Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Chase For Seats

One of the inaccuracies trotted out for this election is the one put forward by Alex Salmond that the second preference vote is the one used to vote for your preference for First Minister.  Rubbish!

A cursory look at the results of the previous Holyrood Elections will show that it’s the First Past The Post seats that if not win you the election, certainly provide a solid foundation for victory.  In 1999 Labour won 53 FPTP seats, a huge number which only meant that Dewar only picked up a further 3 list seats.  The SNP’s failure to pick up enough constituency seats did for them here, as they finished behind the Lib Dems after the constituency votes were counted.  Four years later it was the same story as Labour lost 7 seats but still won 46 FPTP seats.  The SNP did pick up a couple of constituency seats, but nowhere near enough required.  Especially as the second preference vote was split between the SNP, the Greens & the SSP.

Four years ago was a different story.  The SNP picked up 21 FPTP seats, a solid platform for them to take a further 26 list seats which enabled them to become the largest party by one.  There are two morals here for the SNP.  Firstly the constituency vote is THE significant battleground.  The second moral is that they need to continue to retain a huge percentage of the constituency vote into the list vote.

In sharp contrast, because Labour had relied on the constituency vote in the past, they have not paid as much attention to the list vote. As a result, their list votes lag badly behind the constituency vote.  In 1999 the difference was 121,574 votes. In 2003 the difference was 98,500 votes.  In 2007 the difference was 52,813 (gathering 3, 4 and 9 seats respectively).

Results are expected to begin to be announced around about 1am tomorrow Whatever happens, we can say about tonight is that any SNP gains will spell trouble for Iain Gray.

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