So is there anything to be said for Cat Boyd of RISE "proudly" voting Labour at the general election? Well, there's certainly something positive to be taken from the fact that she's admitted doing it. There's been a tendency among the unionist commentariat to treat the 27% of people who voted Labour as if they were part of some pan-unionist bloc vote comprising more than 60% of the population. The reality, as we already know from the opinion polls, is that Labour's support was a coalition incorporating people who voted Labour because of its stance on independence, and also people who voted Labour in spite of that stance. It'll be very useful to have a high-profile example like Cat Boyd to illustrate that point. This episode may also be helpful to the SNP on the list vote at the next Holyrood election, because RISE (or whatever succeeds RISE) will find it even harder to pitch for 'pro-independence tactical votes' now that their commitment to independence has been shown to be rather superficial.
However, there's an idea doing the rounds that we must show veneration and respect towards Ms Boyd for voting Labour as part of an alternative strategy for achieving independence. That is, it has to be said, a bit silly. Voting Labour in the hope of furthering the cause of independence is no more and no less irrational than voting UKIP in the hope of keeping Britain inside the European Union. It's been suggested to me that I'm missing some incredibly sophisticated point here, ie. that pro-indy people voting Labour are starting a conversation with the party that will eventually lead to a change in its constitutional stance. But voting is essentially a passive act - you're not entering into a dialogue with the party you vote for, you're simply endorsing them. It doesn't matter if Labour are privately conscious of the fact that much of their support is pro-indy - the lesson they'll draw is that those people have already proved stupid enough to vote for them, and so they can just persevere with the same policy and expect the same results in future. If you reward undesirable behaviour, don't complain if you get more of the same. For the proof of that, simply consider the fact that a substantial minority of Labour's voters in the decades leading up to the 2014 referendum were solidly pro-indy. That had no impact at all.
Entryism can sometimes be a viable tactic for changing a party's stance, but that involves actually becoming members and activists (and then trying very hard not to get expelled). Merely voting for a party you disagree with and have no influence within is entirely counter-productive - and that really ought to be a statement of the bleedin' obvious.
Are there any circumstances at all in which voting for an anti-independence party can help independence? I can perhaps think of just one. In the closely-fought 1992 general election, Labour were firmly committed to the establishment of a devolved Scottish Parliament. It was not unreasonable to take the view that devolution was a necessary first step if independence was ever going to happen (as Margaret Ewing put it, there was never going to be a "Big Bang"), so the priority had to be to ensure that devolution happened. There were a very small number of Labour-Tory marginal seats in Scotland, such as Stirling, that were going to help decide whether there would be a pro-devolution Labour government or an anti-devolution Tory government. There was therefore a case to be made that tactically voting Labour in a seat like Stirling was a constructive act for a pro-independence voter.
Nothing that happened in this year's election was remotely analogous to that. Labour were not making any sort of constitutional offer at all, and there were no Labour-Tory marginals in any case. If Cat Boyd voted Labour in an SNP-Labour battleground seat, she was helping an anti-independence party against a pro-independence party. If she voted Labour in an SNP-Tory battleground seat, it was even worse than that, because she was harming both independence and Corbyn's chances of becoming PM. It was, in short, a very foolish thing to do, no matter which way you look at it.