ROTHESAY Academy’s S1 pupils took to the streets on May 5 to survey people’s views on the election to the Scottish Parliament, as part of an interdisciplinary project involving Social Studies, Maths and IT.
Some members of the public were impressed with our enthusiasm despite the constant rain. We spread out through the town with one group - Holly MacMillan, Lauren Chisholm and Lynsey Calderwood - taking on the responsibility of interviewing voters out at North Bute, while Ben Clarke cleverly took advantage of the no smoking laws and homed in on those people forced to stand outside shops and businesses in Montague Street.
We asked people five questions: have you or do you intend to vote today? Which issues do you think are the most important at this election? Which party do you think has run the best campaign? Which of the party leaders do you think would make the best First Minister? Do you think adopting AV would lead to fairer elections to the Westminster Parliament?
Afterwards in our maths class, we worked out percentages and drew pie charts and graphs from our results.
Over two hours, we were able to interview a sample of 450 people. The first question we asked was whether people were intending to vote or not, with 77 per cent claiming that they did. If correct, this suggests Bute people take their good citizenship more responsibly than the rest of Argyll and Bute, where there was an overall turnout of 54 per cent.
From our survey it was clear that the health service and Education were the two most important issues, being chosen by 51 per cent and 49 per cent of Bute voters respectively. Thirty-one per cent thought law and order was most important, while only 22 per cent chose council tax – and interestingly, only 14 per cent of our sample thought independence was a major issue.
This was interesting as the majority of those we questioned thought that the SNP ran the best campaign (52 per cent) and that Alex Salmond would make the best First Minister (56 per cent). We also thought that it means that many people who were voting for the SNP were not voting for independence but for other reasons.
We were pleased to realise that our survey also matched quite closely how people voted in Argyll and Bute and in Scotland as a whole. In the election, 50.35 per cent of people in Argyll and Bute voted for the SNP candidate Mike Russell (our figure was 52 per cent) while 49.52 per cent of people in the Highlands and Islands voted for the SNP and Alex Salmond as First Minister (our figure was 56 per cent). Nationally 45.4 per cent of people voted for the SNP candidate in their constituencies and 44 per cent voted for Alex Salmond as First minister in the Party List vote.
Our last question attempted to predict how people would vote for AV, the Alternative Vote. Most people appeared to be against AV. Only 28 per cent of people said they would for it whereas 52 per cent were definitely against with 20 per cent admitting they didn’t know if it would be fairer or not.
Of those who voted no, the majority gave the impression that they didn’t really understand it and that it was too complicated.
We all enjoyed the experience and were given lots of support from the people we interviewed. One member of the public even took time to write on the back of Stuart Gilchrist’s and Dylan Wilson’s sheet while standing in the rain: “The boys were well informed and polite and very diligent even working in the rain. I would give them a job any day.” Our results will be on display at the Achievement Evening in the Academy.