Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Is it suspicious that a former Tory strategist is trying to mislead SNP voters about how the electoral system works?

A number of people have pointed me in the direction of comments made the other day by former Tory strategist Andy Maciver, who claimed that if SNP voters didn't switch to the Greens on the list, the Tories could gain extra seats without even needing to make any progress in terms of votes.  His reasoning was that the SNP's dominance at constituency level means they won't win many list seats, and "those seats have got to go somewhere".

For the avoidance of doubt, that claim is utter gibberish.  It's not even one that most advocates of tactical voting would make, because it's not merely untrue - it's actually the complete opposite of the truth.  SNP dominance at constituency level would make it harder for the Tories to win seats, not easier.  If, hypothetically, the SNP were to win all 73 constituency seats, that would self-evidently leave all of the opposition parties severely under-represented at constituency level.  The d'Hondt method kicks in at that point and tries to resolve the under-representation by distributing list seats in a compensatory way.  But here's the thing - there are only 56 list seats to go round.  Yes, they've got to go somewhere, and they'll be spread thinly among all of the major opposition parties, all of whom will have been wiped out in the constituencies.  There simply won't be enough to make up the shortfall, and in all probability the Tories will end up with fewer seats than the d'Hondt principle really entitles them to.

It's a very simple calculation : if the SNP "break the system" and get more seats than they should, the opposition parties are bound to get fewer seats than they should.  For some reason, Maciver has either completely misunderstood that calculation or is misrepresenting it.

And that's really the interesting question here - what is his motivation?  Is this an example of the political dark arts, with Maciver seeking to use reverse psychology to persuade SNP supporters to give their list votes to small parties, and thus potentially help the Tories if those votes turn out to be wasted?  Or is he just indulging in wishful thinking based on a genuine misunderstanding of how the electoral system works?

As ever, answers on a postcard, folks...

16 comments:

  1. When I saw the article on BBC I immediately suspected a cunning plot to persuade SNP supporters to not vote SNP. If by coincidence the story appears in the Record, Scotsman, Mail, GMS tomorrow we can reasonably surmise there is a unionist purpose behind it.

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  2. On the other hand Andy MacIver might just be hard of thinking.

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  3. I would imagine there will be a lot of non-SNP supporters out there keen to promote misinformation on list voting, either to increase their own chances of gaining list seats or at any rate to potentially decrease the SNP's total. To Tories or Labour, even a dilution of the pro-independence representation by the Greens or other left minority parties would be a bonus because it creates potential division among the pro-indy parties, and especially if it wipes out an overall majority for the SNP.

    I'm not sure what the effect of complete confusion over 'tactical' voting on the list would be. It might dissuade as many people from risking it as it encourages and so the net effect would be negligible. There really needs to be a strong non-partisan call for people to simply vote for who they want to represent them at Holyrood - that way they will largely be represented in accordance with the number of people who share their choice. Dull but true.

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  4. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 17, 2016 at 11:57 PM

    Just vote Labour and keep the two Tory parties oot.

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    1. How does voting Labour keep Labour oot?

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    2. Glasgow Working Class is awaiting his carer, I hope he remembers to ask for their meds dosage to be increased

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  5. SO On the survation poll above green is on 9% and SNP is on a likely starting point of 4.5% on the list taking into account the divisor. Tories win 3 seats before SNP take one on those figures in an illstrative region but only win 1 sat before Green take one on the list in the same illustrative region. But there's no truth at all in that claim. Of ocurse there is truth in it. Green could block half a dozen additional unionists easily.

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  6. James

    If all regions behave like the North East region in 2011 and polling suggests it might then the SNP can win all constituencies and still gain on the list.

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  7. but they don't do they Marcia so the point is moot. NE gets few greens and historically low labour which means that SNP are essentially facing less competition for the last of the list votes there. NE vote SNP but it's likely wasted in Lothian and could well be put to better use in Fife, Highlands and Glasgow. Why not consider the point that the latest Survation has SNP on 45% and Green on 9%. In some areas that means Green will be well into double figures meaning they could make serious inroads into the unionists on the list. Unlike SNP. These areas are Lothian and maybe FIfe, Galsgow and Highlands.

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    1. In my constituency it is already clear that Labour and Tories are making a minimal effort in order to give the Lib Dem a clear run as a pro Union candidate.

      The local Greens "aren't that bothered" about independence and still haven't gotten round to telling what they are for rather than what they are against.

      Therefore not a chance that my votes will be going anywhere other than SNP.

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    2. Jam

      If you make that comment about the Green vote then the SNP must be higher is some areas and lower in others so where the SNP are polling well over 50% they will pick up a good haul of list seats.

      Don't take as gospel polling figures. Just look at the trends. It is not looking that good for the Greens at the present time as their vote tends to get squeezed nearer to polling day. Time will tell though.

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    3. I am using trends and Green is the larger party than SNP on the list (post divisor of all or all but 1 seat which is likely to be representative of most regions) in every single one of Scotgoespop's regional poll of polls. Every single one. And in many it is almost double the size. Like the survation one. And I'm not arguing for green everywhere. Only where it is strong and SNP is likely to take all the constituencies and none on the list. Like Lothian and maybe fife, glasgow and highland. Nowhere else. In Lothian it is likely to be 3 times bigger at least than SNP on the list and double in the other three. That is what you need to concern yourself with.

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  8. Interestingly there was a new Twitter user the other day repeatedly declaring that since the Tories weren't criticising the "both votes SNP" campaign, that proved they wanted voters to vote SNP twice, and proved that would be a wasted vote. Here's the answer, right on cue.

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  9. If 300 fewer people had voted SNP on the list in NE Scotland in 2011 the final list seat would have gone to the Tories. That is a fact.

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  10. "Answers on a postcard."
    My postcard would explain how to tell when a Tory is lying...
    Their lips move.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 19, 2016 at 9:11 PM

      Is that the Tartan Tories who were going to do away with foodbanks and restore welfare payments and now refuse to tax the rich. You must know the Nat sis are scum so why are you toeing the Nat si line you piece of shoite.

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