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, 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 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 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. Ballot Box Scotland therefore advocates extensive reform of our political procedures that will empower voters and deliver more representative results.
Who Runs Ballot Box Scotland?
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. With 2018 the first year in ages there weren’t any national elections in Scotland, collating the data and preparing to analyse the next round seemed an obvious way to get my elections fix. I’m a member of the Scottish Green Party, albeit a currently very inactive one, 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!
In addition to mentioning my party affiliation here, BBS Twitter contains a link to my personal profile, and it’s very easy to find my name via a Google search. I don’t make any secret of it! I’m confident it hasn’t impacted any of my output so far. For example, I’ve occasionally had my calculator show fewer Green seats than Professor John Curtice’s estimates on the same poll, and duly reported those figures. Accuracy and honesty are extremely important to me.
If you’re still a bit dubious, remember that no one who is interested enough in elections to provide coverage of them is going to lack political opinions. Neither political journalists nor academics are without their own views. What matters is not whether they are held, but instead whether folk are capable of doing their job without partisan bias impacting on it!