Sunday, May 7, 2017

The final and most important piece of the jigsaw : what was the popular vote on Thursday?

I had a brief chat a few hours ago with Craig Murray, who feels that it's very strange that the BBC haven't published the nationwide popular vote for the Scottish local elections yet.  I said to him that it wasn't all that unusual based on past experience, and that in 2012 we had to wait ages - but as soon as I put the phone down I started to question what I had just said.  I think I may have been getting mixed up with what happened in 2003 and 2007, when the council elections took place on the same day as the Holyrood poll, and thus attracted much less media interest.  In 2012 I think we actually got the numbers a fair bit quicker.

Incredible though it may seem, I suppose it's possible that the reason the BBC haven't spilled the beans yet is that they genuinely don't know what the full numbers are.  It's conceivable that in the first instance they just keep track of who has been elected in each ward, and then wait for the councils themselves to publish the full results.  As far as I can see, not every council has done so yet (I can't find anything from the Western Isles, for example).

This matters enormously, because Fake Nooz is springing up all over the place in the absence of hard information.  Most disgracefully, the journalist John Rentoul repeatedly claimed it was an established fact that the SNP vote share had fallen - before finally admitting that he hadn't seen the vote totals and was just guessing.  His excuse was that STV is a proportional representation system, and on the basis of the BBC's notorious claim that the SNP had "notionally" lost seven seats, it was possible for him to conclude that the SNP's vote must also have fallen.  I can honestly say that is the most fatuous claim I have heard made about these elections so far (and the competition is stiff), for the following three reasons -

1) "Notional" election results are, by their very nature, only estimates.  Small errors are therefore almost inevitable, even if the methodology is basically sound (and there are often question marks over whether it is).  A 7-seat "notional" drop in the SNP's seat total is far, far too small for anyone - even the BBC - to be able to say with confidence that there definitely would have been a drop if the 2012 and 2017 elections had both taken place on the new boundaries.

2) STV is a proportional system, but it is not even intended to produce a result that is proportional to how people voted on first preferences alone.  Lower preferences are also taken into account if candidates are eliminated, or elected with surplus votes.  The allocation of seats in each ward will therefore often differ significantly from what the "popular vote" (ie. first preference votes) would lead you to expect.

3) Even leaving aside the issue of lower preferences, STV in the form we use in Scotland isn't all that proportional anyway.  There are too few councillors per ward to produce true proportionality across a local authority, let alone across the whole country.

Because of all those factors, it is perfectly possible that the SNP vote share has risen from the 32% achieved in 2012, in spite of the party's failure to secure a big increase in seats.  My reading of what Professor John Curtice said on the BBC results programme is that this is exactly what has happened.  While we're waiting for confirmation of that, I thought I'd try to tally up the popular vote from some individual councils, to at least give ourselves part of the picture.  I'll start with the really easy one - Glasgow, which is already available in full on Wikipedia.

Glasgow local election result :

SNP 41.0% (+8.4) : 70,239 votes
Labour 30.2% (-16.5) : 51,778 votes
Conservatives 14.6% (+8.7) : 25,018 votes
Greens 8.7% (+3.2) : 14,925 votes
Liberal Democrats 2.9% (n/c) : 5,013 votes 

*  *  *

Renfrewshire local election result :

SNP 37.6% (+2.3) : 23,467 votes
Labour 28.2% (-19.4) : 17,599 votes
Conservatives 21.0% (+11.9) : 13,124 votes
Liberal Democrats 4.1% (-0.3) : 2,580 votes
Greens 3.3% (n/a) : 2,030 votes

Total valid votes : 62,365

*  *  *

West Dunbartonshire local election result :

SNP 40.1% (+9.8)
Labour 33.6% (-13.0)
Conservatives 12.5% (+8.2)
Liberal Democrats 0.4% (n/a)
Greens 0.3% (n/a)

(Note : A minor party and independent candidates outpolled both the Lib Dems and Greens in West Dunbartonshire, but I'm just concentrating on the five main parties.)

*  *  *

My favourite tweet of the year so far, from Andy-SNP...

"Tory Facts:

1st man on moon - Buzz Aldrin
Winner 1966 World Cup - W Germany
Winner Tortoise & Hare - Hare
Scottish local elections - Tories"

And my second-favourite tweet of the year so far, from David Halliday...

"The 23% have spoken: no more referendums."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well done Aberdeen on being SPL champions finishing 30 points behind Celtic

    1. I think I like this Tory logic now. I remember we also win the League Cup.

    2. I think I like this Tory logic now. I remember we also win the League Cup.

  3. Thanks for starting the ball rolling.

  4. Did you not discuss Craig's projection of the Popular Vote published on his website? Does it have any credibility?

    1. Dornaidh it's only a projection, based on quite a lot of wards and changes in vote shares. I don't think it's far off mind you. But I didn't even do the SNP because my brain started to explode having done so many hard sums already with Tory and Labour!

    2. Thanks for your hard work, Craig. As you say on your blog it's unbelievable, but not unexpected, that the BBC hasn't published.

  5. We need to remember the tactic in play is setting the agenda and the delays allow those on the Unionist side to get out an anti-SNP message forist as they control the newspapers and BBC.
    The real figures released later don't have the same impact, the propaganda agenda is in play.

    1. They are fools, this way they have only galvanized SNP support. Let the Tories think they have won.

      It will make things much sweeter....whilst obviously hopefully ensuring the SNPs army of activists gets motivation to get out there....if they didnt before.

  6. Replies
    1. On a very low turnout and with several local councillors standing.

      I'm hopeful, as mentioned above, that this propaganda campaign is going to annoy a lot of people. Leading to them getting out and voting against pointy finger woman. A lot of my SNP friends never bothered voting (18-30 age group) but they will vote in June. I will also be going out campaigning shortly.

    2. And with 39 + 7 seats they have more than the 43 needed for a bare majority. Now we wait to see if the Greens will do a formal deal AND of course if the SNP group will ask them to.

      There is not one at Holyrood because Sturgeon did not even pick up the phone to Patrick Harvie. Those occasions in Holyrood where the Greens have voted against the SNP is them saying 'this is the consequence'.

      I hope the SNP group in Glasgow have learned the lesson.

    3. The SNP would be far wiser to form a minority administration rather than doing deals that could see unpopular policies implemented. Give the Greens too much and in five years time the council is back under Labour / Labour&Tory.

    4. For once I agree with you. Glasgow is going through quite a lot of infrastructure projects and regeneration, the Greens might want to scale this back. Some sort of confidence and supply agreement might be wiser.

    5. Or - horror of horrors - get help from Labour and the Tories, locking out the Greens? The SNP shares common ground with both of those parties, outside the area of constitutional politics.

  7. Have taken it upon myself to work out Renfrewshire (my area) from figures on the council site. As follows:

    Labour 17599 votes
    SNP 23494 votes
    Independents 3319 votes
    Green 2030 votes
    Lib Dem 2580 votes
    Conservative 13124 votes
    TUSC 89 votes
    SSP 125 votes
    UKIP 32 votes

    Total ballots cast: 63704 votes

    In vote shares (with rounding):

    Labour 28%
    SNP 37%
    Independents 5%
    Green 3%
    Lib Dem 4%
    Conservative 21%
    TUSC, SSP, and UKIP - all 0%

    This does come only to 98% because of rounding up and down. For instance, the SSP's vote share was actually around 0.2%.

    James, if it would be useful for me to do any others, just ask. I don't want to go off and replicate work, though!

    1. In fact, for more accuracy, the % to two decimal places:

      Lab 27.63%
      SNP 36.88%
      Independents 5.21%
      Green 3.19%
      Lib Dem 4.05%
      Conservative 20.60%
      TUSC 0.14%
      SSP 0.2%
      UKIP 0.05%

    2. In fact, it strikes me that the 'lost 2%' comes from rejected ballots. With these excluded, the total successful votes is 62365 and % are as follows:

      Labour 28.22%
      SNP 37.67%
      Independents 5.32%
      Green 3.26%
      Lib Dem 4.14%
      Conservatives 21.04%
      TUSC 0.14%
      SSP 0.2%
      UKIP 0.05%

      Can you tell me whether shares should be calculated with rejected ballots excluded in this way, James, or included like I did at first? Seems most sensible the latter way.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. With changes since 2012:

      SNP: 37.7% (+2.4)
      LAB: 28.2% (-19.4)
      CON: 21.0% (+11.9)
      IND: 5.3% (+3.7)
      LIB: 4.1% (-0.3)
      GRN: 3.3% (+3.3)
      SSP: 0.2% (-1.0)
      STUSC: 0.1% (-0.6)
      UKIP: 0.05% (+0.05)

      Like Glasgow, Labour down massively.

    5. Hi Johnny, I started double-checking your figures and found a discrepancy on the SNP vote. I've re-calculated the whole thing, checked it as thoroughly as I can, and added it to the blogpost. Percentages are calculated based on the valid vote only, ie. excluding rejected ballot papers. The whole thing took me about an hour, so I'm not sure I'll be able to stick to my plan of doing several other councils!

  8. Not bad. A lot of 'blue' villages in Renfrewshire with squadrons of 4x4s and massive houses.

  9. I challenged Rentoul on twitter on Friday evening regarding his comments. He referenced the BBC. I explained that that was as bad as referencing Wikipedia. As a sometime lecturer he should know that. I think he's as biased as the rest of the colonialists. He bleated "I'm Scottish". I explained that it was his view of Scotland that made him a colonialist and not his place of birth that gave him immunity from the charge. He got a tad upset, I suggested he went back to crayons and finger painting. We parted. I still wish my country to be independent. The colonialists may cohere around a rancidly vicious rape clause party and be given untrammelled space to vomit their lies, distortions and deceits but we will be independent.

    1. On current trends though, not for a very long time - decades, possibly - if ever.

      Time to put the insults aside and just accept that the British identity of others is just as valid as your Scottish identity.

    2. So its ok for the colonialists and rape clause apologists to hurl lies and insults but we've to be nice? Aye right.

    3. Lol - reread your last comment and try to find any part of it that would convert a floating voter / soft no to yes.

    4. Why do you think that is important to me? Honestly, having to suffer folk like you is like washing hankies.

    5. Because you need to do it to win.

    6. Sensible thing to say Indy's listen to Aido name calling wont win us independence. it's not necessary the facts should speak for themselves.
      i was speaking to a young man with a disability last week who was going to change from SNP to labour because they were at his door and told him if SNP got in they would stop bus passes, this would really affect him its a great so many people believe these lies and don't see the bigger picture they are voting for personal reasons out of fear. Once someone's they think is in authority tells them this its very hard to change their minds. Hope over fear lets hope 8th June will show a different picture and we let them know that yes we do want independence

    7. The act of listening to Aldo can be described in many ways, but "sensible" is not one of them.

    8. Aye Aldo, what kind of 'Britishness' are you proud of? Might want to be starting to think what that might be..

    9. Abolition of slavery, the introduction of human rights and democracy when the rest of Europe was absolutist, the standing alone against the corruption of the Catholic Church, an empire that brought civilisation to much of the globe, the peaceful deconstruction of that empire when its time had passed, the defeat of Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler and Soviet Communism, the defeat of the south in the American civil war - which we contributed to, the NHS, the welfare system, rule of law, sexual and gender equality, social liberalism, the independent judiciary, the best head of state in the world, freedom of the press, free at the point of use education, huge accomplishments in science, engineering and the arts.

      How's that for starters?

  10. SNP only 41% in Glasgow? I would have fully expected 60%+

    SNP+Green less than 50%. What was the Yes % in Glasgow, again - 54%?

    It looks like nationalism is in slight decline even in its heartlands. This is only reinforced when you consider that the SNP lost control of Dundee City Council - something I wouldn't have considered possible this side of 2050. But, it happened.

  11. Replies
    1. Nope. Us Tories are on the march!

    2. We noticed.
      Sashes,drums,the lot.

    3. Have you reported Stephen Fry for blasphemy?

    4. Non-practising. I'm pretty much agnostic now. Don't have the balls to go full atheist.

  12. It's not FPTP Aldo you tit. You are the Angry Weetabix of Scot Goes Pop.

  13. East Renfrewshire:

    Labour 7073
    SNP 9886
    Independents 6508
    Green 571
    Lib Dem 907
    Conservative 15588
    UKIP 121
    Social Democratic Party Scotland 12
    Scottish Libertarian Party 32

    Total first prefs cast: 40699


    Labour 17.38%
    SNP 24.29%
    Independents 15.99%
    Green 1.40%
    Lib Dems 2.23%
    Conservatives 38.30%
    UKIP 0.28%
    Social Democratic Party Scotland 0.03%
    Scottish Libertarian Party 0.08%

    1. The conservatives are taking that seat in the GE.

    2. Probably, but let's wait and see. Blair McDougall and his merry band of Tory vote-splitters could be just what the doctor ordered.

    3. I have some connections with east ren. Posh doesn't even begin to describe the place. You forget you're a 20 minute train ride from Glasgow. It really does have the feel of a posh London suburb. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, chartered surveyors, accountants. East Ren is the cream of the crop. Labour only got elected because Murphy was tory-lite. SNP got elected in a complete fluke - a one of, an historical abberation. It's going Tory this time and if it doesn't I'll never darken this forum again.

    4. The one thing we can be sure of is that you'd be back here within five seconds of an SNP win in East Renfrewshire, triumphantly telling us that you'd expected it all along, and that the second place for the Tories was staggeringly good.

  14. Wanted to do Inverclyde, but they have only the barest information up as yet.

  15. So, in retrospect it would have been wise to have used the majority gained in 2011 and changed the wards into 6/8 member?

    Also continue to carry the fight to the corrupt quisling media. there must be no hiding place for those who steal our money on pain of imprisonment then use it to attack us.

    1. Gerrymander the voting system and attack the media. You are in danger of out-trumping Trump.

    2. Genuine question, Aldo : how would making the voting system more proportional constitute "gerrymandering"? You confuse me sometimes.

    3. Shifting the goalposts to benefit your own party pretty much constitutes Gerrymandering. The voting system should be regulated by independent bodies, with any major changes backed by referenda. The government can't just change the rules to benefit.itself.

    4. Who said anything about doing it for their own benefit? If you make the system more proportional, you throw the power back to the voters and allow them to choose whoever they want.

    5. "Who said anything about doing it for their own benefit?"

      The guy who wrote the post I was replying to.

  16. West Dunbartonshire (this was on Wikipedia already)

    SNP 40.08% (+9.76%) 12,422 votes
    Labour 33.58% (-13.04%) 10,408 votes
    Conservative 12.48% (+8.23%) 3869 votes
    West Dunbartonshire Community 7.78% (NA) 2413 votes
    Independent 5.32% (-7.75%) 1648 votes
    Lib Dem 0.43% (NA) 133 votes
    Green 0.33% (NA) 103 votes

  17. East Dunbartonshire:

    SNP 13590 votes
    Lib Dem 7076 votes
    Labour 6538 votes
    Greens 2187 votes
    Conservatives 11569 votes
    Independent 5649 votes

    Shares (and changes from 2012 in brackets):
    SNP 29.2% (+3.8%)
    Conservative 24.8% (+9.4%)
    Lib Dem 15.2% (+0.3%)
    Labour 14% (-14.3%)
    Independents 12.1% (+6%)
    Greens 4.7% (+4.0%)

    Will stop posting these now, since I don't want to keep bombarding James if he doesn't have much time. Hope what I have posted has been of some use/interest.

    Suspect results will appear on Wikipedia soon anyway :)

    1. Although I am willing to keep doing them if useful of course :)

    2. Would have liked to have seen Inverclyde as SNP Leader there said they had most first preference , vote but Labour got 8 seats SNP 7 .

  18. Falkirk Results are on their page. My calculations may be wrong looks like SNP 39% Lab 21% Cons 24% on first preferences. Worth noting from what I can tell lib dems didn't stand NY councillors?

  19. South Lanarkshire:

    Conservative 27377
    Labour 33154
    Solidarity 308
    Lib Dem 5873
    Green 3372
    SNP 40786
    Independents 2844
    UKIP 457
    Scottish Unionist Party 129
    SSP 48

    Shares (with changes from 2012 in brackets):
    SNP 35.7 (-0.7%)
    Labour 29% (-14.2%)
    Conservatives 23.9% (+13.1%)
    Lib Dems 5.1% (+2.3%)
    Greens 2.9% (+1.5%)
    Independents 2.5% (-0.5%)
    UKIP 0.4% (-0.2%)
    Solidarity 0.3% (+0.1%)
    Scottish Unionist Party 0.1% (-0.2%)
    SSP 0% (n/a)

  20. Well Moray published their figures straight away.

    In short SNP 31.6% -7.8%
    Tories 36.1% +18.6

    That's the second time in 12 months the swing in Moray has been big enough to unseat Angus Robertson in a general election which we now know is in five weeks. It appears that where the Tories are really targeting the SNP, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire, Stirling and the Borders they are really hitting the mark. Even Alex Salmond admitted "something needs to be done" in Aberdeenshire before June 8th.

    1. The Tories shouldn't get too carried away on the strength of those figures. The turnout will be higher in the general election, and I'd be amazed if Angus Robertson doesn't have some sort of personal vote from people who otherwise wouldn't vote SNP. I agree it'll be tight, though.

    2. Why would non SNP people vote for him? He's a big partisan buffoon.

    3. Edith Snellgrove-WhitmanMay 7, 2017 at 4:50 PM

      So despite the Tories flooding the seats with direct mail and leaflets against the coming 2nd Referendum they couldn't get above mid 30's in Moray. MP's of all colours tend to attract a personal vote. In 2005 Moray was also targeted by Tories as a marginal seat but didn't go Tories despite the SNP dropping to below 20% in the polls.

    4. With respect, Aldo, you shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that floating voters view the world through the same lens that you do. Incumbent MPs sometimes get a small bonus, party leaders generally get a big bonus.

    5. Well the Tory candidate isn't an unknown either it's MSP Douglas Ross. The man who added 5% to Tory voteshare in the middle of an SNP landslide the same man who added 18% vote share in the Holyrood election last year. Going just on National swing in the polls Robertson looks like the the most certain casualty taking into account local voting trends even more so. Robertson is probably 50/50 at best.

    6. Edith, Tories added 18% to their vote in Moray. I'd say the leaflets worked.

    7. He's not a party leader. He's a mouthpiece for Sturgeon and has been responsible for the smashing of many TVs and radios during PMQs. I doubt many will rush to his defence. It's not as if he's some towering figure like Tony Benn or has any particular power, like a cabinet member.

    8. "Who's Winston Churchill?"

      Said someone in 1900, possibly...

  21. It would be great to see the pretenscious git Robertson take a fall. Upper middle class Tartan Tory. He must feel uncomfortable sitting next to the Paisley slapper blue nose.

  22. Well I've had a go at Aberdeen.

    2012 figures from Wikipedia
    2017 figures calculated from ACC website

    Labour 16,264 29.7%
    SNP 17,131 31.3%
    Liberal 8,293 15.1%
    Tories 5,285 9.7%
    Greens 1,342 2.45%


    Labour 12,496 17.7%
    SNP 22,900 32.4%
    Liberal 10,753 15.2%
    Tories 17,427 24.7%
    Greens 1,538 2.18%

    1. There were some astonishing results in Aberdeen such as Bridge of Don. Tory share of first preferences increased from 6 to 29%. Tory candidate actually topped the ballot. Bridge of Don is a major component of Gordon.

    2. There is no doubt there is a fight on, but they didn't do that well in Bridge of Don. 25.8% compared with SNP on 34.1%

      SNP didn't top the poll, but there were two of them and they were both elected, which is the aim.

    3. Aberdeen. That place is to oil what Detroit is to the motor industry. No wonder they've turned on the SNP. Sturgeon and co still selling the dream of an oil boom. But Aberdonians know otherwise.

    4. Aldo, I don't know how to break the news to you, old chap, but the SNP made significant gains in Aberdeen on Thursday and are now by far the largest party on the city council. You must have got the place mixed up with somewhere else. (Drymen?)

    5. "Largest party on the city council"

      That'll be another unionist majority then.

  23. Highland
    Party Votes Proportion Comment
    Labour 6218 6.90%
    SNP 22459 24.93%
    Liberal 11567 12.84%
    Cons 14095 15.65%
    Greens 2832 3.14% 8 candidates
    Ind+other 32909 36.53%

  24. A generał picture is beginning to emerge of SNP in the 30s, Tories in the 20s, everyone else in the teens or single figures. That's a very decent spread and points to a future in which true multi party politics can re-emerge in Scotland. The SNP can crow about being the winner - but one third of the vote for the main separatist party is no great shakes.

    The big question now is how do those independent and minority votes redistribute in the GE? Someone once told me that most Scottish independent candidates are closet tories. If that's true, the SNP could be in a wee spot of bother next month.

    1. Actually, the picture that is emerging is of the Tories in the low 20s - way, way below recent opinion poll findings.

    2. I daresay they'll take a fair old chunk of that sizeable 'independent' vote in the GE itself.

    3. So will other parties - the Tories don't own that vote.

    4. But 'independents' in Scotland are usually closet Tories, too afraid to run under the tory banner incase someone throws rotten fruit at them.

  25. I've worked out the first preference votes for Dumfries & Galloway and it shows pretty much the same pattern as everywhere else; the SNP vote holding firm and slightly increasing and the Tories increasing massively at the expense of Labour.

    SNP 20.7% (+1.2%)
    Tories 37.1% (+10.5%)
    Labour 17.7% (-11.6%)
    Independent 19.9% (+1.9%)
    Lib Dem 2.3% (-1.6%)
    Green 1.8% (n/c)
    Libertarian 0.2% (+0.2%)
    UKIP n/a (-0.7%)

    1. Staggering. The SNP won that seat, now polling 21% (rounding up). Something is afoot here and its pretty far from being trivial.

    2. Aldo, there are only so many times you can pretend to be "staggered" by really rather predictable numbers. Incidentally, the Dumfries and Galloway council area covers more than one constituency - I get the distinct impression you're not aware of that.

    3. Is aldo actually from scotland. I am across the ocean and i could follow all the Posts here pro snp and otherwise by simply toggling back and forth between this site, the guardian, wikipedia and occasionally google maps. I cant even find half of aldo' s places or info. He is like " last time snp got 21% in west shropesgire and they won the EU seat, but this time they got 23% and they got nothing"

  26. First preference votes now published.

    SNP 32.3%
    Con 25.3%
    Lab 20.2%
    Ind 10.5%
    L-D 6.8%
    Grn 4.1%