Comment: Scotland and the UK are broken – Apathy Reins

Voter Apathy

In political science, voter apathy is a lack of interest among voters in the elections of representative democracies. Voter apathy or lack of interest is often cited as a cause of low turnout among eligible voters

From chatting to people I know over the last couple of days there is a clear feeling of dejection and apathy in the state of Scotland and the United Kingdom right now. I have had conversations where people are just fed up, and some feel defeated. From years of Covid-19, to the Tories and the SNP, and now to the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine. Some have indicated that they won’t be voting in the May elections with reasons ranging from can’t be bothered, to there is no one to vote for, to it changes nothing. It is getting harder and harder to not feel the same way right now from a personal point of view.

Recent polls have shown that YES and No are stuck in the same position we have been since the referendum, the SNP and the Tories look set to remain in Government even though both have records that demonstrate some of the worst governance Scotland and the UK have ever encountered in history let alone recent times. Ordinary people are having to tighten the belt big time as poor and vulnerable people are going without with little or no meaningful intervention from the politicians we elect to protect us, while the people at the top continue to get richer while (legally) avoiding the tax that many of the rest of us have seen increase this month to eye watering levels in the UK.

Now I would normally say to people that the answer is to actually vote, vote and change things, but when the choices are so limited in the main parties, and ignorance or tribalism stopping voters reaching for parties like Alba and ISP then things look set to remain exactly the same which can only increase the feelings of dejection, and apathy, a vicious circle. The people to blame for this are of course the politicians, and to a lesser extent ourselves. However, the politicians we have right now in the main don’t deserve our vote. Most come across as self serving or ignorant and thick, in too many cases both. They appear to have zero ideas on how to change things for the better and are too afraid to even try, certainly too afraid to take on the vested interests that are destroying the country with their greed.

The SNP are putting out leaflets encouraging voters to only vote SNP 1 and 2 in May thus doing exactly as they did in the last Holyrood election, maximise the SNP vote not the independence vote or to ensure as many councils are controlled by yes parties. This party pretty much just disgust me now, they are no different from the unionists in that all they care about is power, or denying power, not moving the cause of independence forward in any meaningful or serious way, it is enough to make all of us sick. I don’ t think I have felt so bereft of optimism for the yes cause for a long time to the extent that once the May elections are out the way I think I will slow down a lot from blogging for a while until I see if there is any real movement towards independence and away from the corruption of the yes movement that is the SNP.

Apathy reins in Scotland for many right now, myself included, May will be a litmus test for myself as to where I think we are but I know that no real movement soon and I think like many others it will time to take stock, if Scottish voters and Scots in the main don’t want to actually stand up and be counted, to force change, if they are happy to bury their heads in the sand and live like we are living well hell mend them I will take a step back.


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34 Responses to Comment: Scotland and the UK are broken – Apathy Reins

  1. Angry Weegie says:

    Who can blame you. It’s hard tto listen to all the complaints from people who won’t DO anything about them. It hard to see people agreeing with a post, then continuing to repeat the same voting patterns that caused the problem in the first place. I hope you hang in there.

    • AW

      I won’t be stopping blogging but will probably just not blog as much, or will look to blog about some other interests. I have made a point of chatting to people this week about the elections, how they are feeling politically, it has been a surprise. There is still a passion for independence, but it is waning in some, and it really comes down to the SNP for many in the yes camp but as you say they are maybe going to vote as they always do or just not going to vote at all due to things like not liking Alex Salmond or not knowing anything about ISP to feeling that it won’t make a difference. I am encouraging people to vote for the candidate they feel is the best for them but to consider alternatives like Alba and ISP, to give them a chance, but it is so disheartening right now and it is down to Sturgeon, the SNP, and the Tories.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Angry Weegie says:

        In Scotland, I can only blame the SNP. Tories are doing what Tories always do, but I expected better from the SNP. They haven’t been the party of independence for some time, but now they’re just the party of staying in power.

        • AW

          I agree that they have failed to answer the pressing questions well enough and they have been dishonest. They are at best a gradualist party now and they should have been honest about that, I wouldn’t like it but at least we would know where they stand but they weren’t smart enough to be honest with the yes community, add in their gender obsession, on top of very poor governance and you have a disaster on your hands that just turns people away. Not as if many of us didn’t see it coming and warned them.

          Thanks for commenting.

  2. duncanio says:

    I agree things don’t look great and the SNP are repeating their disgusting “Both Votes SNP” schtick of Holyrood election 2021 adapted for Council election 2022. That is, keep out Alba Party/ISP at all costs.

    However, try not to get too down personally Bruce. It’s not worth it.

    • Duncanio

      It’s just all so sad and predictable in so many ways. The SNP are a shadow of their former selves, they can’t even be honest on top of poor governance which all adds up to disaster and apathy. I personally blame Sturgeon and her ego, she has set the cause back years. I won’t disappear from blogging but I will probably ease off a bit and see where we go from here plus blog about other interests that I have a bit as well. Certainly been interesting talking to people though and I do suspect the SNP are in for a fall pretty soon and maybe in May.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. ‘Lack of interest among voters’ and whatever might happen in May are key elements of your article, here; however, if more of our pro-independence people fall into that negative frame of mind philosophy, then our population will be surrendering to London’s Unionist mentality!

    Scotland’s political situation is as far from being encouraging as it should be, however, if our more positive politically-minded people are feeling less driven than before, then it really needs us to recognise the fact that London’s government is NEVER willing to see Scotland being independent again!

    I closed my last paragraph with blunt, challenging comments that are hard facts to write about; but that’s NEVER as hard to bear as being London’s last remaining colony… much. much more than just food for thought!

    • Even

      I think some people are tired, some are apathetic, I’m tired and need a break after May. If people are not willing to actually at least look at alternatives to the gradualist approach of the SNP and are willing to keep believing their lies then hell mend them. It was interesting chatting to folk and while there is a light for independence there is a diminishing light for the SNP starting to take hold as it did in 2017 I suspect. They will still win the vote but their strategy, lack of action etc will let unionists in and possibly in control of councils. It’s sad really and while I won’t give up I will ease off a bit and see where we go from here, blog about other interests maybe but maybe we all need to take stock after May and see where we want and need to go to move forward as the SNP are not that vehicle anymore.

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. I really agree with most of what you say, including that ‘the SNP is not that vehicle anymore’… I’m one of the EX members of what used to be an exemplary party; but, as we know, politics isn’t all that predictable and I still believe that there’s a promising and growing wish to resume Scotland’s independence!

    • Ewen

      I agree but I think people, or some, are getting tired of being marched too many hills and living on carrots. How we keep them engaged is going to be a challenge and that is down to Sturgeon for me to be honest, worst FM we have had and we had McConnell. I know I’m tired and def will ease off a bit after May and see which direction we are moving in, I hope it is a positive one but I fear the worst.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. panda paws says:

    Alba are putting up candidates in every Dundee ward so PLEASE folk vote for them if you want change. I don’t think ISP are putting up any Dundee candidates though. The option to kick the SNP up the backside exists. They know it which is why that despicable vote only SNP leaflet was produced.

    Where I am there are Alba candidates in all but one ward and that ward has ISP. These parties need us to support them. Otherwise independence is lost. The SNP will only get rid of Sturgeon if she is an electoral liability. Then there is a CHANCE we could wrestle power back from the devolutionists. Otherwise…

    • PP

      I agree, I really hope voters in Dundee give Alba a chance, we need new voices in the council and nationally to ensure that independence does not die a slow and painful death under Sturgeon and her unionists/gradualists that is for sure. I good result for Alba / ISP would give us all a loft but it will be difficult for both parties to get traction but we can hope.

      Thanks for commenting.

  6. Ian says:

    The saying that ‘people get the government they deserve’ has never been truer.,but the one weakness for any government or political party is that they still have to get enough people to vote for them. That’s the sole reason that Sturgeon and Johnson are where they are. I don’t think Scotland has reached the point that was reached in England more than a few years ago, where there simply isn’t any political party worth voting for. It took well over a decade for people in Scotland to finally accept that the party that they had supported for so long, existed in name only and finally gave up on them and stopped voting for them. The final straw was Labour acting as the surrogate UK Tories fighting against independence. As the saying goes, voters didn’t abandon Labour, it was Labour that abandoned their voters.

    The SNP are in the exact same position now, with the Blair and Sturgeon leaderships being the key turning points for Labour and the SNP. It’s ironic that it was the subject of independence that caused the downfall of Labour in Scotland in 2015, losing 40 of their 41 seats, given that it’s the Sturgeon led SNP’s lack of any seriousness about independence that is now their weakest point and that it is on this that it is clear that the SNP, like Labour, have abandoned their supporters. Even the BBC are openly mocking to their face, the SNP’s repeated broken promises that they will pursue independence.

    Unless enough folk open their eyes and drop the detached passivity and acceptance of yet more lies, then the decline and despair that is caused by voting for the SNP, will simply continue and nothing will change. If the blatant lying political chancers continue to be voted for, they will continue to ruin Scotland, with their only ‘achievement’ being that of their own personal goals. Pre-election promises and voters goals? Dropped on day one after any election so they can can continue to focus on their own objectives.

    Scotland, at least for the moment, does have alternative Party’s to vote for if they want Scotland to become independent, but unless enough folk stop voting for the fake independence SNP and vote for a truly independence Party, then Scotland will simply continue to get the governments(s) they deserve and Scotland may truly become just like England in having no-one worth voting for. That can be easily avoided by voting the SNP fakers out and voting for independence, not against it. Only voters can achieve what so many clearly want – to become better off as an independent nation.That’ll only happen if enough people vote for a truly independence seeking Party and stop voting for a fake independence SNP Party. There isn’t too much time left to find out if the government that Scotland hopes for is the one that it will get. If it doesn’t, then the reason for that will lie squarely with voters who will have unquestionably have got what they deserved.

    • Ian

      I hope everyone reads your reply as there is nothing I can add. This blog is based on conversations I have had with people in my family, some friends, and people at work so I will be interested to see if that is a common view or just my circle. I know that I get how many feel right now as I am feeling the same and will be slowing down a little after May and taking stock. I am not going to stop blogging, just not as much and maybe not so much about politics all the time as we will all need to take stock and see where the SNP are and where the debate is, especially in case of an early GE in 23 which could happen if the economy improves a bit the Tories will go early.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Ian says:

        With respect to the 75% support for independence poll, the SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “This poll confirms that we are winning the economic argument over Scotland’s future”.

        True to form, the SNP are trying to suggest that that they are the reason for the ‘conditional’ 75% figure. My two questions to them are – name one thing that the SNP have done since 2015 that supports such a view and why is there such a massive gap (25%) between those that conditionally support independence (75%) and those that currently support it (50%)?

        My own view is quite the opposite to the SNP’s in that it is mainly the utter incompetence of the UK Government, particularly since the Brexit vote, that has caused this conditional support for independence, with the key wording about the 75% figure being ‘IF they (voters) were convinced it would be good for the Scottish economy’.

        The reality is that actual (not conditional) support for independence remains well below where it could be (75%) and is often below that of No voters –

        With actual public support for independence being nowhere near 75%, the SNP are clearly not winning the critical economic argument as the SNP try to claim. They’re not even close.

        What this poll does show is that there is a very high level of support for independence (75%) providing that Scotland would be effectively managed by it’s political leaders. That Scotland is currently not being effectively managed is self evident in the actual support level of around 50%. What an insult from the SNP to try to claim this as a victory for their time in power. The actual polls are not anywhere near 75% because of the SNP. The gap of at least 25% between actual support for independence under this SNP and a conditional support for independence based on having a competent government, comes down to one reason – a huge number of people want independence but don’t have any belief in the SNP’s ability to successfully manage as the Government of an independent Scotland. That is the reality of what this poll shows and what voting for the SNP will continue to result in. More of the same. What a waste that would be of the huge amount of latent energy available in so many ways to change things for the better in Scotland.

        • Ian says:

          A few weeks ago you said that if I wanted to write a guest post I’d be welcome to. At the time I didn’t have anything in particular in mind that hadn’t already been covered, but I think this poll is worth covering in some detail, particularly in light of the consequences of having the SNP voted into having continuing power at a time where there is a clear need to become independent,something that simply will not happen as long as the SNP continue to be voted for in large numbers. Scottish voters need to get real about how to achieve independence and I think this poll shines a very bright light on this and gets to the heart of the matter. I’m sure that it’s a subject that the SNP would definitely not want to have to become involved in, which is why they most definitely should be made to and why other Party’s need to focus on this subject if they are to convince folk to support them at elections. For too many, Sturgeons SNP have turned Scottish politics from a dynamic, inclusive and powerful force, into a pointless irrelevant game that isn’t worth the time of day.

          I’ve always felt that it was the economy that lay at the heart of independence and the main reason why in 2014 it turned out to be the main reason for the result. Studies show that this was the case –

          ‘Though the “yes” campaign sought to stir up people’s passion for an independent homeland, ultimately many people voted over very pragmatic issues, particularly the economy, says Professor Curtice’.

          The figures seem to back this up. A YouGov poll on the day of the referendum found that only 35 percent thought Scotland would be economically better off under independence while 47 percent thought it would be worse off. Other polls gave similar results throughout the campaign.

          Both sides made claim and counter claim as to what would happen to Scotland’s economy under independence. But Thursday’s vote suggests the “no” camp won this battle.

          “People simply weren’t convinced by the economic case for independence,” says Professor Curtice.

          I think the 75% poll cuts through all the waffle and lies and shows the way ahead, and why the push for independence needs to be led by another Party. If the SNP Party had any sense they’d recognise that sooner or later, voters will abandon them, as happened in 2017 when they went from 56 MP’s to 35 and which happened with Labour in 2015. Having a clear out of the SNP to allow them to work with others is the only way I can see to guarantee a future for the SNP, particularly once Sturgeon has left, but I’d put the chances of that happening anytime soon as zero. So the SNP are now simply not part of the case for independence and this needs to be backed up with solid evidence so that voters don’t continue to waste their votes by continuing to give the SNP the benefit of the doubt or think that there isn’t any alternative to them.

          The economic case both for an independent Scotland and for leaving an increasingly deluded and decrepit UK is astonishing. The economic realities of Scotland and the UK are now vastly different from what they were in 2014. With competent political leadership, independence is there for the taking. That’s what this poll shows.

          I’ll draft something in an email and if I can send this to you, you can decide whether to publish it as a guest post.

  7. Alan D says:

    As you’re in your Alba bubble, I’m not surprised you think people feel that way. But you’re just making up baseless crap.

    2016 Holyrood turnout: 55.8% or 2,289,564 list votes.
    2021 Holyrood turnout: 63.5%, or 2,718,065 list votes.

    Almost half a million extra voters showed up last year compared to the previous election. That’s ten new voters for each vote Alba actually received. And don’t try to get clever by comparing local election turnouts to Holyrood ones. Council turnout has always lagged behind contemporary Holyrood and Westminster elections.

    2017: 47%, 1,889,658 voters. I think we may break past two million this May. Bring it on!

    • Alan

      First things first, if you are about personal abuse on this blog don’t reply. Council elections is what this blog is about no matter what you might assert. The simple fact is this blog is about conversations I have had with people, that was clearly stated in the blog. I am not in an Alba bubble as you imply, do I want Alba / ISP to make inroads yes I do, will they, again as I have said repeatedly on this blog I don’t think they will in these elections but will going forward in the medium term. This election for Alba / ISP is about recognition in the main. Both are getting established and that takes time with any new party. It will be interesting to see what the turn out is in May and it will be interesting to see if the SNP crap with their leaflets can temp those who just don’t think about it.

      Thanks for commenting, although baseless crap can’t come from conversations, only opinion.

      • Alan D says:

        I’m sorry that you feel “baseless crap” is abusive. You’ve used stronger language in some of your posts…

        What I’m trying to show you is that there isn’t any evidence that what you’re hearing in your conversations applies to all of Scotland. This may be difficult to understand, but you can literally speak to fifty thousand individuals and still miss completely what’s happening among the other 4,950,000 people. That is what a bubble is.

        We also had you claiming “no change in those who intend to vote YES” on the blogpost preceding this one. Again, the overall evidence overwhelmingly indicates otherwise.

        Democratic engagement in Scottish institutions is steadily rising over time – precisely the opposite of electoral apathy. I don’t know(or really care) if apathy in the rest of the UK is increasing. If so, it’s probably down to Leave/Tory voters reconsidering their choices – not the worst thing possible.

        • Alan

          I’ve used stronger in blog articles but not with someone’s reply or opinion, I like to think that I respect the opinions of everyone who take the trouble to reply to a blog including yourself Alan as I think it’s fair to say I have always valued your input. I totally accept that what I am hearing is from a small circle around me, totally accept that, also accept that you are probably correct and that it will not be reflected across Scotland but for me I just found it interesting and decided to blog about it as I have been feeling the same. I personally don’t think there has been much change, if any, since the referendum as the polls suggest and that is why the previous post said that as 47% is within the margin of error so could as easily be 45%, I am no expert though and tend to read James Kelly when it comes to polls. I hope democratic engagement is increasing across Scotland as I would always encourage that, I am a Community Worker, I am all for engagement and local people being involved in decision making, I wouldn’t say I have seen an increase personally but if there has been then all for it.

          Thanks for commenting as always.

  8. East Neuker says:

    I too am dissatisfied with with our current governance. Out of interest, if you were suddenly First Minister of a majority Holyrood government, besides immediately getting on with campaigning for independence, what would your policy programme be in the interim within the current powers of the Scottish government? That interim could be lengthy – what could be fixed and how?

    • EN

      Interesting question. I would probably go for council tax replacement, land reform. I would scrap CfE in Education and return to O grades and Highers with tweaks to take into account informal learning and things like volunteering. I would look to revamp all quangos with actually experts from their fields. I would want a national conversation on PR for all elections and look to see which powers could be devolved to local councils so more decisions are taken locally and local voters able to hold their council to account.

      Thanks for commenting.

  9. benmadigan says:

    voter “apathy” used to be called voter “fatigue” not so long ago.
    “The onset of this terrible illness in Scotland was caused by having to vote in two Referendums in the past two years.
    And a third is now looming over the horizon. To say nothing of Local Elections in May.
    Voting fatigue aka “electionitis” is highly contagious.
    Just talking about it helps spread the disease”
    Read more here!

    • Ben

      Thanks for the link, will check it out. This blog is based on conversations with family, friends, and people at work and I don’t think the polls are reflecting how some people feel right now so the turn out will be interesting in May as will the vote.

      Thanks for commenting.

  10. Brenda Steele says:

    Seems to me that instead of not voting we should be making a protest at the ballot box.
    Not sure what form it should take but it should indicate a lack of independence supporting candidates who believe in biology.
    Getting together to come up with a uniform wording/action would do it.

  11. Ludo Thierry says:

    Hi Grumpy – I fully understand your point of view – (but certainly hope you maintain a level of commentary on Scottish politics and the long journey to dissolve the union – I certainly value reading your pieces).

    I have come to realise over time how much of a psychological/spiritual ‘wrench’ it has been to me personally to (finally) comprehend what was occurring with Ms. Sturgeon and the SNP leadership/ministers/elected parliamentarians/some cooncillors also – and the (private) resignation of membership that I sent in to HQ involved.

    Joining Alba as a founder member has helped lift my mood but I’m still aware of significant loss of political energy. I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s probably a long slog again – but – we’re starting from a very different place and the acceptance of an Indy Scotland as a ‘normal’ state by the young people I get a chance to chat to is giving me some real hope.

    I’m lucky and have an Alba cooncil candidate to vote for. I think I’m also voting Scottish Libertarian, SNP x 2 and one of the Independent candidates has YES credentials I believe (trying to check) – The other Independent looks like a Tory – so nae chance. The Green looks like a gender warrior so can go whistle – I’ll probably go as far down as Lib and Lab (after all – if I can manage SNP with a huge peg on ma nose I can probably manage the other 2 London Devo parties as well – Tories and biology deniers remain out of bounds (barff factor just too enormous) – Thanks, Ludo

    • Ludo

      Thanks for the kind comments. The blog has always just been my opinion on politics and sometimes other things. I am a founding member of Alba like yourself and agree we are in for the long haul. If Alba make in roads in May that will be great but they probably won’t this time round. It really is about getting some voter recognition going forward so there is an alternative to the SNP in the medium term. I will go Alba 1 and my local Lib Dem who is by far the best local councillor I have ever came across in Dundee for number 2, rank the rest in order of preference but possibly won’t rank any SNP as I am not sure I can hold my nose to do so now with the party.

      Thanks for commenting.

  12. Alan Morrison says:

    You have a ‘Ewen A Morrison’ commenting above and an ‘Alan’ however I am a different person to either and am THE ‘Alan Morrison!’ 🙂

    As I’ve already commented on Scot Goes Pop, we elect 3 councilors in my ward and have 4 candidates to choose from. 1 SNP (the only incumbent) 2 Tories and 1 LD. So guaranteed a Unionist majority of 2-1. What sort of choice is that? Spoiled ballot coming up. Going to write ‘Alba for Independence’ over it.

  13. erichvonbarrhead says:

    I’ll be spoiling my ballot paper if there are no alternative candidates in my area i.e. Alba, ISP. Why would I vote for candidates that I can neither respect or trust? That would make no sense at all. Trust me when I say: I know all the arguments against taking such action, but I am entitled, I believe, to express my disgust at the bare-faced con which is presently passing for democratic politics in Scotland right now.

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