One thing that baffled me about the reaction of Wings supporters to my rebuttal of Gavin Barrie's article the other day is that they seemed offended and outraged that I had dared to reply to a piece that ended by directly challenging me and others (ie. those that had taken issue with Mr Barrie's argument) to "make their case". The whole thing has just got even more peculiar - because Mr Barrie posted on this blog tonight to tell me to "just stop", by which he appeared to mean that I should stop making the case he had challenged me to make. Then, in another dramatic plot twist, he immediately deleted that comment and instead posted another one asking me even more questions about the subject he had just told me to shut up about. He finished by demanding that I answer his questions, and addressed me as "matey boy", which admittedly is an exciting promotion from "dishonest c**t".
I'm more than happy to answer Mr Barrie's questions.
Question 1. "So James, what does your own modelling of the Holyrood voting system indicate?"
Answer: My "modelling" strongly indicates (ie. this is accepted fact) that any small party that fails to gain around 5% of the vote in any electoral region is highly unlikely to take a seat in that region. Any votes that such a party takes away from larger pro-indy parties will make it harder for those parties to win list seats, and could therefore reduce the overall level of pro-indy representation in the Scottish Parliament. I would be very surprised if anyone else's "modelling" shows anything different, given that it's an inescapable statement of the obvious.
Question 2. "Have you worked out the optimum number of constituency seats that would return the maximum regional seats and hence maximum SNP control of Holyrood?
Because, that might just mean, perhaps, we could do all of this without standing another party, but it would require a feasibility analysis and you know, a detailed voting model, from someone who understands the Holyrood voting mechanism, the likely voting patterns across regions based on historical analysis and a knowledge of demographic groups that live there...
I've done it. In your own time, matey boy."
Answer: No, I have not worked out the "optimum number of constituency seats" because a) it's incalculable without making some thoroughly dodgy assumptions (perish the thought that Mr Barrie would make any of those), b) it weirdly implies that winning more than the 'optimum' would somehow reduce the overall level of SNP representation, which is arithmetically impossible, and c) it's not actually an interesting or helpful question anyway, except to someone who believes that it's possible to achieve a set number of constituency seats by sheer force of will. This is the whole problem with the Wings party wheeze - it's no more possible to click your fingers and get 57 or 63 or 69 SNP constituency seats than it is to click your fingers and get the fantastical percentage of the list vote for the Wings party that Mr Barrie was breezily taking as read in his article.
I'm also puzzled by Mr Barrie's comment that "perhaps, we could do all of this without standing another party". What is "all of this"? If he means winning a pro-independence majority at Holyrood, we already know we can "do all of this" without the help of a Wings party, because we've done it with a bit to spare in both of the last two elections, and as it happens opinion polls currently suggest we're on course to do it again next time. If he means something over and above a majority, why would we need to do that, and more to the point, why would we take stupid risks in pursuit of something we don't actually need to do?
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Polite notice: Any comments posted on this thread by Wings supporters saying "boooring", "yawn", "give it a rest", "get to f***, d***wad", etc, etc, etc, will be deleted. Mr Barrie asked questions, demanded that I answer them, and I have done as he demanded. Neither he nor anyone else can have any complaints about this post.