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Electric Scotland's Web Guide to Scottish Politics

Scotland 2001: by a spooky coincidence Henry ('Hal') McLeish is now in charge

Follow the continuing story on the Internet

Is the truth out there? There's even more information available now, but you still have to make up your own mind at the end of the day...

1. Official websites

The Scottish Parliament website is now well established. With lists of all MSPs and their e-mail addresses, it is the definitive reference site.

If you want to eavesdrop remotely on the proceedings of the Parliament, you can go to the live proceedings site at

To see the world through the eyes of the Executive go to This is updated daily with news headlines. If you want, you can have your say about pieces of legislation listed on the 'your views' page.

2. Not so official

One of the most comprehensive sites for Scottish politics is imaginatively named 'Scottish Politics', and as well as updating its news features regularly, it provides coverage of all Scottish constituencies with links to some individual politicians' sites. It has a built-in bulletin board and chat-room where you can air your opinion. It will be obvious to anyone who visits it whose side the webmaster is on, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Scottish CND have also built up a database of constituencies with a view to finding out where individual politicians stand on nuclear disarmament.

3. The Parties and the Politicians

Most of the parties have improved their websites noticeably since the 1999 elections. No longer are the Scottish Conservatives smeary and amateurish but just as professional as the other parties. Likewise, the Scottish Labour Party site has changed beyond recognition, though there seems to be a general tendency for left-inclined parties to choose cheap and cheerful colours in their designs! (sorry - I work in the arts)

While the SNP site once showed the way as far as design was concerned, with the Lib Dems breathing down their necks for the title of 'most wired party', the other major parties have now caught up and in fact on the day I last looked at the websites the SNP's had the doubtful distinction of having the least up-to-date news on it.

I can now find no trace of the Scottish Socialist Party on the web - I'm open to correction here but their previous address isn't working for me - nor of the former Highlands and Islands Alliance.

The Green Party, on the other hand, perhaps inspired by victory, have continued the process of improving their site. Their logo is by far the most attractive with a yellow sunflower on a green background outshining all the stylised lions etc of the other parties.

As far as individual MSPs are concerned, each of them now has a standardised web page and e-mail address as part of the Scottish Parliament website facilities. Some MSPs have taken things a stage further and indeed so have some constituency parties, the sites of which tend to conform to the house style of the national party. For example, in the case of the Conservatives, who boast of having 'more websites than any other political party' (I haven't checked this claim out!), Galloway Tories and Dumfries Conservatives, are typical in that they are quite obviously produced by the same organisation as the central site but both include quite a lot of up-to-date local news. They both also host on-line polls (the pound versus the euro). Perhaps other political sites could learn something from this as it makes a visit slightly more interesting for the passing surfer.

The SNP has 13 branches which claim to have websites (though at least one is inaccessible at the time of writing), and unusually the branch web designers seem to have been allowed to go more or less their own way and don't even have a corporate colour scheme (this is not, however, a criticism). The branch websites also display some local news which could be useful. Do check out the Scots Independent's Flag in the Wind site for a weekly review of politics in Scotland. On their site you'll also find a list of the Scottish MP's.

It is fairly hard to find local Labour websites, and my previous example, Dundee, which looked as if it was leading the way at the time of the Scottish elections, has now fallen behind and doesn't seem to have been updated for some time.

A new party has come on the scene, The Scottish Enterprise Party, which is a party for Scottish Independence but one that wants to walk on the middle to right of the political scene.

4. Newsgroups and mailing lists

Scottish politics is often discussed on newsgroups such as Scottish culture, Scottish topics and (naturally) Scottish politics. Such discussions are quite likely to degenerate into slanging matches from time to time, but that's all part of the fun.

A very active mailing list is Scotpol (accessible from the Scottish Politics website). Once again this can become very heated at times. Not for the faint-hearted or those who have to pay a lot for their Internet access!

5. The Last Word

Politics is too important to be left to the politicians, and the signs are that it won't be left to them now that the Internet provides a channel for expressing your own opinions. I will certainly continue to express mine whenever the chance arises! I am also committed to voting when the opportunity presents itself, though not necessarily for the same party each time.

My name is Sheila Perry and you can e-mail me on if you would like to make any comments on what I've said here. I am a home-educator (who marched on the Scottish Parliament in September 2000 with other home-educators to try and persuade the Scottish Executive to issue clearer guidance to local councils re the rights of home educators) and spare-time writer, website designer, family historian and pantomime director. Some further details about these activities are given on my own website at

The Parliament of Scotland
This is an extract from the book "History of the English Parliament together with an account of the Parliaments of Scotland and Ireland" by G Barnett Smith published in 1892. We have extracted the Scottish Parliament part from this book and provide it in a series of pdf files below.

George Barnett Smith (1841-1909)
Mr. George Barnett Smith, author and journalist, died at his residence in Bournemouth on Saturday, at the age of 57.
Born near Halifax and educated at the British Lancasterian School in that town, Mr. George Barnett Smith came as a young man to London, and was a member, first of the editorial staff of the Globe, and afterwards of that of the Echo. As an author, his principal fields were history and literary and political biography. For the "Encyclopędia Britannica", he wrote an article on Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a further article for the supplement to that work, and was a contributor also to the "Dictionary of National Biography". His books included, a critical biography of Shelley, and the lives of Gladstone, Victor Hugo, Ferdinand de Lesseps, John Bright and Queen Victoria, several literary and political studies, and histories of English, Scottish and Irish Parliaments. He was also a contributor to The Times and the Edinburgh Review.

Scottish Monarchs
Scottish Monarchs

Scottish Politics
By the Right Hon. The Marquis of Lorne (pdf)


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