Sunday, April 24, 2016

Reader's questions : a Patrick Harvie conundrum

Niall posed an interesting question on the previous thread, which I thought might be worth responding to in a bit of detail...

"You know, these kinds of discussions usually take place between people who post on blogs about politics, and one characteristic that unites these people is that they are much more likely than your average citizen to be hyper-partisan.

So let me come to the discussion from another angle. I was speaking last week with my aunt who is a floating but generally centre-left voter. She lives in Glasgow Kelvin (note that this is the only part of Glasgow where the Greens are putting up a candidate: Patrick Harvie).

Her thoughts "I think the Greens have good policies and I like Patrick Harvie so I will vote for him for my MSP. But I will also vote SNP on the regional list because I want to see Nicola Sturgeon back as first minister"

I remarked that considering her two objectives it would make more sense, because her votes would be more efficient and effective, to vote the other way around: SNP on the constituency ballot, Green on the regional ballot. Was that wrong?"

My own view is that Niall is half-right and half-wrong. It's certainly true that Patrick Harvie doesn't have a hope in hell of actually winning the Glasgow Kelvin constituency outright (he's presumably standing as a candidate to make an investment for the future) and that his chances of returning to Holyrood as an MSP depend entirely on list votes. So, if your number one priority is getting Harvie re-elected, you should vote Green on the Glasgow regional list. But that's the nub of the matter - you really have to choose a number one priority, because the Additional Member System (unlike the Single Transferable Vote system used in local elections) doesn't really lend itself to pursuing two entirely different priorities simultaneously, except in a relatively narrow range of circumstances. If the first priority of Niall's aunt is instead to see Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, she should probably vote SNP on both ballots. There really is no way of giving equal weight to both of her specific objectives, because depending on how the election result turns out (and that's unknowable at the moment you actually cast your vote) a Green list vote could harm the SNP. Remember the example of the North-east in 2011, when a relatively small amount of switching from SNP to Green/SSP/Solidarity could have cost the SNP the final list seat, and handed it to the Tories.

You might be looking for an example of the small number of circumstances that allow a voter to do something a little more sophisticated with AMS. Well, in a normal state of affairs, when no party is too dominant in the constituencies (ie. not this year), you can be reasonably confident that how you vote in any individual constituency is pretty unlikely to affect the overall composition of parliament. For example, if you live in an SNP/Conservative marginal constituency, the only effect of the Conservatives winning the seat would probably be to reduce the number of Tory list seats by one, and increase the number of SNP list seats by one - thus leaving the overall result totally unchanged. That might offer you a relatively 'free hit' on your constituency vote if you have a strong preference between the individual candidates. Imagine you're in Paul Kavanagh's situation, and can't bring yourself to vote for your local SNP candidate because of his views on gay marriage, or whatever. Voting against the SNP on the constituency ballot, but for the SNP on the all-important list ballot, might conceivably help 'replace' the candidate you don't like with a more palatable SNP candidate from the list. But that sort of opportunity is quite rare, because you don't have any control whatever over the ranking of the SNP's list candidates - that's predetermined by an internal ballot of SNP members. And even when an opportunity does crop up, there are still risks involved - albeit nowhere near as extreme as the risks of "tactically" giving your list vote to a fringe party like RISE, which is highly unlikely to win any list seats at all.

Just for clarity, what I've outlined above does not apply in this particular election.  Because the SNP have a chance (and it is only a chance) of total constituency dominance, voting against the SNP on the constituency ballot might well cost the party "bonus" seats that they won't be compensated for on the list.

* * *

SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS

Three new polls have been published since I last updated the Poll of Polls, with BMG entering the sample for the first time. The percentage changes are therefore a tad less glacial than normal.

Constituency ballot :

SNP 52.7% (+0.5)
Labour 19.7% (-0.7)
Conservatives 16.8% (+0.4)
Liberal Democrats 5.8% (n/c)

Regional list ballot :

SNP 46.2% (-0.4)
Labour 19.0% (-0.4)
Conservatives 16.8% (+0.6)
Greens 8.0% (+0.6)
Liberal Democrats 6.0% (-0.6)

(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the firms that have reported Scottish Parliament voting intention numbers over the previous three months, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are six - Panelbase, Survation, BMG, YouGov, TNS and Ipsos-Mori. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)

57 comments:

  1. The amount of effort the British State has put into this mis-information campaign is amazing.
    It isn't difficult. If you want independence for Scotland, vote for the party that was formed to fight for it, Twice.

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    1. Get a grip of yourself, "The British state". All that's happened is that a handful of outlets have published the factually undeniable assessment that a sizeable green list vote is probabilistically likely to gain them a good number of, perhaps up to 10, pro-indy MSPs with the very small risk that 1 or 2 SNP might miss out. A risk that is further reduced by the likelihood that the SNP win a majority or very close to it from constituencies alone.

      Therefore, if you want independence for Scotland, vote for SNP on the constituency and whomever your most inclined to from SNP or green on the list because the SNP are huge odds on to get at least as many seats as last time.

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    2. Go back to GCHQ.

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    3. That was a joke.

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    4. DO you seriously believe that? If so why? The actual calculations show the absolute opposite. That the seats the Greens pick up are all already held by independence parties (SNP and Margo). Plus the loss of these list votes causes the SNP to lose MORE seats to unionist parties, mainly Labour I think.

      You end up with FEWER pro-independence seats. If you're so keen on Greens getting seats that you're OK with this, fine, vote Green. But don't lie to SNP supporters to trick them out of their list votes.

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    5. The vast majority of the SNP list seats that they will lose will be directly replaced with SNP constituency wins. Assuming the SNP constituency vote holds at or above 50% (as all indicators suggest it will) are you honestly going to sit there and say that a ~10% result for the Greens on the list delivers less pro indy MSPs than a Green vote of 5% and SNP getting ~50% on the list as well?

      Because the calculations absolutely show that there is a tipping point around 7-8% where the Greens go from a very low number of seats to a very handy number of seats. I'm not advocating tactical voting or otherwise as James rightly points out we can't take any assumptions for granted. We can however look at evidence and the balance of probabilities and happily shoot down as absurd the notion that 'BothVotesSNP' is the "only" or indeed the "best" path to independence. I will at a push grant you the notion that it is perhaps, the "safest" option, but I for one never characterised the Yes movement as being hyper risk-averse.

      Given this, it is not only perfectly reasonable for Yes voters who are also pre-disposed to the Greens, or even those who think alternative voices in parliament are healthy while the constitutional issue is on the back burner, to vote that way on the list because there is a very decent chance that both an SNP majority and a strong Green grouping can be delivered.

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    6. I hadn't even read Wings incredibly disingenuous piece on this from yesterday upon which you possibly base your assertion until now. Talk about manipulating low understanding of the electoral system. He basically turns the fact that SNP constituency gains mean list losses, into that being the fault of increased Green votes. He also ignores completely the fact that his scenario delivers 74 SNP MSPs and 9 Greens, a net rise of 12 for the pro-indy cause. Astonishing stuff.

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    7. Wings' findings also seem to indicate that, on current polling, voting SNP/SNP will maximise the number of pro-indy MSPs, except in H&E, where you should vote SNP/Green. Although he doesn't explicitly point out the latter point. Or do I misunderstand? I didn't really have time to digest it properly.

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    8. Entering the Poll of Polls data into cutbot gives a surprising opportunity if you're a Labour supporter.

      http://vote.cutbot.net/forecast/8ba01d7e/regions/glasgow


      If enough of them were to vote Green in Kelvin then the SNP would lose a seat. Greens would still be on 2 and Labour would gain another list seat.

      That's because if, on those numbers, the SNP only gain 8 seats their average for 9 on the list is 9691 compared to Labour's 10,553 for 5

      So there you have a rather madcap scheme to deliberately elect a Green Constituency MSP in a region whilst promoting them on the list in order to actually elect one of your own party.

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    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    10. @Keaton,

      That is exactly the trap Wings wanted you to fall into when he wrote that piece. He focuses solely on List MSPs and not total MSPs. He assumes that the SNP win all but a handful of constituency seats (69 out of 73 - an increase of 16 on 2011). This massive increase in constituency seats is by far and away the primary reason that his numbers show SNP losing 11 list votes (still a net Gain of 5 MSPs!!!) and is nothing to do with the Greens increases (which picks them up 7 new MSPs in addition to SNPs 5). So his analysis is actually the perfect example of how Voting Green on the list could work exactly as claimed by proponents of a tactical vote, yet he frames it as an argument against doing exactly that by ignoring the overall result in favour of the list result.

      A bit of honesty would go a long way in this debate...

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    11. @Keaton

      It's a measure of how much Stu's piece has confused everyone that you're picking up H&I as suitable for tactical voting when it probably is one of the least so.

      Tactical voting is an idea with a certain amount of risk attached - that's true. But that doesn't doesn't mean it is automatically a bad one. There's risk attached to all political decisions by voters. The important thing is to quantify that risk as much as you can and make your decision on the data you have. AMS is no different from FPTP in that respect, though the calculations are different.

      As with FPTP, the voter has to make their calculation at the appropriate level. So just as you look at the constituency with FPTP, you have to use the region not the country as a whole with AMS. Most polling projects the SNP to be winning very few regional seats because of the constituency clean sweep, but they mainly predict them in two regions.

      In the Highlands and Islands, the SNP may pick up regional seats if the Lib Dems can hold on to one or both of Orkney and Shetland. I suspect that the SNP will get both, but it will be tight. So a 'true' SNP voter wishing to maximise the power of their vote would be taking a gamble.

      It's also confused by the two lead list SNP MSPs now heading the Green and RISE lists respectively - presumably taking a personal vote with them. It's a region that UKIP might do well enough to win a seat and with an Independent who may do better than most (he came second in Orkney in 2011). It's very difficult to call and the seven list MSPs could easily come from seven different Parties (which would mean we could arrange them into a rainbow flag).

      In South the Tories may win up to four seats, leading to two or three SNP regional seats. While I doubt the Tories will get all four, it is likely they wil get some - all their current seats are in the region. This means that SNP voters would be unwise to go elsewhere, unless their main preference is to elect a Green, UKIP, Labour or Lib Dem (ie they voted SNP tactically on the constituency).

      But in the other regions electing SNP regional seats will be more difficult as they are on track to win all the constituencies (I can't see the Tories taking Eastwood, but even if they do the SNP may not get a regional seat). It's possible that the SNP could lose constituencies in Lothian (Pentland, Edin S), in which case they might need the votes to pick up one in recompense.

      But there's no getting away from the fact that most SNP Regional votes will be 'wasted' unless they get a higher percentage than all the polls are currently showing. And polling has been fairly accurate in Scotland recently. James and Stu may scrabble around for counter-examples but they wouldn't be commenting on them if they weren't useful.

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    12. @ Iain McCord

      Entering the Poll of Polls data into cutbot gives a surprising opportunity if you're a Labour supporter.

      http://vote.cutbot.net/forecast/8ba01d7e/regions/glasgow

      If enough of them were to vote Green in Kelvin then the SNP would lose a seat. Greens would still be on 2 and Labour would gain another list seat.


      I suspect you're being mischievous, but I suspect a Green gain is unlikely. Cutbot seen to have some technical problems in that they are allocating all the Other's vote nationally to whichever other constituency candidates standing. Greens are currently polling 2-3% on the constituencies (never mind the rest).

      Of course the vast majority of the people who say they are voting Green will turn up and find they can't vote for them in the constituency, but Cutbot seems to squeeze all those votes into two of the three they are standing in (less so Coatbridge) giving the Greens a big 'swing' on top of an initial 2011 'vote' that didn't actually exist but which they 'estimate' in the high teens.

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  2. Sorry this is just wrong (actually not entirely but part of it).

    Multi-member STV is no better than AMS at pursuing multiple objectives with voting choice. Both depend entirely on the Projected outcome of the voting based on opinion polls and only with an understanding of this can ANY objective (be it a single one or dual objective) be considered.

    That's why you're STILL wrong on this SNP/SNP canard and continue (like so many) to ignore the clear Unionist propaganda which is NOT to split the SNP vote but to split the Green vote.

    This is why every Unionist story trying to create confusion says "another independence party" instead of "Greens" because only a consolidated Green alternative vote has the desired outcome of reducing Unionists at Holyrood.

    Even if you are still determined to promote SNP/SNP and ignore the maths completely, you should still provide a warning that if people do not agree with you ONLY an SNP/Green split should ever be considered as an alternative as RISE and Solidarity cannot win a seat anywhere in Scotland and voting for them instead of Green (who are certainly as economically left wing) is a completely wasted vote.

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    1. Dair : Your second paragraph is completely wrong. Under STV, you can give a lower preference to your second-choice party without harming your first choice party in any way. You need absolutely no "projections" whatever to pursue multiple objectives under STV.

      As you know (or ought to know after all this time) I am not pushing "both votes SNP" - to the best of my recollection I have never even used that hashtag. I am simply saying that tactical voting on the list doesn't work, and that people should vote for their first-choice party. For most people reading this blog, that means the SNP, but not for everyone.

      Your final paragraph is particularly odd given the contents of my previous post, which basically said exactly what you're demanding I should say.

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    2. No, James, you cannot. Because under multi-member STV you actually need MORE information than under AMS. Under multi-member STV you need CANDIDATE information from polling so you know where to place your second and third preference to get residual voting fractions. Obviously you'll know this but for the audience, remember whenever one of your choices gets elected, your vote is then a mere fraction of what it was.

      And I apologise for my final paragraph, I've got tied up posting here and on Wings on the same topic and confused myself.

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    3. >> the clear Unionist propaganda which is NOT to split the SNP vote but to split the Green vote.

      God love you Dair, but that is as counterfactual as it gets!

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    4. Craig, how is it counterfactual. On rough numbers, if the Greens get 24k in Glasgow, they have a very good chance of two list seats, if they get 20k while RISE and SOlidarity get 4k, there is a very good chance the Greens only get 1 seat and the hard left get 0. All a vote for RISE and SOlidarity does (if it is a vote split vote) is cost the anti-Unionist parties a seat.

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    5. Based on that poll of polls percentage and the Greens' results in 2011, they should be getting around 16,000 votes this year. Not 20k.

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    6. And the SNP will be getting around 90k in Glasgow but in all likelihood this will be about 95k to 100k**. Which is still not enough for a single list seat. However, given the Greens poll higher in Glasgow than elsewhere, they are also likely on 22k (that's based on your 8% share).

      The Greens about 3k from a second seat, the SNP about 12k from a first list seat. Do the math!

      **Based on turnout increase and higher than proportional vote share.

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    7. "I am simply saying that tactical voting on the list doesn't work, and that people should vote for their first-choice party."

      What if their first choice party, RISE for example, hasn't a hope in hell of winning any list seats?
      Surely for people in that position, and there are a fair few of them, the best hope for making their vote count would be to vote tactically for another party such as the Greens or SNP?

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    8. Labour has lost thousands of voters in Glasgow. Most of them moved over to the SNP. 95 to 100k is probably a conservative estimate.

      Turnout might be higher, but it won't be referendum high. I'll be surprised if it's higher than the Westminister election.

      I read somewhere that up to 24 constituencies are going to be marginal. The SNP will probably lose(or fail to gain) one or two here and there and that'll alter the d'Hondt calculations sufficiently to result in maybe one extra list seat in addition to the one replacing that lost constituency.

      It's a hell of a decision for the SNP's campaign manager: Pour resources into the most marginal constituencies(conceding the list seats if you succeed) or deliberately undercampaign in their weakest seat(to gain two list seats). I'd probably aim for a constituency sweep - as long as the list vote holds up, a seat not won brings those list seats closer anyway.

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    9. It's next to impossible for Greens to 'split' their vote in most places, since they only have constituency candidates in a few seats. So, no, I don't think there's any campaign to get Green voters to 'split their vote' as this could only be successful in the likes of Glasgow and Edinburgh and it is not such a big prize (in terms of sheer numbers) as getting SNP supporters to split theirs.

      As it happens, while I think a statistically important number *might* fall prey to all this nonsense, I think the vast majority of people are, quite correctly, ignoring the while thing and doing what they want. Or are unaware of it. They are mostly happy to have their chance to express their view and don't give a fig about whether they are being 'efficient' into the bargain.

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    10. It's highly unlikely that gaining a single constituency seat will lose two from the regional list. The regional list is more the domain of a national campaign anyway. What getting support out for the SNP in a given region might do is increase the vote for the SNP on the regional list so further enhance the chances of a list seat.

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  3. Glasgow Working Class 2April 24, 2016 at 10:39 PM

    Patrick Harvie seems a nice wee fellow. I would give him a vote if he was not a separatist. To his credit he is one off a few socialists that may get a seat in the forthcoming Tartans Tory run Scottish Parliament. However the establishment in Scotland have nothing to worry about. Nothing radical will happen. The rich will rake it in and the food bank queues will lengthen.

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    1. Haha, it must be so hard for Loyalists to be forced to stop attacking the SNP and try and "befriend" the Greens to split their vote.

      /chortle

      So close till the UK ceases to exist then all you Yoons can go crying in your bitter. Tick Tock.

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2April 24, 2016 at 11:52 PM

      SNP geeze a break. Fuckin ratbag Tories they are. And I am being moderate.
      The sensible Scots will vote if required to stay in the Union. But I could not stand the agony of watching you Nat sis greetin yer eyes oot again so I would spare you and vote for independence. After all I am a pensioner with one foot in the grave, Aye. Kind of like kindness tae dumb animals.

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    3. You have summed up Loyalism.

      Bye, bye.

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    4. Glasgow Working Class 2. There is help available either through the GP or A&E. They can then refer you to the relevant services.

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    5. Don't feed the troll.

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    6. Ah, I see you are a pensioner.

      Not long till you're worm food then. Another No voter ready for the dirt.

      Feels brilliant knowing I am much younger than a coffin dodger like yourself. The future belongs to me, not you, ya dessicated old fossil.

      Fear the reaper, he has you in his sights.

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    7. I see the SNP charm offensive has begun - with the emphasis on 'offensive'.

      Aldo

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  4. Glasgow Working Class 2April 25, 2016 at 12:25 AM

    I just look at wee Knickerless strutting around with her Snatchi and Snatchi handbag, matching dress and shag mi shoes and I see Maggie. It is like a fuckin Tory time warp and we are living it again.

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    1. And again you fail to fill your own boots with anything but the diarrhea from your own arse.

      Try to wipe next time.

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2April 25, 2016 at 1:01 AM

      Thought you said Bye, bye earlier! Obviously the truth attracts you, Nat si.

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    3. Don't feed the troll.

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    4. Glasgow Working Class 2April 25, 2016 at 1:46 PM

      Says the resident Nat si Sturmmann.

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    5. Don't feed the troll.

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    6. "Time warp"

      Yeah, bet you had one of them. Unfortunately, as a pensioner, you are entering the final stages of being a voter.

      Not long now, old chap, until the long creeping hands of death extend their icy fingers.

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  5. Labour leader in waiting Anas Sarwar will be the coup de grace.

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    1. Yeah. It'll make Murphy's reign of chaos seem like a golden age.

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  6. Can't trust the Greens on independence.

    SNP x 2

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    1. Valid position. hopefully it means you've moved beyond the lie that SNP and Greens together can't amass significantly more MSPs than the SNP can alone to a position where you simply don't want that to happen.

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    2. They could, in theory. The problem is that you'd need a mind-control ray. Without the ability to brainwash hundreds of thousands of SNP supporters into doing your bidding, the few thousand you might persuade are likely to be just enough to damage the SNP without the Greens gaining significantly.

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    3. They will in reality, if the polls hold true, as Wings so eruditely pointed out to anyone has the intelligence to look at the numbers and not his spin.

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    4. Glasgow Working Class 2April 25, 2016 at 9:13 PM

      Anything that could damage the Nat sis would be welcome. The working class and poorer in society are not part of their narrative. They are now the inheritors of the Blue Tories. Scum by any other name. And yet Sheridan will vote for them. Makes ye vomit.

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    5. Don't feed the troll.

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    6. Glasgow Working Class 2April 25, 2016 at 10:38 PM

      I promote you to feldwebel, nat si bhoy.

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    7. I will agree with that statement. Harvie should have slapped down Lucas over the Scotland Bill and didn't. He should have told Bennett to butt out of Holyrood Election as well but again he didn't.

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    8. Don't feed the troll.

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  7. I am an SNP supporter and member,never voted against the SNP since I first got the vote,I'm 64 in 8 weeks time,so been doing it a while now.I will vote for the SNP candidate on the constituency vote,of course,I will then vote for the SNP on my list vote (its not an extra vote) my way of thinking here is,if I vote for an SNP candidate why would I vote against the party on another vote? seems nuts to me,hmm walnuts,cashews hmm,sorry peckish just now.Those who claim to support independence but want to poach voters from the SNP I think don't want independence just wonder sometimes if some Tories have put up the cash to start the new party,just wondering!We have form in Scotland about the "Left" they always seem to be splitting their own vote and from here on the outside it looks like the big ego takes hold of them all,I may be wrong of course!One goes off and starts another party and both side spit venom at each other,why always splitting is it contrived by others that it suits?

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    1. It would appear that one of their own may be a calalyst in the West of Scotland Leftist's travails and to the benefit of ???????

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    2. Charles, a perfectly reasonable stance, and one which I'm sure many people will be replicating. It isn't however a position that will maximise pro-independence MSPs but it will deliver a majority for the SNP again.

      What people would do well to remember however is that a large portion of the SNPs vote are relatively new to the fold and should not be taken for granted, nor assumed to be "banked". indeed it is perfectly sensible that a good percentage of Yes voters do not view the SNPs policies as the most attractive for governing Scotland for the next 5 years, or perhaps they do think the SNP are the best government but would like a plurality of voices in govt to put pressure on them to change course on certain issues.

      It seems to me that many online activists, (I don't include James' although he is very aware his stuff will be used for this) use spurious "SNP1&2 only way for indy" arguments to pressure such 'floating' voters back into the SNP fold. I have a small amount of anecdotal evidence that suggests the heavy handed nature of this has driven voters in the opposite direction in some cases, but judging by the comments to Wings piece yesterday, it's working just fine on plenty folk too.

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    3. Just to correct one of your views, Mac! When you say " SNP2 won't maximise pro-indy MSPs" is technically wrong as the greens(using as an example) may support independence for now but they are not a pro-indy party as they were not founded on that principle( the SNP were). So hypothetically if the SNP were to get 70 MSPs this time around thats a guaranteed "unconditional" 1plus pro indy MSP and an inproved indy majority. I can't say or anyone else either for that matter that more greens in parliament will be for furthering the independence cause! One more thing. As for RISE & Solidarity. They are as far from credibility as Scottish Labour.

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    4. Voting SNP/SNP is more likely to maximise the total number of pro-independence MSPs than any other option. Reason being, when the SNP's list vote falls off so they lose a seat, it may go to a Green but it may go to a unionist party.

      The other reason being that even if a "lost" SNP list seat goes to a Green, it does so on a 1-for-1 exchange. It doesn't miraculously turn into two Green seats no matter how much the Greens would like you to think so.

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    5. @CMac11 It is apparent that you are trying so very hard to sound ultra thoughtful,measured,pragmatic and reasonable, but your left project/Green support is loud and clear.......

      SNPBad by any other name.

      You ignore that the importance of the latter two of your contentions:

      "We can however look at evidence and the balance of probabilities and happily shoot down as absurd the notion that 'BothVotesSNP' is the "only" or indeed the "best" path to independence"

      It is very easy to reasonably argue that BothVotesSNP is the best path to independence.

      So the stringency of your analysis and viewpoint, founder and fail due to your obvious but illogical (in this case) desire for Green/Left empowerment.

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  8. So when can we expect the next slasher/snuff horror opinion poll for SLAB?

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