Don’t Be Mean in SE16

Scotland is very rich indeed in a natural resource.  No, this is not about the ‘black gold’, in fact this is about the golden opportunity to deliver a mandate for a second referendum in the Scottish Parliamentary Election on May 5th 2016 by using your dual vote wisely in the Additional Member System (AMS) ballot.  The resource the Scottish electorate has at their disposal is a plethora of political parties who will be standing on a pro-indie ticket.

It almost seems slightly odd to write this as an SNP campaigner and member but it is a complete no-brainer.  The situation is this, if you vote SNP on your first ballot (constituency vote) and SNP on your second ballot (list vote), your list vote will be completely wasted and have no effect whatsoever.  You would have been as well burning it, spoiling your paper with a drawing of Carmichael in the noose or worse marking your X beside Labour as that is inadvertently what you would be doing.

ballotThe last Scottish Parliamentary election saw the SNP return the first majority despite the system being weighted against this happening.  In fact 45.39% voted SNP in the constituency vote which returned 53 of a possible 73 seats and the 44.04% SNP votes for the regional list only saw a further 16 SNP seats form a possible 56.  Compare this to 26.31% for Labour returning 22 seats and 12.36% landing the Tories 12 MSPs from the list. Ultimately, this gave 69 SNP MSPs giving the surprising (at the time) majority across the 129 MSPs.

So let’s look forward to May 2016.  In the Constituency vote the SNP are set to win more than the previous 53 in this first past the post ballot, possibly in the high 60’s and breaching 50% of the popular vote.  This will then skew the hidden algorithm massively against the SNP for the Regional List vote, so much so that even a 50% vote here would return almost ZERO additional SNP MSPs.

This is due to the number of seats already won in the FPTP local constituencies being taken into account in the calculations for the list seats, meaning a vote for Green, SSP or Solidarity is massively more valuable here.  For a fuller explanation, the algorithm used is known as the D’Hondt method.

The wasted vote in such a vital election, is a scary thought indeed and one that I would ask my fellow politically educated Scots to disseminate loudly and widely. Put simply, we need to vote in parties to the list vote who both support independence and agree to another referendum.  To vote twice for the SNP in effect ‘maxes out’ the pro-indie vote due to the expected high return in the constituency vote.

Thankfully we will have several excellent choices here in the form of The Greens, Solidarity or the SSP.  It should not be forgotten that many who voted SNP in GE15 ‘lent’ their vote from it’s natural home of one of these other parties.  This was easy to do, as we are now a ‘movement’ rather than a party.  It’s now time for SNP voters to pay back the loan and ensure as many of the parties that are part of this quest for an equitable independent society are voted in.  These parties are oozing talent and passion and the Scottish Parliament will be a better place with them.  In fact there is hours of footage on that will prove this.  It’s also a way to ensure there is a louder voice coming from the socialist left which is representative of the Scottish mindset.

Let’s prove we are the most politically aware nation in the world by realising fully what could possibly be the most important piece of political knowledge of our lifetimes and how to optimise our vote in the AMS system of SE16.  SNP for the first vote (constituency) and take your pick from your favourite pro-indie, pro referendum party in the second ballot (regional list). In effect, you are lending your second vote to your own cause, rather than against it and at the same time, ensuring Scotland will have a mandate for another independence referendum.




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  1. Thanks for this very clear piece.
    A small question related to twitter activity: are we able to confidently use the #SE16 hashtag for our election next year? I saw it on a tweet about this blog…

  2. That argument assumes you want people like Ross Greer in Parliament. Personally I’d rather elect a chimpanzee, or Brian Donohoe.

    1. Jessie, chimpanzee’s with red rosettes have been representing us for a long time already, but yes change it was it required. I’m sure the greens will prioritise the excellent representatives they have for their list. I don’t know enough about Ross Greer to comment further.

    2. Strange that you should single out Ross Greer, as in my experience he’s a very capable and committed man. What’s your specific beef with him? Genuinely interested to know.

    1. Hi Adrian, thanks for commenting. Let me assure you that several weeks ago, I used site to play around with several numbers. I’m not sure what I see that you don’t so I will post a very basic example.

      From current 128 (not 129) sitting MPs (due to the sad passing of the irreplaceable Margo McDonald), we have:
      71 Pro-indie MSPs vs 57 Unionist MPs

      Now, increase the SNP constituency vote by 5% and remove 5% from Labour. This is roughly consistent with recent polling. Next remove 30% from the SNP list vote and add 30% to the Greens. As I said, this example is basic and SSP for example do not appear as an option. The point here is that the only change being made is by SNP voters changing their second vote.

      Now check your result. Wow!
      99 Pro-indie MSPs vs 30 Unionist MPs

      We would lose a couple of SNP MSPs but this is obviously worth it to bring in another 29 pro-indie Greens (or other).


  3. Very worrying if an SNP ‘campaigner and member’ doesn’t see the risks in splitting the SNP’s vote in this way. The second part of the vote, the regional list part, is to measure the popularity of a party in that region. The d’Hondt system then allocates seats to roughly give the correct proportion to each party. It is a safeguard in case you don’t get the correct proportion of seats in the constituency ballot.

    If, as an SNP supporter, you give your second vote to another party you are putting the SNP’s chances of forming another majority government – surely essential at this stage of our fight for independence/self government – at risk.

    Don’t assume that the SNP will retain the support of those who supported it on May 7th; that smacks of complacency, even arrogance, and could rebound badly if voters think they are being taken for granted. Get out there and fight for every vote in both sections to ensure SNP success.

    Fortunately the SNP are aware of the campaign to split voting that is circulating on social media, and will be responding during the campaign itself.

  4. Hi Sunshine and thanks for posting. Firstly, I want to deal with the issue of arrogance and complacency. I understand exactly where you are coming from and there is no room for any of these emotions in this vital campaign. This particular blog is based on being predictive rather than making assumptions, in the same way as polls do if you like. In fact, behind the whole premise of the post are the figures produced by the polls. Perhaps I could have put a line in mentioning this, and that polls can change quickly, ok understood.

    The d’Hondt system is based on a failsafe to correct the list vote and make it more proportional. It does though, in comparison to similar algorithms, favour the large parties, which is one reason there is very little loss when removing a large percentage of the 2nd SNP vote as the SNP will indeed be the large party. The fact is the constituency vote (based on the last election and presuming recent polling) will return an excellent number of SNP MSPs and any SNP correction from the lists is kept to a minimum. Playing with the numbers shows me that the SNP, (again based on the mentioned presumption) will form a majority government. This may be with for example 69 rather than 71 MSPs.

    However, the important fact is that by doing this, even in the situation where the SNP did not return enough for a majority, there is a coalition of parties that have campaigned with a clear referendum message and that will be substantially higher (see the example I gave in the post above). This gives a far stronger argument for a mandate as the pro-referendum parties will have dominated the Parliament.


    1. The Wings story has 3 examples based on the last election numbers that result in 2 net gains for pro-indie parties and one that breaks even. So how is that a bad thing exactly? It’s interesting that an article telling us why tactical voting doesn’t work, then gives a clear example of it working!

      I love Wings and ScotGoesPop also, I just think they have made a wrong call on this and Wings being such a powerful site will make the opportunity to tactically vote now very difficult indeed. This opportunity was always going to be about cohesion and if we don’t have it, then we can;t do it. A golden chance that will be lost I think.

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