Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A little postscript on the Adam Ramsay discussion

Since my post the other day in which I tried to explain why Adam Ramsay is wrong to claim that tactical voting on the regional list is a viable option, Adam has made a number of further comments on the subject on Twitter.  This was the most recent -

"mathematically, it's likely to be true in a significant majority of cases. I'm not sure why James can't see that. :-("

This basically repeats something he said in a comment here, which baffled me at the time -

"on average, given that we can't know what will happen in each region, your regional vote is more likely to make a difference if it's for the Greens than if it's for the SNP. I think that is a basic mathematical fact"

I'm still confused by that, but having given it lots of thought, my best interpretation of what he was getting at is as follows : If you take all the election outcomes that are possible under the laws of mathematics, there are a greater number of favourable outcomes produced by Green success on the list than there are by SNP success on the list.

Now, in a sense that's true (as long as you assume that the Greens can't win constituency seats), but it's also completely meaningless.  It's an argument that gives equal weight to plausible outcomes and to utterly fantastical outcomes, such as the Greens winning 30% or 40% of the list vote.  It's a bit like saying "on average, given that we don't know what share of the vote UKIP will get at the next general election, we can say that UKIP are likely to get more than 25% of the vote, because there are more numbers between 25 and 100 than there are between 0 and 25".  That's how silly this debate has become.

Sticking with the same theme, I was startled to spot that Tommy Sheridan left a comment at PB earlier this evening -

"Solidarity will field a strong list of candidates in each of the 8 regional lists. Their call will be SNP Constituency vote; Solidarity List vote. During the recent General Election Solidarity stood aside and encouraged voters to back the SNP as the biggest anti-austerity party and pro-independence party. Both the Greens and SSP stood candidates. The SSP votes were derisory but the Greens strategy effectively saved Scotland's only Tory, Mundell.  If they had stood aside and encouraged an SNP vote Scotland would be Tory free. Will SNP voters forget these factors? Solidarity are fielding well known candidates like IndyClimber Lindsay Jarrett in the Highlands and Islands and myself, Tommy Sheridan, in Glasgow. The mainstream media will ignore and denigrate Solidarity but many voters now ignore the mainstream media and get their news and ideas from social media. Solidarity will do well."

It's interesting to see Tommy fairly bluntly making the point that Solidarity are more worthy of a "favour returned" from SNP supporters than the Greens are, because they didn't follow the Green example of putting up candidates against the SNP at the Westminster election. That certainly does make it easier for them to take the moral high ground on this issue, but it doesn't change the basic reality - tactical voting on the regional list just doesn't work reliably under any circumstances, no matter whether a party is "owed" a favour or not. In fact, it's even less likely to work if you vote "tactically" for a party like Solidarity, which - with the best will in the world - is unlikely to make the threshold required to win any seats at all. Tommy Sheridan might have a very small outside chance in Glasgow, simply because he's Tommy Sheridan, but that's it.

With no fewer than three radical pro-independence parties all attempting this "tactical voting" wheeze, will they all cancel each other out to some extent?  I wouldn't be totally surprised to see a repeat of 2011 for the small parties, with the Greens winning two or three seats, and the Scottish Left Project and Solidarity failing to trouble the scorer.


  1. Hello,

    no, that's not my point. I mean, as it happens, it is true that if you take all possible outcomes (assuming no Green constituencies), then the total value of a Green vote in electing MSPs is higher. But my point was that this holds if you look at all of the plausible outcomes.

    I've tried to explain below

    If you want to ensure your vote has the maximum mathematical power in contributing to the election of those you like over those you don’t like, then there are two different ways in which your vote has value in an AMS election (like Holyrood).

    The one of these with which we are most familiar is the marginal value. This is how much your vote was needed in order to elect someone. If an MSP is elected with exactly the number of votes they needed, and no more, then their vote is worth 100%. If an MSP gets twice as many votes as they need, then only half of each vote has been used, so we can say that each vote is worth only 50%.

    In AMS, if a party gets twice as many votes as it needs to elect its first MSP, then it gets a second MSP. So as long as one MSP is elected in a region, the marginal value of each vote cannot fall below 50%. In fact, if a second MSP is elected, it cannot fall below 2/3. If a third is elected, it cannot fall below 3/4.

    (continued below)

  2. Bonkers. It's fair enough Tommy suggesting that his supporters vote SNP for the constituency, but there ain't going to be any favours returned.

    Nobody asked the SNP supporters to agree to hand over their list votes in return for a tactical vote last month, or indeed for a party not standing at all. A tactical SNP vote was only common sense for supporters of small parties without a snowball's chance in hell of winning a seat. It's not a sacrifice meriting recompense.

    Jog on, Tommy.

    1. As long a Tommy is talking about his own supporters when he says "Their call will be" then fair enough.

      That's just him saying "we don't have a snowballs chance in hell of getting a constituency seat, but we quite like the SNP out of the parties who do have a chance at them, so if you're voting Solidarity on the list, can you please vote SNP in the constituency"

      Which is just a call for tactical voting in the constituency. Which we all know works quite well, as it's a FPTP system. If it wasn't for all this risk the list nonsense from the Greens, that comment wouldn't even be noticed.

    2. Exactly. That's what he seemed to be saying before, and it was absolutely fair enough. That quote above, though, suggests he's joined the Pouter brigade by calling on SNP supporters to "return a favour".

  3. (continued from above)

    If no MSPs are elected, then a vote has a value equivalent to the percentage of the requisite total that the candidate reached. So a vote for a candidate who gets 1% of the vote that they needed has a value of 1%, a vote for a candidate who is one vote short has a value of 99.99%.

    In first past the post, this sort of value is the only of the two to apply. But in AMS, there is another kind of value we can attribute to a vote - this is much simpler. The regional list vote for a party is divided by the number of MSPs it already has in a region plus one. This gives us the second kind of value, let’s call it the D’Hont value.

    Under this value, if party a) wins a constituency in a region, and party b) doesn’t, then a vote for party a) has a value of 1/2 = 50% and a vote for party b) has a value of 1/1 = 100%. If party a) wins 10 MSPs in a region, then the value of a vote for that party is 1/11 = 9.1%.

    The total value of a list vote is achieved by multiplying the two values together.

    So, if you vote for a party with very little support - say the ‘free the tardigrades party’, then the marginal value of the vote is likely to be very low - say 1%. This party will have won no constituency seats, and so the D’Hont value is 100%. That means the total value of the vote is still 1%.

    If, on the other hand, you vote for a very popular party, which gets 9/11 MSPs in a region (eg the SNP) then the marginal value of your vote is likely to be between 75% and 100% - such a party will either be close to electing one list MSP, or on its way to electing a second. Let’s say 85%. But the D’Hont value is much lower - 1/10 = 10%.

    Multiply these together and we get each vote worth 8.5%.

    If, finally, we have a party (eg the Greens) which is likely to get at least half way to an MSP in each region, and which is unlikely to get any constituency MSPs, then the maths is as follow: marginal value - 50-100%; D’Hont value, 100%. This means that the minimum value is 50% (or whatever you think the lowest % value Greens might reasonably get is). If Greens get one MSP and approach a second, then that might fall to 25%.

    In order for an SNP regional vote to have more ‘value’ than a Green one, based on the above, the Greens would need to fall so far short of quota that the marginal value of each vote fell so far that it outweighed the tiny D’Hont value of each vote. That means that if the SNP gets one constituency, the Greens would need to only reach 50% of quota, or around 3%. If the SNP got 5 seats in a region, the Greens would need to get 0.6%. If the SNP get 10 constituencies, the Greens would need to get 0.3%.

    Of course, all of this ignores the much more important questions of politics. You might prefer to give 8% of a vote to the SNP rather than 79% of a vote to a Green. That’s a perfectly logical and legitimate position.

    1. Hahahahahaha...

      I just realised what you're on about.

      You are talking as though people care what percentage of the total votes for a winning MSP their one vote is, and thinking that they want it to be as big a percentage as possible for some sort of v-peen contest. "Look, we got two MSPs with less votes than the guys over there who only got one!"

      Most people don't think like that. They just want the MSPs that they want to get elected to get elected, they don't care how much of a hand they personally had in electing them.

    2. Oh, and under the current system, you can't give anything but 100% of a vote to a party. So you really are talking nonsense.

    3. Yes, that really does seem to be what he's saying. It's so wrong I have trouble even explaining why it's wrong.

      Look at 2011. The Greens got 2 list MSPs. They didn't get any at all on six of the lists. The SNP got **16** list MSPs, and FOUR in the South of Scotland (where I vote). The Greens didn't get any there.

      So, my SNP list vote contributed to the election of four SNP MSPs. The Green votes in the same region contributed to the election of zero MSPs. Which were the wasted votes, in that scenario?

      Even in the North East, the 140,749 SNP list votes actually succeeded in electing an MSP. So how can they possibly be described as "wasted"? In contrast, again the 10,407 Green votes didn't contribute towards getting an MSP elected.

    4. 140,749 votes for ONE seat? not a very good return there. So genius how many more list votes in the NE would have given the Greens a list seat? That is Adam's point and you seem too dense to get it.

      This idea that SNP seats are so precious they must be bought no matter what the price OR the opportunity cost is just that, precious. Sorry I'm not an SNP member or an acolyte (I helped get the vote out for Stewart Hosie as returning a favour, he came canvassing with us in RIC as just another pair of boots on the ground). So I will fecking well vote how I want, which includes doing what I habitually do: vote Green on the list. If you SNP preciouses don't like that, tough.

    5. That's how the system works, Muscleguy. Parties with a very high level of support need a large number of list votes to get a list seat. But if their level of support is high, they get that seat.

      OF COURSE people who primarily support the Greens or the SSP will vote for these parties on the list. If they choose to give a tactical constituency vote to the SNP candidate that's very sensible and appreciated. But it's a tactical vote, that's understood.

      I'm getting mighty tired of supporters of small parties who are doing their damndest to persuade SNP supporters to sacrifice their own party's seats in favour of the small party, turning round in outrage when this behaviour is criticised and insisting that they personally will vote for the small party on the list. Of course you will, and nobody expects anything else.

      But if you want to win over supporters of a large party to your cause, try actually persuading them of the merits of your cause, not bamboozling them with an arithmetical three-card-trick.

      You (that's Muscleguy) are talking as if you're entitled to SNP supporters' votes on the list, because you've had a spiffy idea. You're not. You're entitled to your own vote, and to anyone you can persuade that a Green/SNP coalition is a better route to independence than an SNP majority government.

      Actually, I think you'd get on better if you campaigned for votes on your no doubt sterling policies and manifesto commitments, among the 50% of Scottish voters who aren't currently planning to vote SNP! This petty deception to get votes and seats in excess of what your actual electoral support entitles you to isn't going down well with a lot of people.

  4. Adam, this is nonsense you're talking. You're saying that because it takes (potentially) seven times as many SNP votes to elect a list MSP as it does Green votes, that any Green vote is seven times more likely to get an MSP elected than any SNP vote. That doesn't follow. It doesn't compute. It's entirely the wrong way of looking at it. It's "not even wrong", to coin a phrase. It's so far off beam it's actually quite hard to explain why.

    1. Unless an MSP gets exactly as many votes as they need - no more and no less - no individual vote is very likely to elect an MSP but, as it happens this:

      "because it takes (potentially) seven times as many SNP votes to elect a list MSP as it does Green votes, that any Green vote is seven times more likely to get an MSP elected than any SNP vote."

      is exactly true. It's basic probabilities. If I need three things to complete my train set, and James needs 100, and you have one, and you give it to me, then there is a 1/3 chance that you will have helped me complete my train set. If you give it to James, there is a 1/100 chance.

      I mean, that isn't really my point - it's not about the odds of being the person to take someone over the line, it's about the extent to which one person does or doesn't make a difference. But as it happens, the thing you say doesn't follow does in fact follow totally. It's basic maths.

    2. "it's not about the odds of being the person to take someone over the line"

      This is part of the issue. You *should* be talking about the odds of one voter being the one to take someone over the line, and comparing those odds against the same odds from the other parties. (And the error margins in those numbers as well, to compare with polling company error margins so we know if we even have enough accuracy of prediction to try your scheme)

      Because we don't get to elect half an MSP. We can only elect whole ones. So the only thing that matters is which ones get over the line.

  5. or, to put it in simpler terms:

    - both Greens and the SNP are likely to get a rough order of magnitude of votes which allows them to get seats on lists in each region - they're both unlikely to fall below 50% of the amount they need. Without a crystal ball, we can't know the marginal value of a vote for either party.

    - We can, though, be pretty sure that the SNP will win at least one constituency MSP per region. We do therefore know that the D'Hont value for an SNP list vote will be lower - *much* lower, at least half, probably approaching a tenth, what the D'Hont value.

    In any case, because marginal values are generally likely to be between 50% and 100%, but D'Hont values are likely to fall as low as 10%, the latter is more important than the former. So we can be pretty sure that any individual Green regional vote will be more of a contribution towards electing an MSP.

  6. Look Adam, we get it that you want more Green MSPs. Quite what you intend they should do in the context of a Holyrood parliament is a bit less clear of course. But we'll leave that aside for now.

    Please go and talk to ex-LibDems and so on. Campaign for votes from the unionist parties, from our opponents. That's the only way to make a real difference. And the honourable thing to do.

    Quit trying to trick and bamboozle SNP supporters into betraying their own party and gifting votes to you by the arithmetical equivalent of a three card trick. It's not clever and it's not pretty and it's going a long way to destroy any goodwill there was between the two parties.

  7. Somewhat off-topic to this, err, riveting discussion but does anyone else feel a bit uncomfortable that apparently terminally-ill Lindsay Jarrett is top of a regional party list? I appreciate she doesn't expect to be elected in the Highlands and Islands but surely by standing in that position you implicitly make a promise to the electorate - to represent them to the best of your ability for a full parliamentary term if elected. Sadly Jarrett is unlikely to be able to do that which is why I question the appropriateness of her standing. It feels vaguely exploitative, as if the intention is to look for sympathy votes.

    NB some might look to Margo McDonald as a precedent but as far as I am aware her condition was not terminal at the time of her last election

    1. That is not off-topic at all, it's entirely on topic.

      The scam Adam is punting is allegedly aimed at "maximising the number of pro-independence MSPs". Therefore, if he's asking SNP supporters to sacrifice a possible list MSP (and bear in mind the SNP can potentially secure at least one MSP in every region), it's essential that this loss be compensated for by at least two Green MSPs.

      For it even to break even, he must be assuming that the top Green in every list will be elected. If not, he's failed - either (hopefully) because the SNP vote actually held up and got the MSP despite his machinations, or because the SNP's loss allowed a unionist party to come through the middle (as it so easily might have done in the North East last time).

      So if this proposal is serious, Lindsay Jarrett must be being factored in as a win. And yet you think she thinks she doesn't expect to win? Something doesn't compute. She's in no condiiton to undertake the arduous and demanding work of an MSP. What are these people even thinking about?

    2. It's worse than that, for this scheme to work, it needs to elect at least two *pro-indy* Green MSPs for each SNP MSP lost.

      As the only thing about this that the supporters of this scheme are willing to say is that the *first* Green list candidate in each region in pro-indy (And they're counting Patrick Harvey as pro-indy, so their bar is pretty low) what I'm taking from that is that some of the Green's second candidates *aren't* pro-indy.

      Which means they'd need to get 3 or more Greens for every SNP.

      Which hasn't got a snowballs chance in hell of happening.

    3. Sorry, as I noted below, Lindsay Jarrett is standing for Solidarity, not the Greens, so part of my post above is misleading.

    4. Yes,realistically the Highlands won't be the number one target region for solidarity,albeit the ssp in its heyday did fairly respectably there.

  8. @Adam: 'Unless an MSP gets exactly as many votes as they need - no more and no less - no individual vote is very likely to elect an MSP but, as it happens this:'

    That exactness condition for an individual's act of voting to make a difference is, I venture to suggest, staggeringly unlikely. I'm not sure how unlikely. It's easier to compute in e.g. a FPTP election with two candidate what the chance of one vote making a difference. E.g if the electorate is 60,001 it's the number of combinations of 30,000 out of 60,001, for the nerds (60,001!/(30,000! x 30,001!)) all divided by two to the power 60,001. (Assuming for simplicity all possible vote distributions are equally likely- a dozy assumption as James notes but it does simplify and help get a handle on the numbers) My computer won't compute that last number it is so astronomically large.

    I suspect the same astronomical, at least, improbability is true in AMS and my point is this. Adam correctly tells us that voting Green on the list, given certain conditions, is more likely to get a pro independence result, say 8 times more likely, than voting SNP. The probability of making a difference is 8/zillion rather than merely 1/zillion. But if a zillion is sufficiently large, as I think it is, then this is still a completely negligible probability.

    If your political decision-making is based on what difference you can make, you multiply the benefit or harm of a possible outcome of an action by the probability of that outcome. If you think that way, given the negligible probabilities of an individual vote making a difference, you would be better doing something other than voting. For example, instead of a party activist taking fifteen minutes out from helping transport people to the polling station in order to vote herself, she should continue to help transport. Or instead of taking half an hour to postal vote, you should do half an hour's overtime and send the proceeds to the party. So for that reason, I think this whole discussion misconceived. We have a civic duty to vote for the party which expresses most nearly our political views and that's that!

    1. Wait, is that a practical use for right-arrow notation?

      I don't think I've *ever* seen one of those.


    2. Excellent final paragraph there.

    3. Sums it up well. A lot of angels dancing on pinheads here.

  9. They'll never hear you Adam....most likely scenario is snp win just about every constituency and under 2 list seats...if all the polls point to this then up to you whether you wish to gamble tactically...I will in such circumstances. If they don't point to it then fair enough don't gamble...only real issue for the tactical voters is getting the message across to numbers of the strategy and when to apply they have a point....harvie needs to assert greenspro independence credentials and no deal with unionists to help facilitate this else snp voters have legitimate reservations

    1. So you want to vote for an SNP/Green coalition?


    2. The thing is, Jam, we do hear him. We're trying to point out all the things he hasn't factored into his wee arithmetical obsession. How many people does he actually have to persuade before this even works to the point of a break-even situation, as in one SNP MSP lost to gain one Green? How many to make it a gain, that is one SNP MSP lost to get two Greens? What about the risk that the strategy will let a unionist candidate snatch the seat lost to the SNP by coming through the middle, to give a net loss?

      We're also asking other questions, such as, is he asking us to vote in Green candidates who support the union, and what's the thinking behind asking us to sacrifice an SNP MSP to put Lindsay Jarrett into Holyrood, given the precarious state of her health?

      I've asked him innumerable times what he envisages the Green MSPs actually doing in Holyrood, but so far all I've got is that he thinks a coalition with the SNP would be really bad for the Greens, and that he thinks it's extremely unlikely that they'll overtake Labour, the Conservatives and the LibDems to become the second-largest party.

      All of this comes before the salami-slicing of the arithmetical deceptions, but he'll never hear us.

    3. OK, I see I picked something up wrong, it's Solidarity that are fielding Lindsay Jarrett, not the Greens. So it's Solidarity who doesn't expect anyone elected from that list. Apologies for the misunderstanding.

    4. No Illy

      I support SNP. But I'd rather return Green than Unionists and in the landslide scenario of SNP 70 plus list seats that really is your choice. It is identifying that scenario and persuading people to vote for it that are the problem. There is virtually nothing to lose. SNP are forecast 40-44% nationally on the list - to sneak in an SNP list seat they're going to require well over 50% on the list if they take all the seats as I expect them to (52.7% NE scotland 2011 and they just one - there might be an argument in that region to stick to SNP SNP but not in others like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Central Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife, West Scotland where the SNP vote on the list will be considerably lower). In most areas that simply isn't going to happen. In fact other than maybe a couple in South Scotland (and maybe Edinburgh and Highlands and Islands) SNP I expect will take every seat. So in those regions where they do (if they do) they are going to require 10% more than they currently poll to maybe take a seat (as it requires a peculiar split unionist vote too). In such circumstances it's obvious to vote Green.

    5. No, that really isn't your choice.

      It's precisely in the "landslide scenario" that the SNP is in line for an additional list seat even if it secures all the constituencies. Mark McDonald, on 52% of the vote. Yes, it's a lot of votes, but there are a lot of SNP voters. SNP votes got an SNP MSP. That's kind of what we campaign for.

      Look at Lothian, the one region where the SNP didn't get a list seat last time. In fact, although the party did pretty damn good there, it narrowly missed getting one of the constituencies, by only 1.9 percentage points, 595 votes. Nevertheless, it didn't get a compensatory list seat for one very obvious reason. Not the successful Green candidate, but Margo. Nearly 19,000 votes went to Margo, probably most of them SNP supporters. They preferred Margo to an official SNP candidate.

      I imagine these voters were pretty content with the outcome. They wanted Margo, and they hadn't been duped by some dodgy arithmetical sleight-of-hand. Nevertheless if shows what can happen when the SNP just misses out on a constituency, and at the same time a significant slice of its list vote trots off and votes for someone else.

      If you vote SNP on any list, you probably have as good a chance of electing an SNP member, as you would have of electing a Green member by a Green vote. Yes, it takes more SNP votes, but there are a lot more SNP votes.

      You seem to be trying to second-guess votes down the line, 10 months away, to find the sweet spot where you can say, all the constituencies but no chance of a list seat. THERE IS NO SUCH SWEET SPOT. Not that can be divined in advance. The margins of error are way too wide. The band where the SNP might fail to capture all the constituencies actually overlaps with the band where it's in line for all the constituencies plus another list seat.

      Vote Green since you're so obviously keen to do so, but give up on the spurious, contrived justifications.

    6. Not keen to do it at all, but in a landslide snp constituency scenario, I doubt they'd get more than 1 or 2 list votes as all the regional list polls so far demonstrate...your silly scenarios merely highlight your bias and desperation, the difficulty is identifying said scenario and persuading people how to vote in it. You are trying to say snp will pick up seats on the list in such a scenario anyway...rubbish. I'd wager if snp take every seat they will take no more than 1 list seat, hence the need for tactica.......l but it has its problems

    7. I never implied that the SNP could conceivably take more than one list seat if it won all the constituencies in a region. I think that's probably arithmetically impossible under real-world conditions. My point is that it may very well be in line for another ONE list seat in that situation, and if it is it will need the overwhelming majority of its support to stick with the party in order to achieve that.

      That's the seat you want to throw away in exchange for a Green MSP. I'm not really sure why you want to do that, but you seem very keen to do it. What's the point, again? You could get an SNP MSP, but you'd rather have a Green one, and cross your fingers you don't find yourself with a Tory by accident.

      I'm really amused by your accusations of "silly", "bias" and "desperation". The scenarios I outline are all the possible outcomes of your suggested strategy. Which ones don't you like? If it's "bias" to believe that the best way to further the cause of independence is to work for as strong a result as possible for the independence party, then I happily admit to bias, but it seems a strange use of the term. And I'm by no means desperate. The more this issue is discussed, the more you Green Pouters are reduced to a tiny rump squealing "one-seventh of a vote!" like a stuck record.

      My point, once again, is that the range of opinion poll results where the SNP can't be sure of getting every seat in a region, and the range where the party is in line for another list seat even if it does get all the constituencies, OVERLAP. There is no band where you can both be confident of winning all the constituencies, and yet also be confident that you can't possibly achieve another list seat on top.

      Despite this, you're now saying one list seat isn't enough to tempt you, you still want to vote Green. Why? You can't get two Green MSPs that way. You'd need to take another 15,000 or 20,000 people with you to do that. It ain't gonna happen. You can surely see from the lack of penetration of your arguments here that you're not going to persuade tens of thousands of people in a region.

      You want to swap one possible SNP MSP for one possible Green MSP, at the risk of allowing a Tory to snatch the seat if the votes fall in just the wrong way. You still haven't explained why you want this.

    8. Try swapping 0 or 1 snp msps when they have a majority already for up to 15 greens instead of 0 or 1 snp msp and up to 15 more Labour, lib and Tory...Yes I'd take that trade

    9. If that were possible, it might be worth discussing. It's not. It's fantasy football. You can't even convince the people posting in this thread, so what chance have you of convincing tens of thousands of ordinary voters? And without tens of thousands of voters, your ploy has more chance of backfiring and letting in more unionists than it has of electing more Green MSPs than the SNP seats it sacrifices.

      Your chances are especially poor, considering that the SNP are going to be extremely clear in their election literature about the necessity for their supporters to vote SNP for both votes. I think they have a wee bit more in the way of resources available to get the message across.

  10. I should add that the numerator in my ratio for the likelihood of a two horse FPTP election being decided by one vote is also gigantic and a gigantic number divided by a gigantic number can give quite a small one. But the number of combinations rises more slowly as the size of the electorate rises so the probability of your vote making a difference will tend to zero as the size of the electorate goes up. We'd need someone with a super-Kray computer, or a genuine statistician who knows some general results in this area, to get an idea of how likely one's vote is to make a difference, under these idealised assumptions that every distribution of votes is equally likely.

    But that assumption is perhaps uninteresting. It would be more relevant to know how often an election was tied or differed by one vote. Or more generally, how often it was so close that recounts kept getting different results. If one assumes those results weren't entirely random, your vote going another way might have a non-negligible probability of making a difference. I tried Wikipedia on this:

    and there are indeed some super close ones, usually with very small electorates but not always. Thus an Indiana district election with an electorate of around quarter of a million had a four vote margin and Winchester, in the 1997 General Election had only a two vote gap- I mustn't have noticed that in the 'Cool Britannia'[sic] excitement.

    So perhaps I'm wrong and the probability of one vote making a difference isn't so small as to make it not worth voting if your reason for voting is to make a difference (and you have other things you'd prefer doing to voting). Given the total number of elections that the Wikipedia table covers though, one vote differences in sizeable electorates must be really pretty rare so I'm still, inclined to stick to position on this. Vote for what you believe in unless your party, for tactical reasons (which it can rationally appeal to as it can influence whole batches of voters), tells you otherwise.

    1. That Winchester result was actually very interesting; the defeated Tory (a Scot, alas, who managed to lose the last Tory seat in Glasgow to Roy Jenkins) appealed - on the grounds that some ballots had mistakenly been classified as void - and there was a by-election a few months later. The electorate in Winchester were decidedly not amused; the LibDem increased his majority from 2 to 21,556! Labour got a record-breaking low of 944 votes.

  11. Adam seems to take a number of things for granted that either simply aren't so or are highly questionable.

    On Twitter he told me to vote SNP on the list if I liked, but I had to accept that it was highly unlikely this vote would elect an SNP MSP. That's a lie for two reasons. The first and most obvious one is that I live in the South of Scotland, where this glib assumption that the SNP are a sure thing to win all the constituency seats doesn't hold. If the party loses one or two constituencies, and its list vote holds up, it's a sure thing for one list seat and possibly even two (to compensate for two constituencies lost).

    The other reason it's a lie is that there can never be a situation, in any region, where the SNP isn't in the running for at least one list seat. If the party loses a constituency, but the list vote holds up, it will get that member back on the list. If on the other hand it's riding so high that it aces all the constituencies, it's doing well enough to be in line for an extra list seat.

    Adam wants SNP supporters to agree to sacrifice these SNP MSPs. That's the point of his scheme. He's not asking for votes that are certain to be wasted, because there is no situation in which a party that is polling as well as the SNP is polling can be guaranteed not to win a list seat.

    Another thing he told me on Twitter was that I could vote SNP if I liked, but I had to accept that if I did that I was voting for more pro-union MSPs. That's also nonsense. It's perfectly possible for the SNP to lose a list member because of defecting "tactical votes", but nevertheless for these votes to fail to bring the Green party high enough to get the seat, which instead goes to the next unionist party on the list ranking.

    Another relevant point is that someone put the figures for the recent TNS poll into Electoral Calculus, and then took all the Green list votes and gave them to the SNP. In that situation, the SNP actually gained more seats than the Greens lost! So is it not the case that he might do better persuading the Green supporters to vote SNP on the list for "more pro-independence MSPs"? I'll bet he's not very receptive to that suggestion.

    The enormous elephant in the room, though, is this glib assumption that "maximising the number of pro-independence MSPs" is self-evidently a good thing in and of itself, which doesn't need to be explained or justified. I've had dog's abuse from other people on Twitter for not immediately bowing down to the god of "more pro-indy MSPs". I've been called tribal, I've been accused of putting party above independence, and indeed I've been accused of being a closet unionist. All for suggesting that voting for the party of independence might actually be the best way to achieve independence, when you think it through properly.

  12. To expand on the last point in my previous post, the thing that Adam won't address is where he sees these extra Green MSPs sitting in Holyrood. This is however absolutely critical as regards the strategy he's proposing.

    It's possible the SNP might hang on to its working majority even in the teeth of Adam's relentless attacks on it, and so form the government as a single governing party. To do this it realistically has to win 69 or more constituencies, as we've seen that 69 is about what's needed for a working majority to maintain for a full parliamentary term. (It's also what's needed to prevent massively negative headlines damning Nicola Sturgeon as a failure because she couldn't win as many seats as Salmond did.) There are only 73 constituency seats. How lucky do we really feel, here?

    Nevertheless, let's assume that's achieved. The SNP is back in government with (say) 70 seats, but instead of only two Green MSPs, there are ten or twelve. What are they actually going to do? They're not going to be the largest minority party, Adam has already conceded that. So they're just going to do a bit more of what Patrick and the other Green MSP (sorry but she's so low-profile I can't even remember her name) have been doing for the past four years. How big a contribution is that actually going to make to achieving independence, practically speaking?

    What is probably more likely, and it's what anyone who decides to take part in this project should understand they're actually voting for, is that the SNP doesn't quite manage a working majority on constituency seats alone. Lacking any list seats, the party is forced to rely on the Greens to prop it up in government. Although Adam has said he thinks a coalition with the SNP would be very bad for the Greens, this is the likeliest result of his strategy. Patrick Harvie was expecting this to be the result in 2011, and was looking forward to being Deputy First Minister. I doubt that he'll turn that down in 2016 if it's offered to him. Indeed, I think that outcome is exactly why he's promoting this scam.

    So, Sturgeon is pilloried for "losing" the election (losing Salmond's majority). She now has to govern with a coalition partner, a partner that hasn't shown itself terribly co-operative on several occasions in the past. A partner that has been banging on about wanting more MSPs specifically to provide opposition to the SNP in Holyrood. Will we see the A9 dualled if Harvie is DFM? Will this new government fight to keep the Grangemouth refinery open? All sorts of questions.

    Then again, what if there is a surge in support for independence, and circumstances lend themselves to an early second independence referendum? Patrick Harvie is far from the most enthusiastic proponent of independence. He supported Yes last year because he saw it as the best way of promoting Green policies. But what if he's persuaded that supporting the Union is the best way to promote Green policies? Cameron is perfectly capable of separating him out and making him an attractive offer in return for his not backing Sturgeon on another referendum.

    1. [continued]

      It's perfectly possible, indeed likely, that Green supporters would welcome this outcome (they may be more certain than I am of Harvie's staunch support for independence as a principle in its own right). It's far less certain that SNP supporters would. Adam is in effect asking them to vote for this, without being honest enough to explain that that's what he's doing. One poster here, on another thread, remarked that a Green/SNP coalition would be "all my Christmases come at once". Well, jolly good, vote for it then. But don't ask SNP supporters to vote for it without at least explaining that's what you're doing. And also realise that, failing some sort of unionist majority, the SNP being forced to govern in coalition with the Greens would be all the unionists' Christmases come at once. A weakened SNP, obliged to horse-trade and dicker with a coalition partner for the next parliamentary term, of course they'd be thrilled.

      If Adam is saying anything, I think he's making the simplistic point that having more Green MSPs would be a good thing if it crowded out Labour and the other unionist parties. No doubt it would. But is this the way to do it? It may increase the number of unionist MSPs by damaging the SNP enough to lose a seat without bringing the Greens up high enough to gain it. At best, all it's likely to do is replace SNP MSPs with Green MSPs on a one-for-one basis. This may not cost the SNP its working majority, but it could easily do that.

      Actually causing Labour and the other unionist parties to lose MSPs by transferring SNP list votes would require so many thousands (or even tens of thousands) of people to do this that it really is in cloud-cuckoo-land. But that's the idea, it seems.

      News flash. The way to deprive the unionist parties of seats is to target their voters, not the SNP's. 50% of the entire bloody population isn't voting SNP at the moment, so there's plenty scope. Adam would be well advised to start on that job, rather than trying to bamboozle people with an arithmetical three-card-trick.

      (Pssst, want your vote to count for seven times as much? Vote Green! Oh, come on.)

    2. Nevertheless, let's assume that's achieved. The SNP is back in government with (say) 70 seats, but instead of only two Green MSPs, there are ten or twelve. What are they actually going to do? They're not going to be the largest minority party, Adam has already conceded that. So they're just going to do a bit more of what Patrick and the other Green MSP (sorry but she's so low-profile I can't even remember her name) have been doing for the past four years. How big a contribution is that actually going to make to achieving independence, practically speaking?

      There isn't really a way to gauge how much of a contribution any individual makes towards advancing any cause. My strong feeling, however, is that if there is another referendum, it would be unhelpful for every parliamentarian on our side to come from a single party. Again, no way to measure it, but I suspect that Harvie's presence in the Yes campaign was of much greater value than the average SNP backbencher.

    3. I'm not against the Greens getting seats, quite the contrary. I'm merely challenging their way of going about it. Instead of campaigning in the usual manner, on policy, they're trying to gain seats above the level of their actual electoral support by pulling a fast one on the system.

      The way they are pulling the fast one means that any seats they do take, they will probably have taken from the SNP and not from a unionist party. If this doesn't alter the eventual make-up of the parliament then the damage may be small, but if it ends up costing the SNP its majority and forcing Sturgeon into a coalition, it would have a massive effect.

      You're probably right as regards a comparison between Harvie and some random SNP backbencher. That's not a valid comparison though. Harvie doesn't need tactical votes to get himself elected, or he damn well shouldn't. And who was the other one again? I had to go and look her up. Alison Johnstone, heard of her? Over 21,000 votes on the Lothian list. I don't even know where she was during the referendum, and I work in Midlothian and went to quite a few meetings there.

      If you value diversity over the SNP's working majority, that's fine. My objection is to people spinning arithmetical tricks to persuade SNP voters to abandon their own party without actually explaining that this is the effective choice they're being induced to make.

  13. The more i read of these 'Green tactical vote' posts over many blogs, the more i become convinced it is a concerted effort to split the Indy/SNP vote.
    Who benefits from that?

    1. To be fair, I don't think this is deliberate sabotage.

      It's perfectly true that the main beneficiaries of this would be the unionist parties, one way or another. They might gain directly, by squeaking a few extra list seats, coming up the middle. Or they might gain indirectly, through damage to the SNP.

      This ploy can't help but damage the SNP. The party will inevitably get some list seats, all else being equal, although it's difficult to predict which regions might or might not return an SNP list MSP. If it loses list votes, it will probably lose these seats, simple as that. And an SNP which is weakened in comparison to where it might have been is good news for the unionists without any doubt.

      Suppose the Greens pick up a few more MSPs, so what? They'll either be sitting on the opposition benches, as part of a minor opposition party, unable to do a great deal, or they'll be in coalition with the SNP, causing just the sort of mischief that will be music to a unionist's ears. What's not to like?

      Nevertheless, I don't think this initiative is coming from enemies of independence (though it may be being encouraged by them). I think it's a spiffing wheeze dreamed up by supporters of the smaller pro-independence parties who're dreaming of a pro-independence alliance in the way Labour, the Conservatives and the LibDems combined in Better Together. For that, the smaller parties need larger representation.

      One proponent did present it to me as a way to force the BBC and ITV to even up the debates by having to include a Green every time, to give two pro-independence panellists. I'm afraid I was a bit underwhelmed by the size of the prize in comparison to what I was being asked to risk to get it, and the very low probability of its actually being achieved.

      I don't doubt Adam's pro-independence credentials, or those of Alan Bisset, another vocal proponent who was having a real go at me on Twitter about it. All about needing a range of pro-independence voices and a real opposition for the SNP and idealistic stuff like that. I do doubt their grasp of the ramifications of what they're proposing.

      Adam seems entirely hung up on the self-evident fact that it takes more SNP votes to elect a list MSP than it does to elect a Green MSP. He can't go beyond it. He really is like a spiv opening his coat and saying, psst, want a vote that's worth seven times as much? The actual consequences that might flow from this suggestion just don't register.

      It's lack of understanding, and a firm conviction that they can get seats this way without the bother of actually campaigning on policy, rather than malice.

    2. You are more trusting than me, Rolfe/Morag.
      I just look at the past history of the British State when faced with threats to its interests.
      They had agents at the highest level within the IRA, an organisation that wouldn't think twice about executing an informer.
      Anyone that doesn't believe that agents are within the Scottish Indy movement doesn't understand history.
      Most of this recent Green pish will be useful fools, but I don't doubt that some of them know exactly what they are doing.

    3. I replied to this in more detail below. Essentially I agree with you, but I can never get my head round the concept that a particular person who's pushing a destructive hobby-horse could actually be one of these people.

  14. Is there an election forecast calculator, a bit like, that allows you to enter percentages for solidarity etc on the regional vote? It would be interesting to see how various figures play out in terms of seats.

    If all these radical groups pinch a couple of percentage points each from the SNP/Greens - but not enough to actually win seats (a bit like UKIP), then they could seriously dent the nationalists' hopes of a clear win next May. So typical of guys like Sheridan - lose the war due to "Judean Peoples' Front" syndrome.

    1. Good attempt to legitimise any election forecast calculator.
      Try harder.

    2. Indeed, these calculators are only very approximate for any election, and positively impressionistic when you get into the Holyrood system. Any attempt to use any of them in that way is doomed to nemesis.

      Nevertheless, what "Anonymous" sais in his second paragraph is essentially true, except that he has the Greens on the wrong side of the equation. We've got the Greens, the SSP, Sheridans lot and maybe another left grouping, all trying the same trick. Please, SNP supporters, you have so much, give us a slice of your pie.

      There is a definite possibility that each of these groups, including the Greens will salami-slice enough from the SNP's vote to cost the party its working majority, without getting themselves any extra seats at all - instead, the unionist parties may come through the middle and snatch the prize.

    3. Wouldn't that be something!

      Of course, a unionist majority doesn't necessarily mean a unionist government. It just means no indyref, but with the SNP probably still functioning as a minority government like it did from 2007-11. There would be no tory support this time though - too much bad blood.

      The unionist parties could do some kind of deal to make the labour leader FM. The SNP could hardly object - they advocated the same treatment of the tories before the GE.

    4. "There would be no tory support this time though"

      Utterly fucking clueless as usual.


    5. I must have touched a nerve with you pork chop. You follow me around like wee puppy and spit blood even when I post something nice and non vitriolic. You've got it bad, lol!

      The tories informally supported the SNP from 2007 to 2011. I'm surprised you don't know this. On second thoughts...

    6. "The unionist parties could do some kind of deal to make the labour leader FM. The SNP could hardly object"

      Hmmm. It's just possible that Labour voters might object to coalition with the Tories, though.

    7. It would all depend on what the tories were getting out of it. A lot of tories just want to see the SNP removed from office so it might not take much to get them on board.

    8. You just don't get Scottish politics, do you? It's the Tories being on board AT ALL that Labour voters would not tolerate.

    9. "Hmmm. It's just possible that Labour voters might object to coalition with the Tories, though."

      Daily Mail Aldo couldn't just be spouting the first clueless pish that entered his tiny mind about scottish politics, could he?

      Admittedly, he certainly sounds just like your usual foaming at the mouth right-wing loon, but surely someone as 'wise' and 'well-informed' on scottish politics (who seriously thinks 75,000 "trots and anarchists" joined the SNP) couldn't be so utterly barking mad as to entertain the notion that all the tories have to do is click their fingers and the other parties will do their bidding?

      This would be the nasty party tories who still have less MPs in scotland than Pandas and who under Ruth last month had their worst share of the vote in history.


    10. I don't think so. People still voting labour after all this are unionists. They would be happy to see the inclusion of the tories in a deal to oust the SNP, provided the tories didn't have control or influence over things like welfare. The idea that a quarter of the population would look a gift horse in the mouth is rather silly. The SNP certainly didn't, when the tories helped maintain them in office for the first four years.

      Pork - Daily Mail, Pandas, foaming at mouth, unimaginative insult - bingo!

      Do I win anything?

    11. So your strategy for Labour is "settle for 25%". Brilliant - they should get you to replace John McTernan.

    12. "They would be happy to see the inclusion of the tories"


      Complete barking mad lunacy. Hilariously out of touch with the real world and scottish politics. Pure Daily Mail/Pouter stupidity.

      Though thanks for confirming that you are indeed one of the tory twats from Stormfront Lite/PB. I was waiting on that. :-)

    13. Let's put it a different way - the SNP could fall a good distance from its current vote share and still emerge as the largest party. Are we going to have SNP governments forever? Are we going to disenfranchise more than half the population when their representatives could just come to some kind of arrangement, take control of government, and go some way towards representing them for a change? Of course not. It will happen, if it has to.

      The left vs right divide is powerful. But national identity transcends it.

    14. "Are we going to disenfranchise more than half the population"

      Not a shred of irony and utterly oblivious. Pure comedy GOLD! :-D

    15. That's some reaction porkie (are you sure it's not you who's in need of medical attention - or maybe just 'attention', of any kind? :0)

      A new faultline has opened up in Scottish politics. You have to expect that people on each side will cooperate with each other. That's human nature - that's the way it works. In reality you are terrified of this, hence the reaction. Let me tell you I'm not too pleased about it either. I didn't want the ulsterification of Scottish politics but that's the next logical step. The alternative is one side out of government forever and the opposing side in power forever. That wont work. We're not f*cking South Africa!

      Finally, tories aren't vampires or demonically possessed or Satanists or anything. Conservatism exists in pretty much every mature democracy on earth.

    16. Are you clever enough to know what irony is? Lol!

    17. You are posting low IQ right-wing drivel on a website which is frequented by readers who self-evidently know scottish politics inside and out. Yet, without a shred of irony, you're asking if I'M the one seeking attention?


      "A new faultline has opened up in Scottish politics."

      Just in case anyone didn't realise you clearly haven't been following socttish politics very long. We didn't just pop up in 2011 or 2015 chum. We've been at this for more than long enough to know how the scottish public views westminster and the tory party.

      " I didn't want the ulsterification of Scottish politics but that's the next logical step"

      In the same way that kind of lunatic nonsense is the next logical step from you claiming that 75,000 trots and anarchists joined the SNP. Don't be so bloody stupid.

      "Finally, tories aren't vampires or demonically possessed or Satanists or anything. "

      What the westminster led tory party are is very unpopular in scotland and for good reason.

      If you don't like their nasty party image then you should perhaps be far more concerned that so many of those who voted tory lied to the pollsters and seem to have reverted to being ashamed tory voters again just like they were under Major. You seriously need to read up on what happened next to the tory party after that tipping point was reached because it sure ain't pretty and hardly bodes well for the inevitable IN/OUT carnage.

    18. The alternative is one side out of government forever and the opposing side in power forever. That wont work. We're not f*cking South Africa!

      Labour were in power in Scotland for about sixty years. Now the SNP have been in for eight, and we're South Africa.

  15. British agents within the indy movement?

    Jim Sillars?

    Salmond? :0)

    1. Who knows. I don't, but they'll be there. I remember being warned decades ago that there would be infiltrators in the SNP, some having reached significant positions of power in the party. I have no idea who these people might be, but I'm sure they're there.

      Even more so, the Yes movement as a whole is bound to have been infiltrated. If the British state didn't start figuring out what to do and how to do it on 6th May 2011, somebody wasn't doing their job. Who knows who within the ranks of the Yes movement (and I don't mean humble footsoldiers, I mean people in a position to influence policy) is batting for the other team? I don't, but they're there.

      If the police can place officers within human rights and environmental groups, to the point where these officers enter into relationships with members of the groups and even father children on them, how much easier is it to join a political party or apply for a job in a newly-constituted Yes Scotland organisation that's recruiting for staff?

      So I suppose, Juteman, I shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss your concerns. The thing is, I know intellectually that these people are there, but I can never bring myself to believe that any particular individual I'm interacting with could be one of them.

    2. You've got to wonder what a spy would do in the SNP / Yes movement. We had spies in the IRA so we could fund out when / where they were going to attack, where they got their money and weapons from etc.

      What would be the purpose of a spy in the yes movement?

    3. Well Rolfe is they are anything like as dumb as Daily Mail Aldo then they would try to go to SNP events and meetings wearing see you jimmy hats while clutching a haggis and a can of Irn Bru.

      The truth is if these hypothetical agents were real or any fucking good then the unionists would hardly have been completely hammered and utterly humiliated in scotland just over a month ago, now would they?

      More amusingly, it's the tories who will be most be paranoid right now as there is unquestionably a huge foreign policy and financial interest in Cameron's attempt to turn the tory party into a pro Europe Yes party. So all those backbench eurosceptics will be wondering precisely who they can trust among the massed ranks of public schoolboys and oxbridge types in the parliamentary tory party. Little different from Major's time then, only this time it's just that much more serous with that much more on the line.

      Of course if they really did have anything to be paranoid about then Cameron would have already tried to bounce his entire party into being pro-Europe and IN. Oh that's right, he did, but sadly for the out of touch twits, he failed miserably. As usual.


    4. You're forgetting one thing pork chop - we won the referendum. So, if there are agents (and let's face it, there probably are), then they could be doing worse, lol!

      My money's on Sillars. All that stuff about the day of reckoning, nationalising multinational corporations that could buy and sell Scotland - and about a week before the referendum too. He also argued for an independent currency, showing up Salmondo for not doing so.

      The name's Sillars. James Sillars. Shaken, not stirred...

    5. While you are forgetting it took two referendums to win Devolution. So much for the tories stopping that. LOL

      My money would have been on Malcolm Rifkind but like so many tories before him he had to quit in disgrace when he was caught with his money grubbing hand in the till.

      That still leaves no shortage of potential parliamentary 'informants' for Cameron and his 'minders' to call on to defend the chumocracy against the 'barbarian hordes' of Eurosceptics who kept humiliating him in the commons from 2010 onwards.

      Good thing everybody trusts the amusing chief whip Gove, isn't it?

      I would hate to think what would happen if Eurosceptics began to suspect he was grassing them up to the spooks, eh? ;-)

    6. That's not who I had in mind, no.

    7. I see it a different way (surprise surprise!). The 1979 referendum was yes. It fell on a technical point to do with turnout but we actually voted yes. Did Scotland vote yes to the EEC in 1975? Going by current trends, I think it probably did. In 1997 we voted yes, yes (to devolution and tax raising powers - which have never been used by the way but I digress). That covers, I think, all the referenda in Scotland's history. We voted in favour of the proposition in every one except the independence referendum. That is a special case. It has no parallel in history and so assuming implementation a few years down the line just because 'it happened with devolution' is probably the wrong way of thinking about it.

      I know you love the idea of the tories falling out over europe (we shall see). But it's one fairly big faultline that will be resolved in short order. The divisions within the SNP are myriad. You have conservatives voting for you (in rural areas that voted solidly no). You have left wingers voting for you in the hope of further redistribution of wealth (some want independence, a lot don't). Then you have the true nationalists - people who want an independent Scotland for better or ill. I respect these nationalists. One friend of mine says "I aint chasing the pennies!". Good for him - but I can't agree (those 'pennies' being fairly important!). Then, transcending these groups, you have moderates / gradualists and 'independence by tomorrow, just after lunch' sorts. You can't keep all of those groups in agreement and voting for one party for any length of time. At some point, the dream will be over and left will part way with right, unionist with nationalist, and moderate with radical. It's started already - a big punch up over people voting Green / Tommy Sheridan? The rot is already setting in.

    8. " It fell on a technical point "

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha!! A 'technical point' indeed. Spoken like a true Daily Mail reader. Sadly for you I already referred to that in a previous post to you but you were too dumb to realise I was mocking you over it. Take your time and see if you can find it before embarrassing yourself again.

      So you simply don't understand that Devotion is a process. Nor do you seem to have the slightest idea what happened with the unionists and Devo Max. Not a huge surprise I have to say.

      ".But it's one fairly big faultline that will be resolved in short order"


      It is by far and away THE biggest faultline in the tory party and has been for decades. So if you think everyone is going to play nice over being pro or anti Europe after the vote then you are as out of touch with your own party as Cameron was when he tried to bounce them into his pro-Europe IN position.

      Win or lose half your party will have been forced into a position where they have to deal with the consequences and fallout for year after year of an official tory party position they most certainly do not support.

      The next tory leader (because, all too typically, Cameron is scurrying off to leave the fallout and carnage for someone else to deal with) can't win the leadership on a position of "maybe". He will be chosen in the aftermath of the most polarising issue possible for the tories. He (or she) will do so under a background of both sides fighting to gain dominance and support from a membership and grassroots who will be looking fearfully at the kippers who rocketed from a tiny 3.1% to 12.6% last month.

      You are living in a world of lollipop trees and candyfloss clouds if you seriously think the same Eurosceptics who caused chaos under Thatcher and made Major's life a misery will ever give up. Nor would an OUT resolve all your problems as the tories business backers, Ken Clarke, Heseltine and the current upper echelon of the tory party proves.

      It's about as likely to 'solve' the Eurosceptic chasm as Cameron giving in to them in the first place and offering this referendum did. Did they 'behave' after 2010? Nope. Cameron has no 'special powers' to unite the tory party any more than Major or Thatcher did in the end. In fact, he is already widely mistrusted by his own backbenches on the subject while the Eurosceptics are already starting to plot as they know perfectly well their only chance is to start the anti-Europe OUT campaign as soon as possible.

      As for your amusing 'theory' about the SNP falling apart. We heard a great many predictions from out of touch Daily Mail types such as yourself that would happen after the referendum. Instead we just won an utterly unprecedented historic victory with a leader who is incredibly popular and a party which has more than tripled in size.

      So much for that 'theory'. :-)

    9. Interesting idea about spying on the Yes movement. I'm certainly not naive enough to think that the British government would never do such a thing. As Rolfe said, such things have happened with all kinds of political campaigns. But I'm struggling to see what purpose placing spies would have served during the referendum campaign. If the British government wanted to know exactly what Yes campaigners were doing and what their strategy was, you wouldn't need to place any human spies in there. You could just get GCHQ to intercept all their communications. Placing spies in the IRA was a whole different ball game because that was an illegal and clandestine organisation. Nothing like the Yes campaign or the SNP.

    10. You're not thinking laterally enough. Follow the conversation back to the start. It wasn't about spying.

    11. I'm glad you feel the need to post dissertations to me porkie. There's a good little puppy....

      But your master is tired. He has a job and a family and must retire to the land of dreams (no, not SNP HQ - I mean bed).

      Last point for this evening. 50% of the population can't possibly have anything in common. It's simply too many people to hold together in one place for long. They'll run away - and you know they will. It will happen when the SNP spends the next 5 years making up excuses as to why it wont approach Cameron for a second indyref. You know this will happen and I know this will happen. In his heart of hearts, the hardworking fellow who runs this site probably suspects it too. And no amount of vitriol or name calling from your mum's spare room will alter political gravity.

      Goodnight. Remember to brush your teeth!

    12. Now he's whining about not being able to follow long posts. Too much for your low IQ to grasp I take it.

      " 50% of the population can't possibly have anything in common. "

      Just when you thought he couldn't get any dumber.

      Scurry off back to Stormfront Lite then you barking mad far-right fool.

  16. James

    "The SSP votes were derisory but the Greens strategy effectively saved Scotland's only Tory, Mundell. If they had stood aside and encouraged an SNP vote Scotland would be Tory free."

    David Mundell won by 798 votes. The Greens got 839 votes. You are assuming that over 95% of Green voters would have voted SNP. That's a very big assumption. Not all Green voters are open to a Yes or SNP vote. I know some who have always voted green and would never vote SNP. I know some No / Labour voters who decided to vote Green this year (don't ask - i'm unsure of their rationale ). The point being is that people aren't cattle and don't like being herded. This is particularly true for core Green Party voters - being green requires an independent mind.

    Jimmy Wantaba

    1. I think people understand what you're saying Jimmy. Feeling here in the constituency is a bit more nuanced. It's not a belief that we'd have won if the Green candidate hadn't stood, but more a feeling of, well, now we know the Greens' attitude to party over principle. It's the fact that they stood at all that's resented.

      Of course they had every right to stand, but then we have every right to interpret that as we see fit. To put up a candidate in this constituency, when they had no hope of winning and when they certainly weren't standing in every constituency, suggested a pretty cavalier attitude to whether Mundell was unseated or not.

      When one of the Green Yes activists, someone we campaigned with all last summer, was asked why they were standing a candidate, she replied, "oh we're just doing it as a trial run for 2016." So it seems they're thinking about standing in the constituencies for Holyrood as well.

      Fine, but don't come to SNP supporters and say, you owe us one, give us your list votes.

    2. Jimmy, you make another very pertinent point in this context.

      The point being is that people aren't cattle and don't like being herded.

      This is entirely true. And yet the Greens who are promoting this "tactical voting" scam are justifying it with examples that move votes from SNP to Green not just in their thousands but in their tens of thousands. It's beyond unrealistic.

      On paper, if you move 50,000 or 60,000 SNP votes over to the Greens in every region, then yes you will elect a lot of Green MSPs. It's entirely a thought experiment though. It's no more going to happen than than 800 people would have voted SNP in DC&T if there hadn't been a Green candidate.

      The basic #SNPout strategy was perfectly rational, although the way they kept changing their mind about some constituencies wasn't. If people didn't vote for no-hope unionist parties but votes for the unionist candidate with the best chance, then the SNP would have got quite a lot fewer seats than it did. There was pretty much no down-side. It was easy to understand. It was promoted by several newspapers. Some candidates promoted it. They even had some leafleters. And look what happened.

      This scheme is several orders of magnitude madder than #SNPout. It's counterintuitive. It requires massive uptake to prevent it backfiring disastrously. There is no way in hell the SNP are going to go along with it, in fact it will be resisted strenuously. And yet people like Jam and Schroedingers Cat just buckle down and declare, we just have to get the word out to people. Tens of thousands are just going to agree to be herded.

      In your dreams.

    3. Please stop saying herded.

      It's worth considering tactical votes region by region, particularly in Lothian and Glasgow where Green votes are highest.

      Margo Macdonald got 18000 votes in Lothian - where will these all go now? The Libs got 15000 and labour 70000. Now that these votes have collapsed - where will they go on the list? Who will the recent additions to the electorate vote for? (there were an extra 500000 votes in Scotland in May relative to 2010.

      The greens currently sit on 22000 votes, the Tories 33000, and labour 70000.

      It's by no means an impossibility for the Greens to come second place in this region on the list and take the most list seats. Indeed, unionists may rally behind labour or tory in Lothian - most likely the former - but 3rd place is still a possible finish for the greens, and assuming SNP win all constituencies, which is VERY likely, I'd rather the list seats went to the greens than Labour or Tory, because the SNP would at most win 1 seat, but more likely 0, in the very likely scenario of them taking all constituencies.

    4. You were the one who used the word herded, I merely adopted it from you.

      I'm not going through all that again. If that's your assessment of the situation, vote like that.

  17. James

    I do apologise. I'v actually just bothered to read this article properly and can see that my gripe is with Tommy Sheridan and not you.

    Silly Me

  18. May I use this forum to send a comment to Adam? You have indeed convinced me that I should use my list vote tactically, so I will be voting SNP for the constituency and for the the list I will vote - SNP.


    1. And *big grin*, Chortle, James and Mick - while I agree with their views on independence and while I am also pro-SNP and pro-SSP - have almost finished persuading me to vote and campaign for the Greens on the constituency and list votes, whereas I had been anticipating going for SNP and Green. According to them there is no room for a Yes Alliance way of thinking and voting. I had thought there was but if they are right then Adam, you and I are wrong. If that's right then does that mean that the positive energy of the Yes movement is over? Or does it mean the fault line between those campaigning on the basis of fear and circling the wagons, and those campaigning on the basis of hope and inclusivity has shifted?

    2. Suit yourself. People popping up and announcing that they were going to vote Yes but the debate they just read (on a Yes blog) has just persuaded them to campaign and vote for No were ten a penny during the referendum.

      This isn't about Yes Alliance thinking, or the positive energy of the Yes movement, or hope and inclusivity versus fear and wagon-circling.

      This is about the cold hard facts of voter behaviour, and the actual real-life consequences that flow from the Green Pouter logic. Cold hard facts say that moving votes from SNP to Green will damage the SNP, either slightly or seriously. The Greens may benefit in a one-for-one ratio, or conversely the stratagem may backfire and allow unionist parties to benefit. What it ain't going to do is provide more seats for the Greens than it loses for the SNP, because you can't move people's votes around in bundles of tens of thousands.

      So, if you elect to strengthen the Greens at the expense of the SNP, what you are voting for is a Green/SNP coalition instead of an SNP majority government. You may welcome that, and if so, obviously you're free to advocate it. I have to say though, my feeling is that hope and inclusivity and positive energy would all be a lot better served by trying to get Green votes from the 50% of the population which is not currently intending to vote SNP than from trying to bamboozle SNP voters with a three-card-trick.

      It is my considered opinion that a strong SNP government with a greater number of MSPs than was elected in 2011 is the best route to securing a second independence referendum, and that the best way to get that is to vote SNP on the list (as well as the constituency, obviously). What happens on the opposition benches is secondary to that. If the Greens can eat into the unionist parties' share of the vote and take seats off them, so much the better.

      I'm not taking my eyes off that prize for any woolly rhetoric about positive energy and inclusivity. Sitting down cross-legged together and singing Kumbayah is nice, of course, but actually achieving a second referendum as soon as we're in a position to win it is a lot nicer in my opinion. Your mileage obviously varies.

  19. Never ever ever forget that the greens voted for the cursed Tram. 1,000 job losses coming our way thanks to them. Fuck them. they can rot with the rest of the unionists.

    1. I'm not that enamoured that they chose to stand a candidate to split the anti-Mundell vote either, even though, as Jimmy says, there's no guarantee these 800-odd voters would have voted SNP even if they hadn't.

      That doesn't really sit well with all this Kumbayah positive energy "you owe us a favour give us your votes" stuff we're being subjected to now.

    2. It's childish to attack the Greens for exercising their democratic right to stand a candidate, in the same way that it's childish to attack people who liked their manifesto best for voting for them, I'm sure the SNP would get a boost if the Greens folded up and ceased to exist. But would our politics be improved as a result? And would the Greens' core issues get more or less attention without them?

      It' s not all about who wins elections.

    3. The point about the Greens is that they're all "hope and inclusivity" when they want to sweet-talk SNP supporters into voting for them, but it only cuts one way.

    4. And scorn winning elections all you like, but it kind of helps when you're trying to accomplish radical transformation of the country. The Greens themselves seem to think their core issues would get more attention after independence. I'm all for first things first, in that case.

  20. " it only cuts one way."

    Really? Mhairi Black used exactly the same argument (about the benefits of 'uniting the pro-independence vote' under a FPTP system) before the May GE. Did you criticise her for trying to achieve an artificially high vote total, above her 'natural' level of support? Nope. Criticise the Greens' maths all you like, but in your case Rolfe you seem to be going further than that, arguing that to make any pitch for tactical votes (except when the SNP does it) is wrong.

    " The Greens themselves seem to think their core issues would get more attention after independence"

    I think the point is a little more sophisticated than that. The Greens may think their core issues would get more attention after independence, but only *provided there is a strong Green party*. For various reasons, they think it's more likely that a strong Green party will exist in an independent Scotland than under the Westminster system. Such a goal is unlikely to be achieved if the Greens stop standing candidates before that.

    Independence seems to be front and centre of your politics. That's fine, but for many people - including many who voted yes - it's not necessarily the number one goal or the most important issue. You could make a credible argument that the continued ability of the planet to support the existing diversity of species is a little more urgent.

  21. Nobody is asking the Greens to stop standing candidates. What is being criticised is the hypocrisy of standing in the seat held by the only Tory MP in Scotland, thus splitting the vote and (arguably) allowing him to hold the seat, and then coming the "you owe us one now give us your votes" schtick almost immediately afterwards.

    If independence isn't the front and centre of your politics, then you're not really at the centre of this discussion. The Green Pouter plan is explicitly targeted at SNP supporters for whom indepedence is the key, and it's being promoted on the false assertion that it will generate "more pro-independence MSPs". (It won't.)

    This is the argument we're having. Whether handing SNP seats to the Greens on a plate is actually a better way to get independence than simply voting SNP. I've been accused of putting party before principle and being prepared to let in unionists simply for pointing out the flaws in the scheme.

    It's all about independence. It's aimed at people whose main priority is independence, And it's a lying scam.

    If your main priority is a strong Green party, and independence is something you kind of hope for as a secondary goal, then obviously you'll want to vote Green. Of course you will, and so will other people. These are the core Green vote, and nobody is asking or expecting any of you to vote any differently.

    Just make your policy arguments on their own merits. Don't try to trick people whose main priority is independence into voting for you by means of a lying arithmetical three-card-trick as Adam is doing.

  22. "Just make your policy arguments on their own merits"

    So Mhairi Black shouldn't have called on all Yes voters to unite around the SNP then?

    1. OK, let's try this one more time.

      Tactical voting in an FPTP election is perfectly rational and can often work. It was clearly rational last month. The Greens and the other small parties didn't have a hope in hell of taking a single seat. Nil, zilch, nada. So a vote for one of them coule accomplish no more than registering your support for the party.

      I don't discount that as a motive, I voted SNP in that spirit for most of my life. However, in 2015 the point was made that Yes voters who supported a smaller party might consider a tactical SNP vote, which had a chance of actually electing a candidate in favour of independence.

      No real downside, as the smaller parties weren't going to get any seats anyway, and no deception involved, It was a straightforward suggestion which people were free to follow or not as they saw fit.

      This carry-on is entrely different. A scheme is being presented as a "tactical vote", allegedly for the same purpose, to elect more pro-independence MSPs. The problem is, it won't work. Unlike the FPTP scheme, it does have a downside. The SNP will get list seats under normal voting patters, which the proposers of the scheme are inviting SNP voters to throw away.

      Not only that, but the arithmetic is so unpredictable that there's a perfectly good chance the seats that are thrown away may actually go to unionist parties and not to the Greens. If the Greens do pick up seats because of it, the best that's practically possible is that one lost SNP seat yields one Green seat. That is not "more pro-independence MSPs".

      On a meta scale, the most likely outcome of the scheme is to deprive the SNP or its working majority and force the party into a coalition with the Greens.

      This is an entirely different proposition from suggesting that people who were considering voting for small parties without a hope in hell of a Westminster seat might instead consider voting for the pro-independence party that had a chance of taking the seat. It's nothing more than an underhand manoeuvre designed to trick SNP supporters into throwing away their own party's seats and electing Greens instead, to propel the Green party into a coalition situation.

      Hence, the calls to go away and chase votes from the 50% of voters who aren't going to vote SNP. This particular call for a "tactical pro-independence vote" is nothing of the sort.

  23. Rolfe, you may like sitting around singing kumbaya but that's not my cup of tea. Your focus is entirely on securing a second referendum and scorning any who don't have that as their principle aim.

    The irony of this is that the need is not just to secure a second referendum but to win it. And to do that you need to be building rather than burning bridges with those who voted Yes she who can be persuaded to vote Yes not because it is the be all and end all as it clearly is for you, but because it is a means to a better society.

    Circle your wagons, burn your bridges, berate all those who think differently and you can look at a low Yes vote. 'Embrace' rather than criticise people like Patrick Harvie for advocating independence as a means to a better society, not as an end in itself, and we can secure a string Yes vote rather than simply secure the means for a second referendum based on and approach with echoes of the Better Together scorched earth approach to dialogue.

    1. Sorry, but if we have to destroy the SNP's working majority and go into coalition with the Greens to have a chance of winning a second referendum, we'll never win it. If Green independence supporters won't campaign for independence or vote for it unless the SNP agree to gift them seats, hell mend them.

      I was happy to work with the Green Yes campaign last year, and would happily do the same again. However, this seems to be turning into a demand that the Greens have to be gifted parliamentary seats or they won't do it again. It's not going to happen. SNP supporters disagree fundamentally that a Green/SNP coalition is a better route to independence than an SNP working majority. If the Greens are going to pick up their toys and go home because of that, hell mend them.

  24. This is turning into "give us some of your seats, or else!"

    Or else you're nasty, selfish, divisive people. Or else the Greens won't campaign for independence in another referendum.

    This is politics. It's about forming a strong government that can achieve another referendum at a time when it's winnable. If the Greens' noses are so easily put out of joint that they'll flounce off in a huff because SNP supporters resist calls to gift them seats in a ploy that has every chance of letting unionist parties in through the middle, (never mind the damage it would do to the SNP itself), then maybe we're better off without them.

  25. Rolfe in " 1 snp map for 1 green map" FLAT OUT LIE. The potential is to get over 10 greens possibly for not a single snp loss. Do you work for the BBC?

  26. Rolfe in " 1 snp map for 1 green map" FLAT OUT LIE. The potential is to get over 10 greens possibly for not a single snp loss. Do you work for the BBC?

    1. Hello, square one! You can't "herd" voters by the tens of thousands. They aren't going to co-operate. This idea of getting double figures of Green MSPs by re-assigning SNP list votes is all inside your cute little head.

      Start at the top again, rinse and repeat.