Editorial Policy

Non-Partisan…

Ballot Box Scotland is Non-Partisan. This means BBS will not show any particular favour – or disfavour – to any particular political party. Nor will BBS ever take a position on either of the major constitutional issues.

BBS will never;

  • Advise which party to vote for
  • State whether any party’s polling or electoral results are a good or bad thing for Scotland
  • Advise which way to vote in an Independence Referendum
  • Advise which way to vote in an EU Referendum

This does not mean that BBS will not make objectively accurate statements about results. A poll which shows one party losing seats compared to the last election can fairly be described as being “bad” for that party, and vice versa. That does not entail a value judgement on whether such a result would be bad for the country as a whole.

…But Not Entirely Impartial

Ballot Box Scotland is not completely politically impartial. There are some areas of politics which are not fundamentally issues of partisan conflict, particularly those which relate to the basic functioning of our democracy. BBS will therefore occasionally take a position on some of these issues.

Proportional Representation

Ballot Box Scotland supports Proportional Representation. The UK’s First Past the Post System is democratically indefensible, as it completely fails to give appropriate voice to the majority of voters. BBS therefore supports electoral reform at UK level, which is now the only level of Scottish governance which does not have a proportional element.

As a consequence, BBS strongly defends Scotland’s existing proportional systems. None of these are absolutely perfect and BBS advocates further reform, but they are far better than FPTP. This means that BBS categorically rejects ill-informed agitation against the proportionally elected List portion of the Scottish Parliament electoral system.

Local Government Reform

Scotland has some of the largest and least local councils anywhere in Europe, home to an average of 170,000 people. Outside of the UK and Ireland the next largest local councils are found in Denmark, where the average population is around 59,000 – one third of the size of ours. This has an enormous impact not just on the delivery of vital public services, but also on our democratic systems.

Ballot Box Scotland therefore supports wholesale reorganisation of local government, towards something more in line with the European norm. Regionally sized councils like Fife and Highland need to be abolished in favour of councils for cities and larger towns alongside district councils for more rural areas.

Partition

Occasionally, a particularly extreme resolution to Scotland’s constitutional divide is proposed by someone on social media – partition. The argument goes that in the event of a Yes vote, Scotland could be divided with those areas that voted No staying part of the UK. Ballot Box Scotland is opposed to this notion.

Notably, no credible Scottish politicians have seriously suggested this. It remains a fringe view, but one with enough support that BBS has occasionally riled its backers up on Twitter. BBS takes no position on Independence or Union, but does have a strong stance against people making completely silly suggestions.

Non-Standard Independence Polling

This particular Ballot Box Scotland policy may apply to other situations, but for now this section will describe its most prominent application. Scotland in Union, an organisation which as its name implies supports Scotland staying part of the UK, has taken to conducting polling of such poor quality that BBS will no longer provide coverage of it. When a “second-strike” for this was noted in a Tweet, it provoked one of the strongest storms of fury this project has yet experienced.

Rather than ask either the same question as was asked in the 2014 referendum, or a close equivalent which offers similar “Yes” or “No” choices, Scotland in Union ask an independence question pitched in terms of “Remain” or “Leave”. Given the prominence of Brexit, it is clear this is nothing more than a leading attempt to conflate issues and confuse respondents.

Contrary to some partisan claims, the 2016 EU Referendum no more “set a precedent” that a future Independence referendum must use such a question than the 2014 Scottish Referendum set a precedent that the 2016 EU Ref would be “Yes/No”. Until such a time as the question for a future referendum is set, BBS will not cover polling which uses questions deviating substantially from the norm.

BBS emphasises that it is not partisan to deny coverage to polling commissioned and specifically designed by an explicitly partisan body to advance their own cause. Should the need arise to treat any organisation which supports Independence (such as Progress Scotland) in a similar manner, BBS will not hesitate to do so.