all political parties, especially the four larger parties, and those in ministerial positions responsible at the time.

“They were at the heart of the partisan political interference highly criticised by the election review.

“It is clear that a stronger grip on election planning is required and that the voters of Scotland be put first and not left out in the cold, as so many were in May.

“The debacle of 2007 must never be repeated.”

Much of the criticism has been levelled at Douglas Alexander, a Westminster MP and close confidant of the Prime Minister who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time.

The Gould report recommends that responsibility for overseeing and managing the election process should be shifted from London to Edinburgh, a Chief Returning Officer to be appointed for the whole of Scotland and a revision of the ballot paper design back to two separate sheets.

Mr Harvie faced a challenge from the Scottish Christian Party in May’s elections.

He told PinkNews.co.uk about some of the slurs and abuse levelled at him during the election:

“I am very pleased that we held onto the seat despite a vicious homophobic campaign, including allegations that I have been distributing pornography to children.

“I have had a lot of emails from supportive people in the LGBT community and others who were outraged at the homophobic material they got through the letterbox. It has been vicious.”

Two other LGB people were elected to the Scottish Parliament in May.

Gay MSP Iain Smith held on to Fife North East with a 15.9% majority.

Lesbian MSP Margaret Smith held Edinburgh West. Both are Liberal Democrats.