Low turnout ‘could have helped Ukip in Scotland’

LOW turnout in the European elections could have helped Ukip gain a “foothold in Scotland”, a Holyrood minister said.

David Coburn says the Ukip revolution has arrived. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
David Coburn says the Ukip revolution has arrived. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Nigel Farage’s party – which dominated in England – picked up 10.4 per cent of the vote north of the Border, granting the party one of Scotland’s six MEPs in Brussels.

Ukip’s successful candidate David Coburn said at the time: “The Ukip revolution has now come to Scotland.”

Local government minister Derek Mackay said one factor behind Ukip winning its first seat in Scotland was that “far too many of our citizens did not feel sufficiently engaged enough to vote”.

He said a “disappointing” 33.5 per cent of Scots voted in the European elections. He stressed the low turnout in elections was “not a reflection of the apathy of voters” but instead showed the “alienation felt by a large proportion of the electorate towards current political and electoral processes”.

The Scottish Government is consulting on how to encourage more people to take part in elections, with ministers looking for opinions on the possible introduction of electronic voting, or whether everyone should be sent a ballot by post, which they could either mail back or hand in on election day.

Labour’s Sarah Boyack said it was “shocking” that fewer than four out of ten people voted in the local government elections in 2012. She backed the idea of sending everyone a postal vote, saying this could be “quite a game-changer”.

Ms Boyack added: “I wonder if that is something we should look at really seriously.”

She added introducing electronic voting risked “removing a huge amount of transparency and the capacity to double check” from the electoral system.

Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan questioned whether the single transferable vote (STV) system of electing local councillors had had an impact on turnout in local government elections.