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Democracy, by Anas Sarwar

Posted on January 20, 2013 by

We’ve already highlighted the absurdity of the comments made by several Unionist politicians last week (in both the Commons and the Lords) about the Scottish Parliament being “undemocratic” and a “one-man dictatorship”. But we only mentioned Scottish representation in doing so. What about the whole UK?

The majority – 53% – of votes cast by the British electorate in 2010 were worthless, because they were cast for candidates who didn’t win the seat they contested and are therefore simply thrown in the bin by the “first past the post” electoral system. Thousands of people were locked out of polling stations across the country on the evening of the vote, but it didn’t really matter, because statistically speaking their vote would probably have been completely ignored anyway.

It breaks down like this. These are figures for votes “wasted” on each party, ie cast for losing candidates and therefore discarded as worthless by the FPTP system. You won’t be too surprised who comes out on top.

Liberal Democrats – 5,596,089 (approximately 82% of all Lib Dem votes)

Labour – 3,600,427 (42%)

Conservative – 3,404,308 (34%)

UKIP – 917,832 (100%)

BNP – 563,743 (100%)

SNP – 403,024 (82%)

Green – 269,378 (94%)

PC – 129,651 (78%)

Sinn Fein – 69,652 (41%)

SDLP – 59,374 (54%)

DUP – 48,981 (29%)

Alliance – 29,923 (70%)

Others – 596,474 (100%)

Total – 15,689,216 (52.9% of total votes cast: 29,653,638)

So just under SIXTEEN MILLION people who made the effort to go out and exercise their democratic right to decide the government of their country would have been just as well staying at home watching EastEnders, because at the end of the day their votes were simply totally discounted.

This epic scale of injustice happens because of a system which the Tories and Labour enthusiastically back, because it consistently delivers both of them far more power than their vote merits and ensures that they get to carve the country up in a cosy duopoly almost all of the time. Yet they’re still happy to stand up in public and crassly disparage a far more democratic nation.

Scotland’s AMS voting system doesn’t produce perfect proportionality (due largely to being split into regions), but it gets pretty close. Nobody’s vote is ever wasted, because if your constituency candidate loses then the fact that they didn’t win a seat at least counts in your favour when list seats are allocated.

The method ensures that hugely undemocratic imbalances – like the Lib Dems getting almost exactly the same number of votes as the Tories in Scotland in 2010, yet ending up with ELEVEN times as many seats, or getting 25,000 FEWER votes than the SNP but almost twice as many seats – simply can’t happen.

It is, of course, awkward to find oneself advocating an electoral system that would give Scotland significantly more Tory MPs, but democracy means being democratic to everyone. It’s a principle cynical careerists like Anas Sarwar would do well to understand. Or perhaps he already does understand it, which is why he lies so cynically and so stridently in order to cling onto his first-class seat on the Westminster gravy train.

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    1. 03 06 13 15:21

      Feed Me More | Still Raining, Still Dreaming

    37 to “Democracy, by Anas Sarwar”

    1. FreddieThreepwood says:

      No doubt this champion of democracy will be, even now, thumbing through his Big Boys’ Book of Total Bollocks to find a way of describing plans for a written Scottish constitution as:
      a) Unconstitutional
      b) Not Scottish, and
      c) Unwritten.
      He’s become so detached from reality, Lewis Carroll couldn’t make him up.

      Re the constitution – check out John Drummond (chair of the constitutional convention) in the Sunday Herald today.
      Now that’s the Scotland we want to live in – not the bonkers one in Anas Through the Looking Glass. 

    2. Kenny Campbell says:

      Surely as a good friend of the undemocratic UAE regime then Anas is well aware of what a dictatorship looks like in real life. I say friend just as he had a 5 day trip there paid for by them in November last year, so he’ll have seen it working from the inside.

    3. Seasick Dave says:

      In the online Herald, they have a comment highlighted as Comment of the Week.

      Here it is:

      Bill Easson, Edinburgh:

      One of the dangers of starry-eyed independence is that we promise ourselves a Nirvana without checking we can afford it. I, for one, would prefer a Scotland in which we started being a bit more careful in the way we spend and don’t embark on untenable long-term expenditures like free education and care.

      Can any sharp eyed readers find anything wrong with it?

    4. Rabb says:

      Well Seasick Dave,

      I’m no rocket scientist but the last time I checked we were already being a bit more careful in how we spend and that free education and free care have been available for some time and comfortably afforded.

      Other than that I’m at a complete loss!!    

    5. Cameron says:

      I used to like spot the ball, so is it, the tense in which the comment is stressed in, i.e. suggesting that Scotland is already independent. Either that, or its the entire comment, as Bill still appears to be connected to the Matrix?

    6. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Is that Professor Bill Easson of Edinburgh University?
      There appears to be two of them – one an academic in Edinburgh and the other an academic in Glasgow. Might be the same guy as they both seem to be engineers. Perhaps they are both idiots as well

    7. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      Erm… it’s complete bollocks?

    8. Seasick Dave says:


      We have a winner!

      Have a drink on me.

    9. pmcrek says:

      @Seasick Dave
      The delicious irony of one person with no stated credentials baselessly asserting that free education or care or anything else is financially untenable, being erroneously singled out as a commentor of note in a newspaper that, unlike free care or free education, is actually demonstrably financially untenable?

    10. Rabb says:

      Slightly OT but this article in today’s guardian is interesting.

      Click here 

    11. creag an tuirc says:


      The most interesting part for me is.
      “We won’t be lacking friends, either. Of matters concerning oil and Europe in an independent Scotland, the Norwegian government officials I met in Oslo last month were very upbeat. “Come and talk to us before you commit to the EU,” they said, “and let us advise you how to manage your oil fund and how to negotiate with the oil companies.”

      This is an impartial, non-nationlist view that Westminster has mis-managed our resources by not having an oil fund and not getting the best deal from oil companies.

    12. Angus McLellan says:

      Davidson’s Committee on Separation have a new report out today entitled “Separation shuts shipyards“. On a Sunday? Well, yes, how else would you get in the Sunday Times? It’s available here: Some people might find fault with the cherry-picking – even misrepresentation – of the evidence given to the committee, the credulous acceptance of MoD forecasts as having any basis in reality, and the ignorance of historic context, but people like that don’t work as journalists, do they?

    13. Tamson says:

      Stu, your calculation of 53% wasted votes in FPTP is, believe it or not, an underestimate.

      The thing is, all the votes for the winning candidate over and above the 1 needed to beat the second-placed candidate are ALSO wasted – because in a perfect voting system, they would count towards electing an additional candidate of that ilk. 

      Take a simple example: 10 constituencies each with 100 voters. There are only 2 parties, A & B. A wins 4 seats 90-10: B wins 6 seats 60-40. A’s total vote was 600, whilst B’s was 400. The 316 extra votes A piled up in their 4 winning seats did not count towards electing anyone. In this election, only 290 votes actually counted towards electing a candidate.

      Over 70% of votes in the 2010 UK General Election did not count towards electing a candidate.

    14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Tamson: that’s fascinating stuff, ta.

    15. Marcia says:

      Seasick Dave
      If Mr Easson has listed nuclear weapons and illegal wars then I might be with him but not with his Labour party thinking.

    16. Geoff Huijer says:

      Whilst I agree with the idea that losing votes are ‘wasted’ in that they do not result in the nomination of a candidate I have always voted for who I would like to win (regardless of their chances).
      I do believe the FPTP system to be unfair, however.
      A friend of mine voted Labour at the last General Election because she felt her preferred option of the SNP would be a ‘wasted’ vote (she felt that if she voted Labour it would stop the Tories getting in). She may vote differently next time, of course. ‘Tactical’ voting (or not voting at all) seems to be encouraged by the UK system whereas the system in Scotland does encourage one to vote for the candidate one really wants to vote for.

    17. Cuphook says:

      @Angus McLellan
      The UK government is tied into a contract with BAES SS that guarantees them around £230M a year. While the Terms of Business Agreement does allow the MOD to cancel the ship building they would be liable in the region of £630M (2009). It seems unlikely that they’d want to do that because of reasons outwith the company’s control which wouldn’t actually affect the ships being built. 

    18. dadsarmy says:

      Angus, the ships report, sorry if a bit vague I’ve been up all night getting ready to do year end accounts, but the figures look wrong, as the SNP budget is £2.5 billion, but the RUSI was based on a budget of £1.6 – £1.8 billion. So where the report says:

      The SNP defence and security motion said that a separate Scotland led by the SNP would commit to an annual defence and security budget of £2.5 billion. A proportion of this would be available to be spent on a navy—the model of proposed Scottish armed forces by Stuart Crawford and Richard Marsh suggested a navy that cost around £650 million

      I think it’s taking the RUSI navy plan for their budget, but pretending it’s based on the SNP budget. This would give an additional £700 – £900 million a year, and in addition, I think the SNP plan via Francis Tusa (?) has a little more emphasis on navy (and Typhoons – but they are from the share of UK kit).

      Potentially if I have this right, the SDF spend on ships is more than TWICE as much as Davidson lets on. Any chance you could check this?

    19. Boorach says:

      @ Angus McLellan

      I see Ian Davidson managed to get Bannockbern into his ‘report’ on shipbuilding on the Clyde!!

    20. dadsarmy says:

      I forget the details now, but I seem to remember that RUSI had a lower expectation of the needs for a navy than the SNP as well. Tusa was quite clear that Scotland’s priority was to protect airspace (Typhoons not Hawks), and sea approaches.

      I think Davidson might be being – disingenuous.

    21. Oldnat says:


      Well spotted on the variance in figures. The RUSI document was indeed £650m for the annual navy costs  21% of a £1.8bn budget.

      21% of a £2.5bn budget would be nearly £144m greater than the RUSI naval figure.

    22. Seasick Dave says:

      Here’s another waste of money but it doesn’t seem to bother the MOD.

      What is it about Westminster that makes it want to spend billions on weapons of destruction?

    23. James McLaren says:

      Meanwhile, over on Munguin’s Republic there is a copy of an open letter to the boy Sarwar over his assertion, during the section 30 debate at Westminster, calling him out for his statement 

       “We have seen the launch of the Labour for Independence campaign, which has one or a maximum of two Labour members fronting a campaign led mainly by the SNP…..”

      I wonder is we will see this letter reported by Kay-with-an-e or our unbiased inky fingers press?

      It is time to take on these lies and not let then stand unchallenged. 

    24. scottish_skier says:

      Completely OT, but as weather/snaw fanatic (currently getting his hit with 20 cm in the garden), the Norwegian met office site is just the dug’s baws.

      Webcams, the works, and for Scotland too. Puts the UK Meto office site to shame. 

      This could be interesting the morn. From Transport Scotland.

    25. Cameron says:

      I think it might have something to do with what US Preident Eisenhower chose to use his final speech to the nation, to warn us about. A military industrial complex that was democratically unaccountable and which was able to exert undue political influence.
      Just in case your question wasn’t rhetorical. 😉

    26. dadsarmy says:


      Thanks for checking that – eyes glazing a bit. I also think the SNP would have more emphasis on navy than RUSI visualise. They for instance seem to settle on 2 frigates. Well, you have to allow for one in refit and one on shakedown, so to have two on patrol or readiness, it would need four, though arguably one on shakedown – being near the patrol zones – might be acceptable. By their lower reckoning plus “mine”, we’d need to build one more frigate at least, and a good few patrol vessels. A poster on the Herald wants 3 type 45s – a man after my own heart!

      What Davidson also fails to take into account is the negotiating power of Trident, i.e. to keep it here for 10 years, which would mean that it’s quite likely Scotland would get MORE warships built here, not less. Plus with a close defence treaty, resource sharing could be carried out on a similar basis to NORDEFCO – and perhaps even plus, within NORDEFCO. And anyway, the RN will still need ships built, whatever Davidson and Hammond and Murphy might say.

      Davidson is creating FUD, very likely aimed at his constituency, and that of the fellow close constituency MP who he shared SNP disparaging last Tuesday. I think he – and his report – need thorough and detailed discrediting, probably as soon as possible.

    27. dadsarmy says:

      James, yes it’s time to take a stand against distortion, misquoting and outright lies. Best advice is to choose the battleground, on something we know for sure about. As I saw on an old Heartbeat earlier “I never fight unless I know I’m going to win”.

    28. Cameron says:

      @ dadsarmy
      Never throw an arrow that will return.

    29. dadsarmy says:

      We don’t get the chance very often, the Unionists seem to be playing with this brand called “boomerang”. I think Danny Alexander invented them, and Darling borrowed hundreds of billions of them, but they don’t have the range. Usually it’s safest just to stand back and watch in amazement as they play the game of kamikaze solitaire.

    30. sneddon says:

      SS  That’s a fantastic weather website- all the pretty colours( in shades of blue, Bbrrrr  :))

    31. Cameron says:

      @ dadsarmy
      Millions or even billions of Englishmen dead, perhaps?

    32. scottish_skier says:


      I can imagine the headline in the morn’s Scotsman

      Independent Scotland could not afford own Met Office


      Note Iceland has a great MO site too:

      Proper snaw in iceland:

    33. gerry parker says:

      Cameron says:
      20 January, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      @ dadsarmy Never throw an arrow that will return.

      True, and:-

      4 things come not back
      1. A loosed arrow
      2. A spoken word
      3 A past life
      4 A missed opportunity.

      gerry p 

    34. Angus McLellan says:

      @Dads/OldNat: A defence budget of £2.5 billion is, near enough, the same cash value as Denmark in recent years. In real terms, given the level of wages and costs in Denmark, it’s probably worth a good deal more. But £1.5 billion is definitely less than Denmark
      Comparing defence budgets is very difficult, but we can at least look at what Denmark’s navy got with that money. In the period 2000-2015 Danish shipyards should deliver five frigates/destroyers of 6000 tons, two 2000 ton Arctic patrol ships, six 300 ton coastal patrol boats and a variety of smaller ships to the navy. And for other big ticket items, the navy also has chartered three pre-owned merchant ships, replaced its ship-borne helicopters (twice, a long story) and introduced some very expensive anti-aircraft/anti-missile missiles and radars.

    35. Angus McLellan says:

      Shock horror! MoD procurement figures collected under EU “no-compete” regs show Scotland gets a bad deal: I can see why the MoD have always claimed that this data wasn’t available.
      With some assumptions no worse than those which informed Ian Davidson’s shipbuilding report, you could “prove” that the SNP’s proposed £2.5 billion defence budget would deliver approximately the same level of procurement spend (£3 bn over six years, £500 million pa) which the MoD does today. Could, but probably shouldn’t. However, more reasonable assumptions would still produce a number in the range of £1.5-2 billion. Lower, yes, but not the sort of catastrophic gap Davidson pretends would exist.

    36. dadsarmy says:

      @Angus: there are independence supporters who’d like to see less spent on defence, and ones like me who want quite a high level of spending. The irony is that (thanks for the Scotsman link), with the figures forced out of Westminster, though some have posted these already in the Guardian and elsewhere, both types of indpendence supporters – those who want less spend, and hawks like me will see:

      1). A saving in annual cost in Scotland of £0.5 billion, probably £1 billion or more
      2). considerably MORE defence spending IN Scotland
      3). A stronger and far more balanced defence force FOR Scotland

      And – all three of these at the same time. Unionists have sought to use defence as a main argument against Independence – “too weak”. They’re Barking mad. It’s one of the strongest arguments FOR Independence, maybe even THE strongest (if you’re a defence and war nutter like me!). Ironically, getting rid of Trident makes our own defence stronger.

    37. Bruce says:

      I thought Davidson and Sarwar had neither any grasp of Scottish History or how the Scottish parliament actually worked. Both were disgusting during the Section 30 debate, you can only get away with that in parliament. I also found your article interesting as I am a supporter of PR, even if that means more Tories, as every vote has to count. The Scottish Parliament system was set up to ensure that the SNP never got power but at least the voting system is ok overall as it gives a truer reflection of how people actually vote, however, democracy doesn’t work for the Tories and Labour. We can forget about the Liberals as Clegg killed them.

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