Monday, May 18, 2015

Why "tactical voting on the regional list" does not work, and is likely to backfire

On the last-but-one thread, the hoary old topic of "tactical voting on the regional list" came up again.  I'm almost sick to death of discussing this subject, because every time I explain my reasons for saying that attempts at "tactical voting" are likely to backfire, I just get a chorus of people telling me that I'm too stupid to understand some killer point, or that I'm putting party advantage above the pursuit of independence, or even : "But you haven't explained properly, James.  We all want to hear your proper explanation."

The reality is that some people have fallen head over heels in love with the idea of victory next year being won on a pan-Yes basis (as opposed to the SNP doing it on their own), and are demanding that the arithmetic must yield to that ideal.  Surely there must be some risk-free, cost-free way for SNP supporters to vote Green on the list, so that we get both an SNP majority government and a pro-independence opposition?  Answer : no, there isn't.  There just isn't.  But that isn't the message people want to hear, and so they question the motivations behind it, or insist that it must be wrong.  I'm not sure I can face another whole year of having this circular discussion, but I also have a horrible feeling that I've got very little choice.

When I said pretty much what I've just said on the earlier thread, the commenter "Muscleguysblog" reacted in the following extraordinary way -

"In 2011 the SNP won so many constituency contests that iirc they only got one MSP off the list. So my party vote for the Greens was in no way wasted and did not hurt the SNP. IF a party gets more constituencies than it is 'entitled' to on the list they don't get taken off them.

I respectfully suggest it is you who are out of touch and arithmetically challenged. You also mistake the campaign which is firstly to urge a constituency vote for the SNP and only then vote Green or SSP. Unless the SNP think they will lose seats en mass in 2016 this cannot hurt them."

In other words, he seriously believes that because I don't think that tactical voting on the list is possible, I must not be aware of even the most basic details of how the AMS voting system works, or what the nature of the proposed tactical voting "strategy" is.  It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry when people say things like that.

On a more positive note, though, I do think it's helpful that the comparison with 2011 has been made by someone who split his ballot in that election (and he certainly wasn't alone in doing that).  Let's go through the results region by region, and see whether it's really true that "tactical voting" for the Greens in 2011 either "worked" or did no harm.  Bear in mind that list votes for the SNP can only be said to have been wasted if the party failed to take any list seats at all in a given region (due to having won too many constituency seats).  As you'll see, that was not the case in seven out of eight regions, in spite of the SNP landslide.

North-East Scotland : The SNP took one list seat (in spite of having won every single constituency) and the Greens failed to take any.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

Central Scotland : The SNP took three list seats, and the Greens failed to take any.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

Highlands and Islands : The SNP took three list seats, and the Greens failed to take any.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

Mid-Scotland and Fife : The SNP took one list seat, and the Greens failed to take any.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

South Scotland : The SNP took four list seats, and the Greens failed to take any.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

West Scotland : The SNP took two list seats, and the Greens failed to take any.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

Glasgow : The SNP took two list seats, and the Greens took one.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens therefore did no harm, but it's debatable whether they did any real good.  You could make the technical case that Green votes were more efficient than SNP votes because of the d'Hondt calculation, but for that to make a difference you'd have to believe that the Greens were genuinely in danger of failing to hold their one seat (they were certainly nowhere near taking a second).

Lothian : The SNP failed to take a list seat, and the Greens took one.  "Tactical votes" for the Greens therefore had a beneficial effect.

Now, doubtless the true believers will point to the fact that tactical voting "only" backfired in three-quarters of the regions, and say : "You see?  It can work."  But that's not actually good enough, because you also have to consider whether SNP supporters in Lothian had any rational basis for believing that switching to the Greens on the list was a good idea.  If anything, the opposite was true - Lothian was a region where you would have put money on the SNP taking at least one list seat, because the constituencies looked so tough.  In the end, there were a number of narrow and unexpected constituency gains, which means that "tactical voters" did the equivalent of rolling the dice and getting very lucky.  Is that really our strategy for winning a second pro-independence majority in Holyrood next year?

I know some people will insist that 2016 will definitely be different to 2011, and that the Greens are a much more formidable force these days - well, if they are, recent Holyrood opinion polls have stubbornly refused to show any sign of it.  Don't forget that the polls significantly overstated Green support on the list in both 2007 and 2011, so unless they're polling a lot higher by next May, there's no reason at all to assume they'll be taking list seats in most regions.

Tactical voting can work - but only in single-member constituency elections.  For it to work reliably on the regional list, you'd need a detailed level of foreknowledge of the result not only on the list, but also in every single constituency seat in the region.  That is never going to be available.

*  *  *

UPDATE : A further post on the same subject can be found HERE.

130 comments:

  1. One thing I feel you have failed to take into account here is that the SNP are likely to get far more constituency seats this time around. In fact, after getting 56 out of 59 seats, I would say it is unlikely they will fail to take at least 65 of the 73 constituencies next year. I seem to recall seeing a projection based on recent polls which suggested the SNP would take just 4 list seats, so there isn't really very much the SNP can lose.

    I think it is also disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that there were attempts at tactical voting which misfired last time round, as there was no reason for SNP supporters to tactically vote Green - the Greens at that point had not decided to support independence. In 2011 I was a Green voter who happened to give my first vote to the SNP - not the other way around.

    The fact of the matter is, if you are a voter in a region where the SNP have taken 9 constituencies, then if you cast your second vote for the Greens it will be worth ten times as much as if you vote for the SNP. You can still vote for the SNP if you think that is the best thing to do, but you should be aware that a vote for the Greens has more weight.

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    1. "One thing I feel you have failed to take into account here is that the SNP are likely to get far more constituency seats this time around. In fact, after getting 56 out of 59 seats, I would say it is unlikely they will fail to take at least 65 of the 73 constituencies next year."

      Why? Because public opinion will not change at all over the next year? There's nothing remotely "likely" about that - it's just blind faith. In any case, I gave the example of the North-East, where the SNP won every single constituency in 2011, and yet still took a list seat. I know several people who voted "tactically" for the Greens in the North-East - and every single one of those votes was wasted.

      "The fact of the matter is, if you are a voter in a region where the SNP have taken 9 constituencies, then if you cast your second vote for the Greens it will be worth ten times as much as if you vote for the SNP."

      That is a nonsensical statement. You can't put "the SNP have taken 9 constituencies" in the past tense - the whole point is that nobody knows what the result will be at the moment at which they cast their "tactical" vote. A very small swing (or very small error in the polls) might cost the SNP several constituency seats in a region, and then where would your masterplan be? And this "ten times as much" business only works if you know for a fact that the Greens are going to be sufficiently close to winning at least one seat in a region - if they're not, a vote for the Greens is wasted, and risks reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs.

      If people "tactically" vote Green thinking it's going to assist the cause of independence, and as a direct result of that end up with an anti-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, just how sick are they going to feel the next day?

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    2. "as there was no reason for SNP supporters to tactically vote Green - the Greens at that point had not decided to support independence."

      What? They've been nominally pro-independence since the 1990s. You'd only have to look through the archives of this blog for the proof that there were attempts at tactical voting in 2011.

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    3. Will you admit that it is impossible for a list vote for the Greens to help anyone other than the Greens? If there are enough people who vote Green rather than SNP it CANNOT help Labour or the Tories as all it will do is change a seat from SNP to Green.

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    4. I can't 'admit' something that isn't true. If an SNP supporter votes Green on the list, and if the Greens fail to win a seat, and if Labour narrowly edges the SNP out for the final list seat in the region, then self-evidently the misguided attempts at tactical voting have helped Labour win a seat they otherwise wouldn't have won.

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    5. As a Green member who helped the SNP campaign effort in the days leading up to the 7th of May, I was astonished by the vast number of identified voters the SNP have (many times more than Yes had in the referendum!). I really don't expect them to have any problem picking up almost every constituency next year. They have an electoral machine - and mountains of data - that mean it would take an unimaginable catastrophe for that to advantage to be overturned.

      I'm not saying people should vote for a party they don't agree with for some tactical advantage, but I do think people need to understand how the system works and consider their options in terms of the influence their vote can have.

      Incidentally, I allowed myself to be talked into voting SNP instead of Green in last year's European elections on the grounds that it made more tactical sense, so I know what it looks like when a d'Hondt tactical voting attempt falls flat on its face. Voters aren't pieces you can move around on a chessboard, but their motives are a lot more complicated than simply "I like this party and no others and want them to get as many seats as possible".

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    6. "I really don't expect them to have any problem picking up almost every constituency next year."

      Matthew, they got 50% of the vote this month. A mere 5% slip and we're back to a 2011-style result. Are you seriously saying that a 5% slip over twelve months is not a realistic possibility? All I can say is that you're wrong about that.

      I discussed the tactical voting issue in respect of the European elections on this blog at the time, because James Mackenzie was up to his usual tricks, claiming that people should "tactically" vote Green to stop UKIP. That worked a treat, didn't it?

      Tactical voting on a list vote is a mug's game even in a pure-list system like the Euro elections. But when you start having to take assumed constituency results into account under AMS, the whole thing reaches a supreme level of absurdity.

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    7. The Green's vote is more than double it was in 2011. in some polls it is more than triple. There is no risk of the Greens failing to win 1 MSP in any region and a chance to win two in most regions thus vote for the Greens has no chance of being wasted.

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    8. I directly addressed that point. The polls were very inaccurate on the list in both 2007 and 2011, and significantly overstated Green support on both occasions. There is nothing in the most recent polls that is out of the ordinary for the Greens, or that gives any reason for confidence that they are definitely on course for a better result next year.

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    9. "Matthew, they got 50% of the vote this month. A mere 5% slip and we're back to a 2011-style result. Are you seriously saying that a 5% slip over twelve months is not a realistic possibility? All I can say is that you're wrong about that."

      The argument could be made, however, that the SNP's vote is much more efficiently distributed than in 2011.

      This year, the vote shares in just two seats were more than 10% above the SNP's nationwide vote share (Dundee West, and Banff & Buchan). In 2011, There were nine seats in this position (above 55.4%).

      Even if the SNP vote were to drop by 5%, there would have to be a major Labour revival in west-central Scotland for the party to lose all of the voters it has picked up in the last few months.

      In any case, there's no point discussing the effectiveness of tactical voting in 2016 just now, while we have no idea what the polls will be showing next May. What your examples have shown is that tactical voting on the list vote can, under certain circumstances, be successful. However, I would maintain that people should simply vote for the party they like best, which the system is set up to favour.

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    10. "What your examples have shown is that tactical voting on the list vote can, under certain circumstances, be successful."

      No. If you're referring to the Lothian result, that was "successful" by pure chance - no reasonable person could have foreseen that outcome. Tactical voting only has meaning if it works by skill, not luck.

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    11. "That is a nonsensical statement. You can't put "the SNP have taken 9 constituencies" in the past tense - the whole point is that nobody knows what the result will be at the moment at which they cast their "tactical" vote."

      And that is an extraordinary statement from a supposed psephologist. So there will be no polls leading up to the vote then? I won't be out canvassing my socks off taking the local temperature.

      Next you will be telling me that because Dundee East here was an SNP-Lab marginal Stewart Hosie was on a shoogly peg for re-election on the 7th?

      You are making yourself look ridiculous.

      And finally. Since the Greens and SSP are unlikely to get a constituency how the fuck are they meant to get into the parliament if people like you tell us all we can't vote for them without endangering the fucking 'Must Always Be Mighty SNP'. The arrogance of it is breathtaking.

      The SNP do not own the Yes movement. At a RIC meeting here in Dundee last week we had a new SNP member come along. We were discussing how the SNP could do with a 'critical friend' opposition and this person blew up in the end and claimed all we had done was criticise the SNP as though we had no right to do that.

      I am not a member of the SNP and I will vote how I see fit and see how it turns out. The SNP are not the only fruit.

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    12. Those who still don't understand that the voting system Labour designed is quite obviously not designed for tactical voting would do well to remember that nobody is ENTITLED to anyone's vote. The arrogance is entirely on them for expecting SNP members or indeed anyone else just to blindly give a vote to them out of (we can only assume) charity.

      If the SSP or Greens want votes then they had better work for it. If they convince voters their policies and priorities (the greens and SSP have different priorities like the environment and socialism to the SNP's one of Independence let's never forget) then they should get their vote. BOTH their votes. Constituency and list. That way you can be 100% certain your vote is going where it needs to instead of backfiring.

      I have no problem with parties like the Greens and SSP working for that vote as they did some work in my area recently and it was all in a good natured spirit. But let's not pretend it was anywhere near to the scale we in the SNP were doing it and we were doing it constantly since January. That work the SSP and Greens did got them votes and is how they will get them next year. Which is as it should be.

      Let's also remember that there is NO Pact. That is why Greens and the SSP were working for votes during the GE. Votes that did actually matter in places like the tory Mundell's constituency.

      So the idea that you can blithely vote on the list and expect Labour's voting system to work it all out in favour of Yes parties is a complete and utter fantasy.

      If you take a risk on the list then be VERY aware that is precisely what you are doing.

      Taking a risk that has every chance of backfiring and harming not just one party but BOTH parties chances.

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    13. FFS!

      No-one is saying "don't vote Green/SSP"

      What everyone is saying is "trying to be clever with your list vote *will* backfire, so use your list vote on the party you want to see in the majority at Holyrood"

      As a side note, I *really* hate the way people refer to the list vote as the "second" vote, it's the more important one.

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    14. Muscleguysblog : You intervened in a discussion about whether SNP supporters should vote "tactically" on the regional list. You did not clarify that, in your head, you were talking about an entirely different topic, ie. whether non-SNP supporters should vote in a non-tactical way. Might be worth bearing that in mind for the future - work out what you actually want to say, and then try to say it.

      "Next you will be telling me that because Dundee East here was an SNP-Lab marginal Stewart Hosie was on a shoogly peg for re-election on the 7th?

      You are making yourself look ridiculous."


      Says the man who has just demonstrated that he hasn't been paying the slightest bit of attention. The closing paragraph explicitly states that tactical voting can work in single-member constituency elections.

      Incidentally, I've never called myself a psephologist (and if anyone else calls me that I always hurriedly add the 'amateur' qualifier). But unfortunately for you, what any bona fide psephologist would say is that the idea you can look at polls and know with confidence how many constituency seats a party will take is fantasy. At the end of the general election campaign, predictions for the SNP ranged from the 30s to the high 50s. The people making those predictions were all looking at the same polls. Even AFTER THE POLLS HAD CLOSED, the exit poll was predicting 58 seats and YouGov were predicting 48. Anyone who thinks that level of uncertainty is a sound basis for "tactical voting on the list" doesn't need a psephologist, but a psychologist.

      By the way, if you do live in Dundee East, your claim on the other thread that your vote for the Greens in 2011 could not have had any adverse impact on the SNP is incorrect. I assumed from your comment that you must live in Lothian or Glasgow.

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    15. I had your article recommended, as although have awakened to the political debate, I still feel unsure about the issue of lists and tactical voting. I had thought about the Greens. Have heard many things that I agree with, in the Scottish Greens, but was very disappointed that the UK Greens didn't vote for FFA for Scotland, and went with the watered down Smith option. Was also disappointed that Patrick Harvie quoted carbon emissions as low for Scotland, when the SNP government created a much higher bench mark than most governments on this issue. Thank you for the articles. Anne

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  2. It is undeniable that a non-SNP vote in the lists is much more efficient than an SNP vote if the SNP has won a lot of constituencies. In North East Scotland, for example, it took 140,749 votes to get a single list MSP in 2011. If those same votes had gone Green there would have been five list MSPs. It would require a pact in which the SNP withdraw from the regional votes while the Greens (or SSP) do not put forward candidates in the constituencies. Given this month's election result I wouldn't bet against an overall SNP majority on the strength of constituency seats alone.

    Having said that, if there is no pact and the SNP puts forward list candidates your analysis is correct.

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    1. "If those same votes had gone Green there would have been five list MSPs. It would require a pact in which the SNP withdraw from the regional votes while the Greens (or SSP) do not put forward candidates in the constituencies."

      That wouldn't be tactical voting, it would be cheating - a transparent attempt to exploit a 'bug' in AMS, and I'm quite sure that the Electoral Commission would step in to prevent it. I'm equally sure that the SNP and Greens would never go down that road in the first place.

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    2. But it would work. Thus proving the point that tactical voting on a person level would also work. Due to how AMS works SNP votes are divided by the number of constituencies won. It is impossible for the Greens to gain more constituencies than the SNP so it is a fact that a vote for the Greens will not be divided by as much by the d'hont system thus making a vote for the Greens more likely to get the seat as no matter how many constituencies the SNP get their vote will still be divided by more than one, unlike the Green vote.

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    3. It proves no such thing, David. You're really going to have to explain where this tsunami of tactical votes is going to come from, because it's only on that biblical scale that it would work reliably.

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    4. Everyone is suddenly going to wake up and realise that the Greens are the best party ever.......

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  3. As someone who's considered tactical list votes like this in the past, I'm coming around to agreeing with you James, tough I think you're misrepresenting the case for it a little. As you suggest late in the post, I think the main the argument for tactical voting on the list is one of efficiency:

    "North-East Scotland : The SNP took one list seat (in spite of having won every single constituency) and the Greens failed to take any. "Tactical votes" for the Greens were therefore utterly wasted, and ran the risk of reducing the number of pro-independence MSPs."

    - here the point is that the SNP took 140 000 votes to get that one list MSP, but the greens would have got one by just having more than the lib dems (18,178). Had ALL the SNP votes gone green instead, there sould have been something like 3-4 green MSPs. So it wouldn't have been a waste, if one's objective was to maximise yes supportiong parties rather than only SNP. The same applies to most of the lists, if the majority of SNP votes had gone green.

    Obviously there are two flaws though.

    1. This relies on a large number of SNP votes going the same way. This will not happen because the party has such broad support (including no-voters). As came up in the discussion around the Euro votes last year, while both SNP and greens needed a similar number of extra votes to win the seat that went to Coburn, it was much more likely that the SNP would be able to find those extra numbers from their broad support base than the greens.
    2. As you say, this relies on good polling evidence to guide on what will happen in the consituencies, and more broadly what will happen on the lists. This (well, and the huge SNP vote) is much the same as what scuppered any kind of no-alliance in the GE - because it was often impossible to say who the best recipient of a tactical vote should be in a given seat.

    The warning in your last paragraph hits the nail on the head. Like tactical voting in constituencies, it can only be done with enough information (which we don't have) and an ability to second guess what everyone else will do (which we can't). It would be nice if it were otherwise, but maybe people will just have to vote for who they want to see elected.

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  4. If Scotland has truly “changed” then we should vote with our conscience. For me and most of my friends our Green vote on the list is not going to be a tactical vote. On many of the discussions I have had online with say FB acquaintances they are also considering either a Green or SSP vote on the list. They are not doing it for “tactical” reasons. They are doing it because their conscience dictates that is the way they want to vote.

    Yes we would all like a pro-Indy opposition and the potential is there. However to equate the fact that many of us will be voting Green or SSP on the list is failing to catch the point that this is more than tactical vote it is based upon peoples shifting political awareness. If our politics are truly broader than just Indy for Indy's sake then we should be embracing this.

    The cards will fall as they may.

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    1. No, you've totally misunderstood what I'm saying. I have no issue at all with non-tactical votes for the Greens or the SSP, and I've repeatedly made that clear. I'm talking only about SNP supporters or even members who erroneously think there is a workable tactical voting option available on the list. Unfortunately, those people do exist.

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  5. Some thoughts...

    My understanding of the allocation of list seats is that constituency wins are taken into account as well, so the overall return in each region is roughly proportional. Hence, SNP got 110,000 list votes in Lothian but no extra seats as they already had 8 constituency MSPs. Labour got 70,000 list votes, which became 3 list MSPs.

    The SNP show no signs of losing support, so it's not beyond the realms of reason to suggest they might sweep the constituencies again. Surely this means that other parties will benefit more from a list vote, like Labour did in Lothian in 2011. If the SNP support was to swing behind Greens (putting a big chunk of 110,000 list votes their way against 70,000 Labour votes) then surely this should put Greens ahead of Labour in the region, no?

    Is there any reason to beleive this couldn't be repeated nationwide?

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    1. Yes, there is. You're talking about a utopian scale of tactical voting which doesn't happen in the real world. It'll be much smaller in scale than that - not enough to do much good, but enough to potentially lose the SNP the crucial one or two seats that might cost us a pro-independence majority.

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    2. That's not true! It CANNOT hurt a pro-indy majority, only an SNP majority. You said yourself that tactical votes are pointless yet you say here that anything other than a vote for the SNP will let Labour in, sounds like tactical voting to me...

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    3. Of course it can prevent a pro-independence majority. If you think otherwise, you're going to have to explain why, because I've no idea what you're getting at.

      Your last point is a nonsense. By definition, an SNP supporter voting SNP is casting a non-tactical vote.

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    4. But you CANNOT split the vote on a list system. So votes changing between the SNP and the Greens will only change seats between the SNp and the Greens there

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    5. Not true. You made that point earlier in the thread, and I answered it.

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  6. Oh Lordy....

    It seems like a lot of Green supporters are (intentionally?) misrepresenting the way the system works (which is a shame, as I quite like a lot of the Greens policies, but lying about how the system works if *BAD*)

    You vote for who you *really* *really* want on the list vote. You may feel the need to vote tactically on the constituency vote.

    The list vote does make a bigger difference for the smaller parties, but that's only because they're unlikely to get any of the constituency seats. (So yes, a list vote for the greens will likely be a larger percentage of that MSP's votes, but then you're getting into games of "I'm voting for who the polls tell me is likely to win", rather than the party who's policies you agree with)

    Given all that, it looks like there's a lot of people trying to convince SNP supporters to vote as though they were Green supporters, who felt the need to tactically vote for the SNP.

    Whether the people spouting this nonsense are actually Green supporters or not doesn't really matter to me.

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    1. (I'm going to pull the important bit out, just to make sure everyone reads it)

      ******************************************************************************

      You vote for who you *really* *really* want on the list vote. You may feel the need to vote tactically on the constituency vote.

      ******************************************************************************

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    2. Illy, thanks for your emphasis! If you are right then that suggests quite s different tack which would be (as a Green, which I am) I should instead be working on seeking to persuade my SNP friends to vote Green in my constituency (which is also the Green target constituency, Edinburgh Eastern) rather than on the list. That way we build for the future which requires not just independence but a livable planet.

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    3. You're staggeringly wrong if you think that Edinburgh Eastern should be the Greens' number one target seat in 2016 (should they opt to stand constituency candidates at all).

      I suspect your confusion comes from the fact that Edinburgh EAST, the Westminster constituency, was touted as being the Greens' best prospect for 2015 (although in fact, they ended up with 6.2% in Glasgow North, compared to 6% in Edin East). However, only 60% of the WM constituency is composed of Edinburgh *Eastern*, the Holyrood constituency. What would be expected to be the most bohemian parts of the WM seat are, for Holyrood purposes, actually in Central and a bit in Southern - the Old Town and Southside (lots of students). The only Green-ish bit of the WM seat that's actually in Eastern is Portobello (mini Brighton that it is). The rest of Eastern is predominantly made up of former solidly Labour-voting schemes (e.g. Niddrie-Craigmillar, Craigentinny-Lochend and Northfield) and aspirational bungalow land (Duddingston, Mountcastle, etc.) neither of which are very Green-friendly but which, for different reasons, are pretty pro-SNP.

      If you seek proof beyond my summary, look at this: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Electionresults/2011%20election/2011_Election_Analysis.xls
      This shows that the Green list vote in Eastern was just over half what it was in Central and Southern and suggests, therefore, that either of those seats would be much better bets for standing a Green candidate. I hope, for the Greens' sake, that you're not their Lothian election strategist.

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    4. I should add, you'll need to go to tab 27 (of 28) to get the 2011 list votes by Holyrood constituency.

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  7. The reality is that some people have fallen head over heels in love with the idea of victory next year being won on a pan-Yes basis (as opposed to the SNP doing it on their own), and are demanding that the arithmetic must yield to that ideal. Surely there must be some risk-free, cost-free way for SNP supporters to vote Green on the list, so that we get both an SNP majority government and a pro-independence opposition?

    This seems contradictory. Your first sentence suggests that advocates of an SNP/Green split vote in fact don't want a majority SNP government (which has also been my impression from these threads).

    If the SNP are in government, a pro-independence opposition is quite clearly fantasy land at this point. But an SNP minority government with Greens holding the balance is certainly a possibility.

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    1. There's no contradiction - "victory" in my first sentence was meant to refer to something similar to 1997, which could reasonably be described as a joint victory for Labour and the Lib Dems, even though the Lib Dems remained on the opposition benches. Both parties were responsible for the Tory rout.

      You're correct, however, that there's a second group of people who propose a tactical vote for the Greens on the basis that they want a pro-independence majority, but not an SNP majority. I would hope that group doesn't include any SNP members.

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  8. There's an interesting take that I'll paste in the link to (below) that basically says it's too early to tell.

    Just to be clear, I am thinking this through from a Green (sympathetic to SNP) perspective.

    I think it really depends on what you think is politically possible.

    James (quite rightly) fears a split SNP/Green vote will let other parties in.

    I (quite rightly I think, but clearly James doesn't agree!) hope that a split vote can achieve an SNP Government and a Green opposition.

    There are no facts about the future to back up either position, because the outcome depends on the nature and effectiveness of the movement between now and next May.

    Few thought 45% a likely result a year ahead of Sept 2014 (I'm not including Scottish Skier etc, I mean in the mainstream). That is where we are now.

    Do we reign in our ambition and play safe, or do we try and move things to the next level?

    Actually we can't answer the question of whether a split vote is a good thing just now. But we could work to take things to the next level, then make the judgement just before the election in May 2016.

    http://scottishpolling.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/snp-supporters-approach-2016.html?m=1

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  9. "Lothian : The SNP failed to take a list seat, and the Greens took one. "Tactical votes" for the Greens therefore had a beneficial effect."

    Let's not forget that in Lothian, many SNP voters split, and their list vote went to Margo. So it's not all that different from the rest of the country.

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  10. This is all very well, James, but we all want to hear your PROPER explanation! ;-)

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  11. Tactical voting is too tricky it has unintended consquences and we'll end up with UKIP again. Vote SNP for the constituency and with your heart for the list.

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  12. Under no circumstances would I ever vote for a party I do not agree with. Tactical voting to me is absurd.

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  13. Just a dumb question for the Green supporters in the audience:

    What Green policies are different to SNP policies *IN DEVOLVED AREAS*?

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    1. Kill all fracking, everywhere!
      Replace council tax and local business levies (which taxes the poor more as a percentage of income) with a Land Value Tax (taxes all landowners, ignores buildings etc, just a tax on land, renters don't pay it as they don't own the land)
      More money for renewables (never would have guessed that one)
      Stop "stop and search" and guns for the police
      and loads of other cool lefty stuff that you have to vote for :P

      Delete
    2. Fracking isn't devolved, and the SNP are against it as well.

      Didn't check rest of answer, since first part is wrong.

      Assumes that the SNP and Greens broadly agree on all devolved areas, since Green supporter couldn't provide any contradictions.

      (Ok, that's a little snarkey (ok, *very* snarkey), but sums up my reaction. Which is why you don't lie to people to try to get votes. See Labour for examples)

      Delete
    3. You asked for differences and then you ignored the second point. The council tax freeze has had led to austerity in every council with the SNP perfectly capable of stopping that austerity but they didn't. The Geens don't support a council tax freeze the SNP do. The SNP have repeatedly failed to do anything about armed police or stop and search. The Greens say they will. What part of that isn't different?

      Ok, obviously we disagree about whether the SNP is actually anti-fracking or not, and fracking is half devolved so it does count. The SNP have not put a moratorium on other, even more dodgy gas extraction schemes (e.g. underwater coal gasification) they also have a moratoruim rather than a ban so there is a difference as the SNP seem to have it that they might look at the evidence and then approve fracking. And I didn't lie and incase you didn't notice there was a comical tone to my first point.

      Delete
  14. O coorse, back in 2011 the pro-indy-but-no-SNP vote wis split three weys i the Lothians: Greens, SSP an the late, great Margo. I dinna ken gin the sad fack o her daith wad affeck the calculations this time roond ava.

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  15. I for one am seriously considering a switch to Green for my 2nd vote. Not least because an SNP/Green coalition would be my preferred Scottish Government. I'll wait and see how the polls are looking in my region. If SNP look to be sweeping the list seats and Greens are polling, say, 12% then I'll definitely go for it. In those circumstances I see my Green vote as being worth 10 SNP votes
    Aldo

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    Replies
    1. So you're a Green voter who's going to vote for their second-choice party for the constituency vote?

      Good for you, you're doing it right!

      Delete
    2. Remember that the Greens don't stand in Holyrood constituencies. So ALL Green voters will be voting for second-choice parties.

      Delete
    3. If you prefer a weak SNP reliant on Green MSPs to pass their legislative programme, to a strong SNP in a position to go for another independence referendum if the time looks right, that's your prerogative. I simply can't see why any independence supporter would want to weaken the SNP, who are wholeheartedly committed to independence, in favour of strengthening the Greens, who are quite lukewarm and opportunistic about it. Not at this stage of the game.

      Delete
    4. That would be because some of us want independence, have always voted SNP on that principle alone.(and aren't overly keen on some of the past SNP policy decisions), but really don't want Holyrood to become Westminster-lite with a dictatorial government which doesn't have to listen to anyone else. I kinda preferred the minority 2007 Government to the 2011 majority one.

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    5. Do you like the SNP' policies? I assume so because you say you say you've always voted for them?

      Do you think the SNP would abuse its power if given another majority? Then why the hell have you been voting for a party that you have such doubts about?

      The SNP *has* a majority. Do you think its abused its power? Then don't vote SNP in 2016!

      The 2007 government had no mandate for a referendum. You say you want independence: then why the hell would you prefer a 2007-type settlement in which the SNP had no mandate to call for a referendum? The only way that could succeed is if the pro-independence parties had identical referendum policies laid out in their manifestos.

      This emerging group-think arguing that, simply because the SNP have won the vast majority of WM seats and look set to repeat their majority win of 2011 in 2016, they now represent some kind of sinister force/existential threat is patently absurd. The SNP runs on its manifesto: if you agree with the manifesto then you should have no fear of voting for the SNP.

      Delete
  16. The empirical evidence seems overwhelming. What I don't understand is what happens when you use Scotland Votes' seat calculator with 45% as the Green list vote share. 35 seats is the result. A highly implausible figure, but not an absolute impossibility.

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    Replies
    1. 45% of list votes could absolutely get the Greens around 35 seats. Point is tactical voting to that extent is pretty much impossible.

      Delete
    2. You'd need a mind control ray.

      Delete
  17. Tactical voting under FPTP - where it is supposed to be the most effective (tactical under PR being a bit silly) - worked out well for #SNPOUT in the UKGE.

    Oh, wait.

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  18. I would say that I understand and accept your analysis. However you seem to have only considered one type of tactical voting before dismissing it. i.e, SNP Voters "tactically" voting Green in the second ballot.

    There is actually a type of tactical voting which may indeed work, in fact you are effectively advocating it.

    In a fair voting system, my preferred vote would be Grenn, closely followed by SNP.
    Greens will not be standing in my constituency, so I will vote SNP. On the list I would vote Green in the hope that they would get enough votes to take a list seat. This would be because I want them to win and not for tactical reasons. If though the Greens did not gain enough votes to take a seat then my vote would be wasted and I risk a unionist candidate taking a list seat at the expense of the SNP.

    It might therefore be of benefit to the cause of independence for me to tactically vote SNP rather than for my party of choice.

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    1. That's what has been pointed out already. The place for tactical voting in the d'Hondt system is in the constituency vote. Your preferred party candidate may have no realistic chance in the constituency. So instead you vote for whichever candidate who is in with a chance that you would prefer to be your constituency MSP. That may well be the candidate of your second-choice party.

      Alternatively, you may strongly dslike the candidate your preferred party has decided to put up for the constituency. You may therefore decide to vote for a different person to be your constituency MSP while still supporting your preferred party on the list.

      That sort of tactical voting is fine. Tactical voting on the list is probably madness. The list is all about which party you want to govern. If you decide that your preferred party probably has enough votes already so you'll lend yours to someone else, you may be in for a nasty shock.

      As James says, it only takes a small swing to lose a party (the SNP, say) several FPTP seats. If that happens, and their list support has held up, the list will compensate. If a significant proportion of their support has gone off to vote quixotically for someone else on the list, they're screwed. The beneficiaries are likely to be the second party, that is Labour.

      It's not true that a tactical list vote can only oscillate the outcome between SNP and Green MSPs. It's perfectly possible, and indeed a real and present danger, that the SNP loses enough to lose list seats, but the Greens don't gain enough and Labour comes through the middle instead. Or even the Tories.

      Vote on the list for the party you really, really support. It's the constituency vote where you might possibly play a bit of politics.

      Delete
  19. SNP get both boxes ticked on my ballot paper. The stakes are now too high. Can't afford to blink.

    After independance I possibly would consider voting differently on the list.

    Independance is the goal.

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  20. Brian DoonthetoonMay 18, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    Maybe a wee look at the 2011 result, comparing constituency with region (list) results, would concentrate minds?
    As has been typed, if you're an SNP voter, you should vote SNP in both. If you're an SSP or Green (YES) voter, you should look at the likelihood of your party taking YOUR constituency seat.
    If there's no chance of winning the constituency seat, then, if you're pro-indy, you vote SNP (head) and, in the regional vote, you vote for your preferred party (heart).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Parliament#Elections

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  21. Once we are a normal, independent Nation you can freely vote for whoever you like. But until that day, its SNP first, List and always.

    Attempts to game the system may well allow the Unionists to gain an advantage. We need to keep the boot on their necks. And besides, by next May we'll maybe have New New Really Scottish This Time Newer Labour to fight. Who knows how many people will buy their air pumped new bigger size bar by then.

    SNP. It worked out all right last time, and it'll be fine next time too.

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  22. I don't know where to begin with all this but let's have a stab.

    First, I don't understand why 2011 is being used to analyse how tactical voting by SNP voters did not work. There was no tactical voting by SNP supporters in 2011 on any meaningful scale. In fact James' own figures suggest that those who would normally have voted Green on the list actually ended up voting SNP. The SNP ran an extremely strong "Both Votes SNP" campaign in the latter stages when it became clear that a majority might be in sight.

    Second, despite all his efforts James has not demonstrated that tactical voting on the list cannot work. What he has demonstrated is that there are plenty of instances where it won't work or will backfire but that is not the same as saying it can't work. It is blindingly obvious that it can work in the right circumstances. The language here is far more polarised than the numbers support.

    What IS absolutely clear is that tactical voting in 2016 cannot be relied upon to provide the desired result because we can never be entirely sure of the circumstances when we are voting.

    But let's leave all the talk of numbers to one side because this is an issue that goes much deeper than numbers alone.

    To me, it is critical for the success of the Independence movement that the main opposition (as well as the Government) in Holyrood is provided by a pro-independence party. This would fundamentally alter the balance of political debate in Scotland. Currently, the only credible candidate for this role is the Greens.

    Just think about what this would mean in terms of what is debated and how. Just having Patrick Harvie leading FMQs would be transformational in itself. But actually having an opposition party that would say 'Well this is OK but why don't we go further and do this too?' would be so much more constructive than the current and incessant 'SNP bad' dogma. An opposition party that uses its debate time to discuss aspirational and radical ideas instead of one that seeks to gain political advantage through hate fuelled criticism. The forces for Independence would be showing exactly what political debate could be like post-Independence.

    There is no way it can be guaranteed but there is a low-risk way of making it possible;

    A pact between the SNP and Greens whereby the SNP stand down from the list entirely in exchange for the Greens committing to support an SNP minority government should it fall short in the constituency vote.

    There need be no collaboration on policy other than a commitment to Independence. The Greens would be free to oppose what any SNP minority government proposed in other areas but, crucially, would vote to install an SNP First Minister and would protect her from votes of no confidence.

    As I understand it, the only seats the SNP would not have won on Holyrood boundaries last week was Orkney and Edin S, so it would have delivered 71 out of 73 seats - even more that the 69 contesting both constituency and list delivered in 2011. In this circumstance, we could be looking at an SNP majority government with 71 seats and a Green opposition party with 20 - 25 (and maybe a bit more) seats.

    Obviously this is a huge ask for the SNP but I believe it merits serious consideration and I consider it a test of whether the party or the cause is more important to its current leadership.

    I would urge as many Independence supporters as possible to declare their intent to vote SNP-Green next year in order that the SNP leadership is left in no doubt and effectively force them to face up to the reality that this movement is much bigger (and needs to be much bigger) than the SNP alone.

    Now is the time to seek to include rather than exclude. Now is the time for trust and co-operation rather than hubris and isolation. Will the SNP use its position of strength for selfless or selfish ends?

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    Replies
    1. Your final point is absurd. This has got nothing to do with selfishness, it's about understanding how the voting system works, and most importantly how it works in a real world setting, rather than in a fantasy world where we can flick a switch and magically get hundreds of thousands of non-Greens to vote Green. Tactical voting WILL be on a relatively small scale. The question we have to address is whether small scale tactical voting carries a significant risk of backfiring. As I and others have demonstrated, it does.

      I'm on my useless mobile at the moment, but later tonight I'm going to respond to what you said point by point, because you've made a number of claims I don't think you'll be able to substantiate.

      Delete
    2. "First, I don't understand why 2011 is being used to analyse how tactical voting by SNP voters did not work."

      For one thing, because the polling situation is remarkably similar now to what it was immediately prior to the 2011 election. And because then, as now, we had SNP supporters advocating tactical voting on the list - especially in the North-East, where the plan was comprehensively proved to be misconceived.

      "There was no tactical voting by SNP supporters in 2011 on any meaningful scale."

      I'd be interested in seeing your evidence for that - I'm certainly not aware of any, although perhaps it hinges on how you define 'meaningful scale'. As I said in the previous comment, any tactical voting next year is likely to be on a relatively modest scale once again.

      "In fact James' own figures suggest that those who would normally have voted Green on the list actually ended up voting SNP."

      I've no idea how you reach that conclusion. What those figures demonstrate is that the polls significantly underestimated the Greens. They tell us nothing about the reason for that error.

      "Second, despite all his efforts James has not demonstrated that tactical voting on the list cannot work. What he has demonstrated is that there are plenty of instances where it won't work or will backfire but that is not the same as saying it can't work."

      I think this is the crux of the misunderstanding. Demonstrating that there is a high probability that tactical voting won't work or may backfire is the same thing as demonstrating that it doesn't work. When it "worked" in the Lothians, that was by chance - no reasonable person could have foreseen that outcome. A rational tactical voter is not looking for a coin toss chance that it might work out (in fact in 2011 it was worse than a coin toss chance) - he or she wants confidence and security that their tactical vote will carry greater weight than their first choice vote would have done. That confidence and security is sometimes available in constituency elections, but rarely if ever on the regional list.

      "But let's leave all the talk of numbers to one side because this is an issue that goes much deeper than numbers alone. To me, it is critical for the success of the Independence movement that the main opposition (as well as the Government) in Holyrood is provided by a pro-independence party."

      We can't put the numbers to one side when you're talking about an objective that is rendered utterly fantastical by the numbers. Patrick Harvie is not going to be leader of the official opposition.

      "A pact between the SNP and Greens whereby the SNP stand down from the list entirely in exchange for the Greens committing to support an SNP minority government should it fall short in the constituency vote."

      Unless they were standing on a joint ticket, that would be an attempt to cheat the d'Hondt system, and the Electoral Commission would presumably take action to prevent it.

      "The Greens would be free to oppose what any SNP minority government proposed in other areas but, crucially, would vote to install an SNP First Minister and would protect her from votes of no confidence."

      Have the Greens moved on from their stance in 2011, when they explicitly said that they were open to a deal with either Labour or the SNP? I'm not aware of any such announcement.

      "As I understand it, the only seats the SNP would not have won on Holyrood boundaries last week..."

      What happened last week (or two weeks ago) is not some sort of advance sight of next year's result. Parties that win landslides do tend to slip back.

      Delete
  23. It's a nice idea (though potentially quite alienating for some people, given how wacky the Greens can be made to look) but 1. the SNP is never going to do that; 2. the Greens are not PRIMARILY a pro-indy party. They would not necessarily want to support an SNP government and a pro-indy agenda come what may; and 3. it would fair put the socialists' noses out of joint.

    Having said that, the possibility of a near clean sweep of constituency seats for the SNP does open up some interesting possibilities. With all their new members and money, the Greens can work a much bigger and better campaign. If they focus hard on winning list votes (ideally without even standing in constituencies) then I think they can get much closer to those poll numbers. The Greens have always been in that "I like them but they can't win" position. If Patrick Harvie is given parity of media coverage with Dugdale, Davidson, Sturgeon and the other one, he can push those numbers up.

    I know it's not about "tactical" voting as such, but I think a split ticket is going to become a slightly more popular option this time around. With a bit of luck, it then opens the door for the Socialists to make a parliamentary breakthrough either this time or in 2021 as well. We'll see.

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    1. I'm going to have to say it again, aren't I?

      ******************************************************************************

      You vote for who you *really* *really* want on the list vote. You may feel the need to vote tactically on the constituency vote.

      ******************************************************************************

      If you're a Green supporter, then by all means vote Green on the list vote, and try to convince others to be Green supporters by the Green's policies. But don't lie to people about what voting Green on the list vote means.

      Lying to people is bad, especially in politics. See Labour for examples.

      Delete
  24. Talking of the Greens and 2016, what is their approach going to be to standing in constituencies. If they hope to be considered as a strong opposition party, they surely have to.

    Since this pan-YES alliance has been dead in the water for some time now, the only reason I can think of that they wouldn't stand constituency candidates is for fear of angering potential SNP-to-Green (list) tactical voters.

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    Replies
    1. Money. £500 as a deposit gets you one constituency candidate - or an entire regional list. 5% of the vote lets you keep it.

      I was led to believe that standing in only 31/59 constituencies ten days ago was largely a financial issue, despite the increased membership (in some cases there may also/instead have been a wish to give the SNP a free run).

      Delete
    2. And yet, the place where the SNP most needed the free run, to get rid of Mundell, the Greens fielded a candidate. Mundell's winning majority was less than the number of votes cast for the Green candidate.

      This does not fill me with confidence that the Green Party is the place to deposit our hopes for secure backup for the independence cause.

      Delete
    3. Sunshine on CrieffMay 20, 2015 at 6:57 PM

      Having spoken to one senior Green about candidates in constituencies, it is going to be up to the constituency parties whether they want to stand.

      Delete
  25. My friend intends on voting Green, Green. I intend on voting SNP, SNP. If we come to an arrangement where I vote SNP, Green, and my friend votes SNP, Green, it seems to me that that works.

    We both live in the same constituency, which is likely to get an SNP constituency MP. Our region looks like getting close to all SNP constituency MPs.

    Should Green supporters be seeking SNP voters?

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    Replies
    1. I believe that that is called "vote selling" and is highly illegal.

      Delete
    2. It's not vote-selling (or illegal) if no money changes hands, although obviously I think the strategy is misconceived.

      Delete
    3. Why is it misconceived? Your statement that tactical voting on the list doesn't work is predicated on a particular set of circumstances. Those circumstances are likely to be prevalent, so in many/most cases you're probably correct. But I don't like statements that are black and white, when it seems obvious that there are times when there are shades of grey. I'm simply looking at a situation where, on the balance of probabilities, tactical voting on the list will work.

      My friend doesn't actually exist - he's in a different constituency.

      Delete
  26. We'll said James, SNP/SNP all the way! I wish the greens we'll, but independence comes first.

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  27. Having had a bit of a discussion on Twitter about this, mainly with Alan Bissett, it seems to me this is mainly born of a belief that simply repackaging the independence votes in some way can oust SLab as the opposition and replace them with the Greens.

    It can't be done. SLab have about 25% of the vote, and while they have that, no attempt at repackaging the combined SNP/Green vote is going to prevent them being the opposition. There isn't a shortcut. Voters have to be attracted to independence parties from Lab/Con/Lib, not poached by Green from SNP.

    If the Greens can grow their support to levels comparable with SLab, then they'll be in line to be the opposition. If they can't, they won't, and no amount of hand-wringing that we need a pro-indy party in opposition in Holyrood is going to change that.

    I wish I believed this brouhaha was entirely naive, but I don't. I see a strong undercurrent from some Green and SSP supporters of a desire to grow their own influence by stealing votes from the SNP. They're doing this by a combination of moral blackmail and misrepresentation. The moral blackmail goes, we voted SNP in 2015, now you have to return the favour. Why? A tactical vote for the SNP was the only sane move in 2015, because neither the Greens nor the SSP had a hope in hell of winning a constituency. Trying to use that as a lever to blackmail SNP voters into casting a distinctly insane tactical vote in 2016 isn't honest. That's the misrepresentation. They're trying to pretend that there's no downside to such a tactical list vote, when there very clearly is.

    I feel well-disposed to both the Greens and the SSP and wish them well. But attempts to boost their own parties by using pro-indy sentiment to steal votes from the SNP is making me feel less well disposed. You can't supplant SLab as the opposition party by taking votes from the SNP, without causing significant damage to the SNP.

    SLab is the opposition because they have 25% of the vote. They will remain the opposition so long as they retain that. That's the simple truth, and no amount of vote repackaging will change it.

    PS. Just saw this on Twitter (@Er1s). How to organise a list tactical vote? Pouters' territory. No wonder they went mad. Says it all.

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    1. Does the Yes Movement still exist or are we all demarcated by party boundaries now? Language like "stealing votes" from the SNP smacks of the arrogance of Labour's sense of entitlement. No party owns our votes and in 2016 we have two votes. I am pro-independence but have no particular allegiance to any one party. I am sure I am not alone.

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    2. Sigh.

      What seems to be happening is that "someone" is trying to get people who support the SNP to vote Green on their list votes, in the hopes of getting the Greens more MSPs.

      The problem is that they're trying to do this by lying about electoral arithmetic, rather than by trying to convince them on the policies.

      Lying is bad, m'kay? (how many times have I said this so far in this thread?)

      Delete
    3. What Illy said. Beautifully and concisely put.

      These Green advocates are either extraordinarily naive about the electoral arithmetic, or they don't care if their advice leads to the loss of an independence majority in Holyrood so long as their party gets more MSPs.

      This is what quite a lot of us are concerned about.

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    4. @Rolfe, I think it is pretty obvious from interviews that Patrick Harvie's heart is not in supporting independence to a significant degree. He said in an interview not long before the referendum vote that he would be disappointed only for a day or so if there was a No vote. The Scottish Greens do not all support independence, and the SSP campaign for it in a more committed and stronger way imo. Gordon Brewer has also picked up on Harvie's lukewarm support for independence.

      SLAB are down to their core support of around 25 per cent. The middle classes now probably make up their largest element, as seen with Ian Murray getting votes in Morningside, the Grange, Newington etc. I really cannot see how the Scottish Greens are going to even challenge them next year. The best they can do is to probably get around 10 MSPs.

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    5. Don't be so sure it's all actual Greens as we know for a fact that the unionists tried to divide and conquer the Yes vote at the first Indy referendum. It didn't work then, it won't work now and it won't work next year at Holyrood.

      Most Greens must obviously know the best way to win Labour voters over is to actually win Labour votes over with their campaign and policies. There might be a few naive enough to think otherwise and that they will somehow get 'gifted' votes but the Greens did actually just fight a GE so it's not as if they can't be aware that they did manage to win over some Labour voters and have had some success in England and elsewhere because they did just that.

      The bottom line is those who take a risk on the list won't just be damaging the SNP's chances but the chances of the SSP and Greens at the same time.

      Delete
    6. I'm perfectly happy for them to get 10 MSPs. The problem is that they seem to want to do that by hoodwinking SNP supporters into voting for them, rather than by working for votes from other parties. And they're doing it by lying.

      First they say, we voted SNP in 2015, now we want the payback you owe us. SNP voters don't owe anyone any payback for a perfectly rational tactical SNP vote in a situation where the SNP was the only pro-independence party with a hope in hell of winning seats.

      Then they say, but an SNP list vote is wasted because you're going to clean up in the constituencies, so toss your list vote our way, why not? As James has pointed out, that is extremely dangerous because it could deprive the SNP of list votes it needs to compensate for narrowly-lost constituency votes, without even giving the Greens enough to get a seat. It could lose us a pro-independence majority.

      Thirdly, and most delusional, is the suggestion by a number of people including Alan Bissett, that list votes for the Greens could somehow make then the second-biggest party in Holyrood, and so the official opposition. The SNP should not be so dominant, goes that argument, and Labour are useless as an opposition, so we need a pro-independence opposition. This is madness. You can't turn a party with single-figure support into the second-largest in the parliament simply by repackaging list votes, no matter how much you want to, or how loudly you proclaim that something must be done as a matter of urgency!

      Too many SNP supporters are blithely declaring, SNP 2015, then vote Green on the list in 2016. They've been completely suckered by a campaign to get Patrick Harvie's party more seats, and to hell with the likelihood that this will fatally weaken the SNP and so the independence movement.

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    7. Sadly, I agree with the observation that the Green leadership does not appear to be wholeheartedly committed to independence. I appreciate that many of their supporters are, but it's the leadership that will make the decisions in Holyrood. It's difficult to escape the impression that independence support is an opportunistic position for the leadership, giving them a higher profile and putting them in the position to capture the votes of independence supporters who aren't especially enamoured with the SNP.

      That's all well and good, but SNP supporters whose primary aim is independence need to be very wary of transferring their own support on to a party which might conceivably backtrack once in possession of the votes and the seats.

      For some of us this is about independence. For some other people it's about getting Patrick Harvie more clout in Holyrood. People need to be aware of this and decide where their own priorities lie.

      Delete
    8. Mick, I am not convinced that the Greens can win over many of the people who are still voting for SLAB. I think Labour's vote in Scotland is now essentially unionist, and of a fundamentalist sort; one that would never vote for independence. I may be wrong, I do not have enough knowledge of the subject, it is a more an instinct thing.

      However, I would argue that it is pretty clear that Labour, the Tories, and the remnants of the Lib Dems are in direct competition for the votes of those in the middle class and upper class who are fiercely opposed to the SNP and independence. With no disrespect to the SSP, they are not going to get votes from these social groups, and I do not see the Greens winning them over, when they are more radical that the SNP in many areas.

      Delete
    9. If the Greens and the SSP can't get votes from these parties, then they can't. They need to deal with that, rather than trying to hoodwink SNP voters by some sort of plea that the SNP is too powerful, please beef us up instead.

      It doesn't really matter if as much as 35% of the population is intractably unionist, so long as an overwhelming majority of the rest vote for independence. The unionist movement being split between three parties benefited them during the referendum because they got three spokesmen to the SNP's one. But now, having the independence vote overwhelmingly united within one party is proving invaluable. We could never have managed the 2015 rout of Labour without that.

      People who criticise this, who complain that the SNP is "too powerful" and demand that the independence vote be split to give them some more of it, do not have the best interests of the independence movement at heart.

      Delete
    10. Depends where Harvie takes them muttley. It's never going to be a massive amount but it'll sure as hell be a bigger number than just sitting back on their arse and demanding other parties votes will ever get them. As the Pouters already know full well.

      It's entirely up to Harvie where he positions his party and what policies he makes to try and win over voters so if he seriously thinks he can eventually replace Labour in opposition then he'd best start on that road with some actual policies that appeal to them sharpish.

      I'm still not convinced this risk the list/replace-Labour idiocy is anyone other than a few fringe Greens since it's so obviously dumb and counterproductive, but we'll see.

      It took us decades, many, many decades to get where we are now since there is no shortcut to winning voters over when we know for a fact it takes years of policy, hard work and earning trust.

      The upper middle class vote, yeah I could see that but I do know there are some pretty well-off Greens too so it's not quite as one-sided a battle there as it may seem. On the whole though, sure, that's a fight the unionists will have among themselves for quite some time to come I would think.

      Delete
    11. I don't think it is real Greens behind a lot of this. It seems to be happening on quite a few indy blogs, and I think it is part of an organised effort to stop the SNP.

      Delete
    12. The SNP do need a strong opposition, as without one they will become arrogant and complacent. However, there is a difference between that and arguing that the Greens can replace SLAB as the official opposition next year. The Greens will only achieve that by gradually building up their numbers in Holyrood. The same goes for the SSP.

      Delete
  28. But James - what if you used one of these wheel things?

    Would that work?

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    Replies
    1. LOL

      Nicely done Hoss. :-)

      However, it's a fact that anyone who starts down this road is inevitably going to end up looking as silly as the SNPouters and they looked like the biggest twats of all after the election.

      Which is why I'm still a wee bit sceptical that Harvie is even considering something as potty as this tactical list nonsense.

      That could only ever end one way and certainly not in a good way for Harvie and the Greens. There is no shortcut to getting a large number of voters on your side. You either work hard for it and campaign just as hard or you end up looking out of touch and a fool.

      Delete
  29. I will always vote tactically until Independence is achieved.

    That means I will vote for the SNP on every ballot, as many times as is permitted.

    When we have independence I may then vote more in accordance with my views, be that Green, SSP or SNP (depending on how they will be reformed in iScotland. But until then Independence is the main driver for my votes and the SNP represent the best chance of progressing that.

    Mandela

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    1. And that's exactly it. It would be a tragedy if the independence movement was hamstrung because some people decided the SNP was too big for its boots and needed taking down a peg.

      Delete
  30. Oh and your point about the Lothians contains a whopper of an elision. By the name of Margo. LOTS of SNP supporters in the Lothians chose, tactically, to give their list vote to Margo and she got elected. She was as good as an SNP lister, better in fact since she was known to be better than some spad or jumped up councillor. Better because she was free to be a critical friend to the SNP. Even if they took the hump and only came good when she was on her deathbed.

    By this elision you have outed yourself as not just a pro-Independence site but a nakedly pro-SNP site. Better put a yellow ribbon up.

    Not a problem btw just that I think you need to make it overt from this article and your comments through it which have a strong whiff of entitlement about them.

    You and that SNP convert at the RIC meeting need to remember who it was who went into the schemes and woke the disaffected up and persuaded them to get registered. 97% registration we achieved and the formal Yes Scotland did only a fraction of it.

    I've seen figures that 24% of voters in the GE were first time voters. I doubt they can all be explained as Young Persons. A lot of them were those RIC woke up. The SNP better be careful because we can take them away again and suggest they put their efforts elsewhere.

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    1. LOL, now who's talking as if they owned Scotland?

      Delete
    2. "By this elision you have outed yourself as not just a pro-Independence site but a nakedly pro-SNP site. Better put a yellow ribbon up."

      This is hilarious. I haven't exactly made a secret of the fact that this site is pro-SNP - in fact "supporting the SNP" used to be in the masthead. Did you think the pro-independence tag somehow "contradicted" that? Chortle.

      Delete
    3. "remember who it was who went into the schemes and woke the disaffected up and persuaded them to get registered."

      I remember perfectly since I and many of my friends in the SNP were among the ones doing it. We also used to drive them to get them registered in the appropriate location.

      I must admit some curiosity as to who the fuck you think it was registered so many of them because if you are deluded enough to think the SNP weren't heavily involved then you really don't have a clue what you are talking about.

      Some were indeed working under the banner of the RIC (and still are because they sure as hell ain't all like you in the RIC) but plenty were not and we did places far and wide that wasn't just bits of Glasgow but the somewhat massive area in and around the west coast.

      The only entitlement on show here is yours with your desire to parcel out votes that NOBODY has earned yet for a Holyrood a campaign which we are just starting.

      Rest assured though, we ARE starting that campaign and we aren't waiting about.

      So if the SSP or Greens want the best possible vote for Holyrood next year they will probably be wise enough to also start to campaigning for votes rather than petulantly demand votes to risk on the list system.

      A Labour voting system that self-evidently wasn't designed to facilitate tactical voting.

      Delete
    4. I carefully did not deny the SNP registered people, read what I wrote not what you think I did.

      Delete
  31. A useful discussion this, albeit getting needlessly heated at times. I always saw the breadth and multi-party/no-party nature of our Independence Movement as its strength, so it saddens me to see that now dominated by party political wrangling.

    Coincidentally I was playing with the numbers for the Additional Member calculation yesterday and, using Glasgow as an example, put up a spreadsheet, in which you can speculate about list votes across the parties to see what might happen. http://tvL.ink/sp2016

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    1. Well, the movement isn't standing, Gerry. It's a party political contest, and judging from an article that someone directed me to yesterday, the Greens seem hellbent on trying to get SNP supporters to split their ballot on the nonsense basis that it's somehow possible to "choose both the government and the official opposition". If they're going to try a stunt like that, they can hardly complain if others attempt to set the record straight.

      Delete
    2. James while in theory you need information from every constituency seat in as well as each regional list projection in reality we would only need national projections and likely key marginals on the constituency (as we could infer the rest) to see if it's the SNP landslide scenario. Only in this scenario would I recommend SNP voters shifting their list vote to Greens as implied by Gerry's spreadsheet. How people come to that conclusion in the numbers required though is an entirely different proposition. If we think of the 7% figure in Gerry's spreadsheet as the core Green vote (as in this scenario) a 2% point swing from snp to green on the last (assume it tactical) simply gives green a list seat and snp one less. It needs around a 6% point swing from snp to green on the list to start taking from labour and increase the overall "yes" vote.

      Whether there are sufficient people with the wherewithal or indeed the desire to make that shift given that no SNP politician will advocate it (potential suicide on the constituency vote) is debatable.

      Delete
    3. In many ways the spreadsheet supports James's argument. The Greens and SSP have a mountain to climb to win seats on the list. "Tactical voting" isn't the way, but rather attracting support based on their policies, which needs to come (in GE2015 terms) as much from Labour voters as SNP voters. In constituencies with no Green or SSP candidates standing an SNP (constituency) & Green or SSP (list) split will be an honest rather than "tactical" vote for many, myself included.

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    4. I don't think it does support your spreadsheet analysis...in a scenario where snp win all constituency seats they'd have to win well over 50% to win a list seat...greens conversely could pick up to 10 with say 18% of the vote...How do we know whether this landslide will materialise?....national constituency forecasts and Ashcroft key marginals...we infer the rest of the seats but if key marginals do then it's not unreasonable to assume the rest do..not saying how we get this information out to the many snp voters I agree with that difficulty and potential for constituency vote suicide..but the numbers in a landslide scenario speak for themselves and the regional list comparisons of 2011 are not a valid conparison as they weren't the very landslide needed to make this tactic plausible. Jam

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  32. @muscleguysblog

    What you seem to be conveniently forgetting is that the SNP have been campaigning for independence for decades, often against incredible odds, and when frankly it appeared as if there was little or no hope in actually achieving it in Scotland. You also gloss over the importance of the SNP's wins in 2007 and 2011, which meant we had the opportunity to hold a referendum on independence.

    Nobody is denying that RIC made a big contribution to the referendum campaign. However, there is probably only around 10 to 15 per cent of the electorate in Scotland who would support significantly left wing policies imo. The radical left have often overstated their support in Scotland over the decades. They usually started arguing among themselves and split up into factions as well.

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    1. The future is not always like the past. A large % of the disaffected who got woken up during the referendum are in fact pretty far Left. IF they can be kept and presented with credible candidates to vote for I think you could be surprised.

      As for factionalism, one of the things about RIC is it is a space where they can come together and work together. The SWP for eg behaved very well in RIC during the referendum and afterwards. There has been no entryism or anything. I'm not suggesting they have an electoral chance on their own but that the times they are a changing.

      Delete
    2. Well turnout was 85 per cent in the referendum, and the registration was around 97 per cent. Therefore, 12 per cent who were registered to vote did not bother to actually do so in the independence referendum, which was widely viewed as the most important vote in Scotland for decades, if not ever.

      The RIC did very well, nobody is disputing that. However, there were people from the SNP involved, as well as the Scottish Greens. So there was a strong social democratic element to it as well. It was not called the Socialist Independence Campaign, as it would not have attracted the numbers it did. You are clearly referring to people who are significantly left wing, and I think these elements are prone to exaggerating their support in Scotland. They do also tend to fall out among themselves a lot, and then go on to form Life of Brian type political splinter groups.

      Delete
  33. I agree with James' analysis. As much as anything, it's a waste of time even discussing running tactical voting campaigns - as someone mentioned earlier, look at the SNPouters. All that sound and fury in the echo chamber of the internet amounted to precisely zero because, at the end of the day, only a tiny hardcore of people are actually interested enough in politics AND have the particular disposition to motivate them to read blogs like this or follow the hilarious howls of the Pouters on Twitter. Most people just want to vote for the party they like. People advocating tactical voting on the list can go on about it as much as they like - it's never going to convince more than an insignificantly tiny handful of people.

    In my view, we'll see a lot more people voting Green on the list this time anyway because of their role in the indyref. The post-September 18 boom in Green membership is indicative of a further-reaching uptick in interest in the Greens, just as the SNP's was for us.

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  34. So the message I'm reading is 'Sorry Greens, sorry SSP, but we're not independent yet. We have to do this one for for Scotland.' Fair do's

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    1. To some extent. Nobody's suggesting that committed Green and SNP supporters should vote SNP on the list. But the idea that committed SNP supporters should vote Green or SSP on the list, while it may seem shiny and attractive at first sight, is a poisoned chalice.

      Obviously I'm not going to split my vote. I've been in the SNP since 1992 and I'm vice-convener of my local branch, for goodness sake. It's true that my reason for joining and staying joined and being active in the party is simply my desire for independence, but I know the SNP is the one party that has a track record in this, is committed to it for the long term, and can be trusted to carry the baton.

      I bear no ill will to the Greens or the SSP, but they are johnny-come-latelys, they have their own axes to grind (including growing their own party vote, even at the expese of the SNP and even at the risk of a pro-independence majority it seems), and I'm sorry but I'm not about to trust either of them with my vote on the strength of a deceptive and overoptimistic bit of gerrymandering.

      Delete
  35. There is no need to speculate ifs, buts or maybes re the 2011 election. It is a simple (though tedious) matter to calculate for any alternative redistribution of the SNP List vote what the result WOULD have been. I have calculated 3 such scenarios in addition to the actual result.

    Actual result
    Total of independence supporting MSPs - 72

    SNP retain 70% of list vote, 20% to Greens, 10% to SSP
    Total of independence supporting MSPs - 74

    SNP retain 50% of list vote, 25% to Greens, 25% to SSP
    Total of independence supporting MSPs - 83

    SNP retain 0% of list vote, 50% to Greens, 50% to SSP
    Total of independence supporting MSPs - 96



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    1. Now, for the sake of balance, tell us what the result WOULD have been if the SNP had won 10 fewer constituency seats, and their list vote had taken a small but significant hit on the list due to people "tactically" voting Green in regions where the Greens were never going to win a seat.

      Delete
    2. The analysis was on a regional basis, every region was either better or no worse for the proposed splits. Certainly for the 50:50 split every region had both SSP and Greens MSPs.

      Delete
    3. Could you now answer the question I actually asked?

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    4. I thought I did. Given the parameters mooted there would be Green MSPs returned from every region.

      If you are inferring that in reality some regions might never have enough Green List support to return even one Green MP, then, provided that alternative support went to the SSP it hardly matters statistically in terms of the results.

      If you are inferring that all the SNP support would be retained because they are all genuine SNP manifesto supporters, like me, then nothing changes anyway.

      We just have to hope for another perfect storm to produce a majority. It is possible.

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    5. "Given the parameters mooted there would be Green MSPs returned from every region."

      No. In the parameters I mooted there would be no Green MSPs returned in the relevant regions. That also reflects the real world position in those regions - it's all very well saying that if you could flick a switch and get a million people to vote Green, the Greens would win an awful lot of seats, but that's not actually going to happen, is it?

      What I've been talking about is the damage that attempts at tactical voting in a real world setting might have. If you've read this thread, you'll have seen that I and others have already conceded that a utopian scale of tactical voting could theoretically work. So the figures you've given don't take us any further forward - they just demonstrate what the outcome would be if something truly fantastical happened. What you need to explain is the basis for your belief that the fantastical is somehow possible.

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    6. Below around the 40% of 'SNP' vote going to another party or two in the List, there is not much gain in terms of total indy MSPs for quite a lot of pain to us in the SNP. Indeed, using 2011 results, as little as only 5% of the SNP List vote going to the Greens would result in the SNP having just failed to gain an outright majority and them having to rely on Green support. Although I'm sure Greens supporters might consider that a fracking good thing, we in the SNP obviously do not.

      In other words a low level of shift would not significantly improve the chances of having an indy party majority but would simply result in the main, in a swapping of SNP MSPs for Greens MSPs and most likely, depriving the SNP of an outright majority. Pain but no gain.

      It is not until you get to around 50% shift that there would be, based on the 2011 results, the liklihood of a comfortable indy party cushion which would make the pain of the SNP, if they failed to get an outright majority, worth having.

      So you are right in as much as a sizeable percentage shift has to occur to hedge that bet but less than half a million rather 1 million I would suggest.

      There is a great deal of understandable and deserved euphoria regarding the GE result and quite rightly so, because if, as many seem to believe, that result can be replicated in 2016 then the SNP would take around 69 of the 73 FPTP seats and gain a controlling majority anyway.

      That would of course make List considerations somewhat less important and we hope and pray that that is the case.

      However, the perfect storm conditions which produced the 'impossible' result in 2011 may not be with us in 2016, in fact the same conditions certainly will not be.

      TBC

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    7. Cont
      For a start, there will be a new leader of Labour at both UK and Scotland levels and a new leader of the Libdems.

      OK we do not know who yet, but new leaders do tend to have a honeymoon period (unlike poor Ed which for Labour support was more akin to waking up beside someone in a Vegas bedroom you can't believe you slept with and then discovering a ring on your finger).

      I'd be willing to bet the next Libdem leader will be the most anti-Tory in living memory.
      And SLAB, if they choose wisely and distance themselves from the London party and move to the Left (or just succeed in giving that impression) could spell a lot of trouble for us, as well.

      And there is the EU referendum, how is that going to play? I think that debate, although how much of it happens before May 2016 is unknown, will certainly serve to polarize opinion on Europe. And that could have a detrimental effect on anti-EU people who up to that point have only just on balance voted SNP.

      Of course, on the plus side, there is this great feeling of momentum which may outweigh these other potentially scary outcomes and we must hope that is the case.

      Delete
    8. Cont
      But to get to my point, the political weather conditions for 2016 will be undoubtedly very different from those which produced the perfect storm which created the 'impossible' result last time.

      Maybe, even with a new set of political weather conditions, 'impossibility' will strike twice but then again, maybe it will not.

      All the talk is of wiping the board in 2016, and it is great to even be in a position of seeing that as a possibility but I do not think sufficient consideration is being given, at least by the on line community, to the other possibility that, far from wiping the board, we could easily lose in 2016, very easily. Any risk assessment would have to conclude that such an eventuality would be catastrophic for the independence movement and should be avoided at all costs, if possible.

      The flaw in the British establishment's cunning plan to make a one party Holyrood government impossible' i.e. the d'Hondt AMS system is that it has this possibility of voting 'tactically' between FPTP and List, accepting your point that a sizeable number has to do so to see real benefit in terms of a comfortable increase in pro indy MSPs returned.

      Another thing to consider is that despite a hard line 'Vote SNP for FPTP and List' last time, around 4% of SNP FPTP voters did vote for another party on the List. During the Referendum campaign, Patrick Harvie acquitted himself very well and seems to have further raised support for the Greens as witness their membership rise and also from anecdotal evidence in talking to folk, so I am not at all sure that there is not already an 'invisible' shift which could, based on 2011 results, produce that SNP needing Greens MSP support scenario anyway. It may have gone already.

      Polling results on such matters would be very informative and no doubt the parties probably have some already. We await such results with interest.

      There are really only two choices.

      Repeat 2011 tactics and hope for a similar or better 'impossible' result.

      Or

      Strongly push tactical voting in some way.

      Lower levels of shift on the list will not improve greatly the chances of having a majority of pro indy MSPs and will still almost certainly result in an SNP government which requires other indy MSP support. Nor does it do much to remove the risk of defeat. And that level may already exist anyway.

      It is a tough call for the SNP leadership.








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    9. It's not a tough call at all. The SNP leadership wouldn't even consider it.

      1. It would be suicidal if the party did relatively poorly in the constituency vote. Green MSPs are not SNP MSPs.
      2. It would be very seriously frowned upon by the Electoral Commission and might even be deemed to be illegal. It would also attract the most vicious opprobrium from the press and media - and that would be deserved.
      3. The SNP leadership almost certainly view Patrick Harvie with a healthy dose of suspicion. Trading the possibility of an SNP overall majority, or a strong SNP government supported by a handful of Greens, for a weak SNP administration beholden to a strong Green presence for every vote would emphatically not be their preferred strategy.

      The idea that one might safely "go Green" on the list if SNP support is looking like it might be over 50% of the electorate is one thing. It's superficially rational, just taking a hell of a risk that the eventual constituency vote is less than that.

      The idea that this is a strategy that could rescue a flagging SNP vote, down on 2011 levels? I have no words.

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  36. Dear god, it looks like Hoss was right and we're going to get % variations on "the wheel" with this risk the list tactical nonsense.

    I certainly don't remember it ending well for the SNPouters so mebbes these 'new' tactical advocates should think on that before presenting yet more fantastical theories that have nothing to do with the real world.

    Bottom line is if you don't work for a vote then don't expect to be handed one on a plate.

    Be certain that the SNP membership will be FULLY AWARE of the folly of risking the list for the next Holyrood election. Count on it.

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    Replies
    1. Sunshine on CrieffMay 20, 2015 at 10:13 PM

      Mick, can I take it that the SNP election strategists are aware of this nascent 'tactical voting' campaign on social media? And that they have plans to combat it?

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    2. Fully aware of it and Yes of course Nicola will be tackling it in due course.

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    3. Sunshine on CrieffMay 21, 2015 at 8:01 PM

      Good stuff!

      Delete
  37. In 2011 the SNP got 53 of the 72 constituency seats, on about 45% of the vote. That's nowhere near the number required for an overall majority. The reason the victory was so comprehensive was that the SNP's list vote held up extremely well. In fact the list vote was only 26,494 votes down on the constituency vote, or 2.9%. (The Greens actually got 87,060 votes, so clearly most of their list voters didn't vote SNP in the constituencies. The SSP was way down among the lunatic fringe contingent with just 8,272 votes.)

    In contrast, Labour shed a whopping 106,908 votes between constituency and list, or 17% of its vote. It seems likely that the bulk of the Green list vote actually came from Labour. Whatever the reason, Labour's poor performance on the list was fairly disastrous, because it prevented the party from being fully compensated for its terrible showing in the constituencies and let the SNP pick up the 16 list seats that delivered the overall majority.

    In 2011, Labour didn't emphasise the need for its supporters to vote Labour on the list because they imagined they were going to do well in the constituencies. Look where that got them.

    In 1999, 2003 and 2007, the list vote was vital to the SNP, because their constituency performance was the usual run of stacking up good second places all over the shop and winning relatively few. As a result the party emphasised to its supporters the necessity of voting SNP on the list, and this habit stood it in extremely good stead in 2011.

    But to reiterate, on a 45% vote share, the SNP needed these 16 list seats to achieve the majority. Some of the posters above seem to think that winning strategy can and should be thrown away, because they imagine it's a sure thing that the party will poll over 50% of the vote next year.

    News flash. It ain't. Eleven months is a long time in politics. Even 45% was within the range that would have been considered "bloody good" in 2015. We have no right to assume we'll get a clean sweep of the constituencies in 2016, or even close. In fact, if we managed to pull off a near-repeat of 2011, many people would think that was miraculous.

    What the "list vote Green" campaign seeks to do is to persuade SNP supporters to trade some or all of the 16 SNP list seats for, hopefully, a larger number of Green list seats. Just what is the motivation for this?

    Obviously it would be extremely good for the Green Party and Patrick Harvie, and it's maybe no surprise that he's advocating the move. But what it would do to the SNP would be to return it to a minority administration, or leave it seeking a coalition partner.

    That coalition partner might of course be the Greens, though that rather kills the propaganda that we're supposed to be voting Green to "elect the opposition". (There is no conceivable way the Green Party could get enough votes to be the second-largest party in Holyrood, against Labour on 25% of the vote, simply by repackaging the SNP's list vote, not in the real world.)

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  38. (continuation)

    So what people are being asked to do, in all probability, is sacrifice a majority SNP administration in favour of an SNP/Green coalition. Patrick Harvie, whose committment to independence is unuversally recognised to be lukewarm, would be constantly tempering and trimming SNP strategy.

    This would no doubt be welcomed by the opposition parties, as well as by the Greens themselves. Having to deal with a Scottish government divided and making compromises within itself would be far preferable to dealing with a united and single-minded SNP. Is Partick Harvie in favour of pushing for an early second referendum if circumstances change so that it would probably be won? I haven't heard him say. If he was DFM in a coalition government, and he happened to think we'd had enough of referendums for this decade, he could spike it, easily. Bye-bye indyref2.

    The idea that first, the SNP is so sure of getting over 65 constituency seats that it can afford to forego list seats altogether, and secondly that there is some sort of mind-control ray that can induce all or nearly all of the party's supporters to vote Green on the list, is delusional. Both parts.

    The danger is that attempts to achieve that goal would simply put the SNP in the position of Labour in 2011. Falling short of what it needed in the constituencies (in this case 65 seats), but then failing to perform well enough on the list to pick up the required seats that way. And, potentially, fatally wounding the independence movement.

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  39. I'm a wee bit interested in this mind-control ray.

    The most fervent proponents of the "list vote Green" strategy constantly base their calculations on the notion that a substantial majority, if not all, of the SNP's constituency voters will vote Green on the list. Hundreds of thousands of people. (Remember, fewer than 30,000 people switched away from the SNP on the list in 2011.) How is this to be accomplished? In particular, how is it to be accomplished when it's a blatant reversal of the strategy the SNP has run so forcefully and so suvvessfully throughout the life of the Scottish parliament?

    First, we can forget the SNP itself advocating that voters switch. They're not stupid, they know the list vote is vital right up to the point where the party is polling over 50% of the vote share, and they know there's no way they can bank on that happening. Not only that, as James explained above, it would probably be illegal, requiring the Electoral Commission to step in. The SNP is going to be doing what it always does, telling its voters to give the party both votes.

    So we're looking at, what? An internet campaign? Like #SNPout?

    The pouters were quite high profile and had some degree of organisation. The wheel appeared on some candidates' leaflets. There was some attempt at door-to-door campaigning. A couple of newspapers took up the idea, publishing suggested tactical voting strategies to maximise the number of unionist MPs. They weren't advocating anything arcane or difficult to understand either. Everybody understands tactical voting under FPTP.

    They got pretty much nowhere. There's no evidence that tactical voting in 2015 was any more widespread than it would have been if they'd never existed. (Ashcroft probably caused more tactical voting than they did, simply by highlighting where to put a tactical vote for those who were predisposed to it.)

    Where would a "vote list Green" campaign aimed at SNP supporters get in 2016? It would be vigorously opposed and denounced by the SNP itself. It would be argued against online by hordes of clued-up people starting with most of those posting in this thread. It would be counterintuitive and difficult to understand for the hundreds and thousands of SNP voters who have hitherto been encouraged to vote SNP twice. It would have no chance of being endorsed by any newspapers.

    It might even be seen as an illegitimate attempt to subvert the vote, by the Electoral Commission, and officially stamped on - even if the SNP disowned it, as it inevitably would.

    The probability of hundreds of thousands of SNP supporters being persuaded to rush like lemmings to the cliff of a Green list vote is somewhere south of absolute zero. If the campaign got any traction at all, the probable effect would be to damage the SNP's performance significantly, without any corresponding benefit. A unionist majority could even come through the middle.

    Thankfully, the number of people likely to listen to this sort of misrepresentation will be statistical noise in the normal switching of genuine Green voters from SNP in the constituency to Green on the list.

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  40. OK, so if I have it right, voting Green for the list vote is:
    A: A great idea, if we had a really switched-on progressive vote who realise that slavish loyalty to the SNP is not the important thing, because of they do it in huge numbers we can return a Scottish Parliament with 100 progressives MSP's.
    or
    B: A crap idea, because the sheep who voted progressively in unprecedented numbers in 2011, 2014 and 2015 are not sophisticated enough to take this on in big enough numbers, so we should play safe and tell them to protect the SNP majority as they are the only big party worth voting for.

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    1. If you don't want to sound as bitter and flaky as the Pouters then mebbes try not to copy their rhetoric and straw man bullshit as well as their 'tactical genius'.

      Just a thought. ;-)

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    2. If he isn't a supporter of the SNP, and independence isn't his main priority, what he says is perfectly sensible. He wants a Scottish parliament within the UK, populated by a mix of SNP, SSP and Green MSPs. That's his prerogative.

      The dishonesty comes when he and those like him try to persuade SNP supporters who do want independence to throw away the SNP list vote under the false pretence that it will advance the cause of independence.

      It won't. It would destroy it.

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  41. QS and ON devided the souverainiste vote between the left and center left.
    Khadir admited before the last election that this could could give between 20 and 25 ridings to the PLQ- CAQ federalist right. He was not wrong and that is why the PQ is a minaurity government. See actual results in the table below :
    https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10153508667978140&set=p.10153508667978140&type=1&theater

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