Just as an interesting addendum to the previous post about the increasing possibility that the UK may take part in this May's European Parliament election after all, here is the result of the 2014 Euro-election in Scotland...
Liberal Democrats 7.1%
Scotland has six seats in the European Parliament, and there was never any real doubt about where five of them would go - the SNP and Labour were both bound to take at least two each, and the Tories at least one. But the final seat was a dogfight, and several parties were able to make a plausible case for being in the running to win it. You might remember that the Greens did their usual thing of telling SNP voters to switch "tactically" - supposedly to thwart UKIP. But in fact if UKIP hadn't been there, the SNP would have claimed the elusive third seat that they had been trying and failing to win ever since proportional representation was first introduced in 1999.
Under the d'Hondt system, each seat is distributed individually, with the vote for each party being divided by the number of seats they have already won, plus one. So using percentages rather than absolute numbers for convenience, here is how the calculation looked for the final seat in 2014 -
Liberal Democrats 7.1%
Why does this matter for any forthcoming election in May? Because we know that the "Kipper" vote is likely to be split in a way that it wasn't five years ago. Nigel Farage, David Coburn and others will stand for their new Brexit Party, and will take a lot of UKIP voters with them - but probably not all, simply because the UKIP brand is so well-established. (Indeed, a lot of people may well vote UKIP on the false assumption that Farage is still a member or even the leader.) I suspect the two parties may 'knock each other out', and divide the hardline Brexit vote in such a way that it's impossible for either to win a seat in Scotland.
The Lib Dems have been quietly doing quite well in recent Scottish polls, but they may suffer a similar fate if the Independent Group feel compelled to enter the fray. At least in Britain-wide polls, the Lib Dem vote generally seems to be significantly lower if the Independent Group are offered as an option, presumably because the Lib Dem and TIG votes are drawn from the same centrist pool.
Effectively this means that the SNP's chances of winning a third seat this year may not be seriously threatened by either UKIP or the Lib Dems. The likelihood is that the Tories will comfortably win two seats this time, which could leave the final seat as a straight fight between the SNP and Labour. If, for example, Labour take 21% of the vote, the SNP would probably win the final seat with 32% or higher. (It may seem obvious that the SNP should be doing a lot better than 32%, but voting patterns in European elections have traditionally been a little different.)
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Undoubtedly the most amusing part of tonight's votes was when the commentator on BBC Parliament revealed that David Mundell had abstained on the main motion, and mused that this might lead to resignation. Obviously nobody had bothered to tell this particular BBC employee about the only cast-iron law of modern politics - ie. that David Mundell never, ever resigns under any circumstances whatsoever. Sure enough, it turned out that the traditional rules had been relaxed to allow ministers to defy a three-line whip without resigning or being sacked, as long as they 'only' abstained rather than voting with the opposition. A government that has to go to such extreme lengths because it can't afford to lose David Mundell is in a very dark place indeed.
And I doubt it will prove to be a cost-free action - Brexiteer ministers will now expect (and demand) the same right to abstain on future important votes with impunity. Collective cabinet responsibility as we know it has ceased to exist, which could make an early general election unavoidable.