What has Argyll & Bute Council done with the mini-count data from independence referendum night?

Some Scottish councils chose to release local breakdowns of the vote in their area on 18th September 2014 in the Scottish Independence Referendum.

Amongst those who did were:

During its counting process, Argyll and Bute Council took local mini counts as did those councils above. These local breakdown results were made known on the spot to some of those present; but have not been published.

To prevent the manipulation of the resulting public ignorance by self-serving political parties – with some said to be telling a variety of individual local areas in Argyll and Bute that they voted a majority for independence and were ‘let down’ by the rest of Argyll.

Since Argyll voted  ‘No’ to independence by a majority above the national average [58.47% to 41.4%], the ‘letting down’ was clearly the other way around – but the key issue here is the recording of fact. The publication of those facts is a separate issue 0- but a related one since publication is only possible if the records exist – and if they continue to exist.

Andrew Vennard, a solicitor in an Oban practice, has represented the Scottish Conservatives in the last three by-elections for Argyll and Bute Council [Ward 4 in May 2014; Ward 5 in July 2014; and Ward 5 again in October 2014].

He asked Argyll and Bute Council for the local vote breakdown data in the referendum in Argyll and Bute. What he found is uncomfortable in a range of ways. Here is the correspondence chain that resulted.

First response, Charles Reppke, 17th October at 10.33

Classification: OFFICIAL

Hi Andrew

I have been passed your request for a breakdown of the referendum results for the Oban area and would advise that is my understanding thta the Counting officer does not intend to provide a breakdown .the reason  for this is that consideration was  given to this very issue prior to the referendum by the Chief Counting Officer .The outcome of that deliberation was that she reiterated that there should be one result for each Council area and that she would not direct any local counting officer to depart from their normal method of dealing with such matters.

Thereafter the Chief Counting Officer gave advice on 15th July 2014 in the following terms:-

Totals are to be declared and published only at the level of the whole local authority, not by Ward or Constituency

In view of this guidance and the terms of SIRA which requires a declaration for the  whole Council area only that is the basis upon which results will be provided.

Kind regards

Charles Reppke

Depute Counting Officer

Andrew Vennard’s reply, 17th October at 13.26

Subject: Re: [OFFICIAL]

Dear Charles

I thank you for your email. I had thought that it was probably the case that the council would only publish the result for the whole council area, as this is what is it obliged to publish, which is more than satisfactory to me. For the avoidance of doubt, however, if any for reasons there was a policy decision change by the council, I would be grateful if you could confirm if any data exists that would allow a breakdown to be prepared, or whether it is the case that no such data exists (which appears to be the case).

Kindest regards

Andrew Vennard
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Candidate for the Oban North and Lorn by election 17 July 2014

Charles Reppke’s response, 21st October at 14.21

Classification: OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE

Hi Andrew

The answer is that if there was a change of policy we would not be able to provide definitive information at any sub set level for the Council area

Regards

Charles

Conclusions

From what we know – that mini-counts were taken and made known at the count on the night of 18th-19th November and that, from the correspondence above, no such data now exists, the only inference is that this data has been destroyed.

Such data, once created, is a matter of historic public record, whether or not it is published at a given time.

The Chief Counting Officer’s guidance did not forbid the creating – or even, arguably, the publication – of such breakdown data. Her guidance is quoted above by Mr Reppke to Mr Vennary as being that: ‘she would not direct [Ed: our emphasis] any local counting officer to depart from their normal method of dealing with such matters’. Directing the creation and/or publication of local voting breakdown figures is one thing. Forbidding it is quite another.

The Chief Counting Officer’s further guidance on 15th July, also quote above by Mr Reppke to Mr Vennard, was:

‘Totals are to be declared and published only [Ed: our emphasis] at the level of the whole local authority, not by Ward or Constituency’.

This departs from her earlier guidance by adding an apparent proscription on publication, although its association with the declaration would seem to confine it to the data published at each count at the end of the night; and not necessarily to publication at a later date.

Were this not the case, the Chief Counting Officer would by now have taken action to reprimand or penalise the local authorities who chose afterwards to publish their mini-count data.

At no point, by any interpretation, did the Chief Counting Officer proscribe the creation and retention of local voting breakdown data.

That Argyll and Bute Council created such data on the night, shared it with those [or with some of those] present at the count is known. That they later destroyed this data was an act of culpable vandalism in terms of evidence central to a historic and unprecedented event.

This action was also discriminatory and damaging.

Firstly, it wrongly advantaged those who were present at the count and disadvantaged the population at large.

Secondly, it made that discriminatory situation irredeemable by destroying the data.

The 2014 formal referendum on Scottish Independence was an unprecedented and historic event.

The United Kingdom may never see such a referendum again – which means that the detailed records of that vote on 18th September 2014 are of unparallelled historic significance.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom may well see another Scottish Independence Referendum as soon as May 2016 – one that is as likely as not to return a different result. This would mean the break up of a 300 year old Union – on which momentous occasion comparisons of data between the two referenda would be of immense historic import.

Argyll and Bute would appear not just to be governed by complacent mediocrities – but by barbarians, unaware of the weight of the epoch making times in which they have been in charge of material they were not capable of handling with due responsibility.

It matters far less that such data might not be published at present than that it no longer exists for future understanding of an event that shook all our lives and sees a United Kingdom whose foundations may have been fatally undermined by it.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·


Related Articles & Comments

  • FREEDOM of Information!!!!!!!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

    NoCheeseHere November 12, 2014 8:38 am Reply
    • Care to expand on this pearl of wisdom, NCH – or were you just making a noise?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

      Robert Wakeham November 12, 2014 9:55 am Reply
      • Sorry Robert,

        The above poster is the most recent imposter. I think it is a councillor and ex leader

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

        No Cheese Here November 12, 2014 10:33 pm Reply
        • I should have spotted no gaps in the name.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

          Robert Wakeham November 12, 2014 11:38 pm Reply
  • waste of time and effort and of course our money. A&B will carry on doing what they are doing whether we like it or not. They treat the public they ‘serve’ like idiots. The sooner we have a shake up the better.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

    mike November 12, 2014 10:17 am Reply
  • Should we require each Scottish political party to publish its membership numbers on a regular basis?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

    dp November 12, 2014 10:41 am Reply
  • “On the other hand, the United Kingdom may well see another Independence referendum as soon as May 2016, one that is as likely as not to return a different result.”

    There will be an Independent Scottish Parliament, I like that.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 21

    agnes moffat November 12, 2014 11:16 am Reply
    • I would think that the sort of fanaticism that Agnes Moffat, and her like, display in the rhetoric that they use in putting forward their arguments on this forum, should ensure that there may never be an Independant Scottish Parliament.
      Surely I can’t be the only one who finds a case that is argued in such a manner, unattractive.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12

      Charlie Jack November 12, 2014 1:39 pm Reply
  • Charlie Jack
    Agnes is no fanatic only having fun with a little parody of the late Donald Dewar’s words from the best speech he ever made. Please observe FUN
    Also I was quoting from back room’s article herself.
    There will be those who will always vote No and those who will always vote YES but there are also those who I believe now understand that they were lied to on a grand scale.
    55% to 45% of the electorate does not need such a vast shift to make things very interesting.
    I accept the result but firmly believe that the people will be heard to demand another referendum. When? Time will tell.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 19

    agnes moffat November 12, 2014 2:10 pm Reply
  • Trip Trap—Agnes Moffat Troll- not funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

    Steve Barlow November 12, 2014 7:46 pm Reply
  • lowry
    If you are quoting from an article from the Daily Record you have already lost the argument.
    Steve Barlow
    one of these days I might have a clue what you are on about, My dear husband Sandy is worried about you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

    agnes moffat November 12, 2014 9:49 pm Reply
  • It now appears that the carrot offered during the referendum campaign of jobs on the Clyde to build the new Type26 Frigates could be another lie from Alistair Darling’s Better Together mob.
    Today’s Scotsman has an article telling us that these may now be built in France.
    The Yes campaign’s argument on procurement of defence contracts being placed out of the UK has unsurprising been endorsed by this article.
    Of course they knew this all along.
    When can we expect an apology? Does this make the result of the referendum null and void?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    agnes moffat November 13, 2014 10:44 am Reply
    • And in the interest of balance the claim by the First Sea Lord Admiral has been largely refuted by the government and the MOD has clearly stated that complex warships will only be built in the UK.

      So you’re asking for an apology from the Govt because of one person’s statement – shouldn’t the apology come after it is proved to be a lie which it clearly hasn’t yet.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

      Integrity? November 13, 2014 11:11 am Reply
      • The BBC are quite simply shit stirrers, pardon the language. Their reporting is appalling and one could be forgiven for thinking some SNP spin doctor was at the helm! Funny that the only three people I know at the BBC are…staunch Nationalists!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

        Jamie Black November 13, 2014 11:40 am Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *