Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Mathematics of Defeat: The Illusion of Anti-Conservative Scotland

 If the decision of certain elements of the Scottish Conservatives to try to found a new party by taking a section of the Conservatives is distasteful, it is at least understandable. They've been losing for quite a long time. Not losing the way the old Liberals used to lose, of course - they've still been getting a fair number of MSPs, councillors and votes.

 But in Westminster terms their performance has been soul-crushingly poor. Or has it? In terms of MPs delivered the party has certainly failed, but what about the popular vote? I decided to run a little exercise that Liberal Democrats are often fond of running: divide the popular vote of each party by the popular vote they got to see 'what it takes' to elect an MP. Here are the Scottish figures for the 2010 General Election:

Party: MPs - Votes - Votes/MP
Labour: 41 - 1,035,528 - 25,257
Liberal Democrats: 11 - 465,471 - 42,316
SNP: 6 - 491,386 - 81,898
Conservative & Unionist: 1 - 412, 855 - 412,855

 In other words, the Conservative vote would, if distributed as efficiently as Labour's, deliver 16 MPs. If distributed like the Lib Dem's, it would deliver ten, and if like the SNP's a decent five. 

 Now, like most Conservatives I consider First Past the Post to be a good and fair system of electing representatives to parliament. But it does serve to mask total support behind regional variation. While only having one MP is disappointing - and something I hope Ruth Davidson will work ever harder on if she wins - why on earth have we as a party allowed the other parties to talk up this myth of a vanished Tory Scotland? Particularly the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, neither of whom command a popular vote much greater than ours despite their more favourable representation.

 Murdo and the other defeatists need to take a good, long look at those figures, and snap out of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment