In the wake of today's press release from RISE, which optimistically seeks to persuade us that SNP votes on the list will be wasted but that votes for a party that is currently on 0% of the list vote will not be, the Twitter user 'B!G R4Y' said this -
"Yep. Read a number of different opinions. Obs want pro YES 2 get as many seats as poss. How 2 do that."
Is the desire for pro-Yes to get as many seats as possible as "obvious" as it seems? Supposing the effect of some SNP supporters "tactically" switching to the Greens or RISE on the list is as follows -
The probability of a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament is reduced from 80% to 75%
The probability of pro-independence parties taking at least 85 out of 129 seats is increased from 5% to 10%
The percentage probabilities are illustrative only, but there are very sound reasons for thinking that "tactical voting" by Yes supporters will somewhat reduce the chances of a pro-Yes majority. The whole strategy takes a punt on the smaller parties doing well enough to take multiple seats in each region (which is actually very unlikely), and simultaneously bets the house on the idea that the SNP won't need any list seats at all to maintain their majority (which they may well do - they needed at least twelve list seats to make up the constituency shortfall in the 2011 landslide).
So what is the logical thing to do? People who are fixated on the Mission Impossible of completely eradicating unionism in Scotland over the next six months would probably say that only the top-end figure matters, and that if "tactical voting" increases the chances of there being 85 or more pro-independence MSPs, we have to go for it. In reality, of course, what really matters is maintaining a pro-independence majority, and there's no rational reason at all to put that at risk in pursuit of an improbable dream. There is nothing we could do with 85 pro-independence MSPs that we couldn't do with 68. But there's a hell of a lot that we wouldn't be able to do if we slip to just 63, and lose our majority. We're in danger of becoming infatuated with something that would simply be a lovely bonus, and losing sight of the real prize.
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