Respecting the Political Mandate-What a lot of bullshit!

I keep hearing a lot of things about respecting the mandate of the people, and it is starting to get annoying as it’s just all a lot of bullshit.

We often hear about the 45% respecting the mandate of the 55% in the 2014 independence referendum, Ruth Davidson argues that

“As I said during the election campaign, the SNP manifesto does not give Nicola Sturgeon a mandate for a second independence referendum. Now that she has failed to win a majority, whatever claims the SNP were pursuing with regard to constitutional brinkmanship over the next five years have now been utterly shredded. No mandate, no majority, no cause – the SNP must now let Scotland move on”.

Nicola Sturgeon argues that “everything must be on the table to protect Scotland’s place in Europe” after the UK voted to leave the EU, while the majority of Scots voted to stay”.

“Scotland did not vote for any of those consequences. We voted by a significant margin to avoid those consequences and stay in. That gives me a mandate to try to protect our relationship with the EU. If that is not possible within the UK well then I have been very clear that the option of a second independence referendum has to be on the table.”

Prime Minster Theresa May has said that “As far as I’m concerned the Scottish people had their vote, they voted in 2014, and a very clear message came through, both the United Kingdom and the Scottish Government said they would abide by that”.

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray – the last Labour MP in Scotland – said that “The SNP must respect the sovereign will of the Scottish people. We know 55% of Scots voted No and that must be adhered to”.

Political mandate basically means a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative. But in a first past the post system it means that we have a Conservative Government with just 36.9% of the vote in the UK but Scotland voted for 56 SNP MPs on 50% of the Scottish Vote.

Where is the mandate there!

The simple fact is that in our electoral system, and alongside devolution, a political mandate is just a mess overall. Respecting the mandate, for all political parties, is just a soundbite when it suits their ends. The Tories you can argue have no mandate in Scotland on 14.9% of the vote in the General Election and just 22% in the Holyrood Elections. Theresa May has been appointed PM with no mandate from the voters, but then Nicola Sturgeon was appointed First Minster in Scotland having won a vote in the Scottish Parliament with an SNP majority in 2014, like May the mandate came from the party not the voters. Nicola Sturgeon has since won the Holyrood Election in 2016, all be it on a minority representation overall within the parliament.

What we are living in now, and this was coined by Quintin Hogg in 1976, is an Elective Dictatorship. Too many of our votes just don’t matter any more due to first past the post and the fact that most seats are deemed safe seats which means elections often come down to what is termed marginal constituencies, today that is around 83 seats or constituencies.

In my opinion not one politician or political party can claim to have a mandate over us as long as we have first past the post in Westminster Elections, the Tories get 309 seats on 36.9% of the vote.


The additional members voting system in Holyrood which gives the SNP 69 seats on 46% of the vote.


Single transferable Vote in local elections in Scotland, SNP get 425 seats on 32% first preference votes, British Labour 394 on 31% of the vote , Tories 115 seats on 13% of the vote and the Lib Dems 71 seats on 6.6% of the vote.


Strangely enough the fairest electoral system that we currently have is the system to elect members to the European Parliament, which is based on proportional representation, a system where party members decide through elections lists of preferred candidates and then the successful candidates are elected based on the proportion of votes each party gets at an election.

Now irrespective of how we might feel about the European Union, the system of election does provide a genuine mandate. In the European context, due to its size of parliament, it doesn’t make getting your voice heard any easier but within a UK and Scottish context it would make every vote count, and therefore deliver a truly representative parliament and deliver an actual political mandate to Govern.

Our system needs to change, we need to have a proportional system for all elections and until we do there is no such thing, in my opinion, as a political mandate, it’s just all bullshit.



  1. Alan

    Not quite there yet. As long as Scotland is part of the UK, it only receives six MEP seats. Ireland has 11 and Finland has 13. I argued back in 2014 that had we been allocated 12 MEPs, UKIP would still have only gotten one seat – five of the extras went to parties which already won seats and the sixth to the Greens.

    • grumpyscottishman

      How is it worked out? Is it based on population or is it up to Westminster? I remember Margret Curran basically celebrating UKIp getting a seat in Scotland, how far Labour have fallen. Just all hatred of the SNP all the way now.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. tris

    Excellent post and bang on.

    I’ve talked on many occasions about how completely undemocratic the UK is, with unelected head of state with real power, a Privy Council, a house of appointed, hereditary aristocrats and churchmen and a lower house elected on FPTP with whips… and a promotion from within system.

    Interestingly though the European parliament only has 751 members, 101 more than the British one. But I agree that Scotland is under-represented in it.

    • grumpyscottishman

      All the parties annoy me with the mandate crap. It’s long before time that we had pr for all elections. I can’t stand that Labour get saved by the various systems all of the time, the SNP probably do better than they should and others don’t get a look in. The whole system is corrupted to the point that it is laughable. When I look at the percentages it just makes me cringe, at least the SNP get high numbers, not enough to justify the amount of seats really, but that is the system. It’s all a joke though.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Helena Brown

    Nailed that one Bruce, we do need a better system than the one foisted on us by the “ahem” so called Scottish Labour Party.
    On the subject of respect, I would also like to see respect for our First Minister, not for only the person, but the office. They would justifiably lynch you in the States if you disrespected the President.

    • grumpyscottishman


      I totally agree with you on the respect or lack of. The BBC have a real habit of calling the First Minister just Sturgeon and that gets on my nerves a lot. It’s petty, it’s their way of having a go at the SNP and the office, but it is just plain rude. We need PR in my opinion for all elections, every vote has to count for something and right now they don’t, and the same old crap get in all the time and Labour who should be dead and buried in Scotland get a lifeline because of the voting system, designed to keep them alive and the SNP down. The whole system is just a joke.

      Thanks for commenting.


  4. Wullie

    Aye respect the 55% at indyref1,a mixture of non Scots that created that result. Of course we must not mention and disrespect the 52% of the native population who voted yes at indyref1

    • Anonymous


      I don’t know the breakdown of who voted what to be honest in the indy ref but mandate appears to be in word right now, and under our present system it just means that not every vote counts. We really have got to look at PR for all elections if we are to really engage as many people in our politics as possible and when you look at the state of the country we really need to be more engaged.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. lanark

    As far as Ruth and the odious Ian Murray are concerned, anything that keeps Scotland as an acquiescent backwater must be respected. We musn’t get above ourselves!

    British democracy has always been about how to keep power OUT of the hands of the people. At the moment there are two forces for change in the UK – the SNP and Jeremy Corbyn. Neither are perfect but they are both having the full weight of the British State being brought down on them every day. He fact that they are still going (for now) is a victory for the people.

    Only with independence do we stand any chance of a fairer voting system. Westminster will never allow any meaningfiul change.

    • Anonymous


      I’m not a huge fan of Corbyn but I would rather have him than May and I hope he wins as England really needs a left wing alternative. The SNP have shown that people want change, I believe that many people have had enough and that’s why we badly need PR in my opinion. I have no issues with minority government or coalitions, the problems with the Condem one was that the Liberals were so weak and Tory themselves it was pointless.

      Mandate appears to be the in word right now, it was aspiration a few months ago but it gets right on nerves. As long as we have the current voting system then no party has a mandate but every vote has to count. The SNP would maybe lose out a little under PR but if it engages many more in politics that is a good thing. All the parties are a part of an establishment that has brought us to our knees, some more than others, but all are guilty and it’s time for change in my mind. I have had enough of being governed by parties that can’t can’t even get 40% of the vote, that’s not a democracy.

      Thanks for commenting.


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