Since my post the other day in which I tried to explain why Adam Ramsay is wrong to claim that tactical voting on the regional list is a viable option, Adam has made a number of further comments on the subject on Twitter. This was the most recent -
"mathematically, it's likely to be true in a significant majority of cases. I'm not sure why James can't see that. :-("
This basically repeats something he said in a comment here, which baffled me at the time -
"on average, given that we can't know what will happen in each region, your regional vote is more likely to make a difference if it's for the Greens than if it's for the SNP. I think that is a basic mathematical fact"
I'm still confused by that, but having given it lots of thought, my best interpretation of what he was getting at is as follows : If you take all the election outcomes that are possible under the laws of mathematics, there are a greater number of favourable outcomes produced by Green success on the list than there are by SNP success on the list.
Now, in a sense that's true (as long as you assume that the Greens can't win constituency seats), but it's also completely meaningless. It's an argument that gives equal weight to plausible outcomes and to utterly fantastical outcomes, such as the Greens winning 30% or 40% of the list vote. It's a bit like saying "on average, given that we don't know what share of the vote UKIP will get at the next general election, we can say that UKIP are likely to get more than 25% of the vote, because there are more numbers between 25 and 100 than there are between 0 and 25". That's how silly this debate has become.
Sticking with the same theme, I was startled to spot that Tommy Sheridan left a comment at PB earlier this evening -
"Solidarity will field a strong list of candidates in each of the 8 regional lists. Their call will be SNP Constituency vote; Solidarity List vote. During the recent General Election Solidarity stood aside and encouraged voters to back the SNP as the biggest anti-austerity party and pro-independence party. Both the Greens and SSP stood candidates. The SSP votes were derisory but the Greens strategy effectively saved Scotland's only Tory, Mundell. If they had stood aside and encouraged an SNP vote Scotland would be Tory free. Will SNP voters forget these factors? Solidarity are fielding well known candidates like IndyClimber Lindsay Jarrett in the Highlands and Islands and myself, Tommy Sheridan, in Glasgow. The mainstream media will ignore and denigrate Solidarity but many voters now ignore the mainstream media and get their news and ideas from social media. Solidarity will do well."
It's interesting to see Tommy fairly bluntly making the point that Solidarity are more worthy of a "favour returned" from SNP supporters than the Greens are, because they didn't follow the Green example of putting up candidates against the SNP at the Westminster election. That certainly does make it easier for them to take the moral high ground on this issue, but it doesn't change the basic reality - tactical voting on the regional list just doesn't work reliably under any circumstances, no matter whether a party is "owed" a favour or not. In fact, it's even less likely to work if you vote "tactically" for a party like Solidarity, which - with the best will in the world - is unlikely to make the threshold required to win any seats at all. Tommy Sheridan might have a very small outside chance in Glasgow, simply because he's Tommy Sheridan, but that's it.
With no fewer than three radical pro-independence parties all attempting this "tactical voting" wheeze, will they all cancel each other out to some extent? I wouldn't be totally surprised to see a repeat of 2011 for the small parties, with the Greens winning two or three seats, and the Scottish Left Project and Solidarity failing to trouble the scorer.