Tactical voting on the lists

Using the results of the 2011 Central Scotland Region to look at how tactical voting on the list effects the result in Scottish Parliamentary elections.

The Central Scotland region has nine constituency seats and seven list seats. The results in 2011 for the constituency seats were:

  1. SNP: 6
  2. Labour: 3

Regional list votes numbers:

  1. SNP: 108,261
  2. Labour: 82,459
  3. Conservative: 14,870
  4. Green: 5,634
  5. Lib Dem: 3,318

The regional list seats are allocated using an additional member system. The resulting seat allocation was:

  1. SNP 9 (6 constituency + 3 list seats)
  2. Labour 6 (3 constituency + 3 list seats)
  3. Conservative 1 (1 list seat).


We will now look at tactical voting by SNP voters who give their list vote to the Greens. This assumes that the constituency voting is unchanged.

With a 5% switch, the SNP have lost a seat and Labour have gained a seat. A gain of one for Unionist parties.


With a 10% switch, the SNP have lost a seat and the Greens have gained a seat. No change for Independence/Unionist seat ratio.


With a 15% switch, the SNP have lost 2 seats, and both Labour and the Greens have gained a seat. A gain of one for Unionist parties.


With a 20% switch, the SNP have lost two list seats to the Greens. No change for Independence/Unionist ratio.4

With a 25% switch, the SNP have lost all of their list seats. Labour gain two, and the Greens gain one. A gain of one for Unionist parties.


With a 30% switch, the SNP lose all their list seats to the Greens. No change for the Independence/Unionist ratio. The results are the same for switches of 35%, 40%, and 45%.6

With a 50% switch, the SNP lose all their list seats, Labour lose one, and the Greens gain four. A gain of one for Independence parties. Finally, at a 50% switch, do Independence parties gain from tactical voting! The results are the same for switches 55% and 60%.


With a 65% switch, the Conservatives lose their only list seat to the Greens! Maybe it’s all worthwhile – if only you could persuade 65% of SNP list voters to switch to the Greens. The result remains the same for switches of 70%, 75%, 80%, and 85%.


With a 90%, 95%, and 100% switch, the Greens take another list seat from Labour.

18In summary, it is probably safe to assume that you will not be able to persuade a large percentage of SNP voters to switch their list vote to another party. It is then possible that Unionist parties will gain from a small switch.

Day one thousand nine hundred and forty

From the Wee Ginger Dug

This is a country where it’s not wrong for politicians to lie. It’s not wrong for journalists to mislead. It’s not wrong for the establishment to deceive. It’s only wrong when ordinary people demand that the powerful be held to the standards that the powerful rule for the rest of us. Then it’s bullying, then it’s abuse when ordinary people from Orkney have the audacity to demand that their political representatives abide by the same standards of common decency that the rest of us are obliged to uphold. And that’s what provokes the outrage of the powerful, not the lies or the deceit, but the nerve of the little people who think big.

Day one thousand three hundred and two

Swim at the Tryst: 3200m.


Not pea & ham

My first political meme. Based on people who say: “I’m a proud Scot, but…[insert some apocalytic prognostication for Scotland after independence].” And backed up with: “vote no and we promise to give you more powers (honest)”, ie, there could be some jam in the future.

From the Herald, February 28th 1979:

Mrs Margaret Thatcher gave a pledge yesterday that a No vote in tomorrow’s referendum does not mean the devolution question will be buried.

The Buttery

Day two hundred and eighty-four


Python programming: Sexy MSP.

I read a BBC news story [not this one – can’t find the original] about a website (sexymp.co.uk) that asks you to rank the attractiveness of MPs. For purely didactic reasons, I created a similar page for MPSs.

  • The pages are written in Python.
  • The data is stored in an Sqlite3 database – only a test, not useful for high concurrency.
  • I used the Elo rating system to rank the MSPs – each MSP starts with a score of 1000. This is the system used to rate chess players. I wrote this function in javascript so that the calculation is done on the client side rather than on the server. (Initially written in Python on the server.)
  • Some CSS to create borders with rounded corners and box-shadows.
  • No table tags – using CSS to format page layout.
  • MSP photographs obtained from the Scottish Parliament.

    The things they do

    Politicians. The things they have to do. Or maybe it’s the things they are willing to do.

    Greg McClymont, applying a three-line whip to one of his colleagues

    “I was surprised, and pleased, to get a call from Ed Miliband asking me to become a Whip. It is a new challenge, which I very much look forward to.

    The downside to this is that I will have to resign from the Science & Technology and Business, Innovation & Skills Select Committees of which I am a member. I enjoyed the work I carried out on each of these committees and will miss it.”

    Rather than do useful work on a committee on our behalf, Dr McClymont tells his colleagues to toe the line on behalf of his political masters.