This is a genuine request for enlightenment, readers. Hopefully someone can help.
When we’re bored, we like to take a look at the Herald website front page and play Spot The Magnus Gardham Headline. It’s not usually too taxing a game – by way of illustration, we suspect you won’t have too much trouble with this example:
The actual story itself, though, has us bewildered.
Under the headline, Gardham claims that Labour’s victory in the last night’s Glenrothes council election came about through a 5.5% swing from the SNP to Labour. Scottish council elections are run through a bizarre and arcane electoral system that’s a complete mystery to us, so we’re hoping someone a bit closer to the action can explain.
The piece lists the results from both last night and last May’s nationwide election:
JUNE 2013: Labour 1896 votes, SNP 1711
MAY 2012: Labour 2183 votes, SNP 1590
In 2012, those votes came from the parties standing two candidates each, whereas last night’s single election saw only one from Labour and one from the SNP. But no matter how you slice it, last year Labour got 37% more votes than the SNP in the constituency, and last night they got just 11% more.
This isn’t one of our sarcastic rhetorical questions – can somebody please tell us how a 37% lead turning into an 11% one is a 5.5% swing in your favour? Cheers.
[EDIT: Okay – it turns out the Herald just wrote the 2012 results in an odd and very confusing way, and there were three SNP candidates that year. But as far as we can work out the Edinburgh result, which Gardham claims “mirrored” the Donside “vote cut”, was in fact a tiny swing from Labour TO the SNP.]