The people have spoken, don't defy their will

As Scotland looks forward to the appointment of a new Government, following one of the most exciting election battles for years, the Lib Dem spokesman this morning took a swipe at the SNP. Basically he was sounding remarkably like Gordon Brown, in effect saying that they wouldn't work with anyone who wanted independence.

The SNP, he said, had only got a third of the vote and therefore didn't have a mandate for independence. At that point I spluttered on my cornflakes. Here was someone whose party had slipped to fourth place, trying to throw his seriously-weakened weight around.
1. The SNP won the election - get used to it! The Lib Dems as the principal proponents of proportional representation should recognise that is the democratically expressed will of the Scottish people.
2. The SNP has made it crystal clear that they do not see their election as a mandate for independence, but a mandate to hold a referendum for independence.

That offer of a referendum is surely a safeguard that should be welcomed by all. I believe there will be many people who have voted SNP because they want to see a new, fresh approach to government in Scotland. They want to see a Scottish Government that stands up for Scotland and Scottish interests at a national, EU and international level.

But many of them may not want independence (much though the reactionary utterings of Gordon Brown, the Lib Dems and others might start to make them change their minds). The referendum will be an opportunity for these people to tell the SNP "thus far and no further".

What matters now is that the people of Scotland have spoken.

They have given the SNP a mandate to form that government. It may be a tiny margin but it is democratic.

Of course it is not the Lib Dems duty to support the SNP by joining a coalition led by them. But if they were to do a deal behind the scenes to prop up a Labour administration it would be an affront to the votes of the majority.

If the Lib Dems, or Gordon Brown, or Westminster, or anyone else tries to defy the democratically expressed will of the Scottish people it will bring the whole political process into disrepute.
• People will disengage with Government because of what they will see as a political "sham".
• They will probably wonder about the point of bothering to vote in future.
• Turnouts at future elections will plummet.
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