When the tactical gamble fails

We’ve seen a lot of talk on social media about regional list voting for the Holyrood election.  See also here  (https://wordpress.com/post/angryweegie.wordpress.com/221).  All the smaller parties of the left say they support independence and the main argument being addressed to SNP supporters by  all of them is that a vote for them will be more likely to secure additional pro-indy MSPs than a vote for the SNP because of the operation of the D’Hondt system of voting used for Holyrood elections.

Of the minor parties, only the Greens are likely to figure in the new parliament in any significant numbers, as RISE and Solidarity are barely showing in the polls and are unlikely to pick up many, or even any, seats.

However, I have a number of issues with these tactical voting suggestions.

To become the official party of opposition, as has been suggested as a possibility by several Green supporters, the Greens would have to increase the number of regional votes by more than 400,000 from the 87,000 they gained in 2011, an almost impossible task.  The possibility of increased turnout compared to 2011 would only increase that figure.  More realistically, they may gain a few more votes and a few more seats, a larger number of additional seats if more voters are persuaded to switch to the Greens on the list, but a smaller number otherwise.  Given that their campaign strategy has almost entirely targeted the SNP, it is very likely that any increased Green vote would be balanced by a corresponding reduction in the SNP vote, so it’s much more likely that any additional seats won by the Greens would be at the expense of the SNP, so no pro-independence gain there.  Worse that that, a significant reduction in the SNP vote is more likely to allow the bigger parties, Labour and Tories, to gain extra seats, based on the much larger number of votes they will attract, compared to the Greens.

We’ve heard at some length what the upside of tactical voting is, but what’s the downside.  Two possible outcomes could be either an SNP minority government, like 2007, or, if the numbers allowed, the unionist parties could form a coalition to outvote the SNP, even with the support of the smaller parties, allowing a unionist majority, with Ruth Davidson or Kezia Dugdale as First Minister.

An SNP minority government, depending on the Greens (or any other party) to pass legislation is obviously weaker as the other party’s priorities would have to be taken into account. No matter what you say, there are many issues where the Greens (and the other minor parties) disagree with the SNP and that would leave the SG open to “blackmail” to get its legislation passed.

A unionist coalition government, controlled from London, would be a disaster for Scotland and would set back the possibility of another referendum for years, perhaps even for decades.  It’s too horrible to contemplate, so I won’t.

The negative reaction in the media if the SNP failed to get a majority would far outweigh any positives to be gained from having a (slightly) larger number of pro-independence MSPs, even assuming that the Greens and the other minor parties can truly be described as such.  The largely unionist press would have a field day (or is that a field five years), giving them the opportunity for even more “SNP-bad” articles, leaving the SNP government largely on the defensive and making it very difficult to work to achieve the increase in the proportion of YES voters needed to secure a YES result in a second referendum.

The SNP is the only party I trust to stand up for Scotland, above all other issues. The Greens campaigned for YES in the referendum, but is it their highest priority?  Or, even worse, was it simply a tactic to increase their profile. In either case, my personal view is that they would sacrifice independence for issues closer to their heart, so I don’t see them as SNP lite.

Independence is my priority , but I just don’t see the tiny advantage in having a few  additional pro-independence MSPs having any real effect. The media will still run with a largely pro-union message, and would do so no matter how many unionist MSPs there were. So how would the independence message get more air/print time?  And considering the possible downsides, who amongst you would want to take the risk.

Both votes SNP.  SNP 1+2.  You know it makes sense.

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