Scottish Daily Mail

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing

- ANALYSIS by Stephen Daisley

As we await the full results of this crucial Holyrood election, we appear to have veered into Donald Rumsfeld territory. George W Bush’s secretary of Defence famously outlined the difference between ‘known knowns’ (things we know we know), ‘known unknowns’ (things we know we don’t know) and ‘unknown unknowns’ (the ones we don’t know we don’t know).

The known known is that turnout is up across a number of constituen­cies. More voters came to the polls than last time in Perthshire North, Dundee West and Clydebank and Milngavie, to name just a few.

If this trend is replicated nationwide, we’ll be looking at a substantia­lly higher turnout than 2016, when just under 56 per cent of the electorate showed up at polling stations.

What we don’t know for certain is if that will benefit any one party in a uniform fashion. From the results yesterday, the sNP did benefit from this surge – but we can’t be sure that will be the case in every region.

We know the nationalis­t vote is relatively united, despite the Alba split. Plus, the scottish Greens generally help rather than hurt the sNP, as they predominan­tly contest the regional lists.

since Nicola sturgeon’s party has roughly 40-45 per cent of the electorate baked into its numbers – mostly people who support separation – any uniform national increase in turnout stands a good chance of boosting the sNP’s vote.

IN such circumstan­ces, the party would be in a strong position to take not only a majority of Holyrood seats, but to do so in the constituen­cies alone.

We know there has been tactical voting but we don’t know by how much or who, if anyone, it will benefit. A Tory source told me the problem was a familiar one – Tory voters are willing to vote tactically for Labour or the Lib Dems, but the reverse is not true.

If this is indeed what has happened, it would mean that, after a decade of Ruth Davidson’s endeavours, the scottish Conservati­ves are still sufficient­ly toxic to hamper nationwide tactical voting.

Crudely put, some voters who hate the sNP still hate the

Tories more. speaking of toxic, Alex salmond’s Alba Party appears to have fallen flat.

Asked to describe how the breakaway faction was faring, an sNP source replied with a word that can’t be printed in a family newspaper.

In the blame game, it’s a toss-up between salmond’s personal standing in public opinion and the feasibilit­y of his ‘super-majority’ plan, which targeted pro-separation voters dissatisfi­ed with sturgeon’s progress on Indyref 2.

Either the prevalence of such dissatisfa­ction has been wildly exaggerate­d or these voters could not bring themselves to vote for salmond’s party.

As ever, there are blips that make a smooth narrative difficult to fashion. Yes, the sNP vote has gone up in most seats so far, but not all of them.

The Nationalis­t vote dropped in seats they nonetheles­s held, including Clydebank and Milngavie and Na h-Eileanan an Iar. In Banffshire and Buchan Coast, the drop was dramatic – almost 10 per cent.

We know the various reasons why the sNP share might slip in particular areas, but not why it has done so across such a diverse range of seats.

Finally, there are the unknown unknowns, the surprise results that may be coming. Could the Tories capture Perthshire south and Kinross-shire? How will the regional list seats fall?

The sNP has won the election, but just how handsomely? That’s the unknown that will be answered today.

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