Sunday, January 17, 2016

The increasingly disturbing attempts to pathologise non-tactical voting on the regional list

On St Andrew's Day 2010, I (along with a number of other bloggers) received a mysterious email "announcing an independence referendum", and directing me to Bella Caledonia.  It turned out that Bella had decided to ask people to abstain in the AV referendum in May 2011 by scrawling the word "INDEPENDENCE" across their ballot papers.  I wasn't even remotely tempted to go down that road, partly because I knew it would have zero impact and couldn't possibly further the cause of independence, and partly because I've been a supporter of electoral reform for even longer than I've been a supporter of independence.  There was no way I was about to stand on the sidelines while a decision was being made on whether to finally consign first-past-the-post to the scrapheap.  But Bella seemed very excited about their plan (I seem to recall they modestly described it as a "masterstroke"!), and I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade, so I initially kept quiet about my disagreement.

A day or two later, though, I noticed that Mike Small had been rather rude on Twitter about bloggers who hadn't instantly and enthusiastically endorsed his spoilt ballot campaign.  I knew his comment was mainly directed at the likes of Jeff Breslin and James Mackenzie, who were the leading pro-independence bloggers at the time.  But I was still a tad miffed, because the criticism effectively extended to me and a few others.  So when Mike started banging the drum at Bella again in April 2011 with just a few days to go until the referendum, I decided to leave a number of forthright comments.  In particular, I noted the glorious irony that Mike was charging people who didn't want to abstain in an important referendum with the crime of "sitting on the fence".  I was stunned to quickly receive the following condescending email from "Bella Baxter" -

"Hi James
I don't know why your getting so exercised.
You don't like the campaign. Fine. Don't take part.
Why does it feel so important?"

In other words, and as Jacques Chirac might put it, I had missed a great opportunity to shut up.  To be fair, Mike became much more conciliatory after I replied and stood my ground, but nevertheless I felt - and still feel - that it was an extraordinary episode.  As pro-independence bloggers, we were clearly expected to just fall into line with the scheme, or at the very least to have the good manners not to disagree with it in public.  Don't be in any doubt - comments were warmly welcomed, but only if they came from cheerleaders, not dissenters.

If this all sounds startlingly familiar, it's probably because Mike is currently taking exactly the same passive-aggressive approach with anyone who dares to disagree with his latest "tactical voting" wheeze.  Perhaps you've pointed out why the claim that all SNP list votes are wasted is a statistical nonsense?  Oh, that makes you really boring.  And narrow.  You've got no imagination, son.  The grown-ups are disappointed in you.

Again, it seems our function as independence supporters is simply to buy into Mike's narrative (disseminated by means of RISE press releases on Bella) about the necessity of tactical voting (sic) on the list. Or failing that, to keep quiet about it.  The idea that anyone might actually challenge it is absolutely bloody outrageous.  You can tell how furious Mike is, because he simply refuses to engage when it's pointed out to him that genuine tactical voting on the list isn't feasible, and can backfire horribly.  He doesn't have any sort of response or rebuttal at all - he just regards it as an illegitimate point of discussion.  The people who raise the objections are pathologised as purveyors of the old politics, who probably want to go back to having all-male panels or something like that.  In other news, two plus two makes twenty-two.

The biggest irony on this occasion is that Mike has titled his latest diatribe "Shsh for Indy", as if it's the tactical voting brigade who are being told to shut up.  Actually, Mike, the expression of dissent isn't censorship.  The mentioning of inconvenient facts may be infuriating if you're unable to rebut them, but that isn't censorship either.  The freedom to express dissent is a fundamental part of free speech. Nothing narrows the range of debate so dramatically as an attempt to pathologise dissent.  If you really believe in the broadest possible debate with the widest number of voices, stop telling people their analysis is out of bounds.

Having said all that, Mike is still an amateur at this stuff in comparison to excitable Common Space columnist David Carr, who apparently thinks that failing to vote for RISE or the Greens on the list amounts to "terrifying zealotry".  Hmmm.  I gather that voting for any party other than Zanu-PF is also considered unwelcome in some quarters.  Who knows, though, democratic principles may one day catch on in both Zimbabwe and RISE HQ.  And Bella Caledonia might even eventually realise that giving extensive coverage to a small party like RISE is a perfectly healthy thing, but is not actually the same thing as simply publishing their press releases.

*  *  *


I didn't get round to updating the Holyrood Poll of Polls after the Survation poll the other night, so here it is now...

Constituency ballot :

SNP 52.8% (-0.2)
Labour 20.8% (+0.1)
Conservatives 16.3% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 5.8% (+0.5)

Regional list ballot :

SNP 46.8% (-1.5)
Labour 19.8% (+0.1)
Conservatives 15.8% (+0.1)
Greens 7.8% (+0.5)
Liberal Democrats 6.3% (+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 four - YouGov, Survation, TNS and Ipsos-Mori. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)


  1. I have noticed that those advocating tactical voting on the list are becoming ever more shrill, presumably because the election date is coming into view and their 'big idea' isn't working (last time I looked RISE had made little impression on the polls).

    What angers me, though, is that advocates for the Fringe parties are starting to use the language of Unionism/British nationalism in their criticisms of the SNP.

    1. Is the big idea of backing a minor party like the SNP in the regional vote the better idea? There was a question in the referendum that no Unionist could answer, which was "Name three advantages to being in the Union"...

      Can you possibly explain why sending around 40 Unionists to Holyrood on the back of the SNP 1 and 2 vote, is good for the policy of Independence ?

      Or maybe why 55% of the pro indy vote being reduced by around 90% in the regional vote, allowing those unionists to dominate the regional vote, is good for independence ?

      As with the Unionists in the referendum, I can't seem to find an SNP 1 and 2 advocate that can answer these very basic and straight forward questions ?

    2. Can you explain why you started the Crimean War? Or why you're hellbent on destroying the International Space Station?

      I hope you'll forgive me asking you questions that make a similar amount of sense as your own.

  2. Perhaps you could clear up a couple of points for me .. I hope these are not awkward questions and you will do your best...

    Can you confirm that the best average regional polling the SNP are likely to get, taking in the constituency divisor, is around 6% ? Making the SNP a minor party in the regional vote ?

    Is this figure the result of around a 55% population share of the vote ? i.e. Will the 55% vote translate to no more than an average 6% in the regional vote once the seats start to get allocated? At which point around 90% of the SNP vote will be effectively discarded - getting the last seat in a region, if indeed that 6% is high enough for that, would make the smaller divisor from then on in irrelevant as there are no more seats to be had ?

    Can you also confirm that voting for the party who can best represent the policy of independence in both the constituency vote AND the regional vote is in fact NOT tactical voting, but merely a vote cast for the policy you feel is most important and the party who can best deliver that policy to Holyrood.?

    Can you confirm that because of the divisor, the polling for the last three months confirm that the SNP will get hammered in the constituency vote and send the Unionists back to Holyrood in the positions of Official Opposition, third and fourth largest parties , with the media platform to continue to spread the delights of the Union across Scotland - where I might add, the indy polls themselves are still in favour of NO.. despite the SNP being at their height of success.

    Finally,,, just for fun .. Can you maybe write an article from the perspective of THE POLICY OF INDEPENDENCE and what party can best serve that in each vote .. because as you know, it is the policy that is important , not the party that carries it....

    The people of the UK have austerity because they were convinced the Tories are good for the economy .. and it seems we will send a hugely disproportionate number of Unionists to Holyrood because people think the SNP are the best choice for the policy of independence in the regional list ...

    I look forward to hearing your response to the initial very basic questions ...

    1. "Can you confirm that the best average regional polling the SNP are likely to get, taking in the constituency divisor, is around 6% ? Making the SNP a minor party in the regional vote ?"

      Define "likely". Also, why are you talking as if 6% is a low figure? In which region is RISE likely (if you'll forgive my use of your word) to come even remotely close to exceeding 6%?

      "Can you also confirm that voting for the party who can best represent the policy of independence in both the constituency vote AND the regional vote is in fact NOT tactical voting, but merely a vote cast for the policy you feel is most important and the party who can best deliver that policy to Holyrood.?"

      If you're planning to cast your vote for your favourite party and not cast a tactical vote, what do you keeping talking about the d'Hondt formula for? On what planet is casting a vote based on voodoo assumptions about the effect of d'Hondt not an attempt at tactical voting?

      "the polling for the last three months confirm that the SNP will get hammered in the constituency vote"

      That seems somewhat unlikely.

      "and send the Unionists back to Holyrood in the positions of Official Opposition"

      Oh for heaven's sake. Try and get this into your skull - the Official Opposition will be a unionist party, and almost certainly Labour. The reason is that unionism has considerable support. If you want a pro-independence opposition, reduce support for unionism. There is no short-cut.

      "where I might add, the indy polls themselves are still in favour of NO"

      Not true. Current average : 50/50.

      "Can you maybe write an article from the perspective of THE POLICY OF INDEPENDENCE and what party can best serve that in each vote"

      You're commenting on one. If you enjoyed it, lots of others can be found in the archives.

      "I look forward to hearing your response to the initial very basic questions ..."

      You're welcome.

    2. Err .. I didn't mention RISE . not sure why you are getting so paranoid about RISE ? I was wondering if you could simply confirm that the SNP are the smaller pro Indy party in the list behind the Greens ?

      If I were advocating a vote for the smaller pro Indy party like the SNP, instead of a larger party that actually has a chance of taking seats from the unionists, would I be described as a partisan Troll ?

      I guess I would be .

      So wondering why SNP 1 and 2 advocates like yourself are claiming the SNP 1 and 2 vote is for independence when it so obviously isn't ?

    3. You really need to stop referring to the SNP as a "minor party". I know you think you've come across a great wheeze there, but it just sounds ridiculous. Anyone reading that thinks "what on earth is this guy on about? They're the biggest party in Scotland."

    4. Simply referring to them as a Minor party here because they are a MINOR party... Anyone reading that who actually understands the D'Honte system will know that they cannot get more than 6% of the vote.

      What actually sounds ridiculous are the people who think a 6% vote share doesn't make them a minor party.

      Just to prove the point, and taking the 2011 North East election result, the SNP got more votes than all other parties combined. After D'Honte, they only had a 5.7% vote share in the regional vote - THAT MADE THEM A MINOR PARTY! 6 Unionists were returned with one SNP , who manged to get elected by just 300 votes out of the 141,000 that the SNP got...

      If you think you are being clever by saying that the SNP are not a minor party in the regional vote to con people in to thinking differently, then I very much hope you will take responsibility for the mass of Unionist MSP's being returned from the list due to the vast majority of Pro Indy supporters being told to vote for a MINOR party in the list vote.

  3. People voting on principle for one party is welcome, and people voting for different parties (because each represents a different aspect of the change they want) is welcome.

    People voting tactically by using both votes for one party, and people voting tactically by using the two votes for different parties, is welcome.

    For me, what is missing from all the back and forth on this subject is this:

    (A) There are two ways to vote for what you really want.

    You can:
    (1) use both votes for the same party because you are seeking one overriding change, and there is only one party that really represents that change for you; or you can

    (2) use your two votes for different parties if each represents a different aspect of the change you want;

    (B) There are two ways to vote tactically.

    You can:
    (1) use both votes for the same party because you are persuaded this will best achieve the change that is most important to you; or you can

    (2) use each vote for a different party because you are persuaded that this will best achieve the change that is most important to you.

    So people have different ways of voting on points of principle (they can do so by using both votes for the same party, or using each vote for different parties). Meanwhile, voting for the same party with both votes, and voting for different parties with each vote, can both be forms of tactical voting.

    It may be both a really good tactic and a really good principle to end the sniping we are all capable of falling into (and I know it's always the other person/ side who seems to have started it, but in reality it's something we all feed by getting frenzied about), and good to focus on keeping up the excellent work and analysis instead.

    [p.s. I shortened this drastically because of the word limit, I'll see if Mike might post the longer version up on Bella]

    1. "People voting tactically by using both votes for one party, and people voting tactically by using the two votes for different parties, is welcome."

      Oh, absolutely. Tactical voting is perfectly feasible in single-member constituency elections. It is not feasible on the list. Tactical voting that is not feasible is not tactical voting at all, it is a speculative punt. Something that might backfire horribly should certainly not be regarded as "welcome".

      "(B) There are two ways to vote tactically."

      Could you explain which of your two versions of tactical voting covers the nonsense about d'Hondt? Because that's what's at the root of all this, isn't it? It seems to me that you're trying to tell me that what's "missing" from the debate is the pretence that it's not about what everyone knows it's actually about. How can you address a critique of the false claims made about d'Hondt without explaining why that critique is wrong? This is just another variant of the distraction technique that Mike has attempted over and over and over again.

      "It may be both a really good tactic and a really good principle to end the sniping we are all capable of falling into (and I know it's always the other person/ side who seems to have started it, but in reality it's something we all feed by getting frenzied about)"

      Why don't you start by taking your own advice, Justin? You must know your comment is highly provocative, because you're posing as a conciliator while implicitly demanding that everyone must fully accept the position of the "tactical voting" brigade.

    2. Thanks for your reply James. I've been working flat out all day so only just had a chance to read and respond. Shame I could only post a part of what I wrote, because actually I have taken my own advice and my conclusion is the opposite of how you assume.

      What all this debate has convinced me of is that I want to remain part of an inclusive 'Yes to independence and social justice' movement, and -whereas I thought that meant us all being clever and supporting each others parties - actually to do that clearly now requires just being oneself and so part of that means voting for what we believe in and not voting tactically at all.

      You haven't understood what I was saying - either because I didn't have the word space or because you are so focused on the tactical issue you're missing what, to me anyway, is the bigger issue.

      What I went on to say in the longer piece was:

      "When I wrote that article just before last May's General Election I was open to all 4 possibilities but the ensuing discussion (when it was cordial) and attacks (when it was not) led to me realising that for me the debate that matters is about principle and the kind of society I want to live in - not about tactics of either variety.

      "And, although saying this may alienate those advocating what I'd call pro-SNP tactical voting and alienate those advocating pro-Green or pro-RISE tactical voting: is society changed by tactically voting for any of them?

      "Society is changed by passionately engaging in acts of care, including by voting for what you believe in (whether or not the pollsters and pundits, the powers that be and the wannabe powers that be, say it's realistic), and that may mean voting for one party or voting for two."

      I will be voting Green/ Green; and fully support any of you who are voting SNP/ SNP or any combination. I will not be trying to persuade you to vote tactically. I'll just suggest that our humanity is more important to us than anything else, and that pounds in the pocket, flags on the pole, even songs in the air, are not - in the end - as crucial as stopping the juggernaut that is tearing our atmosphere, our topsoil, our oceans apart . . . The Greens don't like this kind of talk, they want to win votes with a positive message, and good luck to them. But that is not why I'm voting Green: I want a world my kids can survive and even thrive in, not one where the weather tears the crops to shreds, the floods pour in, the top soils gone, and the very rich outlast us by a few years in their gated mausoleums. There, I've provoked every party adherent, but for just being me and saying what I believe, not for proposing anyone votes for something else, or even votes for my party because their message is best. It isn't, it's just - in the end - the only one that really points to what I think matters.

  4. I'm confused and sad about all this fighting. I'm also confused about who's tactical voting here - is it SNP1&2 or SNP&other? I thought the definition of tactical was voting for a party that's not your first preference, because they're the likeliest to win. In which case I am tactically voting SNP1. My Green2 vote is something I've been looking forward to since the general election, when I lent my vote to the SNP based on the head at WM, heart at Holyrood plan that was endorsed by about as many Yessers as I met on Twitter. Why is that plan now considered tactical? I really like the SNP, I think a lot of their policies are great, and I'm a huge fan of Nicola Sturgeon, which is why I'm comfortable giving them my constituency vote. But I like Green policies (given that they include independence) better. Believe me James, that feel I I get shut down as quickly by advocates of SNP1&2 as you do by those you call the tactical voting brigade, when I try to question this.

    Isn't the point of the list that nobody really knows what's going to happen? Surely that makes "heart" voting and tactical voting (whether that's considered to be SNP1&other or not) equally valid, as long as the voter is comfortable with their choices?

    I'm genuinely not trying to piss you off, I'm just missing the referendum days where we could all support different parties and get along fine. If somebody wants to vote SNP1&2 you won't catch me trying to change their mind, because if that's what they want to do, that's absolutely what they should do! I'd just like the same acceptance of my own choices in return.

    1. "Why is that plan now considered tactical?"

      It's not. If you're voting for your first choice party, that's not a tactical vote. There's an element of going around in circles on this. The problem begins with RISE and the Greens telling SNP supporters that they're basically insane if they don't "tactically" vote against their own party on the list. Our reply is that the "tactic" wouldn't work and might well backfire. We're then told that we're lecturing Green and RISE supporters, and telling them to vote for the SNP on the list. We're not. We're doing the opposite. We're saying that people should generally vote for their favourite party on the list. That's what the electoral system is responsive to.

    2. Look at the numbers you have published here James. Off course it will work and there will be no disaster. The problem is people are getting hung up on RISE being the list vote. Your own published numbers indicate they have little or no chance in picking up a List seat. It is obvious that voting SNP/Green is the only way for Independence/Independence. Not only will this decrease the Unionist chances but there is no chance of it causing a disaster for the SNP based on your published numbers.

    3. Some of the Greens are far right unionists with a green tinge. Why do you want them elected?

      Also the Scottish Green party is in favour of mass immigration and increasing population. Counter to every true Green policy of reducing population, consumption and pollution. Fuck them.

    4. Some of the Greens are far right unionists with a green tinge. Why do you want them elected?

      A large number are certainly unionists, but which Greens could reasonably be described as "far right"?

  5. Ok cool, so we're on the same page then. There are a good few people over on Twitter though, that will quite vocally question your commitment to independence if you reveal you're not on board with SNP1&2 though. For my part, I'm sorry if Green and RISE voters have been lecturing those who want to use both votes for SNP.

    1. @Elaine

      If you are a Green Party supporter/voter then you may as well vote Green x2 in May (which I gather you are from reading your posts). If you are an SNP supporter then you should obviously vote SNP x2. I think a lot of anger is coming from the fact that RISE in particular are pissing off a lot of people by trying to get SNP supporters and voters to vote for them on the list, when the chances of RISE gaining a MSP or two is tiny. I can now see why the Scottish Greens did not want to go into an alliance with RISE in May.

    2. Muttley79 couldn't agree more with your point about the source of "a lot of anger" - I may be missing some of the finer points, but overall it's the lack of any positive reasons for voting RISE on the list that has peoples backs up.

  6. Instead of trying to game the system badly surely to god the way forward for greens is to go after the 21% labour vote that's still there. That's the sustainable way to independence by getting these folk who wouldn't vote snp on a month of Sundays to switch to another party. If they did that and tried to garner votes on the back of their policies I would have no problem. But trying to persuade snp voters to split their vote to badly game the system just makes me more intent to vote snp 1 & 2. I was considering greens By the way but that oot the windae now.

    1. As a Green voter, I have no interest in splitting the SNP vote - the problem is that a lot of new Greens lent their vote to the SNP in May last year, and now we seem to be counted as SNP voters. Now we want to take our list vote back and we're being called "splitters", which isn't terribly fair (bear in mind that most of us will still be lending our constituency vote to the SNP).

      I absolutely agree that our main market should be ex-Labour voters, perhaps ex-LibDem; there are a few folk I know who voted No, and wanted to support the Greens last May; reckon that would be a pretty good place for the Greens to go looking for list votes.

    2. I absolutely agree Elaine. This is an argument among Yes voters, and as a Green I will always be voting SNP in the constituency vote, tactically. No point in the SNP thinking my list vote belongs to them though, as Green better meets my hopes for the future and is also pro independence.

      I think we will be independent in the foreseeable future and it is legitimate to vote for a party which has accepted independence and planning on that basis. In other words the politics of the new Scotland has started, something the old parties don't want to admit.

      There are a lot of LibDems in the Highlands who are looking for another place for their vote, for whom the Greens would be a natural choice, and for whom the SNP would be a bit of a stretch.

      Yes supporters can get along, no need to be taking big lumps out of each other.

    3. If the Scottish Greens do not have a candidate in all of the seats, then obviously Green voters/supporters can only vote for them on the list. In no way is this being a 'splitter' because you are voting for the party you support on the list. But some of those involved in RISE and the Greens are trying to get SNP supporters and voters to vote for them using false and bogus rationales for so called tactical voting. This is what is causing the problem imo, although it has mainly been coming from RISE in the last few months, because unlike the SNP and the Greens, they are not making much if any impact in the polls.

  7. I wrote a strong comment on Bella disagreeing with the content of "Shsh for Indy" and its attack on fellow Indy bloggers and supporters. And "Shsh for Indy" really has to be read to be believed. It is an appalling attack, as bad as any Project Fear and SNPBAAD article in the rotten MSM.

    Anyway I was very surprised to find my comment was not published even though I tried a few times. When I complained via a later post about censorship on Bella I received an email claiming that my comment HAD been published. But when I checked I found it had/has still not appeared.

    So I posted my comment on Twitter and it can be read here:

  8. Before the theory of tactical voting was so comprehensively debunked on here and on wings, I did consider voting SNP and Green. I would never consider voting for a bunch of left wing fruit cakes like RISE, let's face it that's just a rebranded SSP and we all remember the way they behaved and self-destructed in the second parliament.

    I sympathise with some of the aspirations of the Green Party although I've never really liked Patrick Harvie. But then Patrick is not his own best advocate is he I mean telling Caroline Lucas to vote against SNP amendments for example oops!!

    But then he goes and shows himself for the big fat green hypocrite he is by telling SNP supporters that they ought to use their regional vote for him as per this ridiculous tactical voting theory while at the same time trying to steal the Glasgow Kelvin constituency from the SNP. Come on Patrick its a bit greedy to try to steal the SNP's list votes and its constituency votes as least RISE aren't doing that! And if Mr Harvie had not fielded a candidate in Dumfreisshire we would currently be enjoying no Tory MPs in Scotland at all!

    So lets recap Mr Harvie is an inconsistent supporter of Independence putting it second after his weird green agenda, the SNP are not. Mr Harvie is a sneaky hypocrite who is clearly out for as much as he can get by whatever main chance happens to come along. The SNP are not.

    For these reasons Mr Harvie will never find me putting an x next to his party...SNP 1 and SNP 2.

    1. Sorry, in my opinion, the Lonesome Labour MP was elected by the tactical voting of the conservative voters of his constituency in Edinburgh.

    2. Look, I am an SNP supporter but I am getting REALLY tired of this pro Indy bashing that seems to be the norm for SNP 1 and 2 advocates who cannot justify their vote.

      The Greens offered a pro Indy alliance with the SNP and were turned down .. can't blame them in the slightest for therefore going ahead with their own candidates.

      And lets get real here... your choice NOT to vote for the greens is actually a actually not a vote for the SNP either is it ? Slamming another pro indy party is nothing more than trying to justify a SNP vote that ensures a Unionist domination of the regional vote..

      The only alternative to the Greens in the list vote are the Unionists - EVERY poll has confirmed this.. so whether you elect them directly or through an SNP regional vote - the result is the same - You are electing Unionists to Holyrood .

    3. Er. The Greens aren't a pro-Independence party. Example Mr Martin Ford, No2 on the Greens NE list.

    4. I'm going to vote SNP 1&2 because that's what I want to vote. Oddly enough, I see no need to justify it to anyone. The same as people who support Rise or Green do not have to justify giving their list vote to either of those two parties. And I don't care a fig what all the calculations are and will not listen anyone shrilly telling me what I have to take into account when reaching *my* decision - it's how I want to vote. End of.

    5. To accept that the only alternative to the Greens on the list are unionists would presuppose that my list vote is wasted by giving it to the SNP. When in actual fact that is not the case at all...I live in the North East and in 2011 I gave the SNP both my votes and was rewarded by having both votes count toward an MSP. The SNP took all 10 constituencies and still got a list MSP.

      Patrick Harvie is asking me to switch that vote to the Greens but it's only worth my while doing that if he can guarantee me TWO Greens MSP's and he can't do that can he? And even the for the reasons I have already outlined I would still prefer my one SNP list MSP to his two, because I believe he is a fair weather Independence supporter.

      If the SNP can get all the constituencies and a list seat in the North East they can do it in all the other regions as well as long as people do not swallow Mr Harvies clap trap about tactical voting.

    6. "The Greens offered a pro Indy alliance with the SNP and were turned down"

      No, they tried to see if something could be done ahead of May 2015, but time constraints and an inability to find a compromise on both sides stopped it happening. Let's not pretend the Greens are poor spurned lovers in this.

    7. And lets get real here... your choice NOT to vote for the greens is actually a actually not a vote for the SNP either is it ? Slamming another pro indy party is nothing more than trying to justify a SNP vote that ensures a Unionist domination of the regional vote..

      What motive do you think this blog and others could possibly have for this? Do you think they might be Unionist sleepers?

    8. Derick fae Yell
      Actually Martin ford is no longer on the list

      And the greens are overwhelmingly pro Indy. At the conference in October (the largest we have ever had) a floor vote was taken to reaffirm independence as the policy and it was unanimous. So yeah we are a pro-Independence party.

    9. Thanks for clarifying that Iain. I am an SNP member but I have been trying to get across to people that the Greens are the only Independence supporting party on the Regional Lists that have any chance of securing seats and reducing the Unionist seats. It appears to be simple arithmetic that some do not wish to understand.

      I want RISE to succeed as a party but this election is too soon for them in my opinion. If they can prove me wrong I will vote for them with my second vote.

    10. I don't understand this.If you want RISE to succeed as a party surely you should resign from the SNP and join RISE.I want the SNP to succeed as a party.Thats why I'm a member.

    11. It is good that other opinions and views should be aired and heard. So RISE will give people who agree with them a voice. That is why I am happy they are making progress. They are too left wing for me but not for others. As I said somewhere else on this blog I do not agree with every SNP policy but enough to support them particularly for independence. I like some of the Green policies particularly independence but not enough to join them. However I will give them my List vote in order to increase the independence vote and decrease the unionist vote. But each to his own - that's free choice and democracy.

    12. Dr De-La-Zouch

      I also live in the North East.. I am aware the SNP picked up all 10 constituency seats at the last election and scraped th last regional seat ..

      Nearly 141,000 votes were cast for the SNP - More than all the other parties put together- and they just managed to scrape the last seat by less than 300 votes.. 6 seats going to Unionist parties,,

      Of those 140 thousand votes , less than 13,000 actually counted when the seats started to get handed out ...Over 125,000 votes were discarded at that stage ..

      That was before the referendum - they were SNP votes then and there were absolutely no way the SNP policy of Independence could have been better represented.

      This is now 2016, we have had the referendum and the GE 2015 .. and an independence movement that is still very much alive and kicking .. which is larger than the SNP.

      So the question is, why would you vote for a party that is going to have over 90% of its votes thrown away- i.e. 90% of Pro Indy votes - allowing the unionists to dominate the list once gain with 6 seats out of 7, when there is another party that has the same policy of Independence in its manifesto that does not have any divisor added to it on the regional vote and already has an average vote across Scotland larger than the SNP for the reasons stated .. ?

      If it is for SNP domestic policies, then the SNP regional vote is justified. If it is to get the best representation for the policy of Independence at Holyrood, then there is no justification for SNP regional vote- which would be better represented by the Greens as the larger pro Indy party in the list.

  9. Quelle surprise.

    Jason Allardyce
    Breaking: @SundayTimesScot poll shows majority of Scots will back Scottish independence if UK votes to leave the EU. Game changer?

    1. Also, former Labour FM Henry McLeish to back scottish indy in the event of a Brexit. He won't be the last.

    2. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 17, 2016 at 5:03 PM

      That is because Scotland has become a take handouts country and will sell itself to the highest bidder. The great inovators and the Enlightenment is long gone. Scotland will become on its own a wee speck of ice in the EU. Fookin lamentable.

    3. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 17, 2016 at 10:53 PM

      The Labour career politician nearly bankrupted the country. Look at all the gongs they took. The London Tories are continuing the process. Scotland has an option to get away from neo-liberal ponzi economics and that is though an Independent administration.

  10. They were perfectly reasonable questions, which I guess you just can't answer. Would have been good if you just admitted that instead of the idiocy you seemed to prefer.

    I take it you therefore think a maximum vote share of 6% from a population share of around 55% is a good return when the PRO INDY Green party are already polling higher than that. Which I guess makes them the main pro Indy party in the regional vote does it not ? (That was another simple question in case you didn't notice and one that again I very much doubt you will actually answer!)

    So now I am wondering why you think a vote for the Larger Pro Indy Green party is a waste and a vote for a smaller pro Indy party like the SNP , that cannot top 6%, is the way to go- Taking those votes away from a pro INDY party that CAN actually turn in a more pro Indy Parliament with cross party support for the pro independence policy. . ?

    Again , you cannot answer this- No SNP 1 and 2 advocates who CLAIM their vote is for Independence can answer this.

    So I guess we can try another way.If the SNP WERE actually polling higher than the Greens, and I was trying to convince you to vote for the not only the smaller party, but the party that cannot get higher than 6% of the vote no matter what- I guess you would be justified in calling me some kind of partisan troll ?

    So now I am wondering why you use your blog to troll on behalf of he SNP party- who I actually support - and try and give the impression it is a pro Indy blog when it is clearly a pro SNP Blog.

    SO to sum up, you are advocating we vote for a smaller pro Indy party in the regional vote that cannot strengthen its position between now and MAY and will a Max out at 6% tops.

    Vote SNP in the constituency vote but don't refer to this as tactical voting as it benefits the SNP- Apparently it is only tactical voting if it is not for the SNP ? Actually a vote for the party that best represents the policy you want in Holyrood is not tactical voting at all, it i a democratic choice- pure and simple.

    Ensure 40 odd seats out of 56 go to the Unionists in the name of Independence and throw away 90% of the pro Indy vote when the seats get allocated, TAKING THOSE VOTES AWAY FROM ANOTHER LARGER PRO INDY PARTY ?!

    Hmm.. not looking good for you in terms of a pro Indy blog is it ?

    1. I think James has been pretty consistent as to what his position is, which I think can be summarised thus:

      1. On the list vote, voters should vote for whoever they want to see elected, be that SNP, Green, RISE, whoever.

      2. Trying to vote tactically on the list is a mug's game, doomed to failure by the many unknowables, and risks reducing the number of pro-Indy MSPs as a reduced SNP list vote means they lose MSPs, but neither the Greens nor RISE get enough votes/list MSPs in enough regions to make up the difference.

      in 2003, some bright spark in Labour had the idea of not standing Labour on the list at all. Instead, their sister Co-operative Party would stand, take the "Labour" vote share under a different parry banner and win lots of list MSPs. This would deal the SNP, going into the election with only 7 constituencies and dependent on the List to make up the numbers, a crushing blow. Thankfully for Labour, this idea was knocked on the head. They risked voters not finding Labour on the list ballot, and voting SNP or whoever instead, given that most of us think the Co-op is just a shop. Labour would have lost list MSPs in the Highlands as a result. If they lost any constituencies (which they did do, to the SNP and others) the MSPs wouldn't be replaced by list members. I think they also realised that voters do not like being taken for granted - if it looked like Labour were trying to play games, they might be punished.

      The Labour example highlights two further risks if pro-Indy activists try to be clever. Beyond us political anoraks, voters might not take kindly to anyone trying to "fix" the list to get an outcome we might like but that wouldn't reflect how Scotland voted (taking the list and constituencies together). And worse still, we'd expect voters to vote tactically in huge numbers to effect a real change. That's just not realistic.

      Finally, on a different point, you refer to the Greens as the larger pro-Indy party - which they currently aren't in terms of votes or seats EVEN if we just look at the lists. Clearly not true - what is it you are trying to say? If you can't explain your point clearly on a blogpost, how is that tactical message going to get across to tens of thousands of voters?

    2. As it seems I am talking to an "unknowledgable" I will explain . SNP averaging 42% according to poll of polls... 8 constituencies polling to get 71 of the 73 seats.. Divisor of 10 on the regional vote... Meaning EFFECTIVE vote of just 4.2% - Max 6% if they lose more constituencies ( makes no difference) . I am being nice !

      4.2% or 6% is lower than the Green party polling of 7.8% according to the poll featured and there are no restrictions on high that Green vote can go...

      Basic Maths puts the Greens as the main pro Indy Party in the list vote. At 4.4% , the "Gamble" is using that 42% of the voting population to miss out on getting ANY seats in the regions, never mind scraping just the one seat at the expense of 5 Unionists..

      If however I was promoting a smaller party in the list, like the SNP , who have a very low ceiling to their already very low maximum vote share, ignoring the larger pro Indy party who CAN actually stop the Unionists from dominating the list vote, then I may justifiably be accused of tactical voting for my own party and falsely representing their strength in the regional vote ..

      The independence /Independence vote is SNP/Green, the majority of Pro Indy MSP's is already guaranteed with both SNP and Green MSP's, and the non Tactical vote is a vote for the policy of independence and not a minor party in the regional vote as the SNP are.... It is a very worrying situation that you so called anoraks have not worked this out yet.. and if you have, it is even more worrying that it is not so much as given a mention in any of these articles.... That is SNP tribalism and it will eventually blow up in your faces when those pro Indy voters who are voting SNP in the constituency vote turn on the SNP .....

      If you want independence to live and die by the fortunes of one political party , then I suggest you ask Labour how that strategy pans out ....

  11. Unfortunately the YES Campaign organisation was dismantled which means there has been no Independence Umbrella formed. This would have been the ideal situation for Independence/Independence voters. Not to be.

    In my region the Greens have a chance of picking up another list seat so i will vote SNP/Green. I am not wholly in agreement with either party's policies, but then I doubt that you can be in complete agreement with any party's policies. On the basis of the latest polls RISE have made little impact and some of their supporters have done them no good at all.

    I am an SNP member but I cannot accept their policy on Land Reform as I am of the opinion that a successful independent country needs to have complete control of it's own land. Therefore all of Scotland, including the Crown Estates should be owned by the Scottish people and managed on their behalf by a Scottish Government elected by the Scottish people.

    So for me it is Independence/Independence.

    1. One of the most insightful comments yet .. refreshing to have an honest perspective for once in this debate..

    2. Nodrog,
      It isn't possible to nationalise all the land in Scotland whilst remaining in the EU.That aside,when you say you'd like the government to manage the land,would that involve evicting all the farmers and crofters?

    3. Obviously not that is how it was managed in the past by Dukes and Barons who when they decided sheep were more profitable than people they evicted the people. Govern and manage means precisely that and is done very successfully in Scandinavia and could be done here.
      Not sure about your point on the EU but I will accept that you are correct for the moment and go do my homework.

  12. Just a wee note, in case anyone is unaware - Mr Carr of Commonspace is currently a member of the Labour Party. Maybe the article referred to should have been entitled 'Labour Party member finds SNP to be a bit scary' :-)

  13. Just to add something quickly to the 'tactical voting' thing.

    Let's imagine, due to a miraculous freak actually achieving something from tactical list voting, the vote% for pro-indy parties was much lower than the number of MPs they got. Maybe even less than 50% combined...

    Papers would love that. 'One party state'...'New referendum not democratically justified'. They'd have a field day and Dave could say there's no mandate.

    I'd prefer the seats parties get to represent the vote share they got which is the goal of PR and what makes it democratic.

    Right now, polls suggest SNP+Green could end up with potentially 60% of votes and corresponding MSPs without any silly tactical voting. No need to screw that up.

    1. It would also undermine the Scottish Parliament. And to those 'tactical voting advocates' that also support PR, have you really thought this through?

      Not only would a freak success at gaming the system undermine

      1. The route to Indy - with a pro-Indy majority at Hollywood now not necessary having (near) majority support, and an indyref.
      2. The Scottish Parliament - it can be validly criticised as having a democratic deficit because it doesn't fairly represent unionists, imagine what Westminster Tories could do with this fact?
      3. It would undermine PR itself

      The illogicality of it must make people realise it's a stupid and dangerous plan.

      The parliament will have a substantial number of unionist MPs because a substantial % of Scots will vote for unionist parties and that's how it should be.

    2. The democratic deficit is 65% of people voting for pro Indy parties in the list vote and having 70% of pro Unionist party MSP's returned in a PR vote. So PR is already undermined.

      Where this becomes illogical, is when people vote for a party that can best represent the policy they want represented at Holyrood, which for independence is the SNP/Green vote - to somehow be told that that particular democratic decision of voting for 2 different parties - as the system not only allows but insists on - is somehow undemocratic ? Because there will be Unionists voting for the SNP and pro Indy supporters voting for Unionist parties in this domestic election a is their democratic right. There is no obligation whatsoever to vote for the same party in the both constituency and list- You simply vote for a party that can best represent the polices you wan to see put forward in the next Parliamentary term.

      If a Tory supporter wanted to vote SNP in the constituency vote because they had a couple of kids coming up to university age and wanted to vote Tory in the regional vote for all other Tory policies to have a voice, would he then be accused of tactical voting and undermining PR ?

      If that was the case, the system would only allow one vote which would count in both constituency and regional vote ....

      Voting for the policy of Independence- and the parties that can best represent that policy in both votes, is not tactical voting.. it is not "gaming the system" .. it is a perfectly legitimate and democratic choice.

      Voting for a minor party in the regional vote , like the SNP, who cannot best represent that policy WOULD be the tactical vote... and one that ensures Unionist domination in the list ...

    3. The democratic deficit is 65% of people voting for pro Indy parties in the list vote and having 70% of pro Unionist party MSP's returned in a PR vote. So PR is already undermined.

      Eh? That's the whole point of the list vote. If a party is under-represented in the constituency vote, the list is designed to try and (to some extent) make up that deficit.

      If the list vote simply reflected the same percentages as the constituency vote, it would be completely pointless.

      I don't have a dog in this fight one way or the other, but a great many of the assumptions that you have presented in these comments as obvious facts are shaky, at best.

    4. Again.. you are looking at it from a political party point of view ...

      The correct order is to look at the policies you want represented at Holyrood and vote for the party that best represents that policy...In order to get the PARLIAMENT you want.

      We have a 50:50 split in the population at large for the Independence debate, yet we have 3 of the top 4 parties at Holyrood promoting Unionism .. That is not a balanced Parliament ..

      We do not get individual politicians each having a say on policy , that would give a slight advantage to the pro Indy debate as they have slightly more MSP's than the Unionists,,,

      We actually have the party leaders speaking from Holyrood, and with 3 Unionists out of the 4 top parties , we get 3 Pro unionist comments to every one Pro indy comment....

      That is the democratic deficit,,,,,

      And that situation will continue with the SNP regional vote...

      So the policy of Independence is outnumbered by 3 parties to one at Holyrood in its media representation at Holyrood and therefore throughout Scotland ...

  14. I never realised that about Mike Small's efforts regarding the AV referendum.

    The stark reality of that shambolic vote, regardless of the proposal being a watered down version of PR, is that it gave Labour and the Tories a legitimate voice to now say 'we asked the people of the UK if they wanted change, they resoundingly said No, therefore it will not be on the table for many years to come. Even the modest of changes were rejected by the public'

    That's the political reality. We gave Labour and the Tories full support for no change to our current political set up.

  15. People need to calm down a bit. All parties are entitled to stand for election, and also to campaign for votes. The Greens have to (and are right to) try to instil in the public that the second vote is a second "choice" (which they did to such great effect in 2003). The other parties have to counter this impression. What folk are rightly objecting to are those insisting:
    1. SNP supporters *ought* to vote for another party in the list;
    2. Non-SNP indy supports *ought* to vote SNP on the list

    On 1. As has been demonstrated ably on this blog, to anticipate what others might vote not just across 10 constituencies on the list, but on the FPTP seats is fraught with danger. The quirk this time is that the second biggest party in Scotland may not win any FPTP seats; this means it is more or less impossible to prevent them winning 3-5 seats in each region, reducing the seats available to other parties. "Tactical voting" is just likely to replace a Green for an SNP list seat without increasing the overall indy representation.

    2. I don't think Both Votes SNP are actually saying this. People should use their list vote for the party they support. If anything, the only tactical vote that's likely to have any impact is if RISE supporters vote tactically for the Greens. Being realistic, the Greens will need around 11-13% to gain a second seat on any region because of the Lab collapse in the constituencies, so the aim must be to displace LibDems as 4th party - but Greens would have to successfully persuade FPTP LibDem voters to switch.

    So just vote for your party and Parliament will reflect the electorate's will - that's the point of elections!

    1. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 17, 2016 at 6:32 PM

      Vote Labour and get rid of the anti working class Tartan Tories.

    2. That was a pretty convincing argument two decades ago. Might want to catch up with this century. ;)

    3. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 17, 2016 at 10:48 PM

      Vote Labour and get Tory policies directed from London.

  16. Some people say a vote for RISE is inconsequential. They're wrong - in Glasgow, a potential Green voter voting for RISE will have the effect of removing Pat Harvie from Holyrood and replacing him with a Labour MSP

    1. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 17, 2016 at 7:33 PM

      Vote Labour or you get the Tories and the Tartan Tory variety.

    2. Glasgow Working ClassJanuary 17, 2016 at 10:46 PM

      Vote Labour and get Tory Lite. Last Labour lot are on plenty of Boards or in the Lords. ££££££££.

  17. Tactical voting on the list is a mug's game. If you think otherwise, explain the result of the Euro election when a substantial number of SNP voters were persuaded to vote Green on the basis of the Green's "we have the best chance of stopping UKIP" argument. The result was that UKIP got elected because of the reduced SNP vote. Perfect example of how tactical voting can fail to achieve its objective.

    As many have said, vote for the party you most associate with, the one you think is most likely to achieve your objective. In my case, that is the SNP, who are much more likely to achieve independence than any other party.

    One last thought for those advocating tactical voting. What practical advantage will there be in having a few more pro-indy MSPs? Will it create circumstances where a pro-indy message becomes the norm? Will it make the BBC suddenly become pro-indy? Will it make the MSM start supporting indy? The answer to both these questions is obviously NO, so what is to be gained? When set against the possibility of the SNP failing to get a majority and the way that wold be treated by the BBC and most of the press, I will do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen.

    1. I think what you are basically saying there is that if the pro Indy vote doesn't go to the Greens , even though they are the larger pro Indy party in the regional vote, it somehow won't be the fault of SNP voters who ignored the indy vote in favour of partisan loyalties ...

      The SNP are the minor party in the list vote, Greens are polling higher and do not have any constituency restrictions on their vote...

      Promoting the SNP regional vote for SNP domestic policies is all well and good, and that is a legitimate choice.. but that would be splitting the vote for the larger pro Indy party on the list and the only party that can stop unionism dominating there ..

    2. The practical advantage is two fold.

      Firstly, there will be another major pro Indy party at Holyrood supporting the SNP in the policy of independence at Holyrood, instead of three Unionist parties opposing them at every turn.

      Secondly, it reduces the Unionist media platform given to them as a result of their positions at Holyrood and the effectiveness of their message of support for the Westminster control of Scotland.

      The SNP 1 and 2 vote simply ensures they are returned to the positions they have now , giving three pro Unionist message to one pro Indy message...

    3. Why prioritise voting for a party rather than voting for a policy.. as it is the policy that is the main concern for your vote.

      Therefore the right way to things would be to decide what policy/Policies are most important to you and vote for the party that can best represent that policy.

      If that policy is independence then the SNP are the vote that can best represent that in the constituency, and the larger pro indy party in the list is the Greens .. so SNP/Green ...

  18. I believe that's what they call a headshot, Brilliant piece of dismantling James.

  19. I'm curious James - what would you advise to someone in the Lothian region who's voted for Margo in the past? You would imagine most of them voted SNP in the constituency ballot and wil continue to do so. Jim Sillars seems to be throwing his lot in with RISE, but the Greens could well be within touching distance of a second list MSP there. It seems to me that that's the one area where "tactical" list voting might be a real issue. Everyone knew Margo and knew what she stood for but because she wasn't party-aligned and didn't actually have a list underneath her, she could have got 100% of the list vote and still only got herself elected. What do you reckon the best move is for people in that area? I feel like that's the one issue here that actually merits some serious discussion.

    1. I'm a member of snp and it's far and away the most likely green on list area. 2nd is mid and fife 3rd is highland, 4th is weej complicated by a likely split green rise vote there. In Lothian no doubt about it green on list..
      The rule is upwardly mobile trendy professional type areas (socio-economic As and Bs) are the areas where green on list works..I don't particularly like then but they're better than a nawbag.

  20. Tuck your skirts in ffs!! Vote for who you want. Its a personal choice so let it be reflective of your principles. My own view was to maybe give the Greens my list vote because I actually like Patrick Harvie and would like to see them progress but at the end of the day I'm a SNP supporter so I'll be voting for them twice. Its my own view and anyone is more than welcome to disagree but that they are our best viechle for Indy and as strong a vote share as they can get will further the cause. I attend hope over fear rallies and I genuinely wish other Indy supporting parties well but its SNP all the way until our 1st free elections and then my vote will be up for grabs. I would love an Indy opposition but I'd rather no need one, I'd rather just have a free country of our own then they would be just opposition. Make your choice, stick to it.

  21. The argument I'd really about supporting green in some areas not all. As an independence supporter Andean snp memberi know fine well that snp is far better than green. I live in mid Scotland and fife and thus have the dilemma as I know the green list vote is highly likely to be more useful here than snp as a direct consequence of the list vote system..taking into account the divisor snp will have a startimg point of around 5% here on the list where green should be over 10% - such numbers mean green pick up 3 seats before snp win any. It sells itself. The question thus becomes do we want greens over Labour nawbags...some greens are nawbags themselves, Labour are hopeless and do a good job sellimg YES as a result...that said we are surely closer if we have fewer nawbags in the parliament overall. I find this last issue difficult as I recognise its validity. I hope though that they'd behave maturely and I'd punish them if they didnae by never voting for them again.if the votes stay as they are in Lothian mid and fife and maybe highlands as a yes and pro-snp voter I'd recommend a qualified vote on the list in these areas for gteen and if they're not YES enough punish them next time

  22. I hate living in this one part state where we are all clones and no dissent or discussion is allowed!
    In this particular no dissent no discussion issue, I'm agree Scot Goes Pop.