I was more than a little dismayed to see a link on Facebook to a blogpost by Green party member Morag Hannah, which can be roughly summarised as follows : "You should vote for whoever you want on the list. That's what the voting system was designed for. No-one should vote tactically on the list. I don't believe in tactical voting. However, you should probably vote Green on the list because SNP list votes will be wasted and will only help the unionist parties. But whatever you do, don't vote tactically. I don't believe in tactical voting."
I was even more dismayed to see people on Facebook say they had been confused until they read Morag's post, but suddenly everything was clear!
Without wanting to go over the whole issue all over again, I just want to draw attention to three specific inaccurate claims in Morag's post -
1) She graciously concedes that it's not a "dead cert" that the SNP will win almost every constituency seat in May, but claims that polling evidence means it's "very likely indeed" that they will (thus ensuring they won't need any list seats to retain their majority). The reality, of course, is that recent polls from Panelbase and YouGov have put the SNP on 50% of the constituency vote - exactly where they were in the UK general election when they fell short in three constituencies, and only won very narrowly in another four (and that was out of 59 constituencies, rather than the 73 constituencies that will be up for grabs in the Holyrood election). If the polls are overestimating the SNP slightly, or if there is any sort of slippage at all over the next three months, it is eminently possible that the SNP could fail to win a significant number of constituency seats. It's true that TNS are still giving the SNP well over 50% of the vote, but from the way Morag is talking you'd be forgiven for thinking TNS are the only polling firm.
2) Morag claims there has been a "massive increase in support for smaller leftwing parties" since 2011, and prays in aid a "900% increase" in Green party membership. It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at this point, because it really shouldn't be necessary to point out that increases in support and increases in membership are not the same thing. In 2011, the Greens received 87,060 list votes - from what I can gather, that's roughly nine times as many people as are currently Green party members. Yes, it's possible that an increase in membership is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of wider support, but where is the evidence for that? The Greens are currently getting approximately the same polling numbers as they got immediately before the 2011 election. Their share of the vote in the 2015 general election only increased from 0.7% to 1.3% - and that's in spite of the fact that they stood in twelve more constituencies than in 2010. (And yes, we know that some people probably think that the SNP's landslide last year was only won as a result of a "mass tactical vote" by "green left liberals", but let's get real, shall we?)
3) Morag claims that the SNP only want people to vote for them on the list so they can boast they got so many votes that they "literally broke the system", and not because they think it will affect their number of MSPs by "a single jot". Unfortunately she's contradicting herself there, because she's already asserted that the SNP can "only" hope to win one list seat per region. As it happens, the Greens' realistic ambitions on the list are remarkably similar to that - except perhaps in Lothian, they're unlikely to win two seats in any region. So it doesn't seem unfair to point out that the SNP are asking for list votes for much the same reason as the Greens - they're actually trying to win list seats. Vile, isn't it?