It’s the wheeze that just won’t go away. Like the proverbial bad penny (or after inflation, the proverbial bad fiver), you just can’t get rid of it, no matter how many folk point out the arrant nonsense. It’s the “tactical voting on the list” wheeze. This is the idea that SNP supporters should vote for their SNP constituency candidate, but vote for one of the smaller (allegedly) pro-independence parties on the list to maximise the number of pro-independence MSPs.
Last week has also seen the rise (excuse the pun) of the “predominate party problem”, the new version of an old anti-SNP meme, the one party state. It’s strange that in UK politics, Labour or Tories can have majorities in successive terms of government, sometimes quite large majorities (eg. Blair in 1997), and no one thinks there’s a problem, but, in Scotland, if the party with a majority in Holyrood seeks a second term with a majority, conferences have to be held to try to find out where the voting system has gone wrong. (Thinks) Does this only apply to the SNP. I don’t remember this argument being used when the Labour/LibDem coalition campaigned for a second term.
We are in the latter stages of an election campaign, so it’s not surprising that the parties are trying to put out messages to attempt to attract voters in the hope of increased representation (or in a couple of cases, some representation) in the Holyrood parliament. All the major parties are encouraging supporters to vote for their constituency candidate and to vote for the party on the list What else would you expect? However, uniquely, SNP’s message of both votes SNP, what might be thought of as a fairly normal “vote for me” message, is considered by many, particularly those in the media, as a “bad thing”. Suggestions have even been made that the SNP should encourage their members to vote for another independence supporting party on the list. It’s even rumoured that Labour and LibDem activists have been telling voters that it’s illegal to vote SNP on the list if you’ve already voted for an SNP constituency candidate. Naughty! Naughty!
Of course, all of these suggestions are based on the “fact” that the SNP will win a Holyrood majority from constituencies alone, so there’s no need for them to win any list seats. Cleverer people than me (look at Wings over Scotland or Scot goes Pop) have already debunked that argument, so I won’t go into it here, except to say that even though the polls are showing a healthy lead, a week is a long time in politics and it would only take a couple of points change for that majority to vanish.
Now let’s get straight that no one can complain if you vote for the party you would like to win the election. If you think the Rise, Solidarity or Green manifesto is a truly attractive and inspirational document and one that even Dostoyevsky would be proud to have written, go ahead and vote for them, though, if afflicted by such thoughts, scheduling an appointment with your doctor shortly after may be a wise precaution.
My main complaint is that the smaller pro-independence parties seem to be targeting their campaigns at taking votes from the SNP, but not at soft Labour, LibDem or even Tory voters. What’s wrong with that, you may ask? Well, in a situation where we are (allegedly) trying to convert voters to an independence way of thinking, so increasing the number of YES voters for the next referendum, this doesn’t get us any more potential independence supporters, it just shuffles the existing ones. If the smaller parties were really committed to independence, given that they know they can’t win, would they not be more interested in attracting that extra support. Their current tactics can only benefit the parties themselves, but not the independence movement. Surely that can’t be the reason. Surely they’re not really putting party advantage first, but saying that they’re only thinking about the independence movement. Surely not.
So how do we resolve this problem? How do we vote to be sure that we support a party committed to independence? What party do we know that will always put Scotland first and who we can be sure will take the earliest chance to call another referendum, one that we will win. I have a plan … Both votes SNP … SNP 1 + 2. You know it makes sense.