Whenever you’re unsure whether something that happens in Scottish politics is good or bad for the independence cause, here’s a top tip: see how the enemies of independence feel about it.
“Running fear” seems like a fair, if understated, summary.
But you know that if they tell really big lies the day after the event, you’ve really scared people.
There’s no one-size-fits-all definition of the term, but the lowest possible number we’ve ever seen for “super major” is 67%and that is exactly what the Scottish Parliament uses.
In Holyrood it is called 87 Be right. What percentage of the vote would the SNP need to achieve a super majority, as Angus Robertson claims today, is possible?
We’ll give them the best possible chance (and keep the arithmetic as simple as possible) by assuming that somehow they’d win everyone 73 Constituency seats, though there is no chance of it – the best they have ever done is 59 in 2016.
That would mean they needed someone else 14th Seats from the regional lists to get their super-majority and a few more fortunately, as such a parliament would almost certainly lose an SNP-MSP to the role of chairman – to keep it neat, let’s call it 16 or two per region.
So let’s look at some regions and see how that would work in practice.
The historically strongest region of the SNP is the north-east of Scotland.
Despite securing 45% of the list votes in 2016, they did not get seats as they won 9 of the 10 constituencies in the region, meaning their list votes were effectively divided by 10.
The seven list places were allocated in these votes:
SEAT 1: Conservative (42,924 votes)
SEAT 2: Labor (38,791 votes)
SEAT 3: Conservative (28,616 votes)
SEAT 4: Conservative (21,462 votes)
SEAT 5: Labor (19,396 votes)
SEAT 6: Lib Dem (18,444 votes)
SEAT 7: Conservative (17,169 votes)
In our theoretical example for 2021, however, the SNP has taken all constituency seats, so the Tory votes are not cut in half at the beginning, but are given an additional seat at the top of the ranking and the “cheapest” seat on the list is the Lib Dems’ one with 18,444 votes.
To beat this and take ONE place, the SNP list vote should have been (18,445 x 11 =). 202,895. That’s almost 50% more than her actual voice and a whopping one 66% of the total votes cast on the NE list (307,006).
But one seat per region is not enough for the SNP, remember – they need two per region to reach their super major, so they also have to beat the above seat 5 overall. The required number of votes is now 213,367 – a ridiculous one 69.5% the list voting or a 56% more on the SNP 2016 as a whole.
We’re going to tell you a secret here, reader – Angus Robertson doesn’t really think the SNP can get 70% of the vote in northeast Scotland. The last time he stood in the region himself, in the 2017 UK elections, he got less than 39%.
What about somewhere where the SNP already has all the constituencies AND has a huge list vote? Get on, Central Scotland.
Nice simple 2016 arithmetic here:
SEAT 1: Work (67.103)
SEAT 2: Conservative (43,602)
SEAT 3: Work (33,552)
SEAT 4: Work (22,368)
SEAT 5: Conservative (21.801)
SEAT 6: Labor (16,776)
SEAT 7: Conservative (14,534)
In order to get two seats there, the SNP would have to 167,700 Votes – a relatively modest, but still colossally unlikely, 30% more in their 2016 vote up to a 62% Total share.
For fun, let’s also look at the other end of the scale – southern Scotland, where the SNP actually received three list MSPs in 2016.
How well would they have to do to hold on to two of them if they somehow swept the board in the constituency elections? This is how the places were allocated last time:
SEAT 1: Work (28,036)
SEAT 2: SNP (24.043)
SEAT 3: Conservative (20,151)
SEAT 4: SNP (20.036)
SEAT 5: Work (18,691)
SEAT 6: SNP (17,174)
SEAT 7: Conservative (16,792)
But in our fantasy result 2021, the SNP occupy all nine constituencies, so that their vote is divided by 10 from 120,217 12,021 and the assignment would change as follows:
SEAT 1: Conservative (100,753)
SEAT 2: Work (56,072)
SEAT 3: Conservative (50,377)
SEAT 4: Conservative (33,584)
SEAT 5: Work (28,036)
SEAT 6: Conservative (25,188)
SEAT 7: Conservative (20,151)
That is, to get the two list places they would need, the SNP list voting would have to get dizzying 251,890 – well over TWICE what you got in 2016 and absurd 80.1% of the total list vote of 314,192.
So if you glazed all the numbers and only skipped the last one, this is: Angus Robertson is trying to tell you today that a credible and achievable goal for the SNP is to get over 80% of the vote in southern Scotland.
And folks, we hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say this just isn’t going to happen.
If you are still unsure whether “both SNP votes can get a super major” then it is an insult to your intelligence afterward TheThen you are really out of the reach of reason.