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...
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."