Here are a few assorted thoughts about yesterday’s election. Please refer also to my d’Hondt tables.
In spite of the media trying to talk up UKIP, they were nowhere to be seen. They didn’t get close to winning a list seat in any of the regions. They clearly shouldn’t be included in any TV debates in Scotland in the future.
The Lib Dems have become Tory substitutes
The Lib Dems didn’t do well at all in general (their list support was flat), but they still managed to win three seats with big majorities, and in these seats there was no swing to the Conservatives. It looks like they’ve become substitutes for the Tories in specific places.
If the SNP had won a majority yesterday, it’s quite clear that they would have been entitled to call a new indyref if the UK votes in favour of Brexit next month. However, the Green position is different, so it makes it much harder to act quickly if this happens. It’s not ideal if Scotland has to leave the EU together with the rUK in 2018, only to rejoin in 2022 — it would have been much better to take over the UK’s membership. How can a quick indyref2 now be arranged if events happen? The SNP must sit down with the Greens and discuss this.
What if the SNP had ignored the constituencies?
If the SNP hadn’t put up constituency candidates and instead had relied solely on the list vote, they would have lost one seat to Labour — otherwise the result would have been the same. The difference is due to Mid Scotland and Fife, where the SNP won one seat more than they were due based on the list vote, and this cost Thomas Docherty the list seat that he would otherwise have won.
What if the SNP had ignored the lists?
The SNP got three list seats in South Scotland, and one in the Highlands and Islands. In all other seats the list vote was completely wasted.
What if all Greens had voted SNP?
If the Green party had disbanded before the election and all their voters had cast their list vote for the SNP instead, the SNP would have gained the six seats that the Greens won in reality. Neither more nor less. In other words, the Yes parties would still have won 69 seats in total. Strangely, however, it would have moved one seat from the Tories in South Scotland to Labour in Mid Scotland and Fife.
What if all SNP voters had voted Green on the list?
If the SNP had formed some sort of Yes alliance with the Greens and told all their supporters to vote Green on the list, it would have cost them the four seats mentioned above. However, it would have had huge consequences for the other parties: Greens 37 (+31), Tories 16 (–15), Labour 13 (–11), Lib Dems 4 (–1).
Was it an error to pursue both votes?
If the SNP would have obtained almost the same result by ignoring either the first or the second vote, I can help wondering whether the #bothvotesSNP strategy was an error.
Would it have produced better results to have focused wholehearted on one of the two votes? For instance: “If you’re in favour of independence, please give your constituency vote to the SNP. Feel free to vote Green or RISE on the list, but we need your first vote!” Or: “Please vote SNP on the list. Use your constituency vote to elect the best local candidate, but if you want Nicola to be lead the Scottish Government, you must vote SNP on the list!”
The only problem I can see with this is that the optimal strategy varies from region to region. Ideally, the SNP should have pursued list votes in South Scotland and in the Highlands and Islands, and constituency votes elsewhere.
The voting system must be replaced
I’ve said it before, but I really don’t like the Additional Member System used in Holyrood elections. It’s very clear that many people get confused by the system, and this leads to a lot of unnecessary infighting. Holyrood will be in charge of its own voting system soon, and I believe it must be changed as a matter of priority!