A TNS poll out this morning offers the following predictions
Constituency vote Regional List
The net result, if one uses Scotland Votes (http://www.scotlandvotes.com/holyrood) would be
SNP 73 seats
Labour 26 seats
Conservatives 20 seats
Liberal Democrats 6 seats
Greens 4 seats
In the constituency vote the SNP win 69 seats, Labour are wiped out, the Tories win 3 seats and the Lib Dems hang on in Shetland.
All of this assumes a uniform swing and no effective local issues – always dangerous assumptions. But note this – that with 52% of the regional list vote, the SNP win 4 regional seats – not even one in every region. While Labour, totally blitzed in the constituencies, win no fewer than 26 regional seats but with 19% of the regional vote which is closer to one third than half the SNP regional vote. With 17% – again nearly a third of the SNP regional vote – the Tories win 17 regional seats (having three constituencies), more than four times the regional seats won by the SNP.
Two points from this
While the use of Proportional Representation and DeHondt was to give Scotland a more democratic Parliament, let’s be clear too that the difficulty that is normally encountered with such systems for a single party to secure a majority was not out of mind either. If we think back to the AV referendum in 2011, the Labour Party was split on that issue. While Ed Miliband was in favour, many of his cabinet – in particular the Blairites, including John Healey and Caroline Flint, as well former ministers such as David Blunkett, Lord Prescott and Margaret Beckett – actively campaigned against AV. There is a strong strand of support for First Past the Post in the Labour Party. An important reason for the voting system in Scotland was that Labour were in partnership with the Liberal Democrats when plans for the Scottish Parliament were being drawn up by the Convention, and some form of PR would be a key demand of theirs to go along with the plan. However, the SNP chose to boycott the Convention. Would things have been different had they participated?
The problems with advising SNP constituency voters on how to use their second vote are well known – not every SNP voter is happily going to vote for the main alternatives (RISE, Solidarity or Green) and if the vote is split between them, it allows the Unionist parties to profit. But where we are, with SNPx2, will allow the Unionist parties to profit. The opposition given the SNP’s 73 seats will number 56, but the Unionist opposition (Labour + Conservative + Liberal Democrat) will be 93% of that. Might we have had a more desirable outcome had there been Yes candidates run at Regional level, distinct from the SNP? Could this have given us the “independence Parliament” that Jim Sillars have called for, where the debate is not about “if independence”, but about “how independence” and “the reality of independence” – i.e. not about whether we should be independent, but debating how best to achieve this and what kind of Scotland we want to use our independence to create and how we will do this? Clearly we have missed the opportunity for this for next May. Instead we have locked ourselves into the same old carry on at Holyrood. Does anyone think that today’s FMQs is a good advert for an independent Scotland (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35459606 and start at 12.02)? We have to look forward to five more years of the Kezia and Ruth Show.
It might also be worthwhile bearing in mind what the Presiding Officer has had to say at the end of FMQs –
“Some of the behaviour in during first minister’s questions has been quite unacceptable. Members watch the proceedings again and basically take a long hard look at themselves.”
Today was hardly an edifying spectacle, and not a good advert for an independent Parliament (mind you, neither is Westminster). Surely we cannot make the same mistake again in five years? We simply have to find a way to resolve the problems of how the Regional List works. But for now, on the basis of this poll, it looks very much like ‘business as usual’.