I've just noticed that Adam Ramsay penned a response to the "tactical voting on the list" debate a few days ago. It's a more nuanced piece than we've previously seen from him on the same subject, but it still made me smile, because it essentially argues : "The debate is about politics, not maths. It's about whether you care more about an SNP majority, or about maximising the number of pro-independence MSPs." You probably don't need me to point out the glorious irony that the 'political' choice Adam is presenting us with is an entirely bogus one based on bogus maths - or rather on a conveniently selective presentation of the array of mathematical possibilities.
The reality is that switching from SNP to Green on the list could in theory help to either increase or reduce the overall number of pro-independence MSPs - and so could switching from Green to SNP. As the better "tactical" option is unknowable in advance, why wouldn't anyone simply vote for their first-choice party? (The situation with RISE is different, as polling evidence suggests they have very little chance of winning any seats at all - so if maximising pro-independence representation is all you care about, all list votes for RISE are likely to be "wasted". The same is true of Solidarity in seven out of eight regions.)
However, let's humour Adam and pretend for the sake of argument that we are making a straight choice between an SNP majority and a greater number of pro-indy MSPs (we really, really aren't). Based on that assumption, he poses this question -
"why is it so vital that the SNP get a majority, rather than simply an overwhelming plurality, with Sturgeon reliant on support from parties to her left? I’ve yet to hear a good answer."
Let me make some suggestions -
1) Momentum. If the SNP lose their majority against all expectations, it will be a psychological setback for the cause of independence, and the unionist establishment and press will have a field day. A mini-example from the past is the 2003 election, when a slight increase in the overall number of pro-independence MSPs was obscured by the SNP's big losses, which was all the media cared about.
2) Mandate. We don't know exactly what the SNP's manifesto will say about the possibility of a second referendum or about more powers, but whatever wording is used will receive a clear mandate if the SNP win an overall majority in their own right. That mandate can then be used to apply moral pressure on Westminster. It will be much harder to do that if there is a more complex pro-independence mandate consisting of multiple parties with different (and perhaps conflicting) wordings in their manifestos.
3) Trust. Let's be honest - many SNP members and supporters simply don't trust the Greens to always be "on their side" on the constitution when it matters most. Whether that's justified is open to debate, but it's less than five years since there was an anti-independence Green MSP in the Scottish Parliament, and it was only last year that Caroline Lucas voted against Full Fiscal Autonomy in the House of Commons, apparently in deference to Scottish Green Party policy.
Adam goes on to make the broader point that support for independence is more likely to increase if the public see a range of pro-independence parties in parliament disagreeing with each other on bread-and-butter issues, but agreeing on the constitutional question. I think there's a grain of truth in that, but the problem is that it's unclear whether the radical left parties can bring anything new to the table - their popular support is limited, and most people are probably already fully aware that they were on the Yes side. Far, far more useful would be to see the Tories eclipsed (or at least seriously challenged) by a centre-right pro-independence party - but clearly that isn't going to happen any time soon.