Monday, January 18, 2016

EXCLUSIVE : Read the article on "tactical voting" that Bella Caledonia refused to publish

If your blogger sounds thoroughly hacked off today, there's a very good reason for that.  Yesterday, Mike Small of Bella Caledonia claimed that the endless series of articles on his site trying to persuade SNP supporters to 'vote tactically on the list' (ie. for RISE or the Greens) was not a propaganda campaign, but rather...

"just presenting a range of voices James, which is deemed intolerable."

That claim plainly made no sense whatever, because there had been several articles from multiple authors pushing the tactical voting line (including a RISE press release!), and not a single one putting the alternative view.  So I asked Mike if he would be willing to publish an article from me on the topic.  He said he'd consider it.  I took him at his word, and spent God knows how many hours last night and this morning composing a 2000 word piece.

Having sent Mike the article and exchanged a few emails with him, it is now abundantly clear to me that he was completely wasting my time, and that he never had the remotest intention of publishing any article that took a contrary view to the Bella editorial line which he pretends doesn't even exist.  The Bella mission statement could perhaps be more accurately reworded as "presenting a range of voices which Mike finds tolerable". 

I'm so angry at the moment that I'm sorely tempted to publish the email exchange so that people can see the extent to which he has been playing games and acting in bad faith.  I'll ponder on that, but in the meantime here is the rejected article in full.

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Why “tactical voting” on the Holyrood regional list is a mug’s game

There have been persistent suggestions from supporters of parties like RISE and the Greens that it may somehow be possible for SNP supporters to “hack” the voting system for the Scottish Parliament election in May.  The overall composition of parliament is supposed to be broadly determined by the result of the regional list vote, but it’s true that weird things can start to happen if one party is totally dominant in constituency seats, and yet is abandoned by many voters on the list.  The system would attempt to distribute list seats as compensation to parties that are under-represented in the constituencies, but in reality would end up dumbly “compensating” voters who are already handsomely over-represented.  In theory, that makes it possible for considerably more pro-independence MSPs to be elected than the combined vote for pro-independence parties would justify, as long as independence supporters vote in huge numbers for the SNP on the constituency ballot, and for other parties on the list ballot.  Unfortunately, as with so many other things that are perfectly possible in theory, it’s fantastically improbable in practice.  If it ever did happen, it would probably be as a result of pure luck.  Trying to make it happen through deliberate action (a push for so-called “tactical voting on the list”) is fraught with enormous danger. 

In single-member constituency elections, tactical voting can work brilliantly.  Scotland surprised itself in 1987 by suddenly grasping how the combination of a four-party system and first-past-the-post could be transformed from a weakness into a strength in the battle against Thatcherism.  The nationwide Tory vote was only modestly cut from 28% to 24%, but in terms of seats there was a bloodbath, as voters in marginal Tory-held constituencies flocked to whichever party had finished second locally in 1983.  And the identity of that party was literally the only information that was needed to make tactical voting feasible.

But to “vote tactically” in a relatively risk-free way on the Holyrood regional list ballot, you need to have far, far more detailed information.  Exactly how much you require depends on what your objectives are.  There seems to be a degree of creative ambiguity over which sort of SNP supporter is being targeted by the smaller parties’ pitch for tactical votes, but we must presumably – at least in part – be talking about people whose first priority is not merely a pro-independence majority at Holyrood, but an outright SNP majority.   If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t constantly be hearing the soothing noises about how an SNP majority is already assured on constituency votes alone – a tacit acknowledgement that a necessary precondition for many potential “tactical voters” is a sense of certainty that the SNP will not require any list seats at all.

But is that proposition remotely credible?  In the real world, no.  To turn the list vote into a completely ‘free hit’ in the way that is being suggested, the SNP would need to be sure of winning at least 65 of the 73 constituency seats.  To put in perspective just how murderously difficult a feat that is, Alex Salmond fell a full twelve seats short of the target figure in the landslide of 2011.  The independence referendum would never have taken place if the SNP hadn’t won a considerable number of top-up seats on the list.  And in retrospect it may seem a tad surprising that in the first Blair landslide of 1997, Labour won “only” 56 of the 72 Scottish constituencies at Westminster.  If that had been a Holyrood contest, Labour’s support might well have been just about strong enough to win an absolute majority – but only if their voters had remained disciplined on the list ballot.  They wouldn’t have been close to winning on constituency votes alone.

Now, it’s true that the SNP are currently polling higher than they did in 2011, or than Labour did in 1997.  It’s also true that if the result of last year’s general election were to be replicated in May, the SNP would not require any list seats to secure a majority.  But it would be a bit too close for comfort.  It must be remembered that not only did the unionist parties hold onto three seats last year, they also lost only narrowly in a few others (mostly ones previously held by the Liberal Democrats).  The 1987 result is a useful warning from history of how a relatively small drop in a party’s share of the national vote can help swing the balance in a large number of constituencies.  In this case, it only needs to happen in a very small number for Nicola Sturgeon to find herself in desperate need of list votes.

Don’t get me wrong - it’s eminently possible that the SNP will hit the magic number of 65 constituencies.  But those who tell you that it’s already certain (or practically certain) to happen are misleading you about the limitations of polling evidence.  On election night last year, two completely different seats projections flashed up on our television screens.  The broadcasters’ exit poll suggested that the SNP would win all but one seat in Scotland, while the YouGov on-the-day poll claimed that the unionist parties would between them hold onto eleven seats.  Nobody really had a clue which poll was right, although the initial gut instinct of most politicians and pundits was that YouGov were probably closer to the mark.  As it turned out, the opposite was true.  If that’s the degree of uncertainty we can routinely expect to find ourselves dealing with after the polls have closed, what hope do we have at the moment we’re actually casting our votes?  This, in a nutshell, is the first big disadvantage a budding “tactical voter” on the list has in comparison with a tactical voter in a single-member constituency election.  The latter only needs to be able to predict with confidence the top two placings in an individual constituency, while the former needs foreknowledge of the outright winner in many, many different constituencies.  That is rarely going to be realistically possible.  Getting even one or two results wrong could sometimes be enough for the “tactical vote” to completely backfire.

But even if it somehow became possible to navigate that minefield with genuine confidence (it would probably require the SNP to reach ANC-style levels of popularity), that would only be the start of the story.  Other unrelated pieces of foreknowledge about the likely election result would also be necessary before the risks of a tactical vote might recede to a vaguely acceptable level.  Even if an SNP majority was assured, our potential tactical voter would still want to know that they’d actually be helping to increase the overall tally of pro-independence MSPs, not decrease it.  Most fundamentally, they’d need to know that their vote wouldn’t be totally wasted as a result of their chosen “tactical” party failing to reach the de facto threshold for winning any representation at all. 

Here, again, we come up against the limitations of polling.  Fortunately, it’s at least possible to make a judgement with a degree of certainty in respect of RISE.  Recent polls have been unanimous in giving the SSP virtually zero support, and there’s no reason at all to suppose that RISE – with its weaker brand awareness – is faring any better.  Unless things change radically over the coming weeks, it would be totally irrational for any SNP supporter to switch to RISE on the list.  The SNP have a realistic prospect of winning at least one list seat in any given region, while RISE have virtually no chance of a list seat anywhere in Scotland.  I say ‘virtually’, because there is one previous example of a fringe party coming from zero support to snatch a list seat – that was the Scottish Senior Citizens’ Unity Party, which achieved a sensational result in 2003 with the help of some Old Firm stardust on their election leaflets.  So RISE do have an outside chance of a breakthrough, but it’s a very, very small one.  Nobody sensible will be betting the house on it.

In seven out of eight regions, exactly the same is true of Solidarity, who are also languishing on virtually zero support.  However, past form suggests that they may have a small concentration of support in Glasgow that the polls are unable to pick up.  If so, it’s just conceivable that Tommy Sheridan may be able to recapture past glories, and seize a single list seat.  But SNP supporters in Glasgow should still have massive doubts over whether Solidarity are really better placed to make an impact on the city’s list than their own party.  Even if the SNP win every single Glasgow constituency seat – a very big if, for the reasons I’ve already discussed – they should still have a good chance of a list seat as long as their list vote holds up.  Sheridan is a long-shot by comparison.

With the Greens, the situation is more complex.  Polls have been sending mixed signals about whether they are in line for a breakthrough.  But even if we ignore the more pessimistic polls, it should be noted that we’ve been here before.  In both 2007 and 2011, the Greens seemed on course for substantial gains, but in both cases ended up with just two seats.  Anecdotally, I know of several SNP supporters in the North-east region (including party members) who voted “tactically” for the Greens in 2011 on the basis of two assumptions – that the Greens would reach the de facto threshold for a seat in the region, and that the SNP would win so many constituencies that they would be totally out of the running on the list.  Both of those assumptions proved to be wrong, and indeed the SNP took a list seat in spite of winning every single one of the region’s constituencies.  Fortunately, the misjudgement didn’t cause any damage, but it could easily have done – if just 2000 more SNP voters had switched “tactically” to the Greens, and 600 more had switched to the SSP, the final list seat would have been won by the Tories rather than the SNP, and the overall pro-independence majority at Holyrood would have been cut from 72-57 to 71-58.  That wouldn’t have been a great day’s work by any standards.

Look at it this way – if you cast a well-founded tactical vote in a single-member constituency election, there are only really two possible outcomes.  Either your tactical choice of candidate will win and your objective will have been achieved, or they’ll fall short and you’ll be no worse off than you otherwise would have been.  But a “tactical vote” on the regional list is a very different beast.  Since you will rarely (if ever) have sufficient foreknowledge to make a tactical switch on a rational basis, there are four potential outcomes.  You might get lucky and achieve your objective.  Your vote might backfire and lead to an increase in the number of unionist MSPs – and in a worst-case scenario bring about an anti-independence majority.  The result might be no different to what it otherwise would have been.  Or you could end up replacing a pro-independence MSP from your first-choice party with a pro-independence MSP from your second-choice party.  (The latter wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would certainly be rather irritating.)

The phrase “tactical voting on the list” should really be outlawed under the Trade Descriptions Act.  What we’re actually talking about here is gambling voting.  If you fancy a flutter, my suggestion is Betfair.  The future of our country shouldn’t be entrusted to blind chance.

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UPDATE : Mike Small has posted a bizarre claim on Facebook that he never rejected the article.  That is categorically untrue.  You can read more details HERE.

109 comments:

  1. Anyone who really wants Scotland to become Independent has to vote SNP x 2, anything else is plain madness.

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    1. The antics of most of the 'risk the list' brigade has been amusingly counter-productive TBH.

      Few things more so than their complete inability to grasp that campaigning for both votes in this system is not only fair but it's what we in the SNP were always going to do. It speaks to the naive incompetence of some of those promoting 'risk the list' that they somehow thought we would do anything other than that or that doing so is "arrogant" when the reality is expecting to get votes you haven't even bothered to earn by campaigning hard for them is the very definition of "arrogance".

      That much is obvious. Let me also point out some of the other most pertinent things the more comical of the RISE and Green 'risk the listers' have failed to think through.

      We haven't stopped campaigning. True, it's been at a lower ebb than it will be for the couple of months before the Holyrood election but, I assure you, up and down scotland SNP members and activists are still delivering leaflets, chapping doors, setting up stalls and using SNP hubs. Our membership is massive and there is no chance whatsoever that those members are going into this Holyrood election without the full facts of the voting system at their command to explain to voters, friends and family.

      For that matter do you think there is s snowball's chance in hell that Nicola or Alex are not going to be hammering home the truth about how the voting system operates, how the list vote is absolutely NOT a second preference, and why SNP supporters should vote SNPx2?

      Do you seriously think our leaflets and campaign literature won't be crystal clear on how foolish it would be to try and risk the list? Do you harbour some delusion that Nicola won't point out how this voting system works during the many appearances she'll make up and down scotland in during TV debates?

      Given those obvious facts, just how well do you think the insulting and deceitful tirades directed at SNP supporters you are engaging in now will go down during the campaign proper?

      Right now we can direct anyone wondering about risking the list to plenty of stuff on twitter and indeed Bella, then simply ask, "do you think these people are worthy of your vote?"

      Now imagine how furious, petulant and OTT the 'risk the listers' are going to get during the Holyrood campaign when it becomes patently obvious very few if any scots are even listening to them.

      That's not what will damage them the most though. When the second killer question is asked for the 'risk the listers' - as it inevitably will in the weeks and months to come - they will turn on each other with a ferocity that will make all their current bile against SNP supporters seem tame.

      That question being of course, Risk the List vote on WHO?

      Solidarity? The Greens? RISE?

      It didn't end well for the Pouters and it won't end well for them.

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    2. Also, since I haven't commented in a while and since me and James are more than familiar with petty and ignorant censorship from sites who try to pretend otherwise..

      To be sure, Bella is already well on it's way to alienating huge numbers of Independence and SNP supporters with their current antics. However, this is only the beginning.

      Mike Small doesn't seem to have thought through the consequences of his barely concealed allegiance to RISE nor his unquestioning acceptance of the amusingly flimsy arguments for risking in the list. This while arrogantly censoring the views of those who do not agree with the official Bella editorial stance on the list vote.

      The thing is, does Mike Small seriously believe that the 'drum circle' of the rise 'collective leadership' are going to be happy with just a few SNP bashing/Risk the list diatribes and articles. Particularly when we get to the final few weeks of the Holyrood campaign? Oh dear me, No.

      Those humble souls in RISE with an eye on becoming an MSP are going to want wall to wall coverage because, after all, isn't that what supporting RISE and their 'new politics' is all about? 'Or do you REALLY support RISE at all?', they will ask.

      Press releases and campaigning 'articles' will be churned out feverishly by RISE and they will fully expect them to be reproduced verbatim on Bella.

      Since, in the end, you will have to shit or get off the pot because the Greens and Solidarity WILL be asking for the very same thing.

      When that occurs there will be no pretence left since your only course of action will be either to please those in RISE who already expect your allegiance or to give Solidarity and the Greens the same platform. Something I don't imagine RISE would be too keen on somehow.

      Of course you could also try and publish viewpoints from the SNP but since you are already censoring SNP friendly voices like James it's crystal clear that isn't too likely. Nor do I imagine SNP supporters are likely to forget it or overlook your 'positioning' come the Holyrood election.

      Your choice of course. You may even be able to run Bella Caledonia as "Bella RISE" and massively increase your pageviews.

      Who knows?

      But surely, it's worth the risk? Isn't it? ;)

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  2. The most annoying thing about this is that RISE and the Greens (to a lesser extent) are being mind numbingly arrogant about the share of votes that the SNP will get - something that (as an SNP activist) I find absolutely repellent. WE are not being arrogant - we believe that we will need to fight and campaign for every vote to keep the indy plan rolling forward.

    Nicola isn't taking anything for granted, and is urging us to do the same. Every communication we see from the party is urging everyone to get out there leafleting, canvassing, talking to friends and neighbours.

    RISE and the Greens are urging people to divvy up the prize as if it's already been awarded, the SNP are still treating the voters with respect and working to win the prize in the first place.

    Even on that basis, it's clear who you should back - the party that wants to spend the time convincing voters, one by one if needs be, or the mob that are taking them for granted...

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    1. WE are not being arrogant

      The comment above yours seems to belie your statement. Some of you are being thoroughly reasonable and putting forward excellent arguments. Others, not so much.

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    2. The first comment isn't arrogance. There's no assumption that votes belong to the SNP or anything like that - they just think it would be daft to vote any other way. You can disagree with it, but it's not arrogance.

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    3. Exactly,

      The backlash is not against those putting forward sensible views and challenging the premise that an SNP list vote is pointless. It is against the large number of people who take arguments like James' and use it to tell everyone "You must vote SNP or you don't support independence".

      That is arrogant, wrong, off putting and counter productive and it IS a view that is voiced in good numbers.

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    4. I think people like that are an inevitability, Doug.

      The SNP have been the defacto home for independence-minded Scots for decades now, so as well as the forward looking, intelligent civic nationalists, you also have the eye rolling, frothing ethnic nationalists who conflate the SNP with Scottishness, Independence and probably a free ticket to Scottish Heaven.
      It's not the SNP's fault, every country has a few nuts at the bottom of the barrel.

      The U.S Republicans manage to simultaneously be the party of William F Buckley and Mick 'I make Ted Cruz look normal' Huckabee.

      In fact you might say that RISE could end up doing the SNP a small, if unintended favour by siphoning off some of the nuttier, Scottish Resistance style extremists who are, sadly used as a stick to beat the rest of you with on a regular basis.

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    5. And conversely, for saying that I was going to vote SNPx2 (and explaining why, as James has explained above), I have been called a zealot, someone who "puts party advantage before independence", and a unionist.

      I have voted a straight SNP ticket since at least 1983. I've been a member of the party since 1992. I have done that because throughout the 20th century and really up until about five minutes ago in electoral terms, the SNP has been our independence movement.

      I'm not about to change that behaviour at this stage, when the party is riding higher than ever and has certainly not done anything substantial to put me off (certain matters relating to the criminal justice system aside).

      For that, I have received dog's abuse on Twitter from people who've only very recently come into the independence fold, and who react like petulant children when long-time activists don't immediately say "oh I never thought of that" to their enthusiastic misconceptions and agree to vote against the party they've spent decades campaigning for.

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    6. Who has been abusing you on Twitter?

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  3. It occurred to me that advocates for Green/RISE need to re-frame their argument.

    If you favour Green or RISE policies, then vote for them in the second vote.

    In the first vote, vote tactically for the party that most represents your views.

    Sometimes, regardless of the complexities of the electoral system, your vote just doesn't end up electing the person you wanted to get elected, but them's the breaks. If you want the Green/RISE representation to grow there's only one way to do it. It may even take more than one parliament to grow that representation.

    The *first* FPTP vote is the tactical vote. Second vote, just vote for who you prefer and let PR do its thing.

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    1. The constituency vote is a vote for whoever you want to represent you in your AREA hence constituency vote being the term used ......regional list is a vote for who you want in GOVERNMENT!! The AMS (additional member system) has NOTHIG to do with 2nd "preferences" and is something that really must be made clear!!

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    2. Nope they are 2 votes and are allocated using the ams d'hondt system for the 2nd one..you can describe them that way but it's not true. They are votes that's all they are. the constituency is allocated using fptp the 2nd one takes into account constituency results making it less likely to get list representation as number of seats already obtained is on the denominator of the list calculations. This is the whole reason for the list strategy debate and if you don't recognise the case for it you're being deliberately evasive for no doubt party political reasons or you are a moron.

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    3. "The *first* FPTP vote is the tactical vote. Second vote, just vote for who you prefer and let PR do its thing."

      I agree with you in part. I will be using my constituency vote tactically for the SNP. But to be honest they don't merit getting my list vote as well.

      Second guessing the list vote is a nightmare from a tactical point of view. It is also going to vary from region to region.

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    4. It is not two votes. it is one vote used twice. the trouble is that labour tried to fix the vote in their favour due to their massive FPTP majority.
      Simplify matters by casting your vote once. Each constituency elects their MSP then that vote is combined for each region and the List process begins.

      Equal numbers of Constituency and List MSPs and you have a genuine PR system.

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    5. "Equal numbers of Constituency and List MSPs and you have a genuine PR system."

      No. This can be fairly easily proved to be false - imagine a 4 party system with evenly spread support where one party gets just over a quarter of the votes. They can win all the FPTP seats. Half the seats on a quarter of the votes. Not proportional.

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    6. "It is not two votes."

      It is two votes.

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    7. "The constituency vote is a vote for whoever you want to represent you in your AREA hence constituency vote being the term used"

      Of course. There is no party political aspect to your first vote. It's about the person you want to "represent you". Sure.

      *eyeroll* at that hoary old chestnut.

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    8. "It is not two votes."

      It is two votes.

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    9. "Equal numbers of Constituency and List MSPs and you have a genuine PR system."

      No. This can be fairly easily proved to be false - imagine a 4 party system with evenly spread support where one party gets just over a quarter of the votes. They can win all the FPTP seats. Half the seats on a quarter of the votes. Not proportional.

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    10. I'm coming to this late but what we need is a PR system that incorporates constituencies but tops up the parties as necessary so that their percentage of seats matches their percentage vote share. This would involve varying the size of parliament - and the constituency MSPs may or may not make up a significant portion of the parliament, depending on the result. But at least the constituency link would be maintained.

      The alternative is to scrap constituencies and just have a purely proportional system. 100 seats - no. of seats awarded mapped to popular vote percentage share, rounded to the nearest percentile. If we had that system (or even the other one I've outlined), the SNP would most probably govern in coalition with the Greens. But at least they'd have to reach out and do deals with SOMEONE, rather than being treated as royalty.

      Aldo

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  4. It's not just that RISE/Greens are taking the votes for granted which annoys me, it's the lazy attempt to divvy up the existing pro-independence vote rather than making any effort to increase the vote by persuading past opponents of independence to vote for them. They're welcome to as many votes as they can muster, but it would be nice if they could earn them rather than simply piggy-backing off the SNP's campaign.

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    1. That's a bit more of a mixed issue. You wouldn't ask Jeremy Corbyn to go looking for votes on the hard right, or for Nicola Sturgeon to target the Orange Order.

      It's pretty sensible for RISE and/or the Greens to try and target voters who are at least somewhat sympathetic with their views and policies.

      But on the other hand, they don't seem to be offering up much reason to do so beyond 'oh, go on then'. They mainly seem to have given up on trying to put forward a policy platform and instead are just making a play on trying to gimmick the voting system.

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    2. "It's pretty sensible for RISE and/or the Greens to try and target voters who are at least somewhat sympathetic with their views and policies."


      And those voters don't exist among the unionist party supporters?

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    3. Some will, yes. There's likely to be more targets inside the SNP though. Not only are there more SNP voters overall, they share more policies in common, Independence being one of the bigger ones.

      If you have a party and you want votes, you have 2 choices;
      1 - Find people who haven't voted before and get them to join you.
      2 - Get existing voters to switch allegiances.

      If you're trying 2, and you are RISE or the Greens, I would have said your first target is the SNP, followed by the Lib Dems, then Labour. Targeting the Tories or UKIP is probably a poor use of your resources.

      Poaching voters from other parties is pretty fundamental politics. What I think is interesting this time round is that RISE and the Greens don't seem to be making any attempt to do so on the grounds of policy.

      All the arguments are about having less Unionist MSPs. And while that's a reason to not vote Unionist, I don't see why it's a reason to particularly vote RISE or Green as opposed to SNP.

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    4. There are plenty of SNP candidates/ councillors/ hingers-on who barely lifted a finger during the referendum who have piggy backed on the work done by the Yes campaign.
      I know of one SNP councillor who confided that his ultra low profile durying indyref was due to his representing a mainly "orange area" and he didn't want to be openly identified with Yes as it would affect future votes.
      The Old Guard are now trying to claim their reward for previous service in the lean years, and are shafting the new members in the process.

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  5. It's mindboggling how inept RISE have been. I think a lot of people, certainly me, had huge amounts of goodwill for them when they started. But if they'd hired John fucking McTernan they couldn't have come up with a worse strategy to campaign for votes. Patronising, condescending, arrogant, a massive sense of entitlement, they've got every box ticked. If they get ANY second votes from SNP folk now it'll be a miracle.

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    1. And that's a bad thing because...?

      You know I was worried about this development, originally peddled by the Greens, concerned that it could deprive the SNP of list seats and let a unionist party in through the middle.

      Not worried now.

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  6. if rise and greens, genuinely supported tactical voting, the wouldn't stand anyone in any constituency, as solidarity promote

    if rise and greens and solidarity genuinely believe in tactical voting, the wouldn't stand any candidates in the list for the south of Scotland region

    last poll showed 52-42% con-list support for the snp with much support appearing to switch to the greens in the list, so it would appear that some people are intending to vote tactically on the list, regardless of terry kellys remonstrations. if this is the case, then such parties owe the electorate a clarification per region to avoid conficts between themselves and the snp, eg the SOS region has to be snp 1 and 2, even by their own logic. the only way to ensure that is to remove the option of voting green/rise/solid etc on the list, buy not standing any candidates on the list.

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    1. I agree SOS region is double snp as is ne, west, central and weej (due to rise green split in weej). That said I can understand why a party wants to stand everywhere on the list even if it does undermine the tactical voting argument. Essentially they have more than tactical voting ti vote for them (or so they believe). I'd only vote green tactically myself as I'm in the 2nd most likely green region mid and fife. I think it's interesting to see how snp voters respond to this on the list. It would be amazing if they voted green in numbers in the regions I'm talking about and didn't in the other ones.

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  7. James, good article and great analysis. Leave the correspondence in your inbox where it belongs. We need to de-conflict and get on with getting the vote out and converting the 40% of no voters who are open to argument.

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  8. This is a good summation of the pitfalls of trying to vote tactically in a PR election.

    What bugs me is that there's an element of dishonesty about the whole thing. If the sole objective in your mind when casting your vote is getting a pro-indy majority to increase the likelihood of a second referendum, then it really is a no-brainer - the simplest way of doing that is making sure the SNP get a majority. And the only way you can be sure of that is voting for the SNP both times.

    But what RISE and the likes really want is for their people to get elected. They want a pro-indy majority, but they want their own people to be part of it. Now, that's a perfectly reasonable objective - it's the whole point of standing for election, after all - but that's not what they're trying to sell it as. It particularly bugs me when people try to tell me that voting SNP both times increases the likelihood of unionist MSPs getting elected. So rather than selling a vote for their party on the merits of their party, they're trying to guilt-trip folk into an anti-unionist vote - the same way Pouters tried to get folk to cast an anti-SNP vote last year (and that worked well, didn't it?)

    What none of these people bother to explain is why trying to artificially decrease the unionist representation in Holyrood is worth risking an SNP majority. I would love Holyrood to have no unionist MSPs, but as long as there is support for the union, there will be unionist MSPs - probably even after independence. So once you accept that reality, then you have to ask why it matters whether Labour has 26 MSPs or 20. The answer is, it doesn't - as long as there is an SNP majority, it doesn't matter how many unionists are against them. They are still going to get a free run in the media to pour scorn on the SNP and independence. The fact the Lib Dems are still treated as a major party proves that. And anyway, would it be fair for one half of the population to decide about two-thirds of the MSPs? The only way to get rid of unionist MSPs is to get people to stop voting for them.

    I mean, it's understandable that RISE can't really campaign on policies, and in some areas they can't even campaign on candidates, but the guilt-tripping nonsense about letting unionist MSPs in is just tedious.

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    1. Well put. The other thing is, if the SNP have a majority, it doesn't actually matter what the opposition is. It could be Labour or Tory or RISE or UKIP. If the Nats have a majority they're all just pissing into the wind anyway. That's what a majority is.

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    2. You have got to be joking. I cant see any way that its avoidable now for the opposition to be dominated by Labour, and to a lesser degree by the Tories. But it means five more years of Dugdale, Ballie, Davidson etc with their bitter negativity that offers no meaningful alternative. The quality of debate in the chamber depends on the quality of the opposition. What quality of opposition do we have just now?

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    3. You're right, the quality of opposition is depressing. But as you've also pointed out, it's unavoidable. So in what respect should I be joking?

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    4. Its unavoidable this time Doug, as we have debated elsewhere. But if we are going to make avoidable next time, we need to start working on creating a single beneficiary to get behind now.

      Delete
  9. We might mention that the simultaneous existence of three minor parties on the Left, scavenging for SNP List votes on similar policy platforms would likely mean that they would split each others support......thus increasing the relative value of any unionist party's vote.

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    1. I haven't seen ANY policy platforms! Just this tosh about 'tactical' voting, that a labrador could see through in one second flat.

      Delete
  10. You only have to remember the spats that took place around Solidarity to see just how divisive and destructive the left left can become. RISE are behaving to type. There is an arrogance and a sense of entitlement coming through now that repels me. 'We are the true representatives of the people, therefore only we can look after you, to vote for anyone else is a betrayal.' It smacks of all I have come to despise about Labour. I have supported Scottish Independence all my life. 66 years. Voting for any other party than the SNP at this time is just insanity, as only they can deliver independence at the moment. After the ball id over the line, then Scotland can decide if they wish to vote for right wing, extreme left or loony left, however I feel that there will always be a place for any organisation led by Nicola Sturgeon and her like. The left left axis has a lot of good stuff going for it, but I would not trust them not to behave like the Council of People's Commissars, the seeds are there.

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  11. Such a shame that M.Small led you a merry dance, there is absolutely no need for that.

    Any conflict will be being relished by the unionists and their spin people will be watching.
    It's good to hold back a bit when raging, because to do otherwise would be playing into their hands and playing their game.
    I think it's a real shame that some people will be getting very confused by all of this stuff.
    It is quite simple, when the facts are laid out in front of people. Rise seem to be distracting rather than focussing on a common goal which is to ensure the momentum for independence is retained. SNPx2, rise should support that. They will have their day if they prove their worth and show some integrity.

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  12. Great article, James. With your permission I'll quote from it as much as possible in the lead up to the election.

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  13. There is a really good and funny sketch by Dave Allan, remember him? It is about the leftists in somewhere like Poland, who decide to revolt against their tyrannical fascist regime. Anyway they seize a car with said fascists trying to make a hasty escape and are delighted with the car, and fur coats etc they just bagged. So they drive a bit and turn a corner, only to meet an angry mob who take them for the fascists they were trying to oust! Not been able to find it on youtube, but it's very good.

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  14. Shared this item on Facebook plus WoS similar conclusions http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-eye-of-reality/#more-80548

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  15. I'll be voting SNP and Green, not because I'm tactical voting but simply because I would like to see more Green representation in the parliament

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    1. Me too Mike and if anyone has a sense of entitlement it's certain SNP supporters on here.

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    2. Me too. I think it will all pan out in the end, parties will get the number of seats they deserve.

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    3. Enjoy voting for a party that has put 2,000 council workers on the dole in Edinburgh.

      Vote green and have their Billion pound tram set stuck up your arse where it belongs.

      Delete
  16. The problem for the tactical voting opinion is that to be successful, tactical voters have to vote for the same option. There is little or no room for tactical voters to spread their Regional List votes over a number of parties.
    However, where I very much part company with you, is when you write "Don’t get me wrong - it’s eminently possible that the SNP will hit the magic number of 65 constituencies. But those who tell you that it’s already certain (or practically certain) to happen are misleading you about the limitations of polling evidence". As usual you back up your opinion with appropriate evidence, but is it not a bit misleading to base your case at least partly on "On election night last year, two completely different seats projections flashed up on our television screens. The broadcasters’ exit poll suggested that the SNP would win all but one seat in Scotland, while the YouGov on-the-day poll claimed that the unionist parties would between them hold onto eleven seats" for we aren’t talking about just two polls. Its every poll for about a year now, showing support for the SNP rising, at some points almost exponentially. If we put your own poll of polls into Scotland Votes, it predicts the SNP to win every constituency seat except two, wipe out Labour from the constituencies, leaving only a single Tory and a single Lib Dem (Moreover, we have had a vote that really counts - the GE.
    I know there will be local circumstances. I have the misfortune to be represented at Holyrood by Jackie Baillie.
    And what will the consequences be if the SNP do clean up (or almost) the constituency seats? Given the De Hondt system for the regional list, very few SNP list MSPs, and by implication a great many Unionist list MSPs. One thing I noted from two of your blogs illustrates this. In relation to the Survation poll (your blog 14/1) with the SNP on 42% for the regional list, putting that into Scotland votes gets the SNP two regional seats. In an earlier blog commenting on the pre-Xmas TNS poll, the numbers give the SNP seven regional seats for a twelve percent increase in their regional vote. I the meantime, Labour get 25 regional seats (nearly four times as many) for less than half the regional list vote of the SNP. Is that a good outcome? Moreover in both cases - TNS and your poll of polls, the SNP would have a majority on the basis of constituency seats only.
    Lastly, when you conclude "If you fancy a flutter, my suggestion is Betfair. The future of our country shouldn’t be entrusted to blind chance", you brought to mind a quote from Charles Gray from election night in 1992, which Labour had expected to win. Gray, addressing the disappointment and the way forward, said "perhaps we need to live a wee bit dangerously". Perhaps to win independence James, so do we?

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  17. Perhaps the SNP should be making more effort to attract those who would vote for a RISE or Green candidate in the event that one stood in their constituency. Reviewing their position on NATO and the monarchy would be a start. As would an unequivocal stance on fracking. As pro-indy as I am, my aspirations for this country oblige me to have regard for other burning issues, and not dispense with my conscience on the basis of expediency.

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    1. I think the SNP are well aware that we need to increase support for independence. That means winning over people who voted No. That is the only way we are ever going to achieve independence. Some people like to imagine Scotland as this intensely radical political nation, but essentially it a(small) conservative nation. The idea that we are going to achieve independence if the SNP becomes more left wing, supports a republic, and wants to withdraw from NATO is frankly bonkers.

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    2. And the road to the centre isn't bonkers? Tell that to labour supporters.

      Delete
    3. The Iraq war, PFI, campaigning with the Tories against Scottish self government, and the final betrayal of watering down the already inadequate Smith Commission did for Labour in Scotland.

      Delete
  18. Mike small replied to your allegations on the Bella Facebook page if you are interested...

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/8259177988/permalink/10153462985987989/?comment_id=10153463007817989&reply_comment_id=10153463013752989&notif_t=group_comment

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    1. He says he didn't refuse to run the article, but was still asking questions.

      I expect it will be up on Bella soon then.

      Delete
  19. Perhaps what is required is an inclusive Future Scotland Forum to preserve unity of purpose in combination with diversity of opinion ...

    http://moflomojo.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-future-scotland-forum.html

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  20. Be under no illusion, the election in May is only about one thing, either Scotland wants Independence, or Scotland is happy to dream of Independence.

    When your in that voting booth in May, take a few seconds to remember how you felt on the 19th of September. You may well feel it again.

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    1. Be under no illusion, the election in May is only about one thing, either Scotland wants Independence, or Scotland is happy to dream of Independence.

      Obviously not the case, or we'd only have 2 parties, one Nationalist and one Unionist.

      Most of us aren't single-issue obsessives.

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    2. Effectively, that is what we have. It would be foolish to deny that the significant divide in Scottish politics is no longer between left and right, far less the faux rivalries of the British parties. The defining division of Scottish politics is on the constitutional question - pro- and anti-independence.

      And it is fitting that it should be so. Because the constitution is the very foundation of all politics. It is the base from which all else stems. It is the tree. Matters of narrow policy are the branches and twigs.

      Delete
    3. I disagree. They are still a bunch of broadly centre-left and centre-right politicians, no matter what flag they are waving. And we remain a bunch of broadly centre-left and centre-right citizens.

      Changing the postcode of the Parliament doesn't alter the basic decisions that need to be made, nor does it alter the views of the people who live here.

      Independence doesn't even crack my top 5 issues. Competence matters, I don't care if the party involved wraps itself in a Union Jack or a Saltire, nor do I care if they sit in Edinburgh or London.

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    4. Given your obsession with flags and the waving thereof, I doubt that you are equipped to grasp the fundamental nature of the constitution. After all, it's only about power; who has it; how it is used; and how it is constrained. How could that possibly be as important as any of the issues which crack your top 5.

      Dismissed.

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    5. Seriously? Good grief. I can see why so many people tell you to jog on.

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    6. Another part of the union has politics aligned along a nationalist-unionist constitutional boundary. No prizes for guessing where....

      Amazingly, a recent poll of Scottish voters revealed that only 7% had independence in their top 3 issues. Fcking amazing when you consider the events of the last few years.

      People may want the SNP / Greens / Socialists. But they don't necessarily support independence or care about it that much. They are prepared to vote for these parties for their broader policy platforms for the time being. When the novelty wears off or they screw up something important, the centre of political gravity will shift once again to lib/lab/con.

      Scotland has no interest in becoming like Northern Ireland.

      Delete
  21. Thank you for talking the trouble to explain the second vote system to us. I never really understood before. I was thinking to vote SNP both questions and now I will do so with confidence as they are deserving. No harm to Greens or RISE but they do not cover all my views and I feel they are taking advantage of SNP voters. When we get Independence I'll look again at all the Indi party's standing. Until then I'll trust SNP to get us there!

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  22. As someone who also has the misfortune to be misrepresented by Jackie Baillie I find the whole Wheel of Fortune debate to be an absurd distraction. If voting against what you want is the way to punch above your weight the yoons would be doing it.
    Reminds me of the Clint Eastwood movie where he is called out by a young nobody who explains he needs to earn a living. Dying ain't much of a living boy Clint tells him.
    There are more than enough people shooting the wrong way without trying to persuade people who are on the right side to go AWOL.
    After 300 years of trying we're finally getting somewhere we could do without Clint saying well punk, do you feel lucky?

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  23. Please DO NOT publish your correspondence with Mike Small. This would, in my view, be most improper.

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  24. Having had numerous comments disputing the 'tactical voting' notion censored by Bella Caledonia, I can certainly sympathise with James.

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  25. I wonder if there are two debates going on here. One is about how the electoral system works, what it can do, what it may not do, and how it is difficult if not impossible to "game it". I'm inclined to think that the warnings of advocates of SNP/SNP are sound here.

    There is however another debate raging under this surely. It is whether the drive to Indy should be not just led, but dominated by the SNP. As an SNP member myself, I can see why non-SNP but pro-Indy folk would have reasons to "have concerns" about this.

    What the "Indy first" group have to loosen up about is that not everyone who supports Indy always has it as a central issue. The nature of society (eg inequality) or the ways we interact with our natural environment (eg, climate change) may well compete for central place with them. or even permanently occupy it. From that perspective they make a contribution to the ongoing struggle for Independence that SNP members usually do not. So if the SNP has a concern for as widely-based an Indy movement as possible, it has to ask in what ways Scottish democratic institutions could be made more inclusive of minority opinions.

    One simple, and easily carried-out, way is to change the voting system in the constituencies from FPTP to AV, destroying at a stroke the thought-killing argument of the "wasted vote". Voters could then vote entirely positively - fir what they believed - in both constituencies and regional lists, and let the votes speak for themselves.

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    1. Your concern about the "drive to indy" being "dominated" by the SNP is easily answered. There is no choice. It's that, or nothing. As James Kelly has patiently and comprehensively explained in the above article, there is no realistic possibility of electing any OPIP (other pro-independence party) MSPs even as an "enhancement" to an overall SNP majority. What chance can there be of getting another party into the position that the SNP now holds? None!

      But we are talking here particularly of the practicalities of becoming independent. That has to be in the hands of the SNP because, as is abundantly clear, there is no other party within an astronomical distance of being so placed. This DOES NOT mean that the SNP must dominate the independence movement to the exclusion of anybody. It didn't during the first referendum campaign (other than in the "reporting" of the British media), so why should it do so now.

      The problem with the OPIPs - or at least one of the problems - is that they have lost sight of the main objective having been distracted buy the lure of political power in the shape of parliamentary representation. They are now entirely focused on partisan advantage, even at the cost of jeopardising the crucial SNP majority.

      Essential as the SNP is in providing the political clout that we need to win independence from within the British political system, they are not the whole independence movement. Nor can they ever be. That movement belongs to all the people of Scotland who share the aspiration to bring our government home.

      Within that movement, each of us has a role. For some, it will be to secure elected office. For others, it will be to stuff envelopes in a draughty campaign office. Some will trudge the streets shoving leaflets through letterboxes. Some will stand at street stalls in all weathers. Others will write blogs and speak to crowds at public events.

      Unity isn't us all doing the same thing. It is all of us working towards the same end by doing whatever is required of us within the limits of our capabilities.

      One of the things we can, and MUST, do is ensure that we get an SNP majority government in May. Not out of "blind allegiance" to the party or because we have succumbed to a "personality cult", but because we know that the alternative is the horrifyingly unthinkable prospect of our parliament and our government falling into the hands of the British parties. (Do not discount the possibility of a unionist "grand alliance"!)

      Quite simply, the OPIPs are getting it wrong. They are seeking a role in the independence movement that is just not for them. Their time will come. It is not now.

      Delete
    2. If my concern is easily answered then I look forward to it. However there is a signal flaw in the argument you set out. The SNP leadership has avoided any formal commitment to a second Indy referendum in the manifesto for these elections. Thee has been a fair degree of "spin" around this, but nothing so concrete as for example, saying that a plurality of votes in either or both contests would trigger a referendum. Which is fair enough (as I think about it I can make a case for such caution), but don't then present the issue as being about all these pesky people getting in the way with their perverse other ideas. Don't suggest this is imperilling a big breakthrough.

      If we accept a long term strategy in which these elections are another step on a road with many more to come, then the composition of the Scottish Parliament becomes a matter of some concern. Once the SNP has run out of elections to win - and Labour has run out of ones to lose - then we face a time when the modified devolution settlement will bed in. The Scottish Government will have more powers - not many, and often confusingly functions divided between Holyrood and Westminster - but some. It may also be that in the process of working that out, it may have a bit more leeway on some issue than seems possible looking at the print of the Scott proposals or the Scotland Act. Action in policy areas where Scotland breaks from its past and differentiates itself from the UK will hopefully, as well as addressing issues in a positive way, help to build confidence in Scottish capacity and wear down the cringe factor that Better Together was able to exploit in 2014. In such processes having a well-informed public debate with a plurality of views expressed would be essential.

      This is where my point about voters not falling neatly into two blocs, for and against the Union, is relevant. All the modelling of how the votes might fall assume that the Greens (like James Kelly, I think RISE/SSP and Solidarity are not in it with any chance) are only likely to take list votes from the SNP. It is highly likely that if the PLP prima donnas continue to undermine Corbyn they might get a good few from Labour voters as well. Put that into the models and the outcomes are nothing as clear. It may be messy but it is the real world.

      I did incidentally suggest a concrete step by which the quality of Scottish democracy could be improved - a further step towards a pluralistic political culture. Do you agree with it?

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    3. "The SNP leadership has avoided any formal commitment to a second Indy referendum in the manifesto for these elections."

      Would that be the manifesto that hasn't yet been published? Or even finalised? The manifesto of which Nicola Sturgeon said in September 2015,

      "Our manifesto will set out what we consider are the circumstances and the timescale on which a second referendum might be appropriate, but we can only propose.

      "It's then for people in Scotland, whether it is in this election or in future elections, to decide whether they want to vote for our manifesto and then if there is in the future another independence referendum, whether that's in five years or ten years or whenever, it will be down to the people of Scotland to decide whether they want to vote for independence or not.

      "So at every single stage this is something that is driven by and decided by the people of Scotland, not by politicians."

      Or are we to disregard what Sturgeon ACTUALLY says in favour of what the British media CLAIM she has said?

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    4. I'm quite happy to go with what she actually said which you quote above. It is very cautious and evasive of commitment. (As I said I can see a case it for being so.)

      As you say, the manifesto has yet to be published. If it does contain the sort of commitment I suggested it won't, then I shall revise my opinion in the light on new information. As I assume will you if it doesn't.

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    5. I will have no reason to change my mind as I have the wits to know that the SNP is FULLY committed to both independence and, perforce, a second referendum. Or a third. Or a fourth.

      I have the wits to know that this commitment is the default position of the SNP regardless of what the manifesto says. Unless the manifesto explicitly rules out a referendum within the term of the parliament, then a referendum is ALWAYS an option.

      Delete
    6. OK if "any fule no" that the SNP is for Independence they have no need to say so, and therefore they have no need to say whether or not they are seeking a mandate for a referendum. Must have been some aberration that put a specific pledge in the 2007 and 2011 manifestos....

      Thing is, a lot of people who lack your keen wit tend to look at manifestos and go by what is in them (or not). Remiss of them I know but there you are. Nicola Sturgeon's carefully phrased statement above will have been composed with such folk in mind. Again I want to point out that there is a good case for a cautious strategy, but it has implications. It does suggest that the policies to be followed over the full Parliamentary term are factors in deciding votes. It also suggests that attention to developing the institutions of the revised devo-settlement is part of the story.

      Touching on that - any observations on my limited but specific suggestion for making the Parliament more representative of the voters?

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    7. I understand that you have a desperate need to suppose the SNP is guilty of something. I can't help you with that. I can only advise that you desist from making such a fuss about the content of the manifesto at until least until it is published. Otherwise you risk looking even more of a 'fule' when the SNP's position is set out in terms that even you will have difficulty representing as ambivalent.

      It takes no great intelligence or arcane knowledge to realise that the SNP is fully committed to independence and the referendum that this requires. It requires only that one approach the matter with an open mind and attend to what is actually being said rather than the shrill internal voices of prejudice.

      If by "cautious strategy" you are referring to voting in May's election, there is indeed "good cause" for such. Indeed, there is an overwhelming imperative to vote in a way that does absolutely nothing to jeopardise the chances of an SNP majority government. There is just too much to lose and too little to gain for any other strategy to make sense.

      I obviously not attended to your "limited but specific suggestion for making the Parliament more representative of the voters". Probably because I considered them off-topic. I cannot, therefore, comment.

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    8. Interesting you "probably" considered my suggestion that the constituency members be elected by AV rather than FPTP "off-topic". Are you really so unsure about the thoughts in your head?

      I suggested in my initial post that this was a discussion taking part at two levels - one was about the electoral outcomes of voting in particular way next May, with which you are fully engaged. Another is the nature of the resultant Parliament, its ability to address issues in Scottish society, and the quality of Scottish democracy.

      It is to your credit that you acknowledge that you are totally focussed on the result that advances the possibility of Scottish Independence; that is honest. It is less to your credit that you are not prepared to engage with the many people whose perspective on the Independence issue is related to other matters, such as the nature of society or humanity's relationship with the planet. Whether you like it or not, we are as valid an element of the Independence movement as those of your persuasion. Telling non-SNP Indy supporters that "their time is not yet" may seem eminently reasonable to you, but you should reflect on how that sounds to them.

      Your "understanding" that I have "a desperate need to suppose the SNP is guilty of something" is based on nothing that I have written here. For the record - as an SNP member I am well aware that a party of over 100,000 members is unlikely to be as homogeneous as it was in its earlier and more marginal days. The diversity of the Indy movement is very likely to run through it as well as between it and other parties and groups.The votes at the last conference on fracking and land reform suggest such. This is likely to become more evident after May, when we run out of elections for the SNP to win.

      That is not some kind of "diversion" or even threat". It is problematic yes but a sign of strength. It is a challenge for all of us.

      Delete
    9. As I explained, I have no recollection of seeing your suggestion regarding the electoral system. In the hope of softening the blow to your ego from knowing that not everybody hangs on every word you write, I offered the thought that I may have skimmed by it because it seemed off-topic. You may now deal with the harsh reality that I simply didn't bother with it.

      I am, as you allow, focused on May's election. Although not quite to the exclusion of all else, as you also imply. The electoral system is not going to be changed before May, so why would discussion of changes be relevant?

      You are mistaken. I am perfectly happy to engage with any discussion relating to Scottish politics. Including "the nature of society or humanity's relationship with the planet". But we are here commenting on a particular article dealing with a specific topic.

      When you talk of "those of my persuasion", you need to pause for a moment to get your head around the fact that you are actually referring to what you imagine to be "my persuasion". You are referring to a construct of your own prejudices. You're not actually talking about me and my "persuasion" at all. Because you're not qualified to do so.

      It is perfectly clear that, for the OPIPs, "their time is not yet". Other than by some miraculous intervention, there is no way that they can make meaningful electoral progress in the coming election. Other than the Green, who could just conceivably make some small gains, the OPIP's chances of securing seats are so vanishingly remote that, for all practical purposes, it can be considered an impossibility. All they can do is take list votes from the SNP, and thus put the SNP majority government that we need in some jeopardy.

      It could all have been so different. If the various left wing factions had not been so driven by fantastical notions of immediate parliamentary representation, they could have used this year's election to prepare the ground for the local elections in 2017 and, subsequent campaigns. They could best have done this by pragmatically accepting the reality of our current situation. Had they the least political nous, they would have acknowledged the crucial necessity of ensuring an SNP majority government in the next parliament.

      If they were not so totally absorbed by narrow partisan interest, they would have seen that they and their particular policy agendas would be consigned to political oblivion if the British parties managed to retake control of our parliament and our government. And the independence movement which they purport to be part of would be set back by years - perhaps decades.

      If they had any sense at all they would have used May's election as an opportunity to establish themselves and win the respect of voters by working for the SNP majority government on which EVERYTHING else depends.

      That is the political reality we must deal with. Every ambition and aspiration that we have for our nation and people proceeds from the outcome of the 2016 Scottish Parliament election. EVERYTHING! Including all the stuff that you want.

      The choice is NOT between an SNP majority government and a "Rainbow Parliament". The choice is between maybe not getting all that you want and having to put up with some stuff that you don't want; and not getting anything that you want and having imposed upon you a great deal that is anathema to you. There is no remotely realistic prospect of that "Rainbow Parliament". There is only the risk of ensuring that the chance to create it sometime in the foreseeable future is sacrificed on the altar of squalid party politics.

      Delete
  26. Publishing emails would be a poor move James. That's a no no. We can use our imaginations. I'm 100% on your side on this issue anyway. It's SNP both votes for me. The other side seem to get more annoyed in proportion to just how irrational their justifications become. Plus they know RISE has got no chance and that really nous them too. Unfortunately there is a bit of a self-indulgent underdog mentality among some independence supporters. I don't subscribe to that. I want to win. I want the SNP to win every election until we win the next referendum, We are not on the side of the underdog, we are on the side of history.

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    1. "The other side seem to get more annoyed in proportion to just how irrational their justifications become"

      Now, where have we seen that before...?

      Delete
  27. Can we please see the full email exchange for the avoidance of misunderstandings.

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    Replies
    1. Those emails should NOT be published. There is a default presumption of confidentiality.

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    2. Then let the two parties reach a mature, adult settlement to the matter. We are all on the same side, ultimately, after all Peter.

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    3. The fact of this blog post would seem to suggest that James has unsuccessfully explored the potential for a "mature, adult settlement".

      Delete
    4. That's a view based upon prejudgment without knowing the facts of the case. It could just as easily be the fault of the other side.

      One thing's for sure: this spat does our side no favours at all. No doubt it will be seized upon by our enemies.

      Ridiculous.

      Delete
  28. There is nothing to fear from the truth, Donald. The truth is never a "no-no".

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  29. Why James do you insist upon using your spurious north east snp list seat example? The green tactical vote requires a young professional "trendy" location that isn't split with rise...north east farming landowners abd oil money have cash but don't otherwise fit the profile. Anyone who knows what they're talking about isn't recommending a green list vote there. Lothian and ms and fife are the two most likely areas.watch how it dwvelops is the best strategy. And as for your 4 outcomes...you are describing them as if they are equally probable that you pit a nawbag in by voting green. You do it in the areas where that won't happen. Where green is high. If it's done there then that scenario won't happen. That only happens when green is really low. As soon as it's over 7% it winnae happen most likely.

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  30. " Even if an SNP majority was assured, our potential tactical voter would still want to know that they’d actually be helping to increase the overall tally of pro-independence MSPs, not decrease it. Most fundamentally, they’d need to know that their vote wouldn’t be totally wasted as a result of their chosen “tactical” party failing to reach the de facto threshold for winning any representation at all."

    I am in HLI but the quandary for me is that my list vote gets wasted and a Lib Dem gets in the back door on the list seat, especially if the SNP take Shetland for instance. Seeing Tavish booted royally into the Pentland Firth would give me great joy but that could be taken away from me if he was to slip back in through the list vote.

    I am thoroughly disillusioned with the Greens for one and my gut instinct tells me to avoid them. They have gone backwards since the Referendum in my view. I am tempted to use my list vote for Jean Urquhart as at least I know where she stands on NATO and I know she is pro Indy without question. It is a gamble though and one that could backfire if a Brit Nat gets in the back door. O Cho Meallt!

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  31. Reading a lot of this about 'tactical' voting I don't think people get just how difficult it is to 'tell' anyone how to vote. I'm not convinced that the tactical people have done much canvassing.

    The SNP have visited the same people on the same doorsteps for years. We've gone through their worries with them, their uncertainties, taken their scorn, commiserated where their trust has been betrayed and slowly but surely won large numbers of them round.

    We've gone from a fairly fringe offering to the most trusted political party I know. I still wouldn't be brave enough or foolhardy enough to go back to these same people and ask them to split their vote and vote for somebody else.

    We can't take what we have for granted. Every vote is still needed. Actually getting them out when we're high in the polls could be a challenge. Begin knocking a few percentage points off because our voters think its in the bag and the picture dramatically changes.

    I enjoyed working with RIC and the Greens during the referendum, though the people outside the SNP who did the most heavylifting in my experience were the other groups we get told don't really exist. Labour for Indy, WFI and Business for Scotland to name but a few.

    So here's an idea for them - and for us. Instead of shouting at each other on twitter lets get out and chap doors. They can then explain to people face to face what they want them to do - and what they plan to offer in return.

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    1. Sound stuff James. The danger for the Greens and the "little Left" is that they come across as trying to piggy-back on the SNP. That may be unfair, but this debate is doing them - and politics generally - no good. It is getting to the point where it is turning activists in on themselves - which alienates voters.

      What you suggest would not only be good for them - it might also get a higher voter turnout, so whatever mandate the Scottish Government after 2016 has, it is a strong one. I hope we can all agree that would be a good thing.

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 18, 2016 at 7:33 PM

      Should the punters be forming an opinion on a governments record including its failure to implement what it said it would do?

      Delete
    3. Sure, last time I voted SNP+SNP to hopefully get a majority and a referendum, and that is exactly what we got.

      I hope to replicate that.

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  32. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 18, 2016 at 9:06 PM

    If you vote SNP constituency and list then you will make sure the SNP will get a majority to do otherwise risks the possibility of a majority government.

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    1. Would you care to rephrase that. the comment makes no sense

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    3. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 18, 2016 at 10:36 PM

      Rewrite: If you vote SNP for the constituency and on the list the SNP have a good chance of getting a majority to not do so risks the SNP not having an overall majority.

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  33. I shouldn't worry too much if Bella takes a different view from this blog on any issue barring independence itself. We need many competing views. It is healthy to debate so long as we don't lose sight of the goal.

    The real pity to my mind is that we seem to lack a Conservative and Nationalist wing in the broad yes movement. If the really monied people in our society looked to their eventual interest/ benefit in the future free state then they would be invaluable to our cause. Not least in the supply of money we all need to campaign.

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  34. Of course I would like to see a few more experts rather than mere ciphers in the Scottish Parliament: Amongst the Greens I am thinking of the likes of Andy Wightman, but of course why would any Independence voter support the election of his fellow Green Martin Ford who is apparently anti Independence?

    As the entire voting system had been rigged to make it near impossible to achieve an SNP majority, and as we were told that to vote SNP twice was to waste the second vote, and... as we ignored that advice in huge numbers and achieved the seemingly impossible by that method, I seriously doubt that a change of strategy could improve the result in any way. If you want to achieve a pro Independence majority then SNPx2 is the PROVEN strategy. Anything else is not.

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  35. Of course I would like to see a few more experts rather than mere ciphers in the Scottish Parliament: Amongst the Greens I am thinking of the likes of Andy Wightman, but of course why would any Independence voter support the election of his fellow Green Martin Ford who is apparently anti Independence?

    As the entire voting system had been rigged to make it near impossible to achieve an SNP majority, and as we were told that to vote SNP twice was to waste the second vote, and... as we ignored that advice in huge numbers and achieved the seemingly impossible by that method, I seriously doubt that a change of strategy could improve the result in any way. If you want to achieve a pro Independence majority then SNPx2 is the PROVEN strategy. Anything else is not.

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  36. This calcualtion is wrong "if just 2000 more SNP voters had switched “tactically” to the Greens, and 600 more had switched to the SSP, the final list seat would have been won by the Tories rather than the SNP". For the Cons to beat SNP on the list for the final seat would need at least 20,000 switches. These votes would have to go somewhere. Assuming they don't go to unionists they would split evenly between GRN and SSP which would be enough to give them a seat each. SNP 9 GRN 1 SSP 1. Tories would never get the last seat. Proving that tactical voting actually does work on the list.

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    1. Raymond : All I can say is that you're wrong. I suggest you double-check your figures. You may be making a mistake with the d'Hondt calculation.

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    2. If this 'proves' anything at all it is only that tactical voting might, just conceivably, be made to work in the way that you want, if only you had the kind of control over voters' behaviour that is simply not possible.

      The best that can be said of tactical voting in the hope of achieving a pre-determined outcome is that it risks everything for vanishingly little potential reward.

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    4. You can toss around these 'just suppose' all day and al night. The fact remains that the Magic Pick 'n' Mix Parliament plan only works if you have a totally unachievable degree of control over voter behaviour.

      It's all very well to say that it will work out for the best if only x number of people vote in accordance with a carefully calculated pattern, The question that proponents of tactical voting want us all to ignore is the one about how you actually induce the voters to conform. Especially when each OPIP is pushing a different form of conformity.

      What is happening here is that the OPIPs are trying to circumvent the democratic process. They are trying to get candidates elected, not by persuading voters of the merits of their agenda, but by convincing people that there's an easy short-cut to an outcome that is simply assumed to be efficacious.

      This is not a kind of politics that I am interested at all. In fact, it is barely recognisable as democratic politics at all.

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    5. It doesn't even matter, Peter, because Raymond has got his north-east numbers wrong. Raymond, I asked you to double-check your figures and to pay more attention to the d'Hondt calculation. You've clearly ignored me, but I urge you to do so now. Seriously, mate - you've got it wrong.

      As I correctly said, if 2000 SNP voters had switched to the Greens, and another 600 had switched to the SSP, the Tories would have taken the final list seat rather than the SNP. For some reason you seem to be multiplying everything by ten (and, incidentally, you're also incorrect about the number of constituency seats that the SNP won in the region - it was ten rather than nine).

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    6. Sorry, James. I thought there were nine constituency seats in each region. My fault. (I will scrub my previous comment as the figures I was using were wrong.) I can see how you have worked it now. You have taken just enough away from the SNP to make them lower than the Tories but not moved enough to the Greens to win. However, if your 600 convenient SSP voters had been Green, the Greens would have won. Sorry for the confusion.

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    7. "However, if your 600 convenient SSP voters had been Green, the Greens would have won."

      I can't think of anything much more convenient than your assumption that an army of tactical voters will have some sort of 'quality control' on the siren calls from three different directions, and only listen to Patrick Harvie. Sorry, but the scenario I presented is a highly realistic one - you can't get "tactical" movement to the Greens and expect there not to be any equivalent leakage to the socialist parties.

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    8. We can all manipulate the spreadsheets with our own particular preferences. 1% shift would have resulted in a Green MSP. Cost of Green MSP <14,000 votes. Cost of SNP MSP > 140,000.

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    9. You've got a bloody nerve, Raymond. What the hell is this "tactical voting" wheeze if it isn't "manipulating the spreadsheets" to produce a hypothetical result? You clearly don't like it when other people do exactly the same thing to point out how easily the whole thing can backfire - well, sorry, but the secret's out.

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