I’ve been keeping out the Great Scottish Blog Wars. In case you haven’t noticed, which is another way of saying in case you’re a sane person who doesn’t care about arguments on social media because you have a real life, battle lines have been drawn over the question of list votes, and the best way to maximise the number of pro-independence MSPs in the next Scottish parliament. The merits and demerits of voting for RISE or the Greens in the list instead of voting twice for the SNP have been debated, dissected, and screamed at from trenches.
Some have accused other people of trying to silence them and shut down the debate, only they’ve been making the accusation on blogs and on Twitter where there really is very little sign that anyone is being gagged. In fact the ones who are claiming to have been censored and closed down seem to be the ones who are speaking the most.
Others have claimed that some have adopted a political strategy of trying to persuade supporters of party A to vote for party B by claiming that party A’s supporters are stupidly blind followers of a neo-capitalist front which is as radical as a vicar’s tea party, but hey, we support indy too. It has been pointed out that possibly this isn’t the best way to endear party B in anyone’s affections.
Then there are those who claim that unless you give both your votes to the SNP you’ve pretty much sold out Scotland to the forces of Unionism and you really ought to go and hide your head under a rock.
You might think that all this was purely a disagreement over tactics, over differing means to the same end, but handbags have been drawn at dawn and huffs taken. Meanwhile the Yooneristas keep very quiet and allow members of the independence campaign to knock seven shades of shazbot out of one another in the, probably vain, hope that it will put some folk off from voting for a pro-independence party and they’ll vote for Kezia instead. Because Labour really is the very model of a party that has got its act together. And in much the same way a monkey with a typewriter is the real author of Shakespeare’s plays.
An important reason for keeping out of arguments about which party to give my second vote to is that I’m deeply uncertain about my first vote. I have two main criteria for voting. Firstly I’ll only vote for a candidate who is pro-independence, and secondly I’ll only vote for a candidate who supports lesbian and gay equality. That means I won’t be voting SNP in the constituency vote because in my constituency the SNP candidate has a track record of voting against LGBT rights, voting to restrict women’s reproductive rights, and has attempted to introduce so called intelligent design, creationism by another name, into school science classes.
I’m not voting for an MSP who is going to promote an agenda which is damaging to my human rights and the human rights of other gay people and women, and who wants to bring religion into science lessons. I have no issues with Christians being represented in the Scottish Parliament, but they’re not going to promote their agenda on the back of my vote. No doubt there are some who will accuse me of betraying the independence cause for not voting SNP in the constituency vote, but I certainly won’t be voting for a Unionist either. In fact I’ll probably abstain in the constituency vote as it’s unlikely that there will be another pro-independence candidate.
What all this means is that when you vote you should do so according to the dictates of your own conscience. Tactical voting in Scottish elections is fraught with danger. It’s futile to try and game a voting system as opaque as the D’Hondt method used in Scottish parliamentary elections and attempts to do so risk allowing a Unionist party to get in through the back door. You cannot be certain that your tactical vote will produce the result you want, and there’s a very real chance that the only parties which will benefit will be the Unionists. Whatever you vote for, the priority is to get a pro-independence majority, and speaking as a member of one of Scotland’s minorities, a parliament that also supports the rights of all of Scotland’s communities.
I respect the fact that other people have different priorities, that they may find it difficult to understand why I might risk a Unionist getting into power by abstaining in the election of a nationalist. I was politicised in the struggle for LGBTI rights, and for me the struggle for the collective rights of the people of Scotland as a nation is part of the same battle for equality and acceptance. I can’t have one without the other. What I’m certainly not going to do is to tell you who to vote for or what priorities you should have. I believe the personal is political, so those are matters for you to decide yourself. That is the essence of independence, and Scottish independence begins with personal independence.
Who I do vote for would depend on which constituency or region I lived in, and who is standing. If I lived in Central Scotland I would vote for the Greens on the list, because one of their candidates is John Wilson, and John is a good friend of mine. He gave me support as a friend when I needed it most. I respect his politics, he has impeccable socialist and pacifist credentials, and he’s committed to independence. If Liam McLaughlin was standing for the socialists on the list I’d vote for him, because I’ve known him since he was born and he’s a passionate, intelligent and articulate young man who will do Scotland proud. Or I’d vote SNP on the list as they have many fine candidates whose commitment to LGBTI equality and social justice is faultless.
The point being, I will vote for whoever is standing locally that I believe in and who I trust to help bring about an independent Scotland that is an accepting and tolerant place that values all its citizens equally, and I suggest that you do the same. That is the essence of democracy, and that’s the kind of Scotland that we’re all striving for, irrespective of our differences.
Mind you, it should be pointed out that having such big fall outs over which parties to vote for in an election is all very peculiar for what is supposed to be a one party state, so if anything has been discredited by the Great Scottish Blog War it’s certainly the claims of Unionism. The recent disagreements have proven that the independence movement is anything but a monolithic one party state which doesn’t have room for dissent, and that’s a good and healthy thing.
Now let’s all give one another a big hug, and get back to the business of building a better, an independent, Scotland.
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