What is Ballot Box Scotland?
This project 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, from various sources, 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 aims to provide regular updates on polling and elections within Scotland, as well as keeping an eye on the ever-present Independence question. BBS also aims to be an easy reference for recent 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 once 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.
My final core aim is to improve the understanding of our democratic structures, and stimulate discussion around reform. Though Scotland fares better than the UK norm in terms of using forms of Proportional Representation for two levels of election, using different systems is confusing, and the ongoing use of FPTP for UK-level elections isn’t democratically ideal.
We also lag behind our European neighbours in other key areas of democracy such as the funding and regulating of political parties. BBS therefore advocates extensive reform of our political procedures that will empower voters and deliver more representative results.
I’m Allan Faulds, and 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. BBS was initially launched in 2018, a year in which I was both very bored and unemployed, and when there was a gap in the electoral cycle. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, and I’m absolutely thrilled by how well-respected the project has become. Although I am thankfully no longer unemployed, BBS has become something of a second job for me.
My political background is as a formerly very active member of the Scottish Green Party, having stood for election in both 2017 (Glasgow City Council) and 2019 (European Parliament) for that party. I am no longer an active member, and my personal political focus these days is on running BBS. It’s not very hard to find information about who I am, and I certainly don’t hide it!
It shouldn’t come as any great shock that anyone interested enough in elections to run BBS would, obviously, have views on how those elections should turn out – journalists and academics are in a similar position. Likewise, given the number of people who have historical affiliations with the SNP, Labour, Conservatives or Lib Dems who hold positions in business, media, or the third sector, it’s not exactly surprising that this far into the 21st Century the odd person with a Green history will pop up now and then too.
What matters more is whether or not my coverage is accurate and honest. Given my engineering background, I put a huge degree of importance on accuracy (in that line of work folk are liable to blow up without it), and I always accurate report on polling, projections, and election outcomes.