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So, after a rather fraught last session, the current parliament has been dissolved and the starting pistol fired on the marathon six week election campaign which, depending on results could have a significant impact on the short to medium prospects of an independence referendum and, more immediately, the policy for recovery from the shock to many of our systems of the pandemic.

Unless something completely dramatic and unexpected occurs, it is clear that the SNP will be, far and away the largest party in the new parliament just as they were in the last parliament and the parliament before that.

The only real intrigue in that regard is whether they will, for the second time, gain an outright majority of seats in a voting system designed to prevent precisely that. Current polling suggests that will be a very close run thing which may come down to a single seat.

Who then will come second and form the official opposition? In recent times that has been the Conservatives. They firmly nudged Labour into third place in 2016 led by the charismatic and, for a Scottish Tory, popular Ruth Davidson who was also, at that time at least, rather politically astute, by contrast the Scottish Labour leader was very much lacking, in fact, I had to refresh my memory regards who was their leader at that time.

Contrast that to the present day. Both parties vying for the silver medal have new leaders. In my view, Anas Sarwar is measured, engaging, charming and, in the dog days of the last parliament showed himself to be measured and politically quite sure footed.

The linesman, on the other hand, has about as much charisma as Jackson Carlaw, the last permanent holder of the position and is, in my view, charmless and completely lacking in personality. Further, in those same dog days, he showed that he is impetuous, politically naive and generally inept and with with regard to the doomed vote of no confidence in the First Minister, he placed the cart so far in front of the horse that there was never going to be any prospect of uniting the two.

For those reasons, I would expect Labour to supplant the Scottish Tories as the official opposition.

As far as the minor parties are concerned, I can't really see the Lib Dems moving from their current total of 5 seats by more than a single seat up or down.

Until Alec Salmond's announcement today I would have predicted a modest increase in the representation of the Greens from their current total of 6. I suspect that there will be 8-10 members representing pro independence parties elected on the regional lists. I doubt, the way the system is designed, more than 1 or 2 will be from the governing party and it will be intriguing now to see whether those will be Green MSPs or from the new party. My personal hunch is that the only candidate of the 'Alba Party' who stands a realistic prospect of election is AS himself and that is, by no means, certain.

Interesting few weeks in prospect.

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Simplified explanation - the number of constituency and regional votes are entered into a big spreadsheet and then the SNP are declared the winner!

They won 62 out of 73 constituencies. I can only dream of being rejected like that

There are thousands of Lib Dems who would rather vote Conservative than countenance the people of Scotland having the opportunity to decide on their own future.

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Just watched the first leaders debate.

I thought that Willie Rennie, Anas Sarwar, Lorna Slater and Nicola Sturgeon were all impressive with the Labour leader perhaps edging it.

However, dear oh dear, just how appalling and unpleasant is Douglas Ross.

If that is going to be the tone and calibre of his contribution throughout the campaign the Scottish Tories are at serious risk of trailing in a very distant third and deservedly so.

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Ross and, the previously impressive, Davidson have been very poor in recent comments and actions. It may be that Davidson was doing Ross’s work for him in Parliamentary exchanges, but it has done them no favours. I doubt it will be a “Poll Tax rout” but they will lose out significantly if they don’t change their approach.

Sarwar is the first Labour leader for a while who comes across well. It will be interesting to see if Labour can regain ground in their traditional heartlands, particularly in and around Glasgow. 

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The current polls are looking broadly similar to the 2016 result but with the SNP having captured a bit of the Labour vote.  Whether Ross is perceived as doing well or badly, I can't see those who have supported the Tories in the past not doing so again, nor can I see them attracting new support from elsewhere.  I like Rennie, but politics has become increasingly polarised and folk just aren't voting for the middle ground these days.  The Tories and Lib Dems are going to be largely irrelevant to the outcome.

Sarwar is the key to this election.  The SNP's success has been at the expense of Labour more than the other parties and hence it is Labour who are the party most likely to take votes from the SNP.  Labour have been badly served by their leaders both at UK and Scottish level.  Leonard was so poor that at FM questions he had more difficulty reading his questions than Sturgeon did in answering them.  Sarwar has made an impressive start as leader and could well make some significant inroads into the SNP's lead.  With Salmond taking a slice of the nationalist vote too, the SNP will do well if they manage to equal their vote share of 5 years ago.

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I’m not so sure about the Tory situation. They have done well when Labour have been struggling, in large part due to the way Davidson came across.

They have lost that, so if Ross does not appeal to those Davidson won round, they are likely to lose ground.

The second votes may be more crucial than normal to the outcome given the presence of Salmond’s party and the likely heavy success in the constituency seats by the SNP.

With the count being slower than usual, all will be clear some time on 8 May. 

Edited by Robert
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, DoofersDad said:

The current polls are looking broadly similar to the 2016 result but with the SNP having captured a bit of the Labour vote.  Whether Ross is perceived as doing well or badly, I can't see those who have supported the Tories in the past not doing so again, nor can I see them attracting new support from elsewhere.  I like Rennie, but politics has become increasingly polarised and folk just aren't voting for the middle ground these days.  The Tories and Lib Dems are going to be largely irrelevant to the outcome.

Sarwar is the key to this election.  The SNP's success has been at the expense of Labour more than the other parties and hence it is Labour who are the party most likely to take votes from the SNP.  Labour have been badly served by their leaders both at UK and Scottish level.  Leonard was so poor that at FM questions he had more difficulty reading his questions than Sturgeon did in answering them.  Sarwar has made an impressive start as leader and could well make some significant inroads into the SNP's lead.  With Salmond taking a slice of the nationalist vote too, the SNP will do well if they manage to equal their vote share of 5 years ago.

I think that, for this election at least, Labour will be more of a threat to the Tories than the SNP.

The fault line in Scottish politics is the constitution and support for independence is circa 50% and, unless something dramatic happens over the next 5 weeks, the SNP are likely to get close to that figure in the constituency vote and will thus Hoover up all but half a dozen or so of the seats available in that manner. Whether enough for an outright majority remains a moot point.

That leaves the remaining constituency seats and Pretty well all of the list seats to fight over.

In 2016, under the astute leadership of Ruth Davidson, the Tories convinced more of the Unionist voters that they were the more effective barrier to another independence referendum than Labour who were then somewhat ambivalent on the issue.

Anas Sarwar has made it abundantly clear that Labour are firmly opposed to a plebiscite on the constitution which, while it makes it very unlikely that his party will attract back many ,if any,of the droves of voters who have abandoned Labour for the SNP in recent elections they might be seen as the safer pair of hands in holding the SNP to account and trying to at least delay a vote on independence among those 50% or so of voters for whom preserving the Union is important. Especially so with the new Tory leader proving so immature and inept.

As for the Lib Dems, they are at serious risk of becoming almost irrelevant both at Westminster and Holyrood. Even with the much fairer voting system we have here for Scottish elections they could very well end up the 6th largest party behind the SNP, Labour, The Tories, The Greens and the Alex Party and probably in that order. A sad and deeply worrying state of affairs for a party who were in government, albeit in coalition, at Holyrood in the early days of the parliament and similarly at Westminster even more recently than that.

I am one of those sad geeks who sits up in front of the television until the small hours on election night until all of the results are in and digested. I will miss that element this time around when we will all likely have to wait until the Sunday to see how things have panned out.

Finally, whatever our political leanings, I think we should all take a moment to reflect on the thousands of individuals who have worked and will continue to work both at national and local level to ensure that democracy continues and we can have a safe and fair election at this difficult time and, whatever we think of our mainstream parties and politicians we can be confident that, ince the dust has settled and the votes have been counted  all will accept the result and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of these people rather than making dangerous and outrageous claims, based on no reality whatsoever that the election had been 'stolen' from them and for that we should all be thankful.

Edited by Kingsmills
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Whilst opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate nowadays, the first one I’ve heard reported has the Alba party at 3%. Will that be enough for any List seats?

I see Douglas Ross is on the Tory list for the Highlands and Islands rather than the North East:

https://www.highland.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/23513/handi_regional_-_sp_notice_of_poll.pdf

As he is top of their list, it is inevitable he will be elected.

Our constituency options are:

https://www.highland.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/23506/in_-_sp_notice_of_poll_and_situation_of_polling_places.pdf 

 

 

Edited by Robert
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3% would not be enough.  The best description of the system used to calculate the votes is from "The Ferret".  They describe it like this.

 

"This system allocates seats by taking the number of regional votes a party gets, and dividing it by the number of MSPs that party wins within that region, plus one.

For example, if Party A had one MSP elected in the region through the constituency vote, their number of list votes would be divided by two (number of MSPs + 1). So if they received 20,000 list votes, their number would be 10,000.

Let’s say this was higher than the next highest, Party B, who received 8,000 votes and had no MSPs elected in constituencies. Party B’s vote would be divided by 1 (Number of MSPs + 1) and stay the same. Party A would then win the first round and get one MSP elected.

In round two, this MSP would be added to Party A’s calculation, so their 20,000 would now be divided by three (number of MSPs + 1), giving them 6,667. This would be lower than Party B’s number of 8,000, so Party B would get an MSP in the second round. This would continue until all the regional MSP places are assigned."

 

The percentage needed for a seat is not fixed and would depend on the way the votes are split between the various parties.  A party standing on just the regional list would probably need at least 5% of the vote,  For instance, in 2016, the Greens in NE Scotland got 4.9% of the vote and got no seats, but they did win a seat in West Scotland with 5.3%.

 

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Simplified explanation - the number of constituency and regional votes are entered into a big spreadsheet and then the SNP are declared the winner!

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8 hours ago, Yngwie said:

Simplified explanation - the number of constituency and regional votes are entered into a big spreadsheet and then the SNP are declared the winner!

That would do for me but don't think Douglas Ross would be happy :lol:

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3 hours ago, IBM said:

That would do for me but don't think Douglas Ross would be happy :lol:

He'll be decidedly less happy when he leads the Tories into third place.

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On 4/2/2021 at 8:56 AM, Robert said:

Whilst opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate nowadays, the first one I’ve heard reported has the Alba party at 3%. Will that be enough for any List seats?

I see Douglas Ross is on the Tory list for the Highlands and Islands rather than the North East:

https://www.highland.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/23513/handi_regional_-_sp_notice_of_poll.pdf

As he is top of their list, it is inevitable he will be elected.

Our constituency options are:

https://www.highland.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/23506/in_-_sp_notice_of_poll_and_situation_of_polling_places.pdf 

 

 

Be fair....that 3% was for a party 3/4 days old at the time....the field work was done on on 29th/30th March, and Alba with Alex Salmond was only announced on 26th.  Seems to me that 3% is a good start.

Why wouldn't Douglas Ross be in the H&I list? Most of Moray was put in the Highlands & Islands region on devolution, bar the Keith/Cullen end which is in Banffshire and Buchan Coast and on NE Scotland list for Scottish Elections.

If Douglas Ross hadn't been top of the Tory list, I maybe would have voted Tory1 to try and elect Tim Eagle and maybe help lose Douglas his list seat..but that is unlikely particularly given the numbers of Tories in Moray....so it looks as if I'll have to do as I'm told by Alba and go for SNP1 (firmly holding my nose) and Alba2..and hope that the SNP don't get their top list candidate elected as she's an SNP placeperson, not the person voted to be top of the list by the membership.

 

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I thought that the format for the second debate worked better than the first and that it was chaired rather more competently than Sarah Smith managed for the debate hosted by the BBC.

I don't think that there was an outright winner this time but, once again, the poorest performance was from Douglas Ross but, to be fair, he did not fo quite so disastrously badly as the first time.

I imagine that the SNP will emerge the happiest as, being so far in the lead in the polls, they had most to lose but did not appear to suffer any serious damage.

So far, campaigning does not appear to have moved the dial very much other than very slightly in favour of the SNP and the Greens.

At the start of the campaign the polls were suggesting that the governing party would be returned with around 50% of the constituency vote and about 10% less than that on the list leaving them hovering close to an outright majority on their own and with the almost certain prospect of a fairly substantial majority for independence supporting parties with an additional ten seats or so. The intrigue will be whether those independence supporting list MSPs will all be Greens or whether the Alba Party will break through. Polls thus far suggest probably not.

So far it has been a bit of a phoney war but, with the publication this week of detailed manifestos, that could yet change.

The most intriguing battle remains who will come second and form the official opposition. I still have a feeling that that will be Labour but time will tell.

 

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I didn’t watch the debate but did see the discussion afterwards on Scotland Tonight, which very much reflected your comments. Anas Sarwar does seem to be doing best, but the SNP must be happy with how the debates have gone.

It does seem that all parties accept the SNP will be in Government, with Ross apparently focussing on the list vote at one point, and with Labour most likely to come second.

The timing of the legal action by Westminster over Scottish Government legislation that the Scottish Tories supported must also have undermined Ross’s position.

Tellingly, the Greens seem to be cementing their position as the second “Indy party”, with those discussing the debate feeling that those wanting independence but not wanting to vote SNP in the list vote are better to vote Green than Alba.

And add Kenny MacAskill to those who can’t pronounce Alba!!

I’ve had a postal vote for several years due to being away from home fir much of the week in previous years, so I will be voting long before 6 May.

I will then await the outcome with interest!

 

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Being the sad character that I am, I watched the debate again

There have been some memorable political maxims over the years which have resonated over the decades from Harold Wilson's white heat of technology through Margaret Thatcher's the lady is not for turning to Tony Blair's education, education, education.

Surely now 'you just Can't Colin, you just can't' is destined to join that great pantheon, especially if delivered in a plaintive, slightly falsatto, whiny tone.

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The latest poll, by Panelbase, has SNP at 47% in the constituency vote and 36% in the list vote.

Interestingly the Conservatives are still ahead of Labour in both.

Alba are at 6% in the list vote poll, the same as the Lib Dems and slightly behind the Greens who are at 9%.

I’m sure the numbers will move a bit in the next three weeks.

My postal voting papers arrived today. 

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39 minutes ago, Kingsmills said:

Surely now 'you just Can't Colin, you just can't' is destined to join that great pantheon, especially if delivered in a plaintive, slightly falsatto, whiny tone.

That was his mantra on Scotland Tonight last night too!

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7 minutes ago, Robert said:

The latest poll, by Panelbase, has SNP at 47% in the constituency vote and 36% in the list vote.

Interestingly the Conservatives are still ahead of Labour in both.

Alba are at 6% in the list vote poll, the same as the Lib Dems and slightly behind the Greens who are at 9%.

I’m sure the numbers will move a bit in the next three weeks.

My postal voting papers arrived today. 

The Panelbase poll and the previous one by the same company puts support for Alba significantly higher than other polls and constituency support for the SNP slightly lower.

A lot can change by polling day but it will be interesting to see who is closest to the mark.

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39 minutes ago, Robert said:

My postal voting papers arrived today. 

So did mine. I have declined the opportunity to vote for the “Scottish National Party - Nicola Sturgeon for SNP First Minister” party. None of the other 15 options on the paper were pinning their hopes on one person like that, not even Alba!

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15 hours ago, Yngwie said:

So did mine. I have declined the opportunity to vote for the “Scottish National Party - Nicola Sturgeon for SNP First Minister” party. None of the other 15 options on the paper were pinning their hopes on one person like that, not even Alba!

Only because similar requests from Alba and Scottish Labour were rejected by the Electoral Commission as being submitted too late.

I rather enjoy the process of voting so did not apply for a postal vote but I will bear in mind the advice, on this occasion, to 'bring your own pencil'.

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Looks like you won't be seeing the "Minister for the Union"  :lol:

From the Guardian:

"This is what Ross told the Today programme when asked this morning if Johnson would be visiting during the campaign.

"I’m not sure if he’s going to come up in Scotland in this campaign. He had hoped to come up, and I thought he may come up, but given the pandemic and the restrictions to campaigning I’m not sure that’s likely now."

When it was put to Ross that Johnson had visited Scotland previously when Covid restrictions were in force, Ross replied:

"Well, he’s also leading the UK effort for against a global pandemic and I think people understand in this more strange election campaign, in terms of the restrictions that we’ve all got to deal with, that it may not be as easy for the prime minister to come up."

A more plausible reason for Johnson not visiting Scotland is that  his opinion ratings in the country make him a one-man vote multiplier for the SNP."

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It's a shame as PM he can't manage the time for a short visit ☹️ I also noticed in the Tories latest photo shoot that Auntie Ruth is with Douglas again! How will he manage on his own when she skips off to the "Toffs retirement club"

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I see that there is a poll published today conducted by Panelbase putting support for the Alba Party on 6% on the regional list which, if accurate, would reward them with between 6 and 8 seats. This is the 3rd successive poll by the same company showing that sort of level of support for the vehicle designed to return AS to front line politics.

By contrast, every other reputable polling organisation has support for Alba at between 2 and 3 percent which would mean, in all likelihood, they would pick up no seats whatsoever.

I am increasingly intrigued to discover if Panelbase is picking up something the others are missing or whether this apparent outlier is just getting it wrong.

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After getting countless leaflets through the door from all the main parties in recent weeks, I got my first one from Alba today. Rather than chuck it straight in the recycling bin with all the others I had a look and what was interesting was that the Alex party made no mention whatsoever of Alex.

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