Vote until you boak

There’s a need to do a wee explanation of STV for dummies because there seems to be a lot of confusion about it. Admittedly when you look at a typical Saturday evening’s entertainment on STV and wall to wall Ant and bloody Dec, it’s pretty apparent that they’re pretty good at doing dummies all by themselves. But it’s not that sort of STV I mean. We’re talking about Single Transferable Voting, the voting system used in Scottish local elections.

One of the problems is that in Scotland we use different voting methods in different elections. In Westminster elections it’s first past the post. It’s first past the post in Holyrood constituencies, which are then topped up by the regional vote list in where the d’Hondt method is used. And in elections to the European parliament the entire vote is conducted according to the d’Hondt method. The local elections are determined by a different system of proportional representation, called Single Transferable Vote, or STV. Because different voting systems require different approaches to tactical voting, confusion easily arises.

First past the post is the oldest voting system, and the one that’s most entrenched in the minds of voters. Under first past the post you have a single vote, and you mark an X beside the name of the candidate you want to see elected. Under STV you rank candidates 1, 2, 3, etc. You need only rate those you want to vote for, you only need to put a 1 beside your favoured candidate for your ballot to be valid. Or if there are three candidates from your favoured party you can rank them 1, 2, 3, and that’s all you need to do.

However you can influence who else gets elected by ranking everyone on the ballot. Under first past the post, you cast a vote FOR a candidate, and that means many voters are reluctant to exploit their STV ballots to the full because they feel that by ranking everyone on the ballot they are voting for candidates or parties that they despise.

One of the biggest differences between FPTP and STV is that with FPTP you only vote for a single candidate. With STV you can also use your vote to vote against a candidate. Under STV, when you rate a candidate last, you’re not voting for them, you’re voting against them, you’re saying that you want everyone else to get elected before them. Don’t think of it as voting for a particular candidate, so much as rating them all from epic all the way down to wanker. Or, as they put it in Northern Ireland where they use STV for elections to Stormont, Vote Till You Boak. That’s how the nationalist parties in Northern Ireland managed to deprive the Unionists of an overall majority for the first time ever.

For me, and I suspect for most of the readers of this blog, the boak-making candidates in most local authority wards will be Tories and also, in some areas, Ukip and your actual out and out fascists. Those are the candidates I’m going to rate lowest of all, because they’re the most boak inducing. By rating everyone else on the ballot above them, I am helping to ensure that everyone else will be elected before the Tories or Ukip. Ranking them at the bottom of my list of preferences is not a vote for them, it’s a vote for anyone but them. It’s a way you can use your STV ballot in order to have the best chance of getting a council that you approve of, or at least the one that you least disapprove of.

Think of your STV ballot paper as you being a school teacher giving out grades. Give the good grades to the candidates you approve of, those nice independence supporting people who’ve done their homework and promise to bring you the apple of independence, regular rubbish collections, and better local public services. Then rate the ones who are neutral, who could try harder. And then you give the failing grades to the Tories who are basing their entire campaign on not allowing the people of Scotland to have a voice on a subject that councillors don’t get to influence anyway and saying that it’s everyone else who’s obsessed about that referendum that they talk about to the exclusion of everything else. If there are six candidates on the ballot, rating the Tory as a six is equivalent to giving them an F. It’s certainly not a vote for a Tory. It’s saying that you’d rather that everyone else on the ballot was elected before the Tory. And that’s because you’re a reasonable human being, and not an apologist for a Tory rape clause.

The Tories are advising their voters to rank the SNP last. So we need to employ the same tactic in order to minimise the Tory vote. Abstaining after you’ve ranked all the pro-indy candidates doesn’t help to minimise the Tory vote because other people are going to rate them high. If you don’t rate non-Tory candidates, you make it more likely that a Tory is going to get enough votes to get over the finish line.

Under STV, a candidate is elected once they reach the necessary quota. This quota is determined by a formula. The formula is the total number of votes cast, divided by the number of available seats in the ward plus one, then one is added to the resulting number. At which point the eyes of most normal people start to glaze over. It’s better to illustrate it with a simple example.

Imagine an election in which there are two seats to be filled in the ward and three candidates are standing: Indy Irene, Tory Tom, and Federalist Fred. There are 1500 people eligible to vote, and 1000 voters turned out to vote and cast valid votes. The formula for deciding the quota for election is 1000 divided by 2+1, plus 1.  This equals 334.333, which is rounded down to 334 because you can’t get .333 of a vote, not even if you’re one of Ruth Davidson’s burly men. 334 votes is what a candidate needs in order to get elected.

450 voters ranked Indy Irene as their number 1, 300 ranked Tory Tom as number 1, and the remaining 250 ranked Federalist Fred as number 1. These first preference votes get counted first. Indy Irene has received 450 first rankings, so she’s declared elected with 116 votes to spare over the quota of 334.

Now the second rankings get counted to decide which of the other two, Tory Tom or Federalist Fred, is going to win the second seat. In this election, Federalist Fred is the lesser of two evils, because unlike Tory Tom he doesn’t advocate selling off his grandmother to an American health corporation.  All of the people who voted for Indy Irene ranked Federalist Fred as their number 2, so her spare 116 votes go to Federalist Fred.

That means that in the second round of counting, Federalist Fred now has 366 votes (his 250 first rankings plus 116 from Indy Irene’s supporters second rankings), and this takes him over the quota of 334 and Federalist Fred is declared the winner of the second seat. Even though Tory Tom got more first preference votes than Federalist Fred, Tory Tom still loses. At which point all right thinking people go, “Ha. Ha. Loser!” and do that L thing on their foreheads.

If none of Indy Irene’s supporters ranked Federalist Fred as their number two and they all had abstained, then Tory Tom would have picked the seat up in the second round because there would have been no second preferences from Indy Irene to redistribute. Which only goes to show that if you don’t rank the lesser of two evils as your number two, then the real shit will win.

As long as you rank all the other candidates, you don’t actually need to rank Tory Tom, just ensure that he’s pushed to the bottom. But you do need to rank the other candidates to ensure the Tory is at the bottom of the pile. It’s just easier, and safer, to explain to people to list all the candidates on the ballot in order of gorgeous to god-awful. This is why you need to use your second third fourth etc preferences, and vote until you boak to keep the Tories out.

I’m off to London tomorrow to do a talk for the SNP London branch, so no blog posts until I get back. If you post a comment and it needs to be authorised, it won’t be authorised until I’m home, sorry about the delay.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984

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104 comments on “Vote until you boak

  1. TheStrach says:

    Great explanation. See you tomorrow.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug Vote until you boak […]

  3. Gie’em laldy doon ther, Paul!

  4. iainmore2016 says:

    The trouble is that up my way all the Independents at butt ugly. They are closet Tories and Kippers. How do you pick between various versions of Freddie Kruger or Hannibal Lectern?

    • Morag says:

      It doesn’t matter much unless they have a realistic chance of being elected. If they’re going to be eliminated early on, your vote won’t go near them whatever you do. The main thing is to deprive actual Tories of seats so May can’t crow about the great result, and make it harder for Tories to form administrations in councils. To that end, closet Tories and their running dogs are best ranked (just) above the ones that wear the blue rosettes.

      I’d probably put UKIP last of all, but since I don’t expect them to win any seats it’s really just a point of principle.

  5. Macart says:

    Neatly done. 🙂

    Just make sure to rank every box folks. If you want to avoid others doing your ranking for you, do NOT leave any blank.

  6. punklin says:

    STV is complicated so less of the dummies please.

    This is especially the case when used in a multi member system (where more than one candidate wins election to the council ward).

    So winning control of a council is a complex task particularly when it comes to advising voters.

    And yet of the 4 systems we have it is the most representative, I believe.

  7. Alwyn ap Huw says:

    I have never voted in an STV election, so sorry if this comment is stupid. If indy Irene gets 45% of the vote (not enough to get her elected) what happens to my 2nd or 3rd choice then? Will my 2nd & 3rd choices be counted against Irene?

    • Weechid. says:

      I’d like to know that too – given that my 1 SNP candidate is not likely to come out top.

    • Jimmy the Pict says:

      No. Your second and other choices only counts if your first is either elected or drops out as lowest. It’s done in rounds, if no one reaches quota, lowest candidate is eliminated and the next preference of their voters are counted. This goes on till either quotas are left or remaking candidates = remaining empty seats.

    • Illy says:

      If your first choice doesn’t get elected, then 100% (ie, all) of the votes for her go to their second preference.

      So ranking a no-hoper who you personally would like to get elected first has no downside.

      STV really is a good system, and other than parties fielding multiple candidates, there’s really no tactical voting needed, just list folks in your order of preference. If you’ve wanting to vote for a party, use their suggested order that they put through your door – they might have different orders in different places, and be doing clever things with the maths to get both in.

      • Weechid. says:

        So if I vote SNP 1 and he doesn’t get in, all of my votes will go to my 2nd choice, which would be a Unionist because there are no other Indy leaning candidates? I’d be better not voting at all in that case – or just voting for 1 and having my vote discounted. Why can’t each ward seat be done on an individual basis? It could be easily done with a bit of modification to the ballot paper. I’d far rather these elections were fought on local issues. Damn May for making them Party political.

        • cameronmgb says:

          Weechid, that’s perfectly reasonable if you really see no difference at all between the unionist candidates. But for me, the SNP can far more easily work with LibDems than any of the others, so ranking then at three bottom of my preferences (after all the pro-Indy candidates), will give me a say in a contest only between unionists after all the Indy candidates had been either elected or eliminated, and that’s the only time that ranking could even theoretically come into play.

          I’m assuming the SNP isn’t as unpopular throughout your council as in your own ward, and the stv system as described by the dug lets you say “I want HER elected, but if sheer losses I’d rather have him than those prats over there in the blue and purple rosettes”.

          • Weechid says:

            We have no Lib Dem candidate – just 2 Labour 1 Tory 1 Independent and 1 SNP for 3 seats. This ward is a mixture of rural (Duke of Buccleuch land included) and 2 ex mining villages. That’s why I expect the two Labour guys to get in. I’d hope SNP get 3rd seat as candidate is already a Councillor and current sitting Tory is not standing but it’s not certain.

            • Saor Alba says:

              Then make sure the Tory is last.

            • Ian Waugh says:

              Hi Weechid … we’re not too far away from you and, in our ward, there’s 2 SNP, one Green 4 Independents, two Labour and one Tory .. I’ve 7 of them only and, had I been rating the Labour ones then the one whose Facebook page make it very clear he’s fully against Independence then he’d have got second place to the other Labour guy … if you go onto FB and type their name and location it’s interesting what you can see from their past posts – you don’t have to be a ‘friend’ for this .. .you cal also look and see who their own list of ‘friends’ are. The FB posts of the various Independents down our way helped me ‘rank’ those 4 …
              You have my sympathies at having only SNP, Labour and Tory to choose from!
              Other thing is that we have 10 candidates fighting for 4 seats .. you seem to have 5 fighting 3 seats …
              Also .. if any of them are sitting Councillors you can google your council area and ‘councilors list of interests’ which might show who is paying the electoral expenses of the Independent, and what properties and other interests they all (sitting ones that is) have.
              Can be interesting!

              • Ian Waugh says:

                and I was pleased to see that, in may case, it was OK to stop at 7 and not rate the unionists at all for the 4 available seats … fingers crossed!

        • Morag says:

          It’s a proportional representation system, Weechid. The multi-member wards are organised so that voters have a range of representatives, in rough proportion to their popularity in the ward.

          If there is only one SNP candidate standing, I’d say it’s a racing certainty that he’ll get in. So I wouldn’t worry about that aspect. The point is that if he gets in substantially over the quota, the unneeded fraction of your vote will transfer to your next choice. This is where you get to influence whether the SNP councillor you just elected has a less-toxic unionist as a colleague – maybe a LibDem or even a Labour member – or has to spend the next five years or so working with a Tory.

          If there’s only one SNP candidate standing then obviously some unionists will also get elected. By using all your preferences you ensure that you do your bit to minimise the chances of these unionists being Tories.

          • Weechid says:

            I wish it was a racing certainty for the SNP but this is a constituency with 2 Mundells.

            • James Stuart says:

              Similar to were I am in a rural Borders seat. I have the choice of one SNP, two tories, three independents and one Lib Dem. No Labour because its a no hope seat for them. So this is as God awful a list as you are ever likely to be presented with in an election!

              So on this basis I will vote.

              1. SNP
              2. Independent (current council leader, works with SNP)
              3. Independent
              4. Independent
              5. Lib Dem
              Now Im boaking for real…
              6. Tory
              7. Tory.

              Its sticks in the throat to vote “for” anyone but SNP, and it goes against every fibre of my being to give a vote “to” tories, BUT I have to remember it is actually voting against them to put them bottom. The ideology of the two other independent candidates isnt that important. They dont represent a unionist party so their winning cannot be claimed as a victory by the unionist parties, rather it is a blow to them, even if those independents are all closet tories or liberals.More to the point, they are independents, not subject to Party whips, and are more likely to work with an SNP admin if it means they get to pretend they are important people, which is the only reason the stood in the first place.

              • eddie says:

                If you’re first preference SNP guy gets a seat, then you’re vote has been counted and done. No other preference will even be considered.

    • Yabutey says:

      Indy Irene doesn’t need 45% to get elected. As Paul says in his example, she only needs 33% rounded up to a whole number.

  8. Luigi says:

    Well said, WGD. There are enough indy supporters on the blogs and social media sites to really make a difference to the numbers of hard yoon councillors that eventually get elected, but we need to convince as many as possible that ranking the entire ward lists are worthwhile. There is a lot of confusion out there, even among this (politically engaged) group. I hope WGD, Wings and Scot goes Pop keep plugging this until the day. Painful repetition is the only way – keep hammering it home. 🙂

  9. Ian Murray says:

    Extremely flawed analysis and failed to take account of local issues and candidates.

  10. Les Bremner says:

    Thank you for classing me as normal, not everyone does that.

    • Marconatrix says:

      Well I don’t think I’m quite at the two-short-planks level of thickness, but the Dug has just demonstrated that I didn’t fully understand the system. It was the bit about over-the-quota votes getting redistributed that had previously gone o’er ma heid. So it’s a case of saying, “Tapaidh Leat, a Chù Bheag Ruadh!” 😉

      • Marconatrix says:

        Whoops! Too early in the morning and too clever by half! As you all know of course that should have been, “A Choin Bhig Ruaidh”, so that’s me handed ma jotters …

  11. bigirishman says:

    Sorry but I think that you are wrong. Rather than Federalist Fred getting 116 votes as transfer he would get 40. This is because redistributed votes only count as a fraction calculated as the surplus divided by the surplus (to the 5th Decimal place) divided by the quota. 116/334 =0.247305 * 116 = 40.287425. in your case Federalist Fred get elected by 290 votes because he is ahead at the last count. The tory can’t beat them. It is better to have an example where there are 4 or 5 candidates here the forces of righteousness can come from behind, if you are reworking it, give give the Tory 250 votes and the Federalist fewer, never have another pro indi candidate and have them transfer to the Federalist remember that transfers votes transfer at their value it is surpluses which are calculated. Yes I will have to get out more often, I will canvassing still wearing my anorak

    • Thepnr says:

      You have a wee mistake there, all 450 second votes count and if all the 2nd preferences were for Fred he would get all 116 votes over the surplus.

      As the dug said “All of the people who voted for Indy Irene ranked Federalist Fred as their number 2”

      Also it’s not the surplus divided by the quota rather the surplus divided by the total number of votes received. So 116 surplus 450 total votes, multiplier=116/450 = 0.258.

      So now each of Irenes 2nd preference votes is worth 0.258 of a vote, since all 450 supporters of Irene gave their 2nd preference to Fred he would get 450 x 0.258 extra votes which equals 116.

      The total number of votes after each stage will always add up to the total number of voters i.e 1000 in this case.

      So after stage 2 the election of Fred, the votes look like this. Irene has the quota 334 her votes above the quota have been shared out between her 2nd preferences, so Fred is now on 366 (250+116) and Tory Tom remains on 300. A total of 1000 votes.

      It’s very complicated I agree, but it’s what we’ve got and Scot Goes Pop and Wee Ginger Dug have it right IMO. Vote untill you boak.

    • Yabutey says:


  12. Arthur Martin says:

    Great explanation WGD. This needed a dummies guide as there are probably lots of voters out there in voterland that have no idea how STV works.
    I will take a sick bag into the polling booth with me, just in case.

  13. Paul, if you write more on this topic, I think what is confusing most people is the difference between AMS (the Holyrood system) and STV – some people seem to have thought AMS was basically STV with only two priorities to allocate, which it really isn’t.

  14. heathermclean19 says:

    Thank you!! By far the very best and simplest explanation I’ve ever read about this voting system! I’m reposting this everywhere I can possibly think of and urging others to do the same! Enjoy your visit to London!
    Looking forward to your next blog!

  15. AnnieM says:

    I told my daughter to show this excellent explanation to people she knows and she replied, “If I show this to most people I know they will use it to vote down the SNP and Greens”!!

    She really needs to choose her friends with more care lol!

    • Morag says:

      The Tories are already telling their voters to do that. They’re ahead of the SNP on this one. So it’s going to happen anyway. We need to get smart and understand it the way the unionists seem to be understanding it.

  16. I tuned in to ‘Scottish’ Labour’s Party Political Broadcast last night at the tail end of BBC News Where We Are, admittedly more out of car crash rubber necking curiosity than any desire to hear the Branch Office’s Councillors wax elegant about their past triumphs and their vow for a better tomorrow at local and community level.
    I expected Frank the Pieman, third in a line of disgraced New Labour Red Tory Leaders to hold sway in Glasgow, to be on screen , oozing enthusiasm and excess rolls of fat over his shirt collar.
    Instead we got 6 or 7 fresh faced youngsters ( two or three of whom were clearly paid actors) who with the rosy cheeked censoriousness of Yoof pleaded with us all to heal the division by voting New Labour Red Tory.
    Occasionally, for the thickos among us, of whom I proudly declare myself to be one, a map of the British Isles jaggedly split from John O’ Groats to Portsmouth flashed up on the screen.
    I’m sure that even lass sitting at her kitchen table slurping tea in front of her fridge magnets whose husband would be the best to ask about complicated things like Scottish Independence, got the only message contained in this 4 minutes of empty headed nothingness.
    Bad SNP were causing families to divide, communities to fracture, friend turn on friend, brother on brother, just because they refuse to give in to Kezia Ruth and Wullie, and forget all this Independence nonsense the country would remain ‘divided’.
    I full expected these bright eyed youngsters (The Branch Office is chocka with young activists? Aye right.) to join hands at the end and give us a few bars of that Coca Cola ditty:-
    ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.’
    The parallels are apposite:
    New Labour has as much substance as the bubbles in a fizzy pop drink.
    Back in the real world, if the Red Blue and Yellow Branch Offices want to play the constitutional game, Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against the specific wishes of the citizens of Scotland, with disastrous consequences at local and national level.
    80,000 jobs will go, our GDP will drop by £9 billion, and families will be £2000 a year worse off.
    But that wouldn’t have catastrophic effect a t local level, would it?
    The ’17-’18 Coucil Tax demand landed on my doorstep the other day. GCC have slapped 3% on to my yearly bill for local services.
    From memory, the pie chart breaking down Local Government spending told me that just under a third of my pound was spent on Health and Social works, and just over a third on Education.
    At Holyrood over the past year the Red Blue and Yellow Tories have been singing SNP BAD in three part harmony, and singing from the same Better Together hymn sheet.
    Everything that’s wrong with Scotland is Nicola Sturgeon’s fault.
    Education attainment gap; Our crappy Single Police Force; NHS performance; 260,000 Scottish children living in poverty; 500,000 Scots living below the poverty line; High winds delaying completion of the Queensferry Bridge; Shortage of GP’s, Consultants; class sizes; 1400 pensioner s bed blocking, libraries and day centres closing, and Scotland not qualifying for the World Cup.
    It’s all the EssEnnPee’s fault for causing ‘division’.
    The Local Authorities, Health Boards, Education Authorities, COSLA, obscenely paid Local Government Heads of Education, Social Work, Housing, are blameless. They are not to be held to account for the mess.
    It’s all because Nicola Sturgeon cut the money.
    We are paying footballer’s wages to abject failures?
    Ruth Davidson and Jackson Carlaw are not to blame for the relentless slaughter of the innocents.
    No, it’s the Big Bad Boys Down There who are destroying society?
    Dugdale and Rennie do not share the guilt by mutely standing by and saying nothing against the Blue Tories brutal Final Solution. No, it’s Jeremy Corbyn’s fault.
    The Red Blue and Yellow Tories voted through £25 billion in cuts to welfare, unemployment, disability, infirm, child, pensioner credits/allowances in January 2015.
    The Blue Tories are only doing what the Red and Yellow Tories would have done. Rob the poor, reward the rich. Cut public services, cut LA budgets by 40%. Destroy civic society.
    Victimise rape victims. Cut pensioners HB by 27% so that they can choose between heat and eat, or a roof over their heads with a 27% cut in their pensions.
    Benefits and allowances frozen for another 2 years as inflation hits 2.3% and rising.
    18-21 year olds made homeless because of scrapping Housing Benefit.
    ESA of £29.25 cuts to unemployed disabled claimants.
    I could go on.
    These cuts will of course have no impact on Local Services and funding. Aye, right.
    Davidson Dugdale and Rennie are fighting the LA elections on a single issue Better Together No Indyref2 ticket.
    They have nothing else.
    How could they defend their record on anything at council level?
    They will lose and lose badly.
    Vote ’til yo boak, folks.

  17. Alba woman says:

    Thank you WGD I will pass this on. Excellent information. Ruth Davidson I read today, is continuing to defend the totally indefensible rape clause. She did not have the political courage to declare this support herself…..Beyond the pale Ms. Davidson. Just following orders?

    • I wondered how Davidson would react to the “rape clause” – I’m all in favour of holding the Scottish Tories to account for the misdeeds of their masters in Westminster, not least because they’re so fond of “holding the SNP to account” for things that are outwith Holyrood’s control and within Westminster’s.

      So, there is a feeling of rather grim satisfaction going on within these four walls because Davidson has indeed come out in support of that particularly nasty piece of Tory nastiness. She has had every opportunity to distance herself from the Westminster Tories, and she never has. She did one of those thoroughly unconvincing volte-faces over Brexit – from catastrophe beforehand to the best thing since sliced bread afterward. With innovative jam, of course. Her earlier advice that a Westminster government would be unwise to stand in the way of another independence referendum – sunk without a trace, indeed, here she is, shamelessly turning the local elections in May into a referendum on not holding a referendum. It’s enough to make a sane person’s eyeballs rotate in opposite directions, it really is.

      So here she is again now, defending the frankly indefensible, standing up for the right of DWP assessors and the like to give women the third degree so that DWP can “prove”, if it is at all possible for them to do so, that the women were not in fact raped, and do not have to be awarded any extra money. I feel dirty even saying it, but I think we all know that that is exactly how DWP will approach this.

      I’m just jalousing that many of Davidson’s troops at Holyrood, and standing in the Council elections on 4 May, are right now contemplating their electoral prospects with the feeling you get when you dislodge the bathplug and the bathwater drains out from around you.

      In other words, people, go, and vote, and remember – you can’t have the pleasure of putting anyone dead last on the list – which says “anyone would be better than this guy or gal” – without putting everyone else in ahead of them.

      • eddjasfreeman, well said.
        Jackson Carlaw is perfectly ok with a widowed pensioner, who has lived in a council house for say, fifty years, brought up a family there, and because of the woeful state pension, has had their pittance of a pension ‘topped up’ with means tested Pensions Credit, but since the start of the financial year will now have that Pensions Credit cut by 27%, because she is now caught in the Bedroom Tax scandal.
        She faces having to find the ‘extra’ to pay rent, by foregoing essentials like food, electricity, a winter coat, or face eviction. Carlaw is perfectly happy with that.
        I personalise this example, because Carlaw is as much to blame as any WM Tory.
        Professor Two Jobs WATP Bigot Adam Tomkins is ok with young widows with young children no longer getting Widow’s Allowance and allowances for young bereaved children. They’ve got to sign on and look for work. Pull yourself together , woman!
        Murdo The Queen’s Eleven Fraser, the man who is the biggest political failure on record, the man most rejected by parliamentary democracy in the civilised world, is ok with 18-21 year olds, living in rented accommodation, having their Housing Benefit scrapped, thus forcing vulnerable youngsters into homelessness.
        Ruth is perfectly happy that rape victims are dragged into a DWP office to be interrogated by an untrained civil servant to ‘prove’ that a third child is the outcome of rape.
        Liz Smith is perfectly content that if someone finds themselves unemployed but has the misfortune to have three children, the third child will get nothing in the way of welfare support.
        Young Mundell, the Dolly the Sheep of politics, has no problem with ‘hard working families’ having their in-work benefits frozen for another two years, in real terms a savage year on year cut in income, just as Brexit sends England and Wales into hyperinflation,
        The Universal Credit Scheme pilots have been an out and out disaster. Local Authorities are reporting massive rents arrears because UCS claimants cannot survive because of ‘Austerity’ Cuts and price inflation.
        And who is expected to pick up the pieces?
        Not JK Rowling gets a tax cut, whereas I, a pensioner pay an extra £40 per annum.
        I have nothing but utter contempt for Davidson and her quite frankly evil little band.
        Dugdale and her crew stand by idly watching, but lying and blaming it all on the Scottish Government. Thank Christ the SNP and Greens hold a majority Up Here.
        Willie Rennie and his four also-rans are a sick joke.
        Vote ’til you boak, folks.
        We are two or three years away from a civil uprising, if we don’t root out this evil little Better Together Gang at the ballot box.
        I predict a riot in England, when Brexit bites.
        The Blue Red and Yellow Tories are a bunch of cold money grubbing heartless bastards now.
        We have an escape pod, TG.

        • Robert Graham says:

          Agree with every word, This disgusting Tory party and their actions need to be laid at Ruthies door every single day, this while challenging Labour to defend their close links to them, I simply can’t comprehend someone who supports Labour having anything in common with the Tory party .
          Hasn’t anyone in the Labour Party woken up to being used by these bunch of crooks yet . are they so blinded by hatred of the SNP that they would embrace this lot that have been investigated by The Red Cross, the United Nations , 17 Police forces, does anyone possess a spine or even a glimmer of humanity in a party that used to support normal people.

        • Robert Leslie says:

          When I was canvassing during IndyRef, I met Jackson Carlaw’s auntie who told me Jackson had assured her her pension would be perfectly safe come Independence!

  18. Good to know…l had intended to leave everything except indy candidates blank…

  19. Alba woman says:

    Jack your post alongside that of edjasfreeman, are just excellent. I find it so hard to think that some folk in Scotland will give these people any political credence,. They are all so damaged.

  20. Graeme Timoney says:

    Paul you are swanning off to London and ignoring your day job of keeping us informed and entertained.

    • Thepnr says:

      LOL we all need a wee break at times and anyway he is there to inform the London SNP branch so will be entertaining and informing others that support Independence that can’t be here but could help in other ways. Wish him well.

      PS I know your comment was tongue in cheek so too is mine.

  21. Tog says:

    Reblogged this on sideshowtog.

  22. […] Source: Vote until you boak […]

  23. antmcg says:

    Reblogged this on antmcg.

  24. Trying to get people to understand the concept of “vote till you boak” is proving a challenge, i am on the verge of giving up.

  25. cameronmgb says:

    I’ve had a hell of a time today trying to explain to people how ranking a unionist doesn’t make them a yoon, can help the SNP and can’t damage any of their higher ranked candidates. There’s so much rampant paranoia around because of all the bullshit about rigging in Indyref and because of people thinking Putin’s a hero because they said so on RT that people just refuse to believe anything they’re told. And think that makes them cleverer than if they believed everything they were told.


  26. chicmac says:

    Spot on Paul. You don’t need to rank the Tories are other far right types like UKIP or known closet Tories if they exist as long as you rank everyone else.

  27. jrmacclure says:

    But IS ‘Federalist Fred’ a lesser evil? I doubt it and if he makes you boak don’t think you should vote for him even if the Tory is marginally less boak inducing.

    • weegingerdug says:

      There are two seats and three candidates. Indy Irene has been elected, so if Federalist Fred doesn’t get elected, Tory Tom will. If you don’t give your 2nd preference to FF, TT has a better chance of being elected.

    • weegingerdug says:

      And he is the lesser of two evils in this example, because I made him up. He’s not a real person.

  28. Hazel Smith says:

    Thank you for your fine explanation of the STV system. I had read several explanations and still couldn’t understand it until I read yours Paul. I will vote till I boak.

  29. Waiting for Scotland says:

    The local election rules are little understood by most voters. Probably why council elections have the lowest turnout. Rarely exceeding an average of 25% of the electorate in most places. Even among this voting group, probably less than a quarter have any understanding of the STV system used in Scotland.

    In the past, few electors hardly bothered themselves about who arranges and maintains local services. Most folks were content to leave it to their motivated and elder neighbors, under whatever banner, who were promising to provide a new coat of paint for the local zebra crossing. As long as councilors demonstrated adequate competence and were not obviously ripping people off, the majority were indifferent to who directs local services. Be they SNP, Green, Labor, Lib/Dems or Tories.

    The question of Scottish Independence has now displaced mundane local issues. The council elections have become a hot zone in the constitutional debate. It is ironic how we got here. Parties who never tire of berating the SNP for not doing their day job, are campaigning on an issue that has nothing to do with the day job of a local city councilor. Comedy gold.

    This battle was chosen by Teresa May. All Union parties have lined up behind her – their campaigns are merely vacuous variations of her central and only theme. Opposing Independence. It is hardly surprising why they have all staked their future on this strategy. It offers them the greatest potential for success.

    Who make up the bulk of the core 25%? Scottish and English resident pensioners, that’s who. The primary electorate who delivered the No vote in 2014, Brexit in 2016, and who will likely choose the Tories in the upcoming election. They have now been programmed by the MSM to deliver a negative vote for independence next month.

    Unless independence minded folks meet this threat by voting in large numbers next month, those who blindly follow the Union Jack will be used by May and her factors to forestall any independence vote until after the Holyrood elections in 2021. This is the challenge we face.

    This is all a bit surreal. Independence has now come down to who gets the call for emptying bins. I suppose it was inevitable. It is an indication to me that we are now in the end game. I have faith our people have the stamina to meet the challenge.

  30. Astragael says:

    More generally: beware of Independents or, at least, try to find out what they really stand for ; they are unlikely to be pro-independence. Two independent candidates in this ward make unexceptional claims in their promotion leaflets about what they hope to achieve if elected, but make no mention at all of how such good intentions might be affected either by “Brexit’ or by any move towards Scottish independence. When contacted about these omissions it became immediately obvious that, far from being of an independent frame of mind, each was following an agenda set either by the Tories or by UKIP.

  31. MI5 Troll says:

    Greetings from the Former Soviet Republic of Ayrshire. Well, what a difference 5 years makes. I don’t even remember if I voted in the last local elections. Now we’ve got people getting excited, tutorials on the subtleties of d’Hondt and STV and cunning plans of mass tactical voting. I love it. Anyway, good luck to all of our “Yes” leaning councillors when the day comes.

  32. Two stories caught my eye today. Apparently a further 71 PFI schools are suffering from the same building defects as the 17 already identified, but only by default when an exterior wall collapsed into a playground in a high wind.
    In another story it is reported that an executive of the Board which runs our Colleges is to be considered for a 50% increase in their wages from, wait for it, £80,000 per annum, to £140,000, as recommended by an ‘independent’ Salary Revue Board.
    As we are in the throes of LA election fever, I ask, who is accountable for all of this?

    It’s my money, yet I haven’t a clue whose heads should be rolling for PFI death traps, and the concomitant financial millstone ’round our necks to make these buildings safe; why are we continuing to pay ‘rent’ for these potential death traps to an amorphous off shore Hedge Fund? I gather that the original builders took the money and ran a long time ago.
    As far as I can see, nobody got the chop when the first tier of dodgy schools were uncovered. The Dead Tree Scrolls and BBC PQ seem to have gone strangely silent on this scandal.

    I’d have thought that £80k a year to sit on a Board overseeing FE Colleges was a more than decent wedge, but some unseen, unaccountable, Jobs For the Boys, Salary Merry-Go-Round Assessment Panel have thunk differently.

    Who is in charge of spending my money on FE. To whom are they accountable? When do the public get to know what’s what?

    Are Local politicians responsible for PFI Schools/ Are they also responsible and accountable to me, the poor stiff who provides the dosh for these high priced anonymous College Board members?
    I am sure that I am not alone in experiencing the combined emotions of anger and frustration when I read about the covert double dealing that goes on unchallenged under our very eyes.
    Out with the old, in with the new.
    Vote ’til you boak, folks.

    • Robert Graham says:

      A bit like the List system we cant get rid of the dead wood because these unionist parties continue to place dud MSPs in to obstruct our freely elected Government , we cant vote them out because hardly anyone votes them in , Some cases like oor Murdo has been rejected in every single election he has taken part in , and yet there he sits on his fat arse spouting pish at our expense , aren’t we bloody kind hearted or as some would say stupid , stupid in allowing this to go on unchallenged , in the same way you highlight this very lucrative position of professional arse placements , this small group ” well as far as we know ” god knows how many there are by now , and who exactly votes for an enormous pay hike in these times of total austerity ,Oh their pals who would have thought it .
      Frustration dosnt come close ,as is where to start ,my heads nipping already .
      I believe there is enough knowledge and understanding on these INDY supporting sites for a wish list of things that urgently need addressing by our MSPs .

    • Saor Alba says:

      It even more of an increase Jack. It is a 75% increase on the original £80,000 salary. Worse than you thought.

  33. Derek says:

    So , have I got this right…
    If there are 10 candidates, you mark All the boxes, 1,2,3 4,5 etc up to 10 ? Making sure Tory Tom is number 10?

  34. Alan J says:

    I’m yet to be convinced to rank all candidates. With STV every vote counts, so even low ranked votes can go towards a quota.

  35. Away to look up who is standing here so I can think about how to rank them before polling day. The council elections are more serious this time than ever before.

    • Thepnr says:

      Well done, that’s exactly the thing to do.

    • Click on the BBC link (below ). They’ve done all the searching for us. Isn’t that nice of them! (Makes a change – the BBC being helpful for once).

      There is a list of all 32 Scots Councils at the end of the article. Just click on your Council and it then links to all the candidates standing in each ward.

      You need to know which ward you are in to check the list of people you will be voting for in your ward. Candidate lists differ substantially from ward to ward and council to council.

      You may be in a different ward from the last local council elections, as many ward boundaries were altered since then.

      You may also have a different polling station because of this boundary change. A good place to find out: your polling card will detail your ward and polling station.

      Vote til ye boak!

  36. Paul, I hope all went well in London Town.
    While you were away:- Ruth Davidson and Jackson Carlaw have issued the most vile and frankly SNP BAD evil comments, to score political points as they stand on a platform consisting of a mound of tortured and dying Scottish children, pensioners, disabled citizens and ‘just managing’ families.
    I can think of nothing more vicious than the Rape Clause, and am enraged by the cold heartless Tory cuts to pensioners, the disabled, ‘big families’ of more than two children, widows, disabled jobseekers, so that England can buy more Nuclear weapons from the US, and JK Rowling can pay even less tax.

    This is the future that Murdo Fraser, and Professor Adam Tomkins have mapped out for us if we vote Blue Tory at any political level Up Here.
    They are cold heartless bastards, every one.
    The perverted logic of fat contented anti Scottish Tories appears to be: we agree with our London Masters. Fuck civic society, we want a elite Establishment hierarchy to flourish, and we will kill Scots citizens to achieve this.
    Nicola Sturgeon has the power to stop us and our Fascist agenda, by mitigating our evil cynical scorched earth policies; but she refuses to do so.
    Ergo, vote for us, the heartless bastard party.

    I will surely boak by ranking the Blue Tories last on the ballot paper.

    Davidson and Carlaw should resign now; their stance is immoral, bordering on the criminal.

    And where the fuck are Dugdale, Rennie, Marra, Lamont, Findlay, and James OBF Kelly?
    Easter Breaks in their Holiday Homes in Spain? Well, on £1200 a week they can well afford it.
    England is in the grips of fascist madness, and Ruth would have Scotland in the same Dante’s Inferno.

    Vote ’til you can boak no more, Scotland.
    Vote for Cold Heartless Bastards.

  37. […] 2. Paul Kavanagh | Wee Ginger Dug “Vote until you boak” […]

  38. Aucheorn says:

    I see someone has re-christened Ruth the Mooth, to be known forever more as Ruth Rape Clause Davidson.

  39. I just got my ballot paper through the post this morning, and to my surprise, when I got to no. 10 – the Tory – I didn’t feel like boaking, I thought “There you go. Last on the list. Anything But Champagne Conservatives”. So, to do that I had to rank Lying Libdems and Labour Losers ahead of him, and Iffy Independent above them, and the four pro-indy candidates in my four-seat ward top, in order SNP, Green and the glum-looking laddie in the hoodie from the next street who’s from the old SSP – it turned out to be not that difficult after all.

  40. eddie says:

    Trouble is, that’s not how STV works in practise. The counting of votes is conducted in stages. First stage is that all first preferences are counted to see which, if any candidates get enough votes to be lected. This is not a simple majority, but a quota based on the nmuber of candidates running and the number of seats available in multi-member wards.

    If, after all first preferences are counted, and not all seats are filled, they go on to count second preferences, then possibly third and so-on. IIRC, there was one ward recently where it went to seventh count. They can only count until all available seats are filled.

    This means that not ranking a candidate ensures that they are not included in any of the counts. It’s very simple to keep out candidates you don’t want there. Don’t rank them at all.

  41. eddie says:

    Oh, and importantly, if your first preference is assigned to a seat, none of the other preferences you list are ever counted.

    • Thepnr says:

      That I’m sorry to inform you is simply bollocks. All of your preferences are counted whether your first preference is elected or not. You are spreading disinformation either through ignorance or deliberately.

      Your guff should be ignored and if it is just ignorance then read the following.

      Click to access What-is-STV.pdf

    • Saor Alba says:

      Absolute bunkum Eddie. Are you really serious.

  42. BOKE says:

    Boak?? I’ve heard of Boke. Must be some newfangled English word because Paul knows to never use ‘oa’ in Scots.

    Anyway, good article. We’ve done 1-9 here, with Labour and Tory bottom across all four ballots.

    • bigirishman says:

      Boak is a good Ulster word given that the popular languages in Ulster are Ayrshire Lallands, or a bit of Gaelic, I would think that there is a Scottish base for Boak. Yuseuns makes me Boak

    • Boke,
      in my house we are bi-lingual, she who is the light of my Universe being from Belfast. I say ‘boke’, she says ‘boak’, I say ‘Tomayto’, she says, ‘Tomahto’, let’s call the whole thing off.
      Ulster Scots and mainland Scots, two languages separated by a wee strippet of water.

    • In days gone by (pre-1971), people travelling overseas from the UK were likely to be flying with the State-owned British Overseas Airways Corporation. In the rear seat pockets, they carried special bags, helpfully labelled BOAC, for passengers to throw up in if they felt the need.

  43. […] have been several excellent explanations of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system used in local elections recently: the […]

  44. dinnatouch says:

    I’d happily place the Tories last on my ballot paper (or second last, there’s a ‘kipper standing in my ward), however since I live in North Lanarkshire, it’s Labour I really want to get rid of.

    My ward has two SNP candidates, two Labour, a Tory, a ‘kipper, and three independents standing. I’ll rank the SNP and the indies, but I really can’t stomach ranking Labour higher than a Tory whose got little chance of gaining a seat. Any suggestions?

    • Saor Alba says:

      I agree dinnatouch, but I would still put the red Tories just above the kipper and blue Tory who I would place in the bottom two positions. Any policies they have will not be relevant to our areas. The trouble is that they are all equally loathsome.
      However, check out the Independendents carefully. They could be closet red or blue Tories in disguise.
      I am a bit luckier than you as in my North Lanarkshire council, I have exactly the same as you have stated, but also have a Green, a Solidarity and an Independent Alliance candidate. I will be checking out the 4 Independent candidates very carefully.

    • Thepnr says:

      Choices choices. It is very hard, I wouldn’t put a Tory at the bottom just for the sake of it although I despise them the most.

      I’d concentrate on making the SNP the largest party in your ward and if that means voting a Tory no hoper ahead of a Labour one I guess I’d do just that.

      Every ward is going to be different, sure we might hate the Tories but will the Tories likely end up running your council? If Labour are the real threat to forming an SNP/Indy council in your ward I’d put them last as the others are unlikely to be elected anyway.

      Even if they are in places like Glasgow they won’t have enough seats to make any difference you would hope.

      The most important thing. Know your candidates and council make up, it’s your vote and only you can decide. Just vote as you think best for Scotland’s future, it’s that easy.

  45. Stewart Robertson says:

    I have yet to read an explanation as to why ranking a Tory last is better than not ranking them at all. It makes absolutely no sense to me. The system counts first preference votes initially. If no candidate makes the quota then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated. Ranking a Tory candidate 9th out of 9 doesn’t make it more likely they will be eliminated. It just can’t as the 9th preference vote will be ignored until such times as it becomes necessary to allocate a vote to your 8th preference, and by then all 4 councillors will have been elected. To suggest that putting a 9 next to their name has an effect instead of leaving it blank is just nonsense

  46. Gary B says:

    So if I don’t vote for Fed Fred or Tom Tory then there is no chance what so ever that my vote can transfer to them. If I do rank them then my vote could transfer to them at some stage. I would personally prefer to keep my vote what is called untransferable, except to the people I vote for or am I completely wrong? I do believe that later round transfers from the nice Indy Irene to Fed Fred have cost seats in by elections in the last year. ie 3 indy + 1 indepen in a 4 Cllr ward & 2-3 indy in a 3 person ward maximum and no transfers to others would be my preference.

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