Will using our list vote for one of the new independence parties increase the number of independence supporting MSPs in the next Holyrood election? Spoiler alert, no.
If your only concern in voting on the list is to vote for an independence supporting party, then in general we should use our list vote in the same way as in 2016. SNP or the Greens. There is a detailed analysis of results appendix A. There are list seats which the Greens and SNP could lose if their respective lists votes are reduced.
I attended a presentation given by one of the new independence parties who are asking for our list vote. Two main claims were made about Holyrood’s voting system and how independence parties are being disadvantaged. The apparent answer was to vote for this new party.
Claim one; The independence supporting parties are being disadvantaged by the seat allocation process. This claim is made by principally looking at the list vote numbers and seat allocation for the SNP. Forgetting that Holyrood has a proportional system for the allocation of seats which uses the constituency and regional list votes to allocate seats.
In other words, they are looking at one part of the allocation process.
At the 2016 Holyrood elections; the SNP got 48.8% of seats with a combined constituency and regional list vote of 44%; the Greens did even better with 4.6% of the seats with combined vote of 3.6%. If anything, the other parties (unionist) are being disadvantaged, they got 46.5% of seats with a combined vote of 49.8%. So, 53.4% of the seats were gained on 47.6% of vote for the two independence parties. I am not sure how this is a disadvantage.
Claim two; Best to vote for this new party on the list to increase independence MSPs. The analysis attached and in appendix A is done using results from 2016 to determine the increase in votes to gain an extra independence MSP seat. A new party would require more new votes than either the SNP or the Greens would, to gain an extra seat.
From a business point of view, the presentation highlighted several areas where this new party is severely lacking. They did not appear to understand the importance of their party identity, of having a logo, strap line, colour to associate with them etc. The selection of their candidates was confusing, I was left with the impression they know who their candidates are going to be but were not prepared to say. They made an assumption that giving them our list vote would have no detrimental effect to the number independence MSPs who were elected via the list system. The switching of votes cast by independence supporters on the list, to a new party, would endanger 5 or 6 of the 10 independence MSPs elected by the list.
I believe their claim to want to increase independence MSPs a little bit suspect. For instance, they did not know or appreciate that in the constituencies of Aberdeenshire West, Dumbarton and Edinburgh Central a small increase in the SNP vote (less than 1000 votes) would give an extra MSP? Perhaps their assistance in gaining these seats for the SNP would be an easier task than getting 19000 list votes for a new party. Or are there other agendas?
At the ensuing question and answer session by this new party my feeling was, that they are hiding who they are and what their actual political policies may be. I may like their political policies and what they want to try to achieve in Holyrood, but I cannot vote for them as I have no idea what they are. They just seem to want to ride on the backs of other parties but offer nothing back. Even at a pre-launch stage, I would expect to have a brief outline of the philosophy behind the party.
If you want to vote for one of these parties and you believe 6% or 14500 to 18000 other voters will join you then you may increase the number of independence MSPs in Holyrood but there are dangers. Purely from the angle of maxing the Yes vote it would surely be preferable that the SNP gain over 50% on both the constituency and regional votes. (this is not in any way an attempt to devalue the Greens in opposition in the day to day workings of the parliament.) Then it can be pointed out that independence is what most voters in Scotland want.
I also think we need to be careful of what type of parliament we want. The proposal that SNP voters in the constituency should give their list vote to another party is perhaps against the spirit of the Holyrood proportional seat allocation system. I may not like the other parties but if 20% of the population vote for one of them then they should have 20% of the seats in Holyrood. Anything else is smacks of dictatorship, and I do not want that.
Outline of analysis
Appendix A gives the of the results for each region. In general, it would require 14500 or 19000 list votes to gain the last seat. This is about 6% of the total list vote or 12% of independence supporters.
In three regions the Greens are in 7th or last place on the list. To increase the number of independence MSPs then both the Green and the new party need get their list votes to be larger than the party in 6th place. The number indicated to gain an extra MSP needs to be exactly allocated between the Green and the new party.
There are two regions where if the SNP or Green list vote has a small loss in the number of votes there could be a loss of a list seat if voters switch the way they voted on the list.
There are three regions where if the Green vote is increased by 2500 votes they would gain an extra MSP. As apposed to an increase of 15000 to 19000 for a new party.
Apart from the Lothian region the Greens would require fewer extra votes than any new party to gain a list seat. In three regions this is less than 2500 votes where any new party would require over 14500 votes. In Lothian the SNP would require 12677 extra votes as against 18743 for any new party.
The analysis of the 8 regions has been done to determine the number of votes required to increase the number of independence MPSs by one in each area. Contact me for details via a separate spreadsheet if required. For each region I have laid out the details of the list allocation process. The order of the seat allocation and the effective vote at each point. It is assumed that the number of votes cast in 2016 election are the same for every party and the number required to increase the independence MSPs are extra votes on the list only.
Central Scotland No SNP or Green list MSPs were successful in this area. The last list seat was taken by the Conservatives on 14535 votes. So a new party requires 14536 votes from somewhere or 11% of the list vote.
Greens got 12723 so they only need to increase their vote by 1813 to get a Green MSP.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 16268 for an MSP.
Glasgow The Greens have one MSP, 4th on the list. The last seat Conservative 14767 votes. So new party requires 14768 votes from somewhere or 11% of the list vote.
The Green’s got 23398 so only require another 6136 to get the last seat. ie ( 23398 + 6138)/ 2 = 14768
The SNP need to increase their vote by 36569 for an MSP.
Highland & Islands Both the Greens 5th and SNP 6th have a list MSP. The last seat Labour 11447 votes. So new party requires 11448 votes from somewhere or 12% of the list vote.
The Green’s need to increase their vote by 8114 to take the last seat.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 9980 to take the last seat.
*Note if the SNP vote is reduced by 1480 votes and they would lose their list position to Labour. Which could lead to losing the list seat.*
Lothian The Greens have two list seats 3rd and 7th. The 6th seat is Conservative with a vote value of 18743. So new party requires 18744 votes from somewhere or 13% of the list vote to remove the last non-independence MSP.
We now need to get the Green 7th seat into the 6th position. The require extra votes is ( 6th vote value x green seed value) – green list votes (18744 x 2) – 34551 = 2937.
So to get an extra MSP requires a total of 18743 + 2937 = 21680 votes. Allocated as 2937 to the greens and 18744 to new party!! I have no idea how this would be achieved.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 12677 to take the last seat, plus the Greens would require the 2937 extra votes.
*Note if the Green votes reduce by 558, they lose the last seat to Labour*.
Mid Scotland & Fife The Greens have one seat 7th on the list. The last seat Conservative 18323 votes. So new party requires 18324 votes from somewhere or 11% of the list vote.
We now need to get the Green 7th seat into the 6th position. The require extra votes is ( 6th vote value x green seed value) – green list votes (18323 x 1) – 17860 = 463.
So to get an extra MSP requires a total of 18324 + 463 = 18787 votes. Allocated as 463 to the greens and 18324 to new party!!
The Greens need to increase their vote by 18790 to take the 3rd and 7th seats.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 44779 to take the last seat, plus the Greens would require the 464 extra votes.
North East Scotland As no SNP or Green list candidates were successful, the successful MSP just needs to get more votes than the last seat, Conservative 17170 votes. So new party requires 17171 votes from somewhere or 13% of the list vote.
Greens got 15123 so they only need to increase their vote by 2048 to get a Green MSP.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 34614 for an MSP.
South Scotland The Greens have no list seats the SNP have three 1st 4th and 6th. The last seat Conservative 16792 votes. So new party requires 16793 votes from somewhere or 13% of the list vote.
Greens got 14773 so they only need to increase their vote by 2020 to get a Green MSP.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 14130 for an MSP.
*Note if the SNP vote is reduced by 2674 votes and they would lose their list position to Conservative.*
West Scotland The Greens have one seat 7th on the list. The last seat Conservative 17882 votes. So new party requires 17883 votes from somewhere or 12% of the list vote.
We now need to get the Green 7th seat into the 6th position. The require extra votes is ( 6th vote value x green seed value) – green list votes (17882 x 1) – 17218 = 664.
So to get an extra MSP requires a total of 17883 + 664 = 18547 votes. Allocated as 664 to the greens and 17883 to new party!!
The Greens need to increase their vote by 18547 to take the 3rd and 7th seats.
The SNP need to increase their vote by 25111 to take the last seat, plus the Greens would require the 664 extra votes.