Friday 19 June 2015


Guest Post


My name is Abu Haimi. I have been a supporter of the SNP since 2003 and I am now a paid up card-carrying SNP member (probably the only one in Malaysia). I could explain why I support the SNP and Scottish independence but I’d like to reserve that for another guest post (I hope).

I remember how disappointed I felt when the SNP failed to win a majority in the 2003 election and the euphoria when they became the biggest party in the third Scottish Parliament. My conviction in the SNP was affirmed in the 2011 election and I believe this conviction was shared during the Independence Referendum and the 2015 UK General Election.

Scotland now is at the crossroads on how to proceed as a nation, within or out with the UK. The SNP must truly understand the gravity and the burden of responsibility they are carrying; the entire nation and its people are on its shoulders.

I am compelled to write because of 9 June TNS poll which showed the support for Scottish Greens being enough to elect 10 members of Scottish Parliament. There is misconception being peddled around; it is possible to split the constituency and regional/list votes, resulting in more Scottish Greens being elected to the Scottish Parliament. It is erroneous at the very least to believe that tactical voting will allow this because of the complexity of the Scottish electoral system. Additional Member System is not as straightforward as First-Past-The-Post voting system and employs a series of calculations that must be fully understood and appreciated. I intend to elucidate of this matter so this confusion can be cleared off.  

I begin my argument by reminding voters (particularly the SNP ones) that all of these were possible because voters chose and kept continuously voting for the SNP in every election. The mandate allowed them to carry out and implement their policies, the ultimate one being the Independence Referendum. Therefore, crux of my argument is that voters should always vote for the parties/manifestoes they believe in.  
The Electoral System That Is the Additional Member System (AMS)
The members of Scottish Parliament (MSP) are elected using the Additional Member System (AMS), which is much more proportionate than the Westminster one. However, a Scottish voter has two votes and each vote is governed by a different principle of calculation.

The constituency vote is the quintessential First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) vote i.e. in order to be elected as an MSP, the candidate must win 50% + 1 of all the votes casted. This can mean that a huge number of the electorate (up to 50% - 1 voters) may not actually be represented in the legislature if all members were to be elected solely on FPTP. (In theory that is how it works although, clearly, with multi-candidate constituencies the % required to win the seat can be smaller.) 

The regional/list vote is the proportional vote i.e. MSPs are elected from the lists provided by all contesting parties based on the percentages (this is not particularly 100% accurate and I will clarify later) of votes they have had received. What the regional/list vote does is that it will augment the constituency vote in order to give representation to the 50% - 1 voters, via the aforementioned percentages, thus making the Scottish Parliament much more proportionate. Crudely speaking, the correlation is that the more constituency seats a party gains, the less it will gain from the regional ones. The distribution of the regional/list seats are calculated based on the d’Hondt method.

It is well known why AMS was chosen as the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament. Due to the d’Hondt method, it is generally difficult for any party in the Scottish Parliament to gain a majority (though it may be the biggest party). This is compounded by the fact that the ratio of constituency seats to regional/list seats is unequal, the ration being 73:56. Again, if any party wins a majority of the constituency seats, it will never be able to win a majority of the regional/list seats (as per the aforementioned correlation). The unequal ratio will almost automatically ensure that the regional/list seat gains will always be invariably smaller to the constituency seats. This is to expressly discourage a majority from being achieved. This subtle stitch-up remained true until 2011.

Why The Regional/List Vote Is Much More Important That Voters Believe But Very Much Misunderstood

Let us attempt to understand and calculate the distribution of the regional/list seats. Constituency vote can be easily understood as it is governed by FPTP principle. As it is governed by FPTP principle, the constituency vote has no bearing on the regional/list vote. Regional/list vote is governed by a totally different principle in order to achieve proportionality. Figures like the percentages of votes, actual votes casts etc. are RED HERRING. The only figures that matters are the ACTUAL NUMBERS OF SEATS WON by parties, as only these will used in the d’Hondt method.

The same can be said in relation to the regional/list vote. The only figures that matters are the ACTUAL NUMBERS OF VOTES WON by parties, as only these will used in the d’Hondt method. The others are RED HERRING.

The d’Hondt Method

For the purpose of illustration, the results for the constituency and regional/list votes for Central Scotland are listed below for our use:

Scottish Parliament general election, 2011: Central Scotland

Elected member
Airdrie and Shotts
Alex Neil
SNP gain from Labour
Coatbridge and Chryston
Elaine Smith
Labour hold
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth
Jamie Hepburn
SNP gain from Labour
East Kilbride
Linda Fabiani
SNP gain from Labour
Falkirk East
Angus MacDonald
SNP gain from Labour
Falkirk West
Michael Matheson
SNP hold
Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse
Christina McKelvie
SNP gain from Labour
Motherwell and Wishaw
John Pentland
Labour hold
Uddingston and Bellshill
Michael McMahon
Labour hold

Scottish parliamentary election, 2011: Central Scotland
Elected candidates
Richard Lyle
John Wilson
Claire Adamson
Siobhan McMahon
Mark Griffin
Margaret McCulloch
Margaret Mitchell
Liberal Democrats

The d’Hondt method used in calculating the allocation of regional list seats is as follows:

Quot = V divided by S + 1
·        quot is the figures in the schedule derived from the d’Hondt method
·        V is the total number of votes that the party received in the regional/list vote, and
·        s is the number of constituency seats that the party has won.

The total votes cast for each party in the electoral district is divided, first by 1, then by 2, then 3, right up to the total number of seats to be allocated for the regional/list seats i.e. seven (7).

SNP (s=6)
LAB (s=3)
CON (s=0)
LIB (s=0)

The regional/list seats will be allocated to the seven highest figures derived from the calculations as highlighted. For a clearer understanding of the significance of these figures, the table below ranks the priority of seats in terms of votes (from highest to lowest):

Seat No

To achieve the finality of seat distribution, several factors must be fulfilled; a) number of constituency seats must be precisely known (which MAY be predicted from the polls at best) and b) number of actual votes casted in the regional/list vote must be precisely known (IMPOSSIBLE until on the election day itself). Most tactical voters are harping on the regional/list votes. The above example shows the non-feasibility and improbability of the proposition to vote tactically.

I cannot fully emphasise how important it is for voters to vote for the parties/manifestoes they believe in. Scottish parliamentary election employs a sophisticated electoral system and a lot of Scots do not fully grasp this sophistication. Voters must understand what are the relevant numbers being used in the d’Hondt method and the red herrings. Minute difference in numbers and calculations can have big impacts. In an ideal electoral system, it would be fully proportionate and seats would be allocated solely on the percentages of votes cast. This is not the case with the Scottish Parliament.

Vote Smartly

Tactical voting is cynical and destructive. The idea of a Labour voter voting for a Tory candidate is dumbfounding. The total conflict of ideology is astounding. The result would be self-harming, literally. Each vote should be based on an informed decision. This allows voters to flexible and chooses their MSPs sensibly.


I will highlight several important reasons on why voters should not vote tactically in the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election. The reasons are as follows:

1. For SNP party members/voters, we are where we are because we keep voting for the SNP. The 2011 majority, the Independence Referendum, the best Westminster election results and the political awakening of the Scots, among others, were achieved because of this. The end game has and will always be the independence of Scotland. Only the SNP remains steadfast in this. Remember we are only halfway through; Labour Fortress Glasgow has yet to be won. We cannot deviate from this purpose. We have to keep voting for SNP until independence is achieved and/or a better proportionate representative electoral system is devised.

2. Tactical voting is only possible when the choice is binary-like (for example the SNP versus one of the Unionist parties). The outcome can be relatively predicted if the electoral system is based on FPTP. The 2015 UK general election illustrated this perfectly. The SNP won 56 seats because of the solid voting by SNP members/voters/Yes voters (45%).  The SNPOut campaigned failed because for the same reason. The Unionist/No voters (55%) failed to consolidate behind one of the Unionist candidates. This was also particularly true in the election of David Mundell. SNP members/voters/Yes voters (45%) failed to consolidate behind SNP’s Emma Harper and some blamed Green voters for splitting the Yes vote. If the SNP have had asked the Greens to vote tactically for Emma Harper, it is a bit hypocritical for the SNP now to ask the Scottish Green Party to stop asking SNP members from tactically vote from them in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

Polls are merely snapshots of what the electorate thinking and cannot accurately predict the outcome that is needed to vote tactically in a complicated electoral system such as AMS. There will always be core voters that will vote for their parties regardless. This is especially dangerous when dealing with Scottish Tories. They believe that they are experiencing a (self-perceived?) political renaissance in Scotland. I believe the Scottish Tories will go all out in the 2016 Scottish Election and will try to position itself as the main opposition in the Scottish Parliament. If the calculation is a bit skewed, not only the Scottish Greens will fail to win the regional/list seats, Scottish Labour or Tories will end up with additional MSPs.

Another quirk of tactical voting is as such; it is used TO VOTE OUT NOT VOTE IN. Tactical voting is feasible when the choice is binary-like. Under AMS, the equation is already SNP+LAB+CON+LIB. Now we are trying to get GR in it. Not only it is not binary-like, we are actually trying to expand the equation! The calculations will be very difficult at the very least and possibilities of distribution of seats are infinite.

3. Under AMS, Unionist Party will always be represented in the Scottish Parliament. This must be accepted. The caveat in the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary election is that only 50% of the electorate turned out to vote. I believe the recent poll safely gauge the percentage of the core Unionist votes. This means another 15-30% of the electorate may be voting in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election this and still open to persuasion by any political party (on the assumption that the turnout will be around 65-80%). For me, it is laziness if Scottish Greens would want to win just by riding on the back of the SNP. Voters should for vote Scottish Greens on their merit. All parties must start registration of voters drive and get as many voters to turn out on 5 May 2016. On the issue of 16 & 17 year-old voters, all parties must be vigilant and be prepared to do mass registration.

4. Scottish Green Party has different (Green) political priorities than the SNP. Unless and until the Scottish Greens are explicitly committed to Independence cause, please keep voting the SNP in both votes in order to ensure an SNP majority. This is most paramount. Vote differently if you think the non-SNP candidate/manifestoes is worth voting for (for me I would only vote for Scottish Greens if Andy Wightman [go Andy!] is standing in my constituency). If not, any vote for a party other than the SNP will serve to weaken the Independence cause (Refer again to Reason No 1).

5. Policy areas worth considering when casting your vote are land reform, local government, child care, public transportation (railways in particular), telecommunications and education. Any party promoting good policies on these areas are worth your votes. These policies, in my opinion, will strengthen and hasten the Independence cause.


The only way to gauge a party’s strength vis-à-vis the electorate is for all voters to vote for the parties they believe in. Tactical voting is almost impossible and inevitably self-defeating. In order to vote in Scottish Greens, the calculations (i.e. numbers of constituency seats and actual votes casted in the regional/list vote) must be precise and exact. Basing the calculations on the 9 June TNS Poll is foolish, misleading and not feasible at all.

One week is a long time in politics, what more a year. Polls will change; it may not even be correct. Many factors discussed in this post and other blogs have highlighted the uncertainty of tactical voting. Even the seemingly straightforward SNPOut campaign cannot and did not get it right.


(p/s: I wish we had had elected Emma Harper.)

* Some segments of the post were copied in toto from Wikipedia.                


  1. tl;dr: Vote with your heart on the list, Tactically (for the SNP) on the constituency.

    Scot Goes Pop has been having this argument for ages. Good luck with the storm coming your way.

    1. I hope the calculations will at least clarify this matter. If a voter chooses to vote tactical still, at least they will be fully aware of the risks.

      I fully agree with your statement. If you can conscientiously justify your vote, go ahead.

  2. Thank you Munguin & Tris for accepting my submission. Apologies for the grammatical mistakes as it was a non-stop three day drafting session. I hope this post will clarify the mathematical aspects of tactical voting.

    1. Thanks for your submission AH. Far too complex for me to have written, but your legal brain cuts through it.

      You're in charge today. Munguin and I are off to Edinburgh to the Botanic Gardens to see the famous stinking flower which apparently has bloomed.

      Unfortunately Nicola is in Dublin today, or Munguin would have been lunching at Bute House!

  3. Thank you. I get this system now. And I think I will be able to explain it easily to others.

    SNP only and alone.

  4. Well Abu I am so pleased you understand this system and is able to explain it to the mugs here, ME. I have only once given my second vote in the local government elections to anyone else and that is to the Party once fronted by Tommy Sheridan, I have not voted that way since. I will not be voting for anyone but the SNP but then I am a member.
    I have a good number of friends in Malaysia through of all things my dog, I had no idea until I joined my social media site that there were so many Pugs in your part of the world.
    When recommending your post on Google I said that we narrow nasty nationalists are popping up everywhere we are even taking over other nationalities, so glad Abu that you are one of us.

    1. You'd be surprised my best friend is a Red Tory. I nicknamed him Dave. More leftwing than me but when it comes to Scotland...

      I like dogs but I cannot bear their natural smell. We have very hot & humid weather and dogs have this wet carpet smell. But I am dog person anytime.

      Nats are everywhere nats are everywhere nats are everywhere ;P

  5. I'm a natural Green voter, their policies match mine more than the SNP. But I've never voted Green - partly because it's a rare day they actually stand a candidate in my constituency, but partly because I want an independent Scotland and believe the best way to get that is to vote SNP. I understand why people are thinking of voting Green on the list - I like the idea of having more Green MSPs but there are risks in that strategy.

    I'll be voting tactically in 2016 - SNP in fptp and SNP on list. I think it's imperative that the SNP break the system again and get a majority especially if a second referendum clause is in the mainfesto. I do however look forward to an independent Scotland where I never have to vote SNP again (unless Nicola moves them further left to match the Greens!).

    1. The Greens really need to rethink their approach on some areas. They got thumped in the local elections in Brighton.

    2. I guess we all have our priorities, but I'm very much inclined to agree with PP that we need to ensure a strong and united government, not a coalition in the 2016 election to give Nicola as much power as she needs to do the right things for Scotland.

      After independence, well, that's a different ball game. Who knows. And independent Scottish Democratic Socialist party in the place of London Labour, might be what we need.

      The again that fundamentally what the SNP under Nicola is. And they seem to be efficient.

  6. The strength of the Indy vote is that it is consolidated behind the SNP.
    The Unionist vote is split between 3 or 4 parties.
    Westminster would love to see the Indy vote split, and agents of the British State are probably working behind the scenes in that direction.
    We need to beware of attempts to split the Indy vote, wether by genuine Greens, or Unionists posing as Greens.

    1. This was summed up elsewhere as voting Green on the list, SNP on the constituency *is* voting Patrick Harvie for Deputy First Minister, *not* Patrick Harvie for Leader of the Opposition, which is what some people are trying to suggest that it is. If Patrick Harvie is to be the leader of the opposition, he needs to be stealing Labour, LibDem and Conservative voters, not SNP ones.

      I'm also convinced that if we're to get Independence peacefully, and anytime soon, the SNP have to be able to move without arguing with the Greens. Which puts me with Panda Paws in the "SNP till we're independent" camp. (Though I'm hoping that the SSP get their act together by then)

      I'm firmly convinced that it was a Unionist Green that started this whole mess.

    2. I managed to escape this blog/twitter storm. I just read from Scot Goes Pop and it got me interested. Hence this guest post. The stake is high and the end game is not yet achieved.

      Now I quite understand why SNP is so centrally organised. This is far from over.

    3. I think it was me who said the "Patrick Harvie for DFM" thing.

      If this carry-on does anything at all, the most likely outcome is to deprive the SNP of its overall majority so that the party has to go into coalition with the Greens to remain in government. This would be very damaging to the independence movement, with the result headlined as a personal rejection for Nicola Sturgeon (couldn't get as many seats as Salmond got) and a big setback for the SNP. I can see why the Greens might be keen on this, but they're expecting SNP supporters to go along with it.

      The thing that disturbs me most is the lying. SNP supporters are being told, falsely, that their list votes are wasted, and that having "pro-independence MSPs" is all that matters irrespective of party. First, the SNP is bound to get list seats in most regions, either as compensation for narrow constituency losses or (in the event of a very good showing) as extras like Mark McDonald in the North East last time. Second, this isn't a referendum, it's a party-political system, and why would SNP supporters want to give up SNP seats to give more seats to a party whose leader openly says he wants to oppose the SNP in Holyrood (in opposition or in coalition)?

      I'm tired of being badmouthed as a traitor to the independence movement for my belief that the best way to independence is by electing as many SNP representatives as possible, and simply wishing the Greens and the SSP all the best in their efforts to win over Labour, LibDem and Tory voters (as well as the uncommitted).

  7. I just vote SNP now, after an early flirtation with the SSP.

    The Judean Popular Front style infighting finished them for me. Splitters...

    1. Yes. I'm afraid it did that for me too.

      We don;t pay people to have battles in the party; we pay them to be our representative, our voice, in parliament.

      Some of the SSP were too much for me. Tommy is a good man. I don't give a damn about what he gets up to or with whom. But the party was a bit of a rag bag, and once they started fighting their internecine war, that was it for me. Shame: there's a really good candidate in Dundee.

  8. Good post, Abu, well reasoned and researched.

    I have always voted SNP, they were the only party to have Scotland as their number one priority. Fighting Scotland's corner, in the whore of parliaments.
    After we are independent, I will, probably, continue to vote for them, until such a time a party comes along, that I think are the ones to get my vote.

  9. Excellent piece.

    "Therefore, crux of my argument is that voters should always vote for the parties/manifestoes they believe in. "


    I returned to Scotland in 96, and voted Labour. 2011, Labour 1st SNP 2nd. Why? Still didn't trust the SNP policies. However, Referendum was a Yes (after much deliberation). 2015 was SNP without hesitation. Several reasons: Sturgeon was now the leader of the SNP, Milliband was a walking disaster for the UK never mind Scotland, my then Labour MP is a patronising useless twat drowning in his own self-interest and Westminster needed the proverbial kick up the arse.

    I see no reason to vote for any other party at present. Many others probably feel the same.

    As to List MSPs - I don't agree with them, since you are voting for a party not an individual. To me, a parliamentary candidate is the most important reason to vote for a party. What's the use in voting for a great party only to be lumbered with someone totally useless (all parties have at least one). My SNP MSP won their seat and has turned out to be an excellent MSP, who when on social engagements keeps politics aside, unlike the previous Labour incumbent who's tactic was to blame the SNP government for everything, including a complaint against a Labour run council.

    No voting system or party is perfect, but PR is more representative and fairer than FPTP.

    1. You complain about List MSPs compared to constituency MSPs, then say that PR (which is all list) is a better system.

      I'm confused about your opinion on List MSPs...

  10. I've always been an SNP supporter and I'm a member, but I intend to split my vote next year.

    1. "For SNP party members/voters, we are where we are because we keep voting for the SNP."
    Up to a point. The SNP enabled the independence referendum, but it was the wider movement and campaign that got the 45% for Yes and the SNP rode on the back of the movement to the 2015 result.

    2: Tactical voting can make sense in the AMS if one party(SNP) is expected to win more constituency seats than their list vote would entitle them to. That's a possibility in some regions.
    Also, Green voters in 2015 were probably the core vote, i.e those who wouldn't have voted SNP under any circumstances. It's not fair to act like the SNP were entitled to the 'Yes votes' anymore than it is right to say that SNP supporters 'owe' their votes to the Greens.

    4: "Unless and until the Scottish Greens are explicitly committed to Independence cause"
    The vast majority of their members are post-referendum joiners, it is safe to assume they are pretty pro-indy. Most of their leading candidates on the lists were very active in the Yes campaign.
    Here's the lists, if you want to find the candidates in your area. Not exactly a hotbed of unionism.
    Andy Wightman IS standing in Lothian.

    5: "Policy areas worth considering when casting your vote are land reform, local government, child care, public transportation (railways in particular), telecommunications and education"
    The Greens have much stronger policies in most of those areas than the SNP do.

    1. If you like the Green party and their policies and want to see more of them in Holyrood, then deciding to vote that way as a personal choice is fine. Especially if you prioritise that outcome over independence. Because like it or not, the list vote is the one that determines the balance of the parliament, and by voting Green on the list you're actively expressing a preference for Green over SNP in Holyrood.

      Naturally, people like yourself who support the Greens will vote Green on the list, and the party will get some seats as a result. That's fine.

      What I object to is the arrogant parcelling-out of other people's votes wholesale in a misguided attempt to "elect more pro-independence MSPs", and to pressurise SNP supporters into going along with this by a combination of lies and moral blackmail.

    2. I hope it's not me you're accusing of lies and moral blackmail.

      "Especially if you prioritise that outcome over independence."
      Scotland needs to start acting like we are independent if we are going to become independent. That means having a real opposition. Having a second pro-indy party in Parliament will also help to end the situation where the SNP are protrayed as fringe loonies on their own against the three(soon to be two) sensible unionist parties.

      "Because like it or not, the list vote is the one that determines the balance of the parliament"
      That's not the case when one party(SNP in this case) wins more constituencies than their list share would otherwise entitle them to, which is a real possibility in many regions next year.

    3. I wasn't accusing you, no, though if you start doing it, that could change.

      Scotland can't take its eye off the ball until independence has been achieved. Having a second pro-independence party in Holyrood is fine if it takes its seats from the unionist parties. It is not fine if it takes seats from the SNP. Any falling-back of SNP representation will be construed as a defeat for the party and hence a weakening of the independence case.

      There is no possible way to achieve enough Green MSPs to overtake Labour by repackaging SNP votes, not without a mind control ray. What you are proposing, if you're advocating split votes on a significant scale, is to swap a majority SNP government for a Green/SNP coalition. Instead of concentrating on government and working towards independence, Nicola Sturgeon will be distracted by the need to appease or fight the Greens who have different priorities. Some senior Green members are unionists, indeed.

      If you favour that scenario, fine. I don't believe it's positive for the independence campaign. In an independent Scotland, coalitions may indeed be the norm and may work well, but we don't have that luxury yet.

    4. So you're voting for an SNP/Green coalition, rather than an SNP majority?

      That's fine, as long as that's what you want to vote for.

      The Greens are not going to become the opposition unless they steal a *large* number of *Labour* or *Conservative* MSPs. They cannot do it by stealing SNP ones.

      "Because like it or not, the list vote is the one that determines the balance of the parliament"

      Unless you have *psychic* levels of result prediction, it's the only sensible way to act. The margins for error are too small to act otherwise.

    5. "So you're voting for an SNP/Green coalition, rather than an SNP majority?"
      There won't be a coalition. if current polls are right then the SNP will win a majority on constituency seats alone. If the polls change closer to the day then we will be able to decide how to respond to that.
      "They cannot do it by stealing SNP ones."
      The SNP are not entitled to people's votes and they are not entitled to seats. Saying that winning a seat by democratic vote is theft is as ridiculous as those unionists who said the SNP MPs would not be legitimate and the people who say SNP supporters 'owe' their votes to the Greens.

      "Unless you have *psychic* levels of result prediction, it's the only sensible way to act."
      That's not true. The polls tend to be fairly accurate, enough to make an informed choice about which party to cast your second vote for.

    6. Winning votes by putting forward impressive policies is one thing. Touting for the votes of committed supporters of another party by lying to them is something else.

      Why should committed SNP supporters agree to give up SNP seats in the mere hope that the Greens might get them? It's insane. It carries the serious risk that the SNP will lose its working majority and be forced to rely on the Greens to continue in government. Anyone who thinks the SNP is a sure thing for 69+ constituency seats is way too drunk on big numbers.

  11. I saw something on Twitter, where a proponent of the "list vote Green" thing had produced two predictions from Electoral Calculus. I'm not sure which figures they'd put in, but the first showed a sea of yellow with a trim of green on the left and a slightly wider border of blue and red on the right, while the second had less blue and red but also a quite substantially narrower slice of yellow in favour of a thick wodge of green.

    The idea, I think, was to highlight that there were more "pro-independence" MSPs in the latter scenario, but my gut feeling is that it had the opposite effect to the one intended, with most voters looking in horror at the depleted SNP ranks and wondering "who are these guys?" about the Greens.

    I haven't seen it retweeted and I wonder if there was a realisation it was counterproductive.

    1. Yes, that is a possibility.

      I have a lot of time for the Greens and a good deal of respect for Patrick Harvey, but till we get this thing sorted, I'm sticking firmly with Nicola.

    2. I'm not terribly impressed by the way so many Greens are looking at these predictions and declaring "too much yellow". It's as if they believe the SNP owe them a larger share because they took part in the Yes campaign.

      "Too much red and blue" would be a better response.

    3. There *are* a lot of unionists in the Greens, and even Patrick Harvey is only "opportunistically" pro-indy, by his own admittance.

      I'm not going to be surprised about unionist greens lying about the maths to try to steal SNP voters anymore. I'm just going to call them out on it when I see them.

    4. Well, that's fair enough Illy.

    5. Illy, be prepared for the abuse level to hit 11 when you do. I've tried it, I can testify.

      I don't believe there's any way to persuade some of the people on James Kelly's blog (Braco, Schroedinger's Cat and others) that they're misguided. It's taken on the significance of holy writ to them. However, the people who a caught up in the idea to that extent are minimal and on their own won't make any difference to the election result.

      The danger is that they suck significant numbers of naive SNP supporters into believing their lies. I've seen some people assert that many SNP supporters in this or that region intend to "second vote Green" but I'm not at all sure that's really the case. Or not yet anyway. (Here in the South of Scotland only the truly insane would surely try it. We'll be fighting hard to get the constituency seats here are they're far from guaranteed even if the Scotland-wide share of the vote is high.)

      I think the sensible course of action is to challenge the scam whenever it rears its ugly head so that reasonable people can read the rebuttals and see it for the chimera it is. I've already seen rational people (like Taranaich) say that they had been considering splitting their vote but after reading the discussion they'd realised it was actually a dangerous and ill-advised thing to do. That's the way to handle it.

    6. As I pointed out earlier, the Greens are useless when it comes to governance. Brighton is a classic example where they pushed through policies without any consideration for economic or practical realities. And they were hammered in the local elections.

      I don't like Patrick Harvie and I don't trust him. As Illy points out, he is an opportunist no better than Nick Clegg. He will sell his soul for power. The Greens in any formal coalition would be highly damaging to the main governing party and to Scotland.

      Don't get me wrong, some of the Green policies are good and worthy of consideration. But many are of the fruitcake variety. Do not let them anywhere near the SNP.

    7. Ask Cynog Dafydd about co-operating with the Greens. He's the Plaid candidate who stood on a joint Plaid/Green ticket in the 1990s. By the end of the term he never wanted to see a Green party member again. He said they were entirely obstructive and prevented him doing anything for the constituency for his entire Westminster term.

      This is the risk we take if we're suckered into handing Patrick Harvie political power in excess of what his party's actual electoral support warrats.

  12. IllyJune 19, 2015 9:47 p.m.

    "You complain about List MSPs compared to constituency MSPs, then say that PR (which is all list) is a better system.

    I'm confused about your opinion on List MSPs..."

    I confused myself!

    I think what I'm trying to say is that PR is better than FPTP, but some list MSPs are a waste of space, and have proven to be so. But I don't know if there is a better way to use PR.

    There is an inherent danger with FPTP (in my opinion anyway). A party can gain a majority with less than 50% of the vote, and it allows them to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences. Short term policies that cause long term problems. (ie Brown and Cameron).

    One thing about PR, some people think you have to select a different party as your second choice. During the first Scottish elections, that's exactly what I thought. It may be a psychological think, and one that the SNP need to emphasise during the campaign, especially since we've just gone through the UKGE.

  13. "The SNP won 56 seats because of the solid voting by SNP members/voters/Yes voters (45%)."

    What's even more amazing is 35 of the 56 SNP MPs got over 50% of the vote in their constituencies, even in strong No-voting areas - meaning even if the SNPouters rallied behind a single candidate, it wouldn't have been enough.

  14. Rolfe,
    STOP accusing me (and others), who have spent long hours discussing and arguing this subject with you of lying. You are stepping over the line and you are doing it regularly. Anyone who takes the time to read the long and extended discussions over on Scot Goes Pop, whither agreeing or disagreeing, will know that lying has nothing to do with it. Is this really how you wish to be viewed. Make your arguments and lay off the ad hominem.

    Thanks for the article AH and all the hard work, but (for me) the arguments have already been thoroughly covered over on Scot Goes Pop ( l) and until we get a bit closer to the election, or we get significantly more polling data, I think it's a case of having to wait, see and then make a decision on the circumstances at the time. Thanks again, and thanks to Munguin (and Tris) for providing another forum for the topic to be aired.


    1. So you either have psychic levels of prediction, or want an SNP/Green coalition in Hollyrood.

      Nothing wrong with the second one, but if you think you have the first one, then you're lying to someone.

    2. What? The only folk predicting anything here without caveats or reference to possible future circumstances, (with a year still to go before the actual vote) are those on your side of the argument. Calling fellow committed and thinking pro-indy supporters lyers and worse, for disagreeing with you and having the temerity to defend that view is not what the YES movement became famous for and I don't think it's a productive way to advance now.


    3. But you are lying. That you deny it then go on repeating the lies is hardly our fault.

      You totally misrepresent the possible outcomes of the various possible spreads of the vote. You're playing with fire, and I can only imagine you're so desperate to promote Patrick Harvie and his party you've lost sight of any other goal.

    4. I'm getting more and more convinced that braco really does think he has psychic levels of prediction and a mind control ray.

      Oh well.

    5. This is ridiculous Rolfe. I have continually caveated what I am saying and underlined that there is a year to go before we can have the first idea of the true circumstances surrounding the next Holyrood election. Calling me a liar is not going to change any of that.

      Also, to be absolutely clear for everyone here, I am not a green supporter per se. I have voted SNP most of my adult life and I will carry on doing so until Scotland is Independent. I am not a member of any political party but I am a strong supporter of the Independence movement as a whole and therefore will look to use any electoral tool from within that movement to weaken the Union and bring forward a referendum ASAP.

      I would prefer to list vote for ANY pro Indy party rather than allow the unionist parties the consolation prize (and electoral life support in Scotland) of them picking up the majority of the regional seats. As will happen if SNP sweep the constituencies as is being forecast in the current polls. These may change and if they do, I will also change accordingly

      So, IF I look around my region at the point of the next election and the SNP are polling in the 50s and a sweep of the constituencies is a real likely hood, then I will vote accordingly. We disagree on this issue. Fine. Voting rights are the individual's.

      You know all of the above, as it has been stated over and over again on the Scot Goes Pop thread yet you continue to claim that I am some sort of Patrick Harvie groupie and hardline Green. I have once again had to state bluntly that this is not true. Your accusations toward me are looking more and more like a sad case of projection I am afraid.

      Munguin's is not the place for a slagging match, and I don't want to get into one, so lets just leave it at that for the moment and see what the future electoral circumstances bring. In fact, had you not gratuitously named myself and Schroedinger's cat as liars in your earlier posts, this conversation would simply not be happening as I had no intention of re visiting this subject or commenting on Abu Haimi's very interesting post.


    6. Who you vote for on the list vote *is* the political party you support. That's pretty much the definition of supporting a political party.

      The only day we have a true idea of the circumstances of an election is the day after.

      Continuing to try to con people who would vote SNP on the list that their vote would be wasted, and trying to get them to vote Green on the list instead by lying to them about the margins for error in the maths is bad, m'kay?

      We get it, you want Patrick Harvey to be DFM, because there's no way he'll be leader of the opposition. Just stop lying that that is the probable result of the way you want people to vote.

    7. Absolutely correct Illy.

      You know, I'm personally not a fan of my SNP MSP, and have toyed with the idea of not voting for her in the constituency. I probably will though, because first, although I dislike her as a person, she is doing things in Holyrood that I approve of strongly, and second, who else would I vote for? Leave it blank? But NOTHING would induce me not to vote SNP on the list, as the SNP is the party I want to form the government.

      I don't mind if Braco wants Harvie as DFM and so intends to split his vote. It's his vote, he can do that if he likes. What I do mind is the lying about the arithmetic in an attempt to hoodwink SNP supporters into abandoning their own party.

  15. I am in a bit of a dilemma with all of this. My constituency MSP is Nichola Sturgeon and she will get my vote, no ifs, no buts. If Patrick Harvie stands as a list candidate for Glasgow I would vote for him too. (I gather that he may be standing for Glasgow Kelvin as well, which sort of throws a spanner in the works)

    I am considering this on the basis that they are probably the best two politicians of their generation.

    However, if it becomes clear, nearer the time, that the SNP surge has diminished a bit, which I somewhat doubt, I would have to reconsider my list vote.

    I am not at all happy about that, but there you go.

    An embarrassment of riches, perhaps?

    1. So you're voting for Patrick Harvey for DFM and an SNP/Green coalition in Hollyrood?

      That's fine if that's what you want to do.

    2. I am sure douglas is grateful for your permission.


    3. Douglas doesn't need anyone's permission, but it's probably best if he actually understands the consequences of his vote. Consequences you seem reluctant to let him discover.

      If a voter values having Patrick Harvie in Holyrood above having a working majority for the SNP then that's entirely their decision. But they need to realise this isn't a have-cake-and-eat-it situation.

      What if Patrick Harvie gets enough votes in Kelvin that might otherwise have gone to the SNP, to allow the Labour candidate to come through the middle and take the seat? Could happen. If it did, and SNP supporters have voted SNP on the list, the party will pretty certainly get another list seat in consequence. But if too many have lost sight of what all this is about and voted Green on the list, that won't happen.

      If enough SNP supporters vote Green on the list, the likeliest outcome is that Ncola Sturgeon will be humiliated by winning fewer Holyrood seats than Salmond did, she will have to go into coalition with the Greens, and Patrick Harvie will be DFM. Goodbye independence.

    4. Rolfe,

      I do not have a vote in Glasgow Kelvin, so I could not effect the outcome there even if I wanted to. Indeed, if Harvie was likely to win there my second vote would revert to the SNP.

      My point cuts across the party politics a little. I happen to think that Patrick Harvie is an asset both for Holyrood and the electorate. Was this counter-arguement deployed against Margo MacDonald when she stood as an independent? If it was, I for one, do not recall it.

      As I said when I first commented on here, my circumstances are probably not shared by very many other people, However, voting for a good friend of the Yes campaign doesn't feel to me like any sort of betrayal of principle.

      Thanks for all of the advice, it is probably far too early to determine the final outcome of my list vote.

      I am not advocating

    5. I have no idea where the:

      "I am not advocating" came from, please ignore it.

    6. People vote for various reasons, and no doubt Patrick Harvie will get some personal votes on the list, just as Dennis Canavan and Margo MacDonald did. I wouldn't criticise people for voting in that way, it that's their priority.

      My quarrel is with the people, mostly fervent Green party supporters, who are trying to trick core SNP supporters into abandoning their own party and voting Green on the list. My outrage is because of the lies being propagated to achieve this aim, going round twitter again today, pushed by a prominent Green supporter.

      The lies are based on various false premises about SNP list votes being wasted, and about the strategy being no-risk because it can't let Labour or the Tories through the middle. First, SNP list votes are not wasted, because nobody can predict the point where the party will win no list seats - it's a very narrow band that can't be guessed in advance. Lower, and the party needs list seats to compensate for constituency losses; higher, and another list seat is on the cards anyway. Second, it's easily possible that the strategy could let a unionist party through the middle. If more SNP supporters had voted Green/SSP on the North East list in 2011, the last seat would have gone Tory, not Green.

      In addition, the Green advocates of the idea speak as if Green and SNP MSPs are essentially interchangeable in Holyrood. This isn't the case. If they get their way the most probable outcome is that the SNP will lose its overall majority, which will in itself be a huge blow to the independence campaign. Then, the Green supporters will achieve their big triumph, of going into government in Holyrood in coalition with the SNP. Not on the basis of genuine popular support for their policies, but because they lied and cheated their way to a disproportionate share of the list vote.

      This is what they're angling for, without a doubt.

      It's not hard to see why they're keen on the idea. It's a lot harder to see why SNP supporters should be so keen. In fact, very few SNP supporters would go for it if the proposal were presented honestly. Hence the lies and the misrepresentations being bandied around.

      This isn't a rant against anyone who decides to split their vote as a personal, considered decision. It's a rant against the people who are lying and misrepresenting to trick other people into splitting their vote.

    7. Indeed, if Harvie was likely to win there my second vote would revert to the SNP.

      He's not likely to win the constituency, not in this version of reality. The danger you're ignoring is that he gets just enough votes from independence supporters to allow Labour to come through the middle and take the seat. Your trigger for your list vote (never "second" as it's the more important one) to revert to the SNP would be a possible Labour win.

      What nobody can predict is the actual electoral consequence of different levels of voter defection from the SNP on the list. A guide is the North East list in 2011. At plausible levels of defection, the practical result would have been that an SNP MSP (Mark McDonald) would have been replaced not by a Green MSP but by a Conservative.

      I've just had a useless Twitter conversation with a Green advocate who triumphantly pointed out that if ALL the people who voted SNP in the NE constitencies had voted Green or SSP on the list (apparently including Alex and Moira Salmond!), it would (on his arithmetic) have delivered five Green or SSP MSPs at the cost of one SNP, with the other four coming from unionist parties. The problem with that is that it's not going to happen. At the level any split voting might realistically happen, the result would be lose one SNP, gain one Conservative.

      Or consider the thought experiment someone did on Scot Goes Pop. Taking the result of the recent TNS poll and transferring the other way, so all the Green list votes went SNP instead, the result was that the SNP gained more seats than the Greens lost! Do we see the Greens backing that, on the basis of "more pro-independence MSPs"?)

      You can't predict what a "tactical" list vote will achieve, not without knowing in detail how the constituency seats will fall, and the exact numbers of list votes for all the parties in contention. It's just as likely to let a unionist in as it is to improve the chance of getting an additional Green MSP. If another Green MSP is achieved, it's more likely to be a straight swap for an SNP member, which would facilitate a loss of the SNP's overall majority and the elevation of the Greens to coalition partners.

      As the Greens have been explicit about their desire and intent to oppose the SNP and "hold them to account", I fail to see why promoting a situation where they'd be holding a knife to Nicola Sturgeon's throat in a coalition is supposed to be something SNP supporters would vote for.

  16. Apologies for the follow on. Thanks are due to Abu Haimi for the article which at least clarifies the issues.

  17. Greens SSP etc will get mostly nowhere in unionist occupied Scotland, list votes or no list votes. I'd have thought it glaringly obvious that the absolute top and only priority (for the Greens - that is if they actually do support independence - and for the SSP as well as everyone else who has Scotland's interests at heart ) is to break from Westminster and achieve an independent Scotland and the only game in town for that is the SNP.

    I don't like everything about the SNP, for example I think that they have a tendency towards a nanny state ethos which I personally am not keen on but for me independence is much more important than that. Anyone who genuinely supports Scottish independence MUST vote SNP and SNP only, constituency and list, until such time and by whatever means we achieve independence.

    Then and ONLY then will the likes of the Greens and SSP start to come into their own in Scotland.

    As for SLAB, did I miss the funeral?

    1. I think you might have done. They're like the bloody Terminator. I won't believe they're dead till I see the stake through the place where the silver bullet went, and the holy water has been sprinkled over the garlic.

      They still got 25% last month. They managed to hold on to Glasgow in 2012. They got 2 MEPs in 2014. I hope there's a wipe-out next year and they're down to LibDem levels of representation, but I won't believe it till I see it.

      In particular, they won't die until the smaller pro-independence parties stop trying to win a bigger slice of people who are pro-independence already, and go after the voters who are still voting Labour.

  18. Not the argument Anon. The actual argument being, as shown in the post above, that if the SNP get anything like the current polling 56 to 60% constituency vote at the next Holyrood election, then the d'Hondt voting system will make the SNP list vote worth far, far less than that of the equivalent, next most popular pro-indy party (when it comes to how it is counted on the night).

    Therefore, IF come the day of the election, the SNP are looking nailed on certainties to sweep the FPtP constituency vote, then by voting Green or SSP (or any other pro Indy party that's polling best in your region) with your list vote, you will most likely deny Unionist parties their consolation prize (and electoral survival) of the majority of list seats.

    This is because each of those pro Indy non-SNP list votes will be considered and counted as being of equal value to the unionist party votes. In contrast the SNP list votes in a region where they have swept the board in the constituency vote of say 10 constituencies for example, will be considered to be worth exactly one tenth of the value of the equivalent Unionist party list vote.

    This is the electoral system. We are just proposing that how our electoral system works, plus the actual circumstances surrounding the election at the time (a year from now!), should be taken into account when pro indy people are contemplating the best way to use their votes.

    That's the general argument. If anybody is really interested in exploring the full argument (both sides), then they should have a good read of the Scot Goes Pop thread referenced in my earlier post. It really was fully explored then, considering our current knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the in a years time election (certainly unknowable until much closer to the time).


    1. You keep saying this. It's still a pack of lies.

      First, there is absolutely no way the SNP can be guaranteed to get 69 or more of the 73 constituency seats. Parcelling out list votes on this assumption is insane. The SNP has got where it is by maximising the number of list seats that can be achieved, and 2016 will be no different.

      Second, even if the SNP were to get all constituencies in a region, there's still a decent chance it will be in line for another list seat, as in the North East last time. Why should SNP supporters want to make a free gift of these seats to another party?

      And third, MSPs don't go to Holyrood on a pro-independence ticket. They go as party MSPs. A Green MSP isn't going to take the SNP whip. It's possible, if the SNP is polling very high, that this strategy may cause the party only slight damage. It's well possible that it could cause severe damage, leading to a loss of the SNP's working majority. That is the clear risk being incurred.

      If a voter thinks that a Green/SNP coalition, with Patrick Harvie being obstructive every step of the way, is a better way to independence that an SNP overall majority, then fine, they should split their vote. The lying comes when you refuse to acknowledge this possibility (indeed probability) and go on pretending that Green and SNP MSPs are interchangeable in the Holyrood benches.

      It is all pretty well explained on Scot Goes Pop (including the fact that for certain distributions of the vote, all Green supporters voting SNP on the list gets more extra SNP MSPs than it loses Greens). It's just that every time it is, Braco and a few others emerge and repeat the same lies as before, regardless.

    2. "Therefore, IF come the day of the election, the SNP are looking nailed on certainties to sweep the FPtP constituency vote, then by voting Green or SSP (or any other pro Indy party that's polling best in your region) with your list vote, you will most likely deny Unionist parties their consolation prize (and electoral survival) of the majority of list seats."

      This is the lie, btw. In case you're unsure about what our problem is. The margins for error for this to happen, rather than letting a Labour MSP in, are infinitesimal compared to the error margins normally quoted for polls.

  19. Addendum:
    In proportional representation electoral system, there will always be a minimum threshold for number of votes a party needs to achieve in order for it to gain a seat in the legislature Usually it ranges from 5-20%. However there is no such requirement in Scottish Parliament election but there is a so-called hidden threshold. I believe it is the lowest number of votes casted for a party when the s=0. In our example it is the Scottish Conservative (14,870 votes). Please take note that the lower figures received by SNP and Scottish Labour are ALREADY QUOT (quotients) (s= >1) i.e. votes have been divided by denominator of two (2) or more. If we calculate, the hidden threshold would be a bit more than 7% of all the votes casted in the regional/list votes. Again in deriving this hidden threshold, no figures are available UNTIL the votes are casted. From the 9 June TNS poll, on the assumption that Scottish Greens’ 10% regional/list votes are evenly spread, they should be able to get up to 12 seats. This will not be the case as votes varies from one region to another and the biggest loser will definitely be the SNP as it is their votes being diverted. For example, we take the North East Scotland region. Should the Scottish Greens fail to overcome the hidden threshold whatever they may be, they will not get the seat and the SNP will lose their only regional/list MSP.

    (p/s: I might be wrong in understanding the concept and/or calculation and am very happy to be corrected)

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Apologies for the late reply. My parents and I were hosting a number of people for breaking of the fast. Had to prepare and cook etc.

    This guest post was drafted as I was intrigued by the abovementioned Scot Goes Pop post and the reaction it provoked. The purpose of this post is two-fold; a) to understand the mechanics of AMS and b) to ascertain the feasibility of tactical voting.

    As we can see AMS is composed of two types of different voting system; FPTP for the constituency vote and proportional voting and governed by d’Hondt method in the regional/list vote. What this post aims to dispel is the myth of tactical voting can simply be achieved by just voting SNP/GR in the upcoming election. The calculations have shown that AMS is very much misunderstood and more complex, at least to those who haven’t delved to its mathematical mechanics.

    I believe my calculations are correct. If wrong, prove it. If you have a way to overcome it, please share. If you believe the risk is worth, go ahead. If you believe Scottish Green, vote for them. What riles me up was the James Kelly’s comment about his comments on a tactical voting Facebook was removed when he questioned the wisdom of tactical voting. I will not accept this as gospel truth. Offer me a counter-narrative. Rebut my argument at the very least.

    My dare to those propounding tactical voting; explain this post to wavering/undecided voters and see whether they would be inclined to do the same. If they do, they do it on their own volition.

    We are in the age where everybody in Scotland is politically aware. This is another facet of that political awareness. The main point is that everybody should be educated on the electoral process. This post would serve its purpose better if it were to be read by the 16 & 17 year olds that are about to vote next year.

    For me voting for SNP or Scottish Greens is very acceptable. It would be nice to see actual opposition in Scottish Parliament rather that the Bain Principle in action. It is tedious to watch and listen to FMQ every time (at least they did not abstain).

    However this proposition is similar to OBR’s forecast in relation to Scottish oil revenue. Full of caveats and based only a poll (so far). Look what happened to Labour in England.

    I am a Nationalist and this is politics of power. A solid majority of SNP MSPs in the Scottish Parliament is always preferable to any coalition with any other party. The SNP got us this far and I see no reason to do otherwise. This election is still wide open. The SNP must hold to their voters and Scottish Greens must find new & expand their current voter base.

    Speaking as a former advocate, the case for tactical voting is base on too many presumptions and variables. Any advocate would have advised not to vote based on them.

  22. It's good to argue this topic and I'm one of the much cursed Greens who think that supporters of independence whether SNP, Green or SSP would be better rewarded with pro independence MSP's if they vote Green or SSP, whatever looks more likely, in the list vote. I find Munguin's explanation a confusing way of presenting the d'Hondt system.

    We are not in 2011 now, it makes much more sense to look at the 2015 GE figures. It's not hard to put them into a speadsheet (I would attach one if I could) . This shows that the very likely SNP dominance of the constituency seats puts the SNP at a great disadvantage when it comes to getting MSP's from the list vote. The list vote is divided by the number of constutuency seats won by a party plus one. This is going to make SNP list votes maybe 7 times less likely(if they get 6 seats) to elect another MSP than votes for a party which did not stand in the constuency vote. To put it another way it will take maybe 7 times as many list votes to elect an SNP member as to elect a Green member.

    There are two implications to this. The first is that since most of the Unionist seats will come from the list, voting Green in the list vote is a more efficient way of snuffing out Unionist MSP's than voting SNP. The second is, a one party state is not in anyone's best interests. I thought this even when I was a member of the SNP (i left over the NATO vote).

    I think polls will continue to show the SNP is heading for a majority in Holyrood; what is at issue is who else will be there. I don't think there will need to be an SNP/Green coalition because the SNP is on a roll, Labour and the LIbDems are so far in a hole all you can see is the spadefuls of earth coming up, and the Tories will have shown themselves to be the party of the rich against the poor.

    I would point out that Greens who don't have a constutuency candidate to vote for (most of us) will be voting SNP which is a tactical vote. Is that an OK tactical vote?

    Oh and well done whoever mentioned tardigrades! I had to look them up, fascinating.