What is Ballot Box Scotland?
This website is partially inspired by Britain Elects, which any politics nut in the UK should be familiar with. Britain Elects does sterling service in tracking UK General Election polling and projections, as well as council by-elections across the country. Their Twitter also keeps pretty good tabs on polling for almost any election or issue in the UK. However, in terms of detailed content, there’s a notable Scotland shaped gap – most notably around the Scottish Parliament and in how STV impacts council elections. That’s where the initial idea for Ballot Box Scotland came about.
Similarly to Britain Elects, Ballot Box Scotland will aim to provide regular updates on polling and elections within Scotland, as well as keeping an eye on the ever-present Independence question. Ballot Box Scotland also aims to be an easy reference for election results, presented with slightly more detail and in a more easily accessible format than trawling Wikipedia.
Another key aim of this project is to improve awareness and understanding of the political diversity in Scotland. Thanks in part to the primacy of FPTP Westminster Elections plus the Scottish Parliament’s oddly mixed system of AMS which also features FPTP prominently, Scotland is often subject to a simplistic level of political analysis. For example, memories of Scotland being a “Labour Country” gloss over the fact that dominance never reached areas like the Borders, Perthshire or Aberdeenshire. The apparent re-emergence of the Conservatives there in 2017 has taken folk used to the Central Belt SNP vs Labour narrative by surprise – but in reality, they’d never disappeared, it just looked like that on simple maps toned to whoever won the one MP.
Who Runs Ballot Box Scotland?
You can probably guess given the (currently) subdomain nature of the website that the author is Allan Faulds. The about page of my main website goes into more detail about me, if you’re that curious, but basically I’m super keen on elections. Although obviously the policy implications of those elections are more important, I find elections themselves silly amounts of fun. With 2018 the first year in ages there aren’t any planned elections in Scotland, collating the data and preparing to analyse the next round seemed an obvious way to get my elections fix.
I’m an active member of the Scottish Green Party, which is partly why I’m not (yet, anyway) seeking to do much in the way of analysis beyond the numbers and projections. I’d like to think I can present things pretty neutrally, but I’m only human. Effectively, you can think of this website as looking at what the numbers are, without being concerned about trying to explain why they are. When I do have a burning need to do that kind of analysis, it’ll go on my main website where my political biases are clear.
What’s with all the Images?
You might notice when browsing the election data pages that everything is presented in image format rather than interactive charts. Free to use chart plugins weren’t offering the kind of customisation options needed to represent data in party colours. I decided visually obvious and satisfying images would work better than these off-colour plugins. Depending on how well this project goes down, it may get more high-tech with nice paid versions of plugins that can do everything needed. For now, if you need to copy and paste big chunks of data, most of the information presented on this website will be made available to download in spreadsheet form from the relevant pages.
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Shapefile data Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right 2019 (see copyright details)