You've probably already seen RevStu's "five cold, hard facts about the election". You might think this is ironic coming from me, but the only one of the five I would very, very slightly take issue with is that RISE won't win a seat. I think it's overwhelmingly unlikely that they will, but it can't be completely ruled out because we do have one past example of a fringe party taking a list seat in even less promising circumstances than RISE currently find themselves. In 2003, the Scottish Senior Citizens' Unity Party somehow won a seat on the Central Scotland list with an astonishing 6.5% of the vote, in spite of receiving only a fraction of the media attention lavished on RISE this year.
So how did they do it? Partly it was down to a very clever (albeit charmingly amateurish) leaflet that played up the support and nominal candidacies of two "Old Firm legends". The rest of it can be explained by the fact that the 2003 election wasn't competitive - the SNP didn't look even remotely like a government in waiting, and many people who would ordinarily have voted SNP (or indeed Labour) on the list decided they had nothing to lose by being a little more adventurous, or even frivolous.
With the benefit of hindsight, the very odd events of the weekend look like a carefully-planned "shock and awe" operation intended to recreate the special conditions of 2003, albeit in a slightly different form - ie. the hope was that voters would begin to see the SNP's position as so unassailable that they could afford to be as daring with their list vote as they were in 2003. That line of argument had been hitting a brick wall in recent months, so it seems that somebody, somewhere made the calculation that a concerted (and totally bogus) appeal to the ultimate authority - John Curtice, naturally, not God - could turn things around for the tactical voting lobby at a crucial moment in the campaign. I initially subscribed to the view that a single journalist had innocently (albeit catastrophically) misunderstood Curtice's words, and the whole thing had snowballed out of control as a result. But in the light of what's happened since, it's hard to maintain such a charitable interpretation.
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For anyone who thinks that the "tactical voting" scam is new, here's a little nostalgia - a blogpost I published exactly five years ago today, in the midst of the 2011 election campaign. My belated commiserations to the three people who actually fell for the idea that a vote for the Scottish Christian Party would be less wasted than a vote for Labour!
Confirmed by the servants of the Lord : the regional list vote decides who forms the Scottish Government
I received an election leaflet today from the militantly anti-homosexual 'Scottish' Christian Party - led somewhat incongruously by the man who wrote (and still receives royalties from) the song So Macho. You might think it would have been mostly concerned with telling me about God and lesser-known details of the Old Testament, but not a bit of it. In fact the meat of the leaflet is about the minutiae of the party's split and subsequent glorious reconciliation with their 'brothers' in the Christian People's Alliance (no-one mention Life of Brian), followed by this rather convoluted explanation of how, for some unspecified reason, they're planning to help Iain Gray become First Minister -
"If you want Labour to form the next Scottish Government vote Christian Party - CPA on the Central Region List.
In 2007 Labour had to look on powerlessly as the SNP took five (5) of the list seats in the Central Region, including the very last seat. As a result, the SNP beat Labour by just one (1) seat in the Scottish Parliamentary Election. Had the Christian Party won that last Central Region seat, instead of the SNP, then Labour would have won the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary Election...
DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE THIS TIME! VOTE CHRISTIAN PARTY - CPA."
So there you have it on the Highest Authority - the list vote decides who becomes First Minister. In other words, the SNP's invitation for people to vote for Alex Salmond as First Minister on the list ballot is a helpful clarification of the vital importance and effect of that vote, while the Greens' '2nd Vote Green' slogan (implying that the list vote is - as many people mistakenly believe - some kind of second preference) is a misleading ruse. No-one is blaming the Greens for trying to maximise their vote by using any tactic within the rules - but what is slightly more galling is that they do this while at the same time brazenly condemning the SNP for 'confusing' the electorate with their 'sloganising'. It's the rough equivalent of hitting another child in the playground, then bursting into tears and saying "Miss, he hit me"...
A few nagging doubts do arise from the Christian Party's 'Trojan Horse for Iain Gray' pitch, though. For instance -
1) Perhaps they should have waited to see the opinion polls before concluding this was quite such a winner.
2) If they're really only interested in receiving votes from Labour sympathisers, does that mean us nationalists are all heathens?
3) They could have done with investing in a calculator. If the Christian Party had nicked a list seat from the SNP last time round, Labour would not have been the party with most seats, but instead would have been deadlocked 46-46 with the SNP. Even if the Christian MSP had voted for Jack McConnell as First Minister, Alex Salmond would still have won if the two Green MSPs had voted for him (as they did).