‘Arithmetically challenged’ or……

From the thinking-man’s Galloway, Alasdair:

In today’s Herald, Jody Harrison, writes about the most recent Panelbase survey (conducted for “Scot Goes Pop”). This suggests the forthcoming election will elect 61 SNP MSPs, while Alba will end up with “almost ten seats”, and the Greens will win 11 seats.

Later on in the piece, while the SNP remain on 61 and the Greens on 11, Alba don’t have “almost 10 seats”, but in fact 8. As others, like you dear reader, not arithmetically challenged (like Mr Harrison) is 80 MSPs elected for independence supporting parties. Harrison claims this “means the ‘supermajority’ for independence sought by Mr Salmond would become a reality”. That would, in my view, be really nice, but it’s just not true.

The critical part of the Scotland Act “as amended”) is Section 3 – Extraordinary General Elections – which reads

(1)  The Presiding Officer shall propose a day for the holding of a poll if—

(a)the Parliament resolves that it should be dissolved and, if the resolution is passed on a division, the number of members voting in favour of it is not less than two-thirds of the total number of seats for members of the Parliament,

Thus the magic number is 86 (or 85.9 if you have a calculator) being 0.66 of 129 members at Holyrood. Therefore, Harrison’s assertion above that the supermajority he claims Salmond seeks “would become a reality” is not supported with the numbers of this Panelbase poll.

Now, none of this is rocket science – literally a reasonably numerate 10-year-old could manage this –

  1. What is 61+8+11 – well it’s 80, isn’t it?
  2. What is 2/3 of 129 – as above 86 (unless there is a 0.9 of an MSP)
  3. Clearly 80 is less than 86, so no supermajority

The question therefore becomes how and why this happened. Are we to assume that Harrison is an innumerate 9-year-old? I don’t think so? But how else do we explain the inability of a reporter on a national newspaper who claims 10 is almost 8 and doesn’t know that 2/3 of 129 is 86.

Or does he know these things but has another agenda. Could it be too Machiavellian to suggest that the aim of this report is to ginger up the Unionist vote by saying to them (in effect) “look they are on this poll – with a few percentage points more they will be able to dissolve Holyrood at will. Better get out and vote”.

I think we are used to selective selection of data to make political points and “comment” that is little more than propaganda. But this is going a little bit further by getting reasonably straightforward, and basic, facts wrong for political ends (putting the wind up the Unionist camp).

Further to this, the headline on Scot Goes Pop about this poll is “Exclusive Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll suggests the supermajority is on: the SNP, Alba and the Greens are on course to win 62% of the seats in the new Scottish Parliament.”

In other words, while Harrison claims the poll “means the ‘supermajority’ for independence sought by Mr Salmond would become a reality”, Kelly does no more than suggest that the supermajority is a possibility, or at least not a remote possibility. The relative certainty is introduced by Harrison.

One other thing. Harrison suggests that the poll “predicts that Nicola Sturgeon’s party will finish on 61 seats [true enough, though another poll prediction site suggests 62]- the same number they have now, and seven short of gaining absolute control of Holyrood”. Therefore, according to Jody Harrison, if the SNP could win 7 more seats they would have an overall majority. So that is 68 seats for an overall majority in a Parliament with 129 members? Eh?

5 thoughts on “‘Arithmetically challenged’ or……

  1. A cliche of the media and the Tories is ‘the devil is in the detail’, but, while the proposals of non-Tory groups is to be picked at, to seek to find something which out of context looks ‘dodgy’, their mendacious assertions must be accepted at face value. Things like arithmetic are ‘irrelevances’, as far as they are concerned

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You might want to edit your post Prof. 0.66 is not ⅔. Use the fraction instead of the decimal approximation, 2(129/3) > 2*43 = 86 exactly; no need to muck about with references to point nines of MSP’s.


  3. ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s party’. I hadn’t realised she had a new party all of her own, the NSP, hmm. Looks like NS party is even more scary than they SNP then, better vote Tory they are not scary at all. or rather, the BJP.

    It’s project fear in a more novel, twisted form. Say your enemy is winning, and instil even more fear into the feart, interesting BritNat tactic, being used when they are losing, hmm.


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