A guest post by Ben Roberts
So Westminster’s done and dusted for another five years and we’ve already started discussing the next round of voting. "Tactical voting" on the list at Holyrood is bound to continue to be a hot topic for the next twelve months but there’s something I think we should all be considering.
The 50% vote share the SNP has picked up this month is leading many to assume that it will be repeated for the Scottish Parliament elections. The fact that historically they do worse at Westminster than Holyrood can easily cause people to assume their share will even increase for 2016. This is a dangerous assumption to make.
The consensus has always been that the SNP's better results at Holyrood is due to the fact that many people thought their vote would be wasted if given to the SNP for Westminster. Many people voted for Labour, Lib Dem or Tory on the basis that either the SNP couldn't win their local seat or had no chance of forming the government. This year that all changed as the SNP held on to their post-referendum surge right through the election campaign. The polls were consistently showing that the SNP were on course to win 30, 40, 50 or even all 59 Scottish seats.
So cast yourself back to the start of May. Put yourself in the mind of a Labour supporter (some may find this difficult but bear with me and try to resist the urge to self-harm). The polls are all screaming that your beloved party is heading for a wipeout. To make matters worse there is a high chance that the Tories will win enough seats in the rest of the UK to form a government. Although the Scottish Labour party hate the SNP more than the Tories, you - the traditional Labour voter - don't. You abhor the Tories and everything they stand for. They can't be allowed back in for another 5 years. And wait, it gets worse...there's talk of tactical voting to keep the SNP out. Suggestions that Lib Dem and Labour voters should vote Tory. You don't want the SNP but you'd much rather them than one of Davy's chums getting in. So you bite the bullet. You go into the booth and put your cross next to the SNP. It's not ideal but it’s better than the Tories.
Now fast forward one year and it's Holyrood's turn. You know the Tories haven't a hope of forming the Scottish Government. You’ve got two votes and this time you’re going to follow your heart.
Into the booth...
Which leads to my prediction. I think the days of the SNP faring better at Holyrood are over. The tables have turned. Instead of SNP supporters lending their votes to Labour or the Lib Dems for Westminster it’ll be the other way around. People will vote SNP at Westminster not out of support for independence but as the best way to stop the Tories. As much as I hope I’m wrong I think we’ll be seeing a resurgence of the traditional Westminster parties next year.
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This is guest post no. 6 since I launched my 'appeal'. Guest posts are welcome on any topic (within reason!). My contact details can be found at the top of the sidebar.