What is it with the Scottish Greens of late? Like many nationalists, I feel they reflect my views more closely than any party other than the SNP itself. But they're becoming very, very hard to love. You might recall that a few weeks ago I took issue with James Mackenzie on Twitter after he said this -
"Shame on the @thesnp for putting Salmond on ballots he's not contesting."
That was, to put it mildly, a touch sanctimonious - he was criticising the SNP for 'misleading' the electorate, even though they were acting entirely within the rules to amplify the vital importance of the list vote, and even though the Greens themselves were about to embark once again on a grossly misleading '2nd Vote Green' campaign, designed (albeit deniably) to give the false impression that the all-important regional list ballot is some kind of second preference vote. When I tackled him on the latter issue, James fell back on a series of obviously well-rehearsed technical arguments, ie. it can be called the second vote because others have called it that, it must be the second vote because by the nature of the AMS system it has to be counted second, etc, etc.
Well, that would be fine - these are handy excuses for sacrificing clarity for voters in favour of a perfectly legitimate vote-maximising strategy. (Rod Crosby of Political Betting recently directly me to a piece of academic research that showed many people wrongly believed the 'second vote' label was indicative of a second preference vote, so there can be no real doubt that the Greens' sloganising fuels that confusion.) But the double-standard in doing that and at the same time going into apoplexy over the SNP using a legitimate description on the ballot paper designed to maximise their own vote is plain for all to see. Basically, James was on very, very weak ground, and that became increasingly obvious towards the end of the exchange as he tried to deflect attention from the central issue by asking why I was being so "confrontational" (opening by saying "shame on the SNP" isn't confrontational, James?) and then haughtily announcing that he was far too busy running an election campaign to worry himself with all this nonsense.
Anyway, a near carbon copy of that exchange occurred again today - the only difference this time being that James initiated it, before hurriedly realising yet again that a discussion in which he is unable to come up with credible answers to awkward questions is way beneath his dignity...
Me (speaking to one-man Scottish Labour Twitter presence Duncan Hothersall) : No, I'm asking you why Labour didn't legislate to stop it happening if they felt it was so 'wrong'?
James Mackenzie : Gould said names of candidates not standing in that region were misleading.
Me : You're on thin ground here, James, when your party has been peddling this misleading '2nd Vote Green' wheeze for weeks.
James Mackenzie : You do understand that's what your own Scottish Government calls it?
Me : Actually, I've heard the SNP refer to it as the first vote a few times. Which is handed over first?
James Mackenzie : Logically, you have to count constituencies first. That's AMS. So that's why SG, EC, UK Govt. etc all use that description.
Me : Is that an indication that the list vote is handed over first? I'm just wondering because you didn't answer the question.
James Mackenzie : There isn't an agreed order for polling place staff to hand over ballot papers as far as I know. Is that what you're asking?
Me : Yes it is.
James Mackenzie : I think they get handed all together. But it would indeed make sense to put the first vote first.
Me : By 'first' you mean constituency, ie. the less important one?
Me : So why call it '2nd vote' if there isn't an agreed order? Bit misleading, no?
James Mackenzie : We just covered that. The Scottish Government call it that because you logically count it second.
Me : I've already pointed out that the SNP have referred to it as a first vote. Logical, because it's the more important one.
James Mackenzie : I'm honestly not going to waste time debating this today. I'd take it up with the next Scottish Govt, whoever that may be.
Me : Shame on the Greens for running away from answering for their own misleading tactics...
Note - that parting shot was intended as a 'tribute tweet' in the style of James, before anyone accuses me of being "confrontational" again...