I WISH to refute the impression Mhairi Black may have given in The National on Saturday (This is how list system works – and why every vote matters, April 3). In her article Mhairi argued her party line of two votes for SNP. I don’t object to her doing that – she wants her party to achieve an overall majority. I am even a fan of her campaigning, but her “explanation” of the second voting system using an “overly simplistic example” was misleading, does not match reality and could lead to other independence-supporting parties losing seats.

In 2016, the SNP won 59 of the 73 constituency first-past-the-post seats. This magnificent achievement won 72.6% of seats with 46.5% of the votes, a far greater result than Boris Johnson’s Conservatives got in 2019 in both counts. It was not enough to achieve the required 65 seats for an outright majority. This is a very high bar from 73 seats, so is very unlikely to be achieved from constituencies alone. A top-up from the second, list vote will almost certainly be required for the SNP to achieve their goal, hence their two-vote strategy.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: This is how list system works – and why every vote matters

However, the D’Hondt, second voting system was designed to prevent one party from winning an overall majority by disadvantaging parties with many constituency seats. It does so, as Mhairi said, by dividing a party’s list vote by one more than the number of constituency seats won, but Mhairi did not explain that this process is repeated after each of the seven list seats per region are allocated. This is done over Scotland’s eight autonomous regions.

The trouble with Mhairi’s “overly simplistic example” is, well, it’s too simplistic and does not match reality. The reality from 2016 in the second votes is that the SNP won one list seat in Highland and three seats in Scotland south. In the other six regions, the SNP polled a total of 752,770 list votes and won no additional seats because of the voting system. That is zero seats for more than three quarters of a million votes! These voters would have seen exactly the same result if they had not cast their second vote.

I am urging this paper to print an article or articles explaining the mathematics of this voting system so that it can be understood by voters. In the meantime if the SNP were to pick up some of their target constituencies from Unionist parties, this would decrease the chance of SNP winning list seats in that region and conversely increase the chances of that Unionist party of winning a list seat. This could be won from the Green or other independence-supporting party.

Our new parliament will only vote for a second referendum if there is a majority in favour, either SNP alone or as is the case at present, with the support of other independence-supporting parties.

Campbell Anderson

MY MP Mhairi Black uses her regular column to lecture us like small children on the Scottish Parliament voting system.

As she says herself, “in an overly simplistic example” she explains the way the system dictated the outcome of the 2011 and 2016 elections. Sorry, Mhairi but it’s now 2021 and your numbers just don’t add up.

To make your back-to-school example work, you assume the SNP wins only one or two constituency seats. The rather large flaw in this argument is that there are no, zilch, zero regions where SNP are projected to get only one or two constituency seats.

In West of Scotland they are likely to get eight or nine, meaning that the SNP list vote will be divided by nine or 10, making it mathematically impossible for the SNP to win ANY list seats. An SNP list vote will, in effect, be worth about a tenth or at best a fifth of a Unionist vote.

Please Mhairi, don’t treat us like children.

John Baird

I AM baffled by the article by Mhairi Black, which uses a very odd example to demonstrate the D’Hondt voting system by assuming that SNP win only one constituency in a region. If that happens in any region in May, we can give up independence.

The SNP should come clean about regions where it makes sense to vote SNP 1 and 2 and regions like Mid Scotland and Fife where SNP 2 really is a wasted vote. Regions like ours must be SNP 1 Green 2 or SNP 1 Alba 2.

I do not expect the SNP to name other parties for the list vote, but “both votes SNP” is putting the party before independence in most of Scotland. The millions of indy supporters who wasted their list vote last time will not be so easily fooled into making the same mistake this time.

Andy Collins
Yes North East Fife

MHAIRI Black has really plummeted in my estimation after her “overly simplistic” example of how the D’Hondt system works. How many regions in Scotland only have one SNP constituency seat?

Why not give the example of Glasgow 2016, where the SNP won nine constituency seats, therefore their list vote (44.8% of votes cast) was divided by 10. No way to increase the list vote to win a SNP list seat. Or the Lothian list, where the SNP won five constituency seats, meaning their list vote (36.2%) was divided by six; Labour, Tories and LibDems each won one seat so their list only divided by two. Only if one of these parties had won all three of these seats, and therefore had a divisor of four, would the SNP have had a chance of a list seat.

Please, don’t try and take us for idiots, the D’Hondt system is complicated enough.

Christine Small

“ANY talk of independence super-majority neglects to appreciate that we have had a pro-Indy majority in Holyrood since 2016.” Yes Mhairi, but what have the SNP done with it? That’s why a super-majority gives the independence cause more clout.

It’s a no-brainer! SNP 1/ALBA 2.

Jo Bloomfield

DISAPPOINTING that an MP claiming to be explaining how the list system works actually either doesn’t really understand how it works or misrepresents how it works with a simplified example.

William Nicoll
via thenational.scot