cigarette pack Three high profile tobacco control flunkies
get the boot. Holyrood elections May 2016.
cigarette pack

Interesting election. The SNP had 69 seats out of 129 in 2011, so a nice, comfortable overall majority. That's been reduced to 63, however they feel no reason to enter a formal coalition, preferring to govern by their previous system of enlisting the aid of any party that supports their policies and intended legislation, subject to the usual quid pro quo.

They can depend on the Greens for most things and, as they've increased their numbers from 2 to 6 MSPs, the SNP can govern quite comfortably with their tacit support. The Liberal Democrats were - at one stage - their official coalition partners so, with the exception of taxation and independence, they too can also be relied upon to help smooth most things through as they too have 5 MSPs in Holyrood.

What did surprise many was the remarkable performance of the Conservative Party. Increasing their numbers from 15 to 31 is impressive, especially in Scotland where the Conservatives have been bottom feeders for years. Now they're the main opposition party with Labour reduced to number three position, which is fitting as they introduced the smoking ban.

UKIP managed the seemingly impossible task of converting the 10.6% of the vote they received at the EU elections in May 2014 to a derisory 2% in May 2016! Seems their sole MEP and party leader - David Coburn - hasn't gone down at all well in Scotland. Not because he's gay, nor because of his outspokenness, rather because he's English and was imposed on the Scots because it suited decision makers down south. That calls into question the independence of UKIP (Scotland) and has resulted in an internal organisation that's woeful, moral at rock bottom, infighting that's the stuff of legend and leaves observers - and supporters - with the feeling their whole setup's a waste of peoples time and resources.

Fortunately Alan Melville gave us advanced notice of what the polls predicted and what he had experienced himself from knocking on doors and generally trying his level best against shocking odds (01). Sadly Alan shan't be able to challenge for the position of Party Leader this year, however it's highly unlikely Coburn will get a second term at the next EU elections - then the field's wide open.

Of course no one expected UKIP would be able to force through indoor smoking rooms, even if the most optimistic outcome (5 MSPs) had come to pass. All we could expect is a change to the voting profile within parliament. To an extent that's happened anyway.

Jim Hume (Liberal Democrats).

He was entirely responsible for pushing through the bill to ban smoking in cars with children.

For that - and being a total butt-wipe, Jim lost his list seat to a Conservative MSP.

Siobhan McMahon (Labour).

Was an outspoken supporter of the ban on smoking in hospital grounds and instrumental in getting it passed into legislation.

Siobhan was a Labour list candidate, however the Labour rank and file in her region felt she was doing an piss-poor job as an MSP and knocked her to number 10 on their candidate list for 2016. As there can only ever be 7 list MSPs in any region that meant Siobhan was made redundant by her own party!

Hopefully it'll remain that way for eternity as she is an awful human being (02).

Stewart Maxwell (SNP).

Stewart is the person responsible for the total smoking ban in all enclosed spaces in Scotland. And because David Taylor (the Labour MP who pushed for it in England - and died of a heart attack in 2008) used the ban in Scotland as a lever to force Blair, so Stewart was indirectly responsible for the total ban in England as well.

He was also keen to unilaterally impose Fire Safe Cigarettes on Scotland, though with that one he did not succeed. The administration chose to wait until they were mandated by the EU.

Stewart was a list MSP from 2003, however boundary changes meant he was forced to stand as a constituency MSP for Eastwood, so unable to hide behind PR and fully exposed to his constituents, they chose a Conservative MSP.

It's taken a very long time, yet it's still surprisingly satisfying to know that Maxwell will not be acting on behalf of ASH to "stamp out smoking in Scotland for good" (03).

Naturally someone in Holyrood will be only too pleased to front up for tobacco control over the next five years, yet from what we've seen at this and previous elections it will be career limiting, as Jack McConnell and Andy Kerr will - in private - confirm.

Hopefully by 2021 UKIP (Scotland) will have sorted themselves out and will take the people of Scotland very seriously. Maybe then we'll give them the opportunity to represent us.
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Smoking Scot
June 2016