Colourful results from East Renfrewshire

East Renfrewshire have released detailed results from the council elections, and so I’ve created a few colourful graphs.

In Neilston, Uplawmoor and Newton Mearns North, the SNP, the Tories and Labour put forward two candidates each. In 2007, the results were SNP 1, Tories 2 and Labour 1, and the question was whether the SNP or Labour would be able to snatch a seat from the Tories. This was also the only ward with a Green candidate, and it would be interesting to see what the level of Green support would be.

Somewhat surprisingly, Labour’s two candidates got almost identical levels of support, and there was never any realistic chance of the fourth seat going to either the Tories or the SNP. The Green candidate did relatively well, beating the SNP’s Frank Rankin.

In Barrhead, the result was the same as last time — Labour 2, SNP 1, Indep. 1. However, it could have ended differently: The two SNP candidates both got more votes in the first round than Labour’s Kenny Hay. However, once the surplus votes from the top Labour candidate were redistributed, Mr. Hay leapt ahead and the SNP candidates didn’t get enough lower preferences from the eliminated candidates to make up for this, so only one of them was elected. However, the difference between Labour’s second candidate and SNP’s candidates was very slight, and the election could easily have seen two SNP candidates elected.

Giffnock and Thornliebank saw a very straightforward election result: Labour’s Jim Fletcher was comfortably ahead, and the Tory and the SNP candidate were very close and both got elected.

However, I must say the SNP and the Tories were quite lucky that Labour didn’t field two candidates, given that Jim Fletcher’s surplus was 573 votes, so a second Labour candidate would possibly only have needed in the vicinity of 500 first preferences to have got elected.

In Netherlee, Stamperland and Williamwood the Tories’ Gordon McCaskill narrowly beat the SNP’s Irene Anderson; however, this fight could easily have ended differently — there were only 85 votes between them in the end.

In Newton Mearns South, the Tories easily got two of their three candidates elected, and the real question was who would win the third and last seat — the Tories, the SNP or Labour? Labour’s Ian McAlpine was ahead all along, but he only got close to winning once he got the redistributed votes after the SNP’s Frank Angell was eliminated. The thing is that the Tories’ Alistair Haw just as easily could have been eliminated before Frank Angell, and where would his surplus votes have gone? If Tory voters prefer the SNP to Labour (which is by no means certain), that could in theory have seen Frank Angell elected ahead of Ian McAlpine.

Finally, Busby, Clarkston and Eaglesham saw the sitting SNP councillor, Alastair Carmichael, overtake both the Tories.

The Tories had put forward two candidates, but there was absolutely no way they could both have got elected.

To conclude, I think the only SNP candidate that didn’t have any realistic chance of getting elected was Frank Rankin in Ward 1 — the rest would have got elected with just a little extra luck.

The Tories were clearly putting forward too many candidates — I think they need to own up to the fact that they will never get a majority in East Renfrewshire on their own again.

Labour could possibly have got one or two more candidates elected, and I would expect them to field one or two more candidates in 2017.

The LibDems were miles away from getting anybody elected, and I think it’s a waste of their energy to put forward candidates in most wards.

The Greens did relatively well, and I would expect to put forward more candidates next time.

What to vote in East Renfrewshire tomorrow

Tomorrow (Thursday the 3rd of May 2012) there will be local elections in all council areas of Scotland.

For the second time, it will be held using the Single Transferable Vote, which basically means we’re being asked to rank the candidates.

In East Renfrewshire, last time the result was Labour 7, Tory 7, SNP 3, LD 1 and Independents 2, and the council is currently being controlled by a everybody-but-the-Tories coalition.

I live in Ward 1 (“Neilston, Uplawmoor and Newton Mearns North”), which last time voted Tory 2, Labour 1, SNP 1 — see the graph on the left, which to some extent is based on this posting by Lallands Peat Worrier. The coloured lines show the votes for each candidate; when they crash into the floor, it’s because the candidate was eliminated, and when they go up, it’s because of votes transferred from other candidates.

The SNP is much stronger nationally now than five years ago, so the decision has been made to put forward two candidates in this ward, Cllr Tony Buchanan and Frank Rankin, who I know well from SNP branch meetings and who I’m happy to endorse.

Because of the electoral system, it’s very important to use all your priorities if you want to maximise your influence — even if you’re first priority gets elected in the first round, parts of your vote can still get transferred to other candidates if the elected candidate got more votes than necessary (see also James’s advice on Better Nation).

I’ll definite give my first and second priorities to the two SNP candidates in my ward!

Balgray Reservoir drained



Barrhead dams
Originally uploaded by viralbus

I forgot to blog this at the time, but when we drove past Balgray Reservoir last month, we noticed that it had been almost entirely drained (see the photo). (According to Google Maps, that’s what it’s called, although my beloved wife – who grew up here – seems to call it the Barrhead Dam instead.)

I haven’t found any information anywhere about why this has been done – are they perhaps trying to find more murder victims?

Mobile phone masts

Phyllis and I were recently discussing whether we should switch from T-Mobile to another mobile phone provider given that their signal is fairly weak here in our house.

Once we realised that we didn’t know of any provider with better coverage, Phyllis got the bright idea to google for a mobile phone mast finder, and she swiftly found this site:

Sadly, it turns out that no company has any masts nearer our house than T-Mobile, so I guess they’ll get to live a little longer.

What to vote in Eastwood



Eastwood High School
Originally uploaded by Gordon McKinlay

The old Eastwood constituency used to be a Lab-Con marginal: Back in 2007, Ken Macintosh MSP from Labour won the seat with 35.8% of the vote, ahead of the Tories’ Jackson Carlaw MSP who got 33.6% and the SNP’s Stewart Maxwell MSP who got 18.9% (with LibDem Gordon MacDonald far behind on 8.6%). The three top candidates all got elected anyway because of the list system used for Scottish parliamentary elections.

However, this time Eastwood has had a chunk chopped off, and the result is a much more conservative constituency (details from this boundary report [PDF]):

Conservative 12,825 41.1%
Labour 9,337 29.9%
SNP 4,912 15.7%
Liberal Democrat 3,141 10.1%

The bits that were cut off are Neilston, Uplawmoor and Barrhead, and they’re now in the Renfrewshire South constituency, which is notionally a safe Labour seat with the SNP as the main contender.

According to Labour, Ken Macintosh MSP will contest Eastwood again, and he’ll be joined by his old foes Jackson Carlaw MSP and Stewart Maxwell MSP. (I haven’t been able to find out who the LibDems are putting up, but I’d be surprised if any sitting MSP would be willing to run in a seat with so few LibDem voters.)

So it’s in effect an interesting contest between three MSPs: the one who won it last time, the one who won it notionally, and the one whose party has been in power for the past four year.

The boundary report is expecting Labour to get 0 top-up seats, the SNP 4, the Conservatives 2 and the LibDems 1 in the West of Scotland region, bringing the number of MSPs up to Labour 8, SNP 5, Cons 3 and LibDems 1.

In other words, Labour is getting too many constituency MSPs, which means they’ll get no top-ups, whereas the SNP, the Tories and the LibDems will get topped up.

What this means is that if the Conservatives, the SNP or the LibDems win Eastwood, they will lose a top-up seat, and the total number of West of Scotland MSPs will remain Labour 8, SNP 5, Cons 3 and LibDems 1.

If, on the other hand, Labour win it, they have no top-up seats to lose, so the Conservatives are punished instead: Labour 9, SNP 5, Cons 2 and LibDems 1.

So to some extent the only thing that matters for the constituency vote is whether to vote Labour or not. A vote for Labour is a vote for Labour, whereas a vote for anybody else is a vote against Labour (and for the Conservatives in their prediction, but it could just as easily be for anybody else – this depends fully on the number of list votes).

The choice is therefore quite easy: If you want to see Labour in power in Scotland, vote for Ken Macintosh; if you want to see the SNP remain in power, vote Conservative, SNP or LibDem – it really doesn’t matter.

On the other hand, using your list vote is of high importance, but I’ll discuss that in a another blog posting.

The Danish weather forecast for Newton Mearns

Most people here in Newton Mearns are probably not aware that the Danish Meteorological Institute produces a weather forecast for Newton Mearns.

Unfortunately, it’s in Danish, but it’s really only the days of the week that are likely to cause problems.

I’m not sure whether it’s more or less accurate that the other forecasts out there, but it’s nice they’ve made one for Newton Mearns, rather than BBC Weather’s G77 forecast, which is based on Paisley.

How do you fit in six bins?



six types of recycling
Originally uploaded by absentmindedprof

East Renfrewshire have now decided that we need to put food waste into a separate bin.

This means that we need to fit six bins into our kitchen:

  1. Compostable waste (fruit, veg and egg shells)
  2. Other food waste
  3. Metal and glass
  4. Paper and cardboard
  5. Hard plastic
  6. Everything else

(I’m excluding from this list batteries, medicines, electrical equipment and other items that shouldn’t be thrown into the normal bins at all, but which still need to be collected somewhere in the house until we find the time to go to Ikea or the recycling centre.)

However, it’s starting to be a problem to find enough space for all the bins, even though we have a relatively big kitchen.

Of course we could pop outside whenever we’ve eaten an orange or finished a pint of milk, but that’s not very practical in the long run.

How do other people fit in their bins?