IN reply to Brian McGarry, who quotes 2011 as an indicator that SNP second votes will result in the allocation of a seat for the SNP in each of the eight regions (Letters, October 29).

Agreed 2011 was memorable but 2016 is more relevant to what faces us now.

To be clear, these figures are taken from the 2016 regional list votes, ie the second votes.

I got fed up with all the conflicting opinions and decided to do some research. In 2016, SNP got 953,587 second votes across the eight regions, 42% of the total vote for all parties, with Conservatives on 23%, Labour 19%, Liberals 5%, Greens 7%, Ukip and others 4%.

What did this achieve for SNP? Four seats only. One in Highlands and Islands and three in South Scotland. What else did it achieve?

It achieved precisely the opposite of what those voters intended. Their votes were in fact gifted by the system to representatives of parties who are wholly and permanently opposed to what these voters believe in and intended for their country; in other words, Westminster parties.

So if in 2021 SNP again win nearly all the constituency seats, and there is also an increase in SNP second votes, we will risk losing the four good list MSPs we have already. The second vote from independence supporters needs to go to a party which supports independence and already has some standing. In my modelling I used the Greens as the most likely party in order for us to defeat the Unionist parties convincingly.

It is important that voters know that those list SNP votes are how and why Murdo Fraser, Annie Wells, Richard Leonard and other Unionist list MSPs are in Holyrood. Just take a look for yourself at how very few Conservative and Labour MSPs actually won a constituency seat of their own. The majority of them are sitting in Holyrood despite so few voters choosing them.

An example is Central Region, where the SNP won all nine constituency seats, and their second votes were a whopping 129,082. The d’Hondt system then divides that 129,082 by the number of SNP constituency wins, ie nine, and adds one, which obviously gives a starting divisor of 10. The end shot then becomes SNP on only 12,908, clearly less than the Conservatives on 43,600 and not a single constituency seat! Just read that again … The d’Hondt calculation results in Conservatives on 43,600 getting one seat and SNP with 129,082 allocated none! And that folks, is how Murdo Fraser, who has never won an election in his life, is given a list seat in Holyrood year upon year upon year (maybe there is an argument for constituency MSPs to have two votes and list MSPs one vote on parliamentary business).

In my model, by moving the second independence vote to the Greens in the six regions where we have no list seats, the results would have been:

  • Labour down from 21 to 13
  • Liberals down from one to 0
  • Greens up from six to 26

In other words, Westminster anti-independence representation in Holyrood down massively.

We need to have faith that the Greens will continue to commit to independence, and as an independence supporter, I do. Surely a reduction in Unionist party seats at Holyrood is the aim.

I am sorry if this seems complicated, but if you want independence, look at the data from the Electoral Commission and do the sums. I am happy to share the modelling.

Keith MacBean


THE recent discussions in your pages have left me confused. At next May’s election, should I award my second vote to the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front for Judea? Please help.

Alan Jardine