Thursday, April 7, 2022

Urgent message for SNP members and supporters: Please contact party HQ and your local representatives to ask them to sort this out. It's genuinely vital for the cause of independence.

Now, let me deal at the very outset of this blogpost with the objection a cynic may raise, ie. "Kelly's only saying this because he's on the Alba NEC these days". You can categorically be assured that I would be saying exactly the same thing if I was still a member of the SNP.  And here's the proof: during the campaign for the 2017 local elections, when I was still very much inside the SNP, The National asked me to write a lengthy guide to how the voting system works and how independence supporters would be best advised to use their votes.  I was absolutely crystal-clear in my piece that Yessers should rank ALL pro-indy candidates in their ward, regardless of party.  For the majority of people that would have meant using the top rankings for SNP candidates, and then using the next highest ranking for the Greens if there was a Green candidate in their ward.

I gave that advice in the full knowledge that it contradicted the advice that SNP HQ was quietly giving to doorstep campaigners, which we heard anecdotally was that voters should be urged just to rank SNP candidates and nobody else.  I had no qualms at all about advocating the opposite of what my own party wanted, because it was an absolutely open-and-shut case - it was beyond all dispute that what the SNP were saying was stupid, counter-productive, destructive and electorally illiterate.  Their message could only have been devised by people who didn't understand how the STV voting system worked - or perhaps more accurately didn't want to understand how it worked.  I never had any problem with the SNP being a bit tribal when the logic of a given electoral system supported that - for example, "both votes SNP" was a perfectly defensible message for the Holyrood voting system, because under AMS, voting for different parties on the two ballots can have perverse results.  But the STV system used for the local elections is totally different from that: there is literally NO DOWNSIDE to ranking as many of the candidates and parties as you feel able to.  By using your lower preferences on other parties, you literally CANNOT HARM your first choice party in any way, because those lower preferences will NOT EVEN BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT unless your first choice candidate is either elected or eliminated.  And if SNP strategists really don't understand that, they need to be politely but firmly told to sit down and shut up by the people who do understand it.

At least in 2017 the SNP were only peddling their naive strategic advice on the quiet - anecdotally, it appeared that they were only doing it if a voter specifically raised the issue of giving lower preferences to other parties.  But we've learned today that the SNP have been sending out actual LEAFLETS to voters instructing them to "ask friends and family to ONLY vote SNP 1, SNP 2 and for no other party". Whether this is a localised or national message isn't as yet clear, but either way it is breathtakingly idiotic.  What they are effectively saying to people is "please urge your friends and family to ABSTAIN on whether they want pro-independence councillors or unionist councillors"

As explained above, the lower preferences of SNP voters will not be taken into account unless all SNP candidates have been either elected or eliminated.  So if that's what happens, if for example the final seat on the ward comes down to a straight fight between Labour and the Greens, by telling people only to rank the SNP, it means anyone who follows that advice will be sitting out the final choice between anti-indy Labour and pro-indy Green.  By contrast, if the SNP told their supporters to rank all pro-indy candidates, there would be lots more votes for the Greens on the all-important final count, and Labour would be more likely to be defeated.  It's not rocket science - but incredibly the SNP are instructing their supporters to go out and to actively harm the cause of independence.

What is most disgraceful about this is that the leaflets contain an implicit lie.  Because most people don't know how the STV counting system works, they would probably infer from advice to only vote for SNP candidates that using lower preferences on other parties can somehow 'dilute' the impact of higher preferences for the SNP.  That is the polar opposite of the truth, and the SNP should be ashamed of misleading people in that way.

This stuff really matters.  Around one-third of wards in Scotland will have an Alba candidate in May.  I don't know how many candidates the Greens are putting up but it will undoubtedly be a substantial number.  I know some SNP supporters believe Alba are an irrelevance and that it doesn't matter if they rank Alba or not - I firmly believe they're wrong about that, but one thing they cannot seriously dispute is that the Greens have a chance of getting a substantial haul of councillors elected if they receive enough transfers from SNP voters.  How can the SNP justify telling people to abstain on the question of whether their own pro-independence coalition partners should be preferred to unionist parties like the Tories? It makes no sense whatever.

It's no secret that I've been urging Alba supporters who don't want to give second or third preferences to the SNP to change their minds.  Rest assured that I'll continue to do that, but please: we need some sanity on the other side of the fence too.  All pro-indy parties should be encouraging their voters to rank all pro-indy candidates, and at the very least they should not be instructing their voters to do the complete opposite of that.  If you're an SNP member, please get in touch with your party and urge them to reverse this catastrophic strategic blunder before we all needlessly wake up to newly-elected anti-independence Tory and Labour councillors in May.

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UPDATE: Thanks to a reader for getting in touch and clarifying that there are 239 Green candidates - meaning the Greens are standing in the majority of wards.  I don't think they're going to be very happy with their coalition partners, because they stand to suffer the most from what the SNP are doing.  Only the unionist parties will benefit.

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To catch up with my Scot Goes Popcast interview with Alba candidate Lisa Keogh, please click HERE (video version) or HERE (audio only).

16 comments:

  1. For me there's nothing to sort out here, no "mistake" to correct. The SNP know how the system works, there's no naivety here. This is purely about attempting to remain the sole custodians of the indy vote in perpetuity.

    I appreciate and admire the efforts of people (such as e.g. this blog) to try and preserve the unified front that the indy movement ideally needs to succeed, but to me it is clear that the battlelines are being drawn - one may be pro-indy but ultimately somewhere down the line one may have to make a direct choice between the SNP or Alba.

    Trying to apply the best tactics from the theoretical electoral system mathematics only makes sense if both sides are onboard with that, and the SNP are pretty clear that they aren't.

    I hope Alba realise this and fully appreciate what it means for their party.

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    Replies
    1. I agree Robert, this is not naivety. This is quite deliberate and shows them up for what they are- power hungry at any price; to hell with independence.

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    2. Yes it looks like a repeat of Holyrood election 2021 with the 'Both Votes SNP' i.e. don't vote for Alba to keep the Unionists out on the regional list - keep Alba out instead!

      It's merely adapted, and is even more explicitly anti-Alba (and anti-ISP), for Council election 2022.

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  2. There is nothing on this earth that will make this household vote for SNP or Greens not even a call from Alex Salmond him self.

    My only goal in life was to see Scotland Independent, not anymore I can't wait to see the demise of the SNP and its leader and I hope to god the New SNP get a beating in May.

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  3. I'm standing for Alba in East Ren Ward 2. Only 1 SNP choice here. Bring it on. The SNP message on ER is keep the Tories out.

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    1. Independence For ScotlandApril 8, 2022 at 10:49 AM

      Carol, I will be voting for you and I hope you do well.

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  4. Only SNP or Liebour in my ward. For the first time in my life I'm spoiling my ballot.

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  5. I would have thought it obvious that’s exactly what the SNP want to do since devolution is their game these days. And come the days after the election they will simply spout the lie that it was Alba/ISP VOTERS SPLITTING THE VOTE AND THE GULLIBLE WILL CHOW DOWN ON IT LIKE A FRESH BATCH OF CARROTS!

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  6. politics is a dirty game.
    the SNP have fallen into the myre

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  7. Just goes to show that the SNP are more concerned with the preservation of the party than independence. That says a lot.

    I know James says 'vote till you boak' but that means for me, it'll be a struggle to rank them this time.

    And to think I used to be an SNP member not so very long ago.

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  8. Independence For ScotlandApril 8, 2022 at 10:52 AM

    The SNP are just British Labour in Scotland hiding under a tartan blanket.

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  9. Independence For ScotlandApril 8, 2022 at 11:04 AM

    That great lover of weapons of mass destruction who posts on WGD - indyref2yespleasenicola - seems to think Alba is known as the sleepy cuddles party.

    Well sleepy cuddles is far better than getting off on tanks/battleships and other assorted weapons of war killing people as per Ukraine.

    Perhaps indyref2yespleasenicola should spend more time begging Sturgeon to deliver independence than drooling over weapons of war.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thoughts of Bathman will always surpass those of the Bathtub Warrior.
      And I've heard that a certain prolific poster over there gets off on plastic models of the Chausseurs Alpins. But please don't go repeating that.

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  10. Independence For ScotlandApril 8, 2022 at 11:17 AM

    The National says use your vote to send a message to Johnson. That’s right vote SNP to tell Johnson you are a f****ng numpty.

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  11. We elect 3 candidates from my ward and have 4 choices; 1 SNP (the only incumbent standing) 2 Tories and an LD (who stood last time and was first eliminated with under 200 first votes.) Guaranteed a majority Unionist return of 2-1 with the SNP candidate guaranteed to be elected. That is no choice however you look at it. Spoiled ballot coming up.

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    1. If the plan is to rank all pro indy candidates, so SNP voters don't just go SNP 1,2, and also cast for green and Alba, why the hell would an Alba voter spoil their ballot cos there's no alba candidate. That's not maxi the pro vote. That's anti SNP trimble hate.

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