Getting out of the cage

The Scottish elections are almost upon us, three weeks from today we will know the composition of the new Scottish parliament. And it’s vital that the new parliament has an SNP majority. It’s the only way that we can be certain that when the time is right, Scotland will embark upon a second independence referendum. I was going to say campaign, but that wouldn’t be right, because the independence campaign has never ceased. The reality is that the only way to ensure that it doesn’t cease, that the momentum keeps going, is for us to return another majority SNP government.

If we wake up in three weeks time to discover that the SNP has lost its majority, then the only story in our Unionist dominated press will be that Scotland has fallen out with the idea of independence and the wheels have come off the indy bandwagon. They’ll tell us that Scotland has declared its love for the Union, that we’ve got back into the shortbread tin and into the embrace of Westminster. The prospect of another referendum will become as elusive as an episode of BBC 2’s Scotland 2016 programme that anyone wants to watch. The media narrative will be that Scottish nationalism has lost the election, and that’s what they’ll be saying even if there’s still a majority of pro-independence MSPs.

While I have a certain sympathy for those who argue that the best result is a minority SNP government which attains a majority with other pro-independence parties on its left, all the better to hold the SNP to account, the risks involved in achieving that outcome are greater than the benefits that it brings. Gaming the Scottish parliamentary elections with tactical voting runs the very real risk of allowing Unionist parties to get in by default, because it is by no means certain that your preferred party is going to benefit from your vote. We could discover that instead of producing a parliament with a strong and diverse pro-independence majority, that we’ve just allowed the Anas Sarwars and the David Coburns to crawl in through the cracks in the independence front. And if that happened we’d only have ourselves to blame for it.

This is what happened during the last European elections when like many people I believed that the Greens were better placed than the SNP to pick up the sixth seat, so I voted Green. The result was that the independence vote was split between the SNP and the Greens and UKIP slipped in through the gap, much to the delight of Unionists of all hues who were keen to point out that the entrance of David Coburn into Scottish politics meants that Scotland wasn’t so different from England politically. Oh look, we have our odious right wingers too. We’re just like the rest of the UK and there’s no justification for independence.

Gaming the d’Hondt system of voting which is used in Scottish parliamentary elections is even more fraught with difficulty than the system used in the European elections. You could give your second vote to a minor party only to discover that Labour or, gods forbid, the Tories or UKIP have slipped through the gap and you’ve helped to return another Unionist MSP. It’s a system which was designed to produce minority governments. It was set up by Labour in cahoots with the Lib Dems in order to ensure that Scotland would forever and a day be governed by a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. The Lib Dems were always the enablers of Unionism, the prop to whichever Unionist big boy could shower them with shiny beads, mirrors, and ministerial motors.

But in 2011 the SNP broke the system and got a majority government. We’ve become so used to that majority that we risk taking it for granted. That’s dangerously complacent. We don’t currently have a second pro-independence party which has sufficiently concentrated support to take over the role of the Lib Dems as a reliable junior partner to a large SNP. The closest to that is the Greens, but their support is spread too thin. The harsh reality is that if the SNP loses its majority in two weeks time, the cause of independence is lost with it. Then the referendum really will have been a once in a generation event. We have to make sure that doen’t happen, that the flame of hope stays burning bright.

You can argue that the job of the Scottish movement is to make conditions more comfortable within the cage of Union, or you can argue that the priority is to get out of the cage. I believe that the job of the independence movement is to get Scotland out of the cage, not to make the cage more comfortable. After all, if the cage is more comfortable then more people will be happy remaining in the cage. That doesn’t help anyone in the longer term, except for the Unionist parties and the Westminster system.

Once we’ve broken free of the cage, then all bets are off, all previous positions change. There will be a radical realignment of Scottish politics. No existing political party will survive in its current form, and that is as true for the SNP and the other pro-independence parties as it is for the parties that currently support the Union.

It’s in the aftermath of an independence vote that Scotland will have its best chance of rediscovering its radical soul. But we’re not there yet. We’re still locked in the cage. We’re still constrained by the Union. Too many Scots are still hobbled by fear and uncertainty, still shackled to the Westminster devil we know. The priority, the only priority, must be to break those chains, to smash the padlock on the cage, and to escape out into the light of a land that we can govern and define for ourselves.

I want out of the cage, and I’m not going to be distracted by anything that risks keeping us in the cage a minute longer than is necessary. The SNP, with all their faults and limitations, hold the key out of the cage. That is the fundamental reality of Scottish politics in 2016, and that is why we need an SNP majority government in three weeks time.

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76 comments on “Getting out of the cage

  1. Irma says:

    I hesitate to point it out, but it’s three weeks from today, my dear.

    • Morag says:

      I told him that on Twitter 20 minutes ago. Has he not fixed it yet?

      • weegingerdug says:

        I was out at the supermarket and walking the dug. It’s fixed now though. But for future information, it’s a waste of time telling me anything on Twitter. Last time I logged in there was a couple of weeks ago. I can’t be arsed with it any more.

  2. Morag says:

    I believed that the Greens were better placed than the SNP to pick up the sixth seat, so I voted Green.

    And if every SNP supporter had followed that line of logic, where would we be now? No Ian Hudgton, no Alyn Smith. There was no sensor inside the ballot boxes ready to proclaim to late voters “OK, the SNP have enough votes for two seats, SNP supporters switch to Green now please.” So precisely which SNP supporters were supposed to vote Green to get that sixth seat? What if all of them did? It’s an impossible choice.

    And that’s just with a pure d’Hondt system. When we’re in the Holyrood AMS system where d’Hondt is used to select the additional members, it becomes even more impossible. How many constituencies in this particular region has the SNP secured? Nobody knows, because the votes haven’t been counted yet. How many list votes do Labour have? The Tories? The LibDems? The Greens? RISE? UKIP? Nobody knows, because not only have the votes not been counted, they haven’t all been cast yet (unless you’re a real tail-end Charlie).

    Trying to game the system is galactic-class insanity. For people who prefer the Greens to the SNP, vote for them of course. Especially if getting Green MSPs elected means more to you than independence – nothing wrong with that point of view.

    But the idea that by sacrificing one list SNP MSP it’s possible to secure more than one Green MSP is hubristic delusional nonsense. That RISE are trying the same game and so potentially splitting any split-ticket votes even further only compounds the problem. On paper, if hundreds of thousands of SNP voters decided to go along with it, it may seem to work. In the real world, that’s not going to happen.

    As Paul says, there is a very real chance that this malarkey may allow Labour, the Tories, the LibDems or – God forbid – UKIP to sneak through the middle and snatch the seat that would have gone to the SNP but which the clever-clogs were trying to turn Green.

    And even if it did work, the loss of the SNP’s overall majority would lead to exactly the outcome Paul describes. Indeed, it’s a cast-iron guarantee that any fewer than 70 SNP MSPs on 6th May will be the trigger for a flood of articles sneering about lost support and independence now being off the table.

    How any SNP supporter, or indeed anyone who prioritises independence above individual party advantage, can contemplate something as risky as what the vote-splitters are pushing, I really can’t imagine.

    • Marconatrix says:

      I agree, the system is a pig, probably designed to mislead.

      Would it be any fairer, I wonder, if the two votes were separated by a week or two, with the list votes being cast by voters who now knew the FPTP results? Or does the whole handicap system simply baffle 9 out of 10 voters?

      • Morag says:

        I don’t think it’s designed to mislead. I think it’s a good system with a lot of positive points. It’s just not designed to be subverted by people pushing a really, really bad idea.

        • Cjk says:

          It would be nice to see it recognised in all this ‘ it’s essential to vote SNP twice’ mantra, that there are a considerable number of voters who will be ‘lending’ their first vote to the SNP recognising the benefits of doing so but committing their list vote for political policies they actually believe in. Not everyone who votes SNP in the constituencies is an SNP supporter.

          • Morag says:

            I don’t see any sign that people aren’t remembering that. It’s this false, deceptive, lying mantra that an SNP vote on the list is “wasted” so please vote for us instead that’s being challenged. That’s what could lose the SNP the election. Not Green supporters voting Green on the list.

  3. As Morag says. If you try to “game” the system you may end up losing everything. The only way to ensure an SNP majority is SNP x2 in my view.

    And I say that as someone who is not a party member. I want independence. The only offer on the table for that comes by means of electing an SNP majority at Holyrood.

    Once we get independence then we vote how we like. But if you really believe in independence now only the SNP can give you the hope of achieving that.

    Please don’t throw it away.

    (Oh, and yes, it is three weeks time rather two).

  4. […] Wee Ginger Dug Getting out of the cage […]

  5. I see the Scottish Government as the driver of a bus. The bus is taking us on a journey. The ultimate destination, for me, is Independence. It’s a bumpy road. Potholes, speed bumps and road works everywhere. There’s even a few diversions due to stormy weather and vandals altering the road signs.

    Who do we want to drive this bus? Obviously the most competent driver we can get. We started the journey, in 1999, with drivers who didn’t want to get to the same destination as I did. They wanted to show off the brand new, shiny bus but weren’t sure how it should be driven. They went round a few one way systems and eventually lost the way completely. They even sent back some of the fuel money because they felt they had enough for their journey. They came up with one or two good ideas at the start, but they were on a different trip from me. They took their instructions from a rival bus company down south and avoided going anywhere near my destination. This bus was not built for that.

    There were others who wanted to drive. They kept asking the passengers if they could take the wheel. They knew where they were going. Eventually they got a shot. The first time they got behind the wheel, they showed that the road could be smoother. But the other drivers tried to put them off and they couldn’t steer properly. So, they asked again.

    This time they had control. The bus went along on its journey and the driver asked the passengers if they wanted to go to the same place as he did. (Sexist, I know!) They took a vote and the decision was no, not yet. OK, we’ll at least make it comfortable for you, they said. And they did. Smooth and steady.

    And now they are all asking again to take the wheel. Some of these drivers are so incompetent that they couldn’t drive a Mini safely in a field. Some say the passengers should have no say in the destination. Others say they have the same destination in mind but are not to be trusted.

    Only one driver has the determination, and the map, to get us where we want to go. A choice for any other runs the risk of getting stuck in the one way system again. Of going round the roundabout unable to find a way off before running out of fuel and grinding to a halt waiting for the breakdown wagon.

    SNP x 2

    • Wee Jonny says:

      “They took their instructions from a rival bus company down south and avoided going anywhere near my destination.” Terrific Andy.

  6. Macart says:

    Came to the same conclusion meself, which is why I’ll be voting SNPx2. Its vital that the gatekeepers be kept in place to hold that gate open. All unionist party leaders have made their views crystal clear on the subject of independence and a second referendum. In one particular case, that of Kezia Dugdale, Labour under her watch would actively NOT support any public mandate for a second referendum. In Ruth’s case? She foresees absolutely no circumstance, no trigger which would justify a second referendum and as for wee Wull? He’ll do what the other two tell him to do.

    In short, the sovereignty of the Scottish electorate, the public’s mandate and our democracy would absolutely not be safe in any establishment party’s hands. They cannot, must not, be allowed to gain any traction through complacency, for they cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of Scotland’s electorate. Ayup, from their own statements no less, they clearly will not respect the electorate’s democratic right to change its mind and demand their government act accordingly in those interests.

    The only thing I would ask of folks during this party election period, is that a bit of understanding in the YES voting community will be required. The opposition thrive on sowing division. If folk can’t or won’t vote SNP for whatever reason, its worth remembering they are still friends whose vote will be required for that bigger prize.

  7. How does one become a butterfly? You have to want to fly so much, you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.

    SNP x 2

  8. Pentland Firth says:

    I’d been tempted to vote Green on the regional ballot paper, but for the reasons outlined by Paul I’ve abandoned the idea as too dangerous. If you want to keep the Independence show on the road it has to be both votes SNP.

    • Black Rab says:

      That’s the correct strategy Pentland Firth. I’m no SNP fan but let’s stick to keeping an independence mandate possible by voting for the SNP

  9. Muscleguy says:

    Sigh, under D’Hont a party’s list vote is divided by the number of constituency seats +1. If as seems likely the SNP take all or almost all the seats in a region they are looking at divisors like 10+1 meaning they will need, literally 10X the vote of the other parties to even begin in the list vote.

    So, each SNP list vote could very well count for 0.1 of a vote or less. While a vote for a party without a constituency every vote will count for 1.0. So, a Green vote or a RISE vote has a better chance than an SNP vote to elect a Yes member to Holyrood.

    This cannot be denied. On the list the SNP is polling about 2.5X SLAB and the Tories. So several unionists get elected before their vote is reduced enough (every list seat adds another 1 to the divisor). So instead of Unionist parties ‘coming up through the middle’ they are sitting smug on the start line assured of seats. The only way to wipe off their smug grins is to get a Green or RISE vote up their jacksies.

    Your choice SNP fan boys and girls, cast a List vote worth only 0.1 of a vote or one worth the full whack.

    • Morag says:

      That is simply not the way to look at it. It’s a simplistic analysis that ends up with the wrong answer because it relies on a soundbite rather than working through the consequences of the proposal. The full work-through has been done by a number of people and those who have read it and understood it have realised that SNPx2 is the rational vote for those whose top priority is independence (as opposed to the furtherance of Patrick Harvie and his merry men).

      But it seems you can’t kill a bad idea, and you can’t get a simple but false explanation out of some people’s heads no matter how hard you try.

      • Noel Darlow says:

        But that’s exactly how the system works. Both votes SNP will hand more regional victories to unionist parties – more than the extra SNP list seats you might also gain with this strategy.

        The largest possible YES majority must be the aim. It would be a huge mistake to choke off Scotland’s emerging political culture before it gets a chance to be born. The SNP cannot do it all on their own. Indeed, the more they try to be all things to all people, the bigger the vacuum they will create at the heart of Scottish politics.

        This will either be filled with home-grown, independence-supporting parties – if they are allowed to exist… – or it will be filled by Lab/Con/LibDem leading to a resurgence in the unionist parties.

        Nothing could possibly create a stronger argument for independence than a vibrant political culture north of the border which is unique to Scotland and which has no time for any of the big UK parties. The SNP will rightly be a major part of that but, come independence, we’re going to need a wide range of experience and ideas which represents all parts of society in order to govern ourselves effectively. The time to start building our own, unique Scottish, political ecosystem is now.

        • Morag says:

          No, it really isn’t how it works. There are enough worked examples around that you should be able to realise that by now. If you prefer a minority SNP government propped up by the Green Party (who aren’t even particularly committed to independence) to a majority SNP government, go right ahead. So long as you realise you risk handing list seats the SNP would otherwise have got to Labour or the Tories or the LibDems, all of whom will get more list votes than the Greens, like it or not. It could even gift UKIP a seat, as it did in the Euro elections.

          It’s all about the multiplier that is applied to the list votes depending on the number of seats already won by any individual party, and the arithmetic absolutely does not favour the Greens.

          The time to start building our own unique political ecosystem is after independence day. Kicking the party that has brought us to this point in the teeth rather than supporting it to get us to the finishing line is the act of a petulant child.

          • Noel Darlow says:

            Scotland’s evolving, new political scene is a lasting gift of the referendum. To try to strangle this because you think it will *strengthen* the case for independence is the kind of thing Shakespeare would write a tragedy about – although Better Together might view it as a comedy.

            One thing we can say with absolute certainty is that the SNP cannot maintain its current level of support in the long term. We have to think how we can nurture new parties just as committed to independence as the SNP but offering a broader spectrum of voices and policies. Perhaps we can build an even stronger independence coalition than we have at present.

            The alternative is political stagnation as the party becomes compromised by the sheer size of its support and the difficulty of creating policies which don’t offend some segment of that. With no alternative home-grown parties to represent the broad range of Scottish society, this vacuum will eventually be filled by default by resurgent unionist parties.

            For example, the SNP have taken some modest steps with land reform but obviously aren’t keen on doing anything too “radical”. The SGP by contrast will be much less reluctant to challenge unearned privilege. They have land campaigner Andy Wightman standing as an MSP in Edinburgh. That’s an important voice to have in Holyrood.

            • One thing we can say with absolute certainty is that the SNP cannot maintain its current level of support in the long term.

              REALLY!!! you know this for a fact… do know Dr Who is fiction.

            • Morag says:

              Notwithstanding the presence of a (very) few exceptional individuals, the fringe parties are a very dodgy bet for a position of serious influence. They’re politically naive, idealistic, and completely devoid of any sense of what it takes to keep the vast majority of ordinary voters onside. You want to hand power over the SNP to these arrivistes, just at the point where cool heads and considered strategy are necessary to achieve the goal. No thanks.

              It’s becoming more and more clear that the Greens, given the chance, would refuse to seize the moment, if it came, to hold a second independence referendum. There’s no points speculating what RISE might do, because they’re unlikely to get any seats, but a group trying to push the SNP to the hard left isn’t going to win any voters that I know of.

              How about we wait and see if the SNP seriously blots its copybook, before consigning our independence party to the political dustbin and discussing its succesor?

              • Noel Darlow says:

                I think you’re making a mistake to view politics as solely about power.

                Smaller parties don’t have to pretend to be ready for government – and nobody would believe them if they said they were. They function as lobby groups for particular points of view or segments of society. That alone is a vital contribution to democracy because it widens the public debate to include a broader range of voices.

                Phase two would be to try build on their support and bring on board the numbers and the skills required to become a credible option for government but they don’t have to do that from day one. All they have to do is present sane ideas and viable policies which address issues important to the electorate.

                Even established parties can benefit from that because it stops them becoming complacent. They are forced to raise their game a little.

                No single party can do it all on its own. Both votes SNP is a recipe for stagnation but life will go on regardless. The SNP can either accept that and welcome it or attempt to suppress it. The latter ultimately will harm the SNP as well as Scottish politics in general.

            • Morag says:

              Oh yes, and if the Greens thought it was important to have Andy Wightman in Holyrood – and I agree he would be a considerable asset – they might have thought about putting him top of a list. As it is he’s second to “what’s her name again?” and very unlikely to be elected. Just another example of their political uselessness.

              • Noel Darlow says:

                That was another example of party democracy🙂 The list was decided by a vote. It wouldn’t be fair to claim that the “wrong” candidate came top of the ballot unless you knew some details about the candidates’ histories as well as green party politics. Without that knowledge you can’t really reach an informed opinion.

                • Morag says:

                  Indeed. As I said, the Greens might have thought about voting an excellent candidate who could appeal beyind their own echo-chamber to the top of the list, instead of someone who has been an MSP for years and still nobody can remember her name.

    • davidbsb says:

      If the opinion poll numbers were a true reflection of every seat and every constituency, and if the turnout was identical everywhere, and if all participating party’s voters turned out in equal numbers you may have a very valid point.

      But in different parts of Scotland different things happen to all those variables. In some seats the SNP are predicted to take 60% of the vote. In others 40% or so. Conservatives will poll better in some wards and very badly in others. Labour support in Central has been up in the mid 30%’s, not 19%. And what if it rains?

      Approximately it takes about 6% of the list vote to get a list seat. Yes the divisor makes it easier for those who don’t win big on FPTP. But it is likely the SNP will take list seats, especially if their vote exceeds 50%.

      In Central it is predicted that the FPTP vote may be in the high fifties – close to 60%. If they get that percentage on the list vote then they will certainly get at least one list seat.

      If it was the case that other pro independence parties were consistently polling up over 6% then you may feel the odds were worth the punt. But committed independence parties are not polling that anywhere, and notional home rule parties – Greens or FibDems ( I said notional ) – do not poll that in many constituencies.

      The degree of unpredictability makes it very difficult to game this system. The only safe strategy is SNP x 2.

      I sympathised with our host’s distaste for the candidate in his constituency. I do not share that candidate’s view on a number of things myself. However I hope that Paul can hold his nose and put his cross in the right box. To an extent we must tolerate all viewpoints in a democracy, however out of step with the times. I am voting for a competent government with the aim of securing my county’s independence. I put the Independence bit above all other considerations.

      • Morag says:

        I’m not overly fond of the constituency candidate I’m campaigning for either, for a variety of reasons. But she’ll win, because the voters I talk to think the sun shines out of her you-know-where and I’m not about to disabuse them.

        That’s not what I’m campaigning for. We’re very likely to lose two other constituencies in this region, because there are too many unionists there getting behind the Tories. If our list vote holds up then we’ll recoup these seats on the list. If our voters get stars in their eyes and run off and vote Green on the list, we won’t. It’s likely Labour and/or the LibDems will take these seats.

        If that happens, because a bunch of Greens were either too naive or too stupid or too keen on advancing their own party to smell the coffee, I for one will never forgive them.

  10. David Agnew says:

    2 votes SNP. I vote for a party I want to be in government. I don’t then vote for its counterpart in opposition. If RISE & the greens want a seat at the table. Then let them get out there and grab whats left of labour and the lib dem votes. Or make their case plainly as a party of government. Not constantly looking for voter charity to be the opposition, no matter how principled it may seem. “Scot goes pop” and other sites have comprehensively trashed this idea that a 2nd for green or the others is a safe bet. The D’Hondt system cannot be gamed.

    • Muscleguy says:

      I must be going gaga in my advancing age then. I’m sure I remember SSP and more Green people in the parliament once upon a time. I also remember Margot gaming the D’Hont system not just once by twice as a one person party in the Lothians.

      So either my memory of recent history and the historical record is wrong or your SNP Fanboy mantra is as empty as Ruth and Kezia’s consistency or Wee Willie Rennie’s caucus room.

      • Illy says:

        Several things.

        1) it’s not a “second vote” it’s the “party vote” ie, which party you want to be in government.

        2) I have yet to hear a single credible thing from Solidarity or the Greens in the last year other than “we’re left wingers too, please SNP voters, give us some charity”. Also, the greens’ membership is pretty evenly split on independence, so the greens aren’t a pro-independence party.

        • * David Smith* says:

          You’re right there. As much as I like Patrick Harvie and believe in his sincerity on independence, what people forget is the greens in general were not founded on these principles “a pro indy party per say”. SNP 1&2.

        • Noel Darlow says:

          The SGP definitely supports independence. There is no ambiguity about that.

      • Morag says:

        Margo did not “game” the d’Hondt system. She used it fairly in one of the ways it can advantageously be used.

        Some people are now saying, to hell with this nonsense, let’s do the additional member calculations based on the votes for the constituency candidates. Some countries do it like that, it’s not unheard of.

        But one of the good things about the Holyrood system is that it allows an independent who is well-supported across a region to gain a list seat, while it would be impossible for someone in that position to win a constituency. It gave us Margo, and it gave us Dennis Canavan (or would have done if he hadn’t won his constituency). It allows mavericks like them to get elected and I think that’s a good thing.

        Hell mend the idiots promoting this nonsense if we end up losing that unique advantage of the Holyrood voting system.

      • Morag says:

        Your Green and/or RISE fanboy mantra is blinding you to the imperatives of arithmetic, I’m afraid. There’s nothing wrong with supporting a minority party with little hope of gaining more than a few seats of course. I did it myself for decades. However, there’s a lot wrong with using dishonest arguments to try to cheat a pity vote from people whose essential loyalty is to another party. Particularly when it’s at least as likely to hand seats to the unionists.

        • Muscleguy says:

          I call out this voting Green or RISE allows the unionists to get more seats. How does that work, exactly? I really want to know because I just can’t see it. If the unionists do not get a constituency seat then they are guaranteed seats and the SNP vote, unless it is really 10X theirs cannot interfere, no matter how much you want it to.

          The SNP will be hard put to get very many list candidates elected if they clean sweep or near clean sweep the constituencies as the polls indicate and as the GE showed they can do. This is of course right and proper in a proportional system. The problem is you want a majority with only 50% in the constituencies and 45% on the list. Where does that right come from exactly? Take all the constituencies and the List dries up. Welcome to a proportional voting system.

          So, we have to ask in that scenario how a Yes vote might best be deployed in terms of getting Yes people elected on the list. SNP is clearly hampered by its own success. Deal with it, it is reality. Which means we need to look at alternatives who without the SNP’s huge divisors can come up through the middle and limit the number of seats the unionist parties will garner.

          This having viable Yes parties other than the SNP is an asset. Yet party tribalism is preventing many people from seeing it. I did most of my campaigning in the referendum with RIC, with Green, SSP, SWP, SNP and Labour for Indy type people. You cannot demonise them to me. I know their hearts and minds and characters. I chapped doors with them, I manned stalls with them, rallied with them. I call them friends.

          In the GE I helped Stewart Hosie get the vote out, not because I’m a member of the SNP, I’m not but because he came with us in RIC as just another set of boots on the ground several times and not just in Dundee East, his constituency either. I was returning the favour. He was comfortable enough with us. Why aren’t you?

          The Greens are a Yes party, RISE are a Yes party. Patrick Harvie is a harder Yes than Nicola, he isn’t for more powers or a federal solution. He’s all or nothing. Maggie Chapman came to Dundee RIC for a meeting about 8 months or so after the referendum. She is very much Yes too. The Green people in RIC I campaigned with are Yes. So are the SSP people.

          I therefore find it offensive when SNP people bad mouth them and cast aspersions based on lies. People have deliberately misinterpreted Patrick Harvie’s stance.

          So you deny electoral reality all you want. But be careful it doesn’t bite you. The SNP got their majority last time because the proportional system here is regional not national and they didn’t clean sweep the constituencies. The calculus is different now and so it requires different tactics.

          Don’t be a patsy.

          • Morag says:

            If you can’t understand the arithmetic by now I really don’t think I can help you further. I hope very much that you aren’t treated to a practical demonstration of it on 6th May, with Labour or another unionist party squeaking through the gap you’re intent on creating.

  11. ‘For the caged bird sings of freedom….

    Both votes SNP’

  12. Dan Huil says:

    To risk anything other than SNP x 2 is to risk the whole idea of Scotland’s independence.

  13. Kenzie says:

    Remember that a Camel is a horse designed by a committee. The present electoral system was designed to keep Labour in power. We broke that particular Camel’s back, let’s not throw it away arguing over semantics. Take no risks. SNP x 2.

  14. Weechid says:

    I don’t know if it’s for financial or other reasons that the “minor parties” don’t field candidates in all the constituencies. In my Dumfriesshire constituency there are only four candidates standing while there are nine parties on the South of Scotland regional list. If a party can’t be arsed to field a candidate for the constituency then they aren’t going to get my vote on the list. As I wouldn’t dream of voting for Labour, Tories or Lib Dems then, by default, I have to vote SNPx2. I agree that an SNP majority is the only way to keep up the fight for independence. Once that’s achieved then I’ll go as left wing as possible.

  15. Onwards says:

    “We don’t currently have a second pro-independence party which has sufficiently concentrated support ”

    For independence supporters, this is what it boils down to – even if you prefer the policies of the smaller parties. Greens/Rise/Solidarity are just too similar and are fighting for the same 5-10% of voters.

    RISE has the best chance of getting a list seat in Glasgow, but they are almost identical to Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity. They each need 6% to get a seat, but going by the polls they are likely to split a few percent of the vote between them. That’s the harsh reality. If the SNP can repeat its performance in the General Election, they have a better chance of picking up a list seat.

    And it’s a massive assumption to presume the SNP will sweep all constituency seats.
    There will unionist tactical voting all over the place this time. As much as I would love to see a few more Green MSP’s instead of Lab/Tories, dividing the vote is just too much of a risk for me.
    A pro-indy majority is more important than a diverse parliament at this time.
    And the SNP has proved they can do that.

    Complacency or risk-taking could set us back years. All momentum would be lost.
    The Tories set a trap with limited income tax devolution.. hoping to divide the pro-indy vote before independence could be achieved.

    Let’s not fall for it. Eyes on the prize.

    SNP x 2 worked last time. They got us the first referendum and I trust them to get us there again, even if we have to wait 4 or 5 years for the best conditions to win this time.
    Make no mistake, it is still the number one priority of every single member I know.

  16. Keith Hynd. says:

    I have a simple view of this, I will place my X in the box for SNP time and time again before this and after this election, and I will continue to do so until we achieve independence!
    When we have an independent Scottish parliament then and only then will I allow myself to look at the options and decide who is left and who is right, who is social democrat and who is social deviant and in the first election of an independent Scottish parliament I will cast my vote based on the politics that suit me best.

  17. * David Smith* says:

    Very Simply put, Paul. I’m so fed up with these careless people( when the recipe of success is in our hands then we risk stupidly throwing it away) who think everything’s okay as it stands because an OPINION POLL says everything’s all sunshine and roses for the SNP. Well it’s NO, aright! You either want independence or you want to risk sabotaging it.The greens have to be sacrificed for the time being and don’t get me started on those numpties rise. They will have to earn my and many others votes with decades of hard work in the political wilderness just like the SNP had to in the 1930’s and so on. If you want independence it has to be SNP 1&2. End of discussion.

  18. Jan Cowan says:

    Without a doubt it’s SNPx2 for me. The only way forward.

  19. […] Source: Getting out of the cage […]

  20. The other thing to remember is that whilst the Greens and RISE support independence now there is no guarantee that they will do so in the future – even within the life time of the next Scottish Parliament.

    Is that a risk worth taking if independence is your ultimate goal?

    • Noel Darlow says:

      The reality is that both the SGP and RISE do support independence.

      “Both votes for Scotland” I could accept but “both votes SNP” is a huge mistake. There’s no point becoming independent if we can’t make smart decisions and trying to kill off an emerging political scene which builds on the increased political engagement following the referendum is not a smart thing to do.

      I’m seriously reconsidering giving my constituency vote to the SNP. Used to be I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

      • Morag says:

        Political party asks voters to vote for it. Gosh, there’s a shocker! Why would it be a “huge mistake”, again? Oh, because it might offend the sensitive souls in the fringe parties who expect to be handed list votes as of right, or as “pity votes”, without going to the bother of campaigning on their own policies and records.

        Boo hoo.

  21. This is the first time I’ve commented on wee ginger, despite being an avid reader,. I would like to give a vote to all of the pro indy parties but you’re right, we canny risk losing the majority so it has to be snp x 2 and as you say, in the event of Independence that’s when we would see the parties evolve and scotland flourish and really take off in a direction of our own choosing, I’m not trying to kiss your arse or anything, I’m sure you already have someone to do that, but I have to say, and I think I speak for all of us when I say, thanks for being a really strong voice in this thing that we’re trying to do. this is proper journalism and when I say that I mean the articles and the comments. cheers Paul, cheers everyone, keep your chin up wee indy parties, come on the snp. Independence will happen and remember we have to persuade the no voters even though we feel like throttling some of them but they were lied to big time so be patient and respectful or we’ll end up pushing them away. I’m away to listen to “something inside so strong” now P.S. nearly greetin.

  22. Aye. My take on this is that tactical voting is far too fraught with the danger of allowing Yoons in through the back door. Good luck to Rise, but now is the wrong moment. I’m just sorry I don’t have a vote!

  23. Punklin says:

    In other circus, I could support Greens or Rise for some of their policies but their reluctance to accept that a vote for them at this particular election can only help the unionists makes them, objectively at least, just another SNP bad voice that will do anything to stop independence.

    We are working so hard to use this election to build support for independence. It’s frustrating that our supposed allies are trying to stop that happening just as much as the red and blue tories are. Think harder, guys. SNP x2

    • Noel Darlow says:

      As an SGP member, it’s also frustrating for our supposed allies in the SNP to be trying to kill us off. If you’re serious about independence, you have to stop actively undermining other independence supporters.

      • Morag says:

        Jeez, have you no self-awareness at all? Nobody is trying to “kill you off”. You’re being cordially invited to campaign for votes on your policies and record, and quit lying to people about a list vote for the SNP being “wasted”. It’s a lazy cheat to gain votes on false pretences.

        And if you were actually to try to pitch for the Labour, Conservative and LibDem soft Nos who wouldn’t vote SNP if it was the last day at dinnertime, well that would be good too.

        • Noel Darlow says:

          Come on now. Suppressing smaller pro-independence parties is exactly what many posters have been arguing for – including you (“the time to start building our own unique political ecosystem is after independence day”).

          I can think of at least two good reasons to question a strategy based on the assumption that the SNP are the only independence party:

          (1) they’re not the only independence party

          (2) they’re not the only independence party

          If it was “both votes for Scotland” I’d be fine with that.

          I wouldn’t complain about anyone who wants to cast both votes for the SNP if they’ve got a good reason to do that.

          However, I do object to the attempt to persuade voters that parties like the SGP are undermining the goal of independence or aren’t really committed to it.

          The SNP were expected to break up after independence because their disparate interests would no longer have a reason to hold together under one banner. If the SNP is already a kind of coalition what exactly is the problem with trying to create an even stronger, broader coalition for independence?

          This is the logical next step after losing the referendum. Showing people that Scotland can create its own, vibrant, political culture responsive to the needs and wishes of its people could be very persuasive.

  24. Punklin says:

    Sorry, circumstances not circus. Though if the clown hat fits…. 🙂

  25. Patience is a Virtue says:

    Something tried my patience recently.

    I got a leaflet through my letterbox about how bad the SNP are, from Ruth, saying on behalf of the Conservatives that ‘Scotland needs a strong Opposition’, that they intend to ‘hold the SNP to account’ that they will be ‘focusing on the issues that matter’ and that they ‘say no’ to a second independence referendum’ ….it wasn’t actually that, that tried my patience.

    It wasn’t anything Willie Rennie / the Liberals said (because I haven’t seen any leaflets from the Liberals)…
    It wasn’t the Scottish Greens (Ross Greer).
    It wasn’t even what was claimed in the leaflet from Ken Macintosh representing Labour for Eastwood saying he was going to be ‘protecting the BBC’ or even the leaflet from Kezia (which claims ‘we the Labour Party are going to use our powers’)… so your Party is not planning to abstain on this occasion then! … the same Labour party that voted down 210 amendments to possibly achieve more powers, and helped introduce the Austerity – we all so much desire)!!… no it wasn’t even that that tried my patience.

    It was the fact that Ruth, Kezia (and Ken in particular, representing Eastwood) don’t seem to know that Newton Mearns is not in Glasgow (as their addressed leaflets claim, no matter how many times the lie is repeated).. ….it’s in East Renfrewshire.
    So when you take the time to personally address letters to a given address (one can only guess where you acquire this information from)… you should at least aim to get the detail correct.

    Attention to detail is needed if you want any chance of winning people over to your cause. I am afraid you and your Parties all failed miserably on this occasion and likely you will again very soon, for failing to understand the detail of why people are not satisfied with what your particular Parties currently have to offer.

    The leaflet from Nocola/the SNP managed to get it right… so on that basis alone it’s currently
    SNP x1, Greens X1 (though to be fair, the Greens did not venture to stick an address on their leaflet (at least they did not get it wrong!)

    I will continue to monitor communications in the weeks ahead, both through my letterbox and the MSM, to see if I can be influenced by what they may claim, let’s see what you have to offer.
    I am currently minded to vote for Independence X2.

    • Are you serious? Just because someone probably on work experience gets your address wrong you wont vote for them. I have one of them funny mac names…..and get as many different spellings as are possible. Sheesh I even had to ask my sons teacher how many years have you been teaching my son……THREE!!!……….Yet you cant spell our surname correctly. I will be voting for Independence no matter how the SNP spell my name or my {Gaelic) address SNP x 2 is the only logical sane sensible choice ATM

  26. Hazel Smith says:

    SNP – Independence X 2

  27. Fermerfaefife says:

    The Almondbank council by election in perth should be a salutary lesson for all and an indication of how it’s going to play out. SNP candidate thoroughly spanked by all the unionist voters getting behind the tories.
    That will be happening all across the country and there will be constituencies that SNP lose because of it.
    We MUST retain the SNP majority or the whole independence game is up. SNPX2 only way.
    The greens million signatures for indy an example of how NOT committed they are to indy – they could have quite easy just put support for another indyref in their manifesto without the caveats.

  28. Wee Jonny says:

    I’ve been SNP and Yes for a wee while now and the points made from everyone above are all good and valid. “UKIP through the back door. UKIP through the middle” you say.

    Did you no see the nit pickin interview we David Coburn the other night, and the subsequent interviews Wings posted?

    After ‘Bruister’ Coburn’s show the other night I’ve taken all my Yes and other pro Indy signs off my car and hoos windees, taken my many Yes t.shirts, flags and badges to the nearest dump and cancelled my membership o the SNP.

    UKIPx2 fir me;)

    • Poha says:

      Why on earth would you do that ? What has the interview or indeed what Wings wrote have to do with SNP or the Yes campaign?

      Mr Coburn made a fool of himself he couldn’t answer any questions and I’m astounded at how quickly you converted to UKIP what on earth did he say to make you change your mind and become a unionist ? Puzzling.

      • Wee Jonny says:

        Easy there Snowflake, it was a joke.

        How anyone can vote for Bruisters party is beyond comprehension.

        I am 100% Yes and 100% SNP. My car is covered in pro Indy signs (including Wee Ginger Dug obv’) and I wear my Yes badges in full view every day.

        I’d link a photo of my car but I dinny ken how ti, but there’s nay mistaking my politics. Check WeeJonny1 on Twitter and see for yirsel.

        • Poha says:

          Should’ve guessed Wee Jonny, the wife’s so jittery getting near votin time and she’s hormonal too she forced me to repy to you lol that’ll teach me


          • Wee Jonny says:

            Easily done Poha.
            I get easily riled up at any bad mouthing of the SNP and even more so at the Yes movement as we get enough o that from our ‘friends’.
            Take care pal.


  29. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  30. I’ve been laid low for twa weeks with this fecking ‘flu that’s doing the rounds. It started off as a ‘heavy cold’, but given my age , and sixty years of abusing this old carcass of mine, it’s gone into my chest, and for several days , because I am a man, (You’d better believe it. Mrs C.) I’ve been at death’s door.
    An excellent piece, Paul, and a timely reminder that the Media, and the fringe parties, who were ostensibly pro independence during the Referendum, are now vying for a prize, a 60 grand a year seat at Holyrood; hence all this ‘give me your second vote’ nonsense.
    I’d imagine that most of the 45 % who voted Yes, will vote SNPx2.
    We’re not daft.
    We are also realistic.
    I love language: the power of words, and the eloquence of some orators to get their ideas, hopes and aspirations across to the people, is magical, a precious gift.

    ‘Perfunctory’ is a smashing wee word.
    I accessed a hustings meeting in ‘Govan'(? ) through a link here or WoS. No matter.

    Nothing illustrated your cogent argument for pro Independence voters to return an SNP government and not be seduced by the smaller parties into splitting their voted than this mish mash of candidates.

    There were 8 hopefuls, with a chairman controlling the mike.

    It was a hand held production, so I didn’t get all the names of the candidates, nor could I bothered undertaking further research.

    There was the green candidate, the Rise candidate (that blonde lass whose name I really should know by now) a candidate from ‘the Women’s Party’, an Amber Rudd lookalike who was standing for the Lib Dems, Johann Lamont , god love her, who looked as though she would rather be any where else but there, a tall rotund Tory Boy in a generous M&S jumper, Ivan Mc Kee, for the SNP, a man for whom I have a lot of time, and lo and behold, the far far left’s equivalent of David Coburn, Tommy perma-tan Sheridan, in black T shirt with ‘INDYREF 2 ” emblazoned on it.

    ‘Perfunctory’, ‘superficial’, ‘going through the motions’.

    Those candidates on the fringes of the Independence Movement, RISE, the Greens, Solidanski (or whatever Sheridan is calling himself these days) have abandoned Independence; their goal seems to be to get on the Holyrood gravy train first, and selfishly, as you point out here , Paul, set back the Independence Movement ‘for a generation’.
    We are not having it.
    I can spot a barnstorming chancer when I see one. And Tommy Boy will do until a barnstorming chancer comes along.

    The hall was packed with Sheridan’s Marauders.
    Tommy berated the SNP for not attacking Tory cuts as vigorously, presumably as he, and his Socialist Army.

    Get the Irn Bru crate out, set up in the pedestrian precinct in Buchanan St.n, and scream ‘death to the Tories’; that ought to do it.
    (rapturous applause and halloo-ing from the Converted.)
    Jesus wept.
    SNPx2. Our very future depends on it.

  31. Shagpile says:

    It was votes 1 and 2 which broke the system designed to deliver minority/coalition government in Holyrood and gave us majority SNP. I do not see how any other tactic will deliver the same result.

    I totally agree with Paul here, but I’d add that before all bets are off we require just one more SNP majority to ensure we are not buggered by Westminster in the independence negotiations.

    Then and only then, once I see how the (by that time) former unionist parties have morphed will I seriously consider changing my vote. Perhaps by then on any given policy, rather than SNP bad, we might hear not quite bad from them (SNP) but ours better and why.

    The SNP are the only roadworth vehicle on the road to our goal at the moment. Please don’t swap it for a “yoonycycle”.

  32. heidie772 says:

    Hi Paul, in your blog on the 19th January you suggested that we vote with our conscience and you yourself wouldn’t be voting SNP in the constituency vote because your MSP doesn’t support LGBT rights…

    “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.”

    I am wondering why the shift in thought now that you seem to be supporting #bothvotessnp

    Many thanks, I enjoy reading your blog.

    • K1 says:

      People can reassess the situation and…shockingly I know!

      Change their minds!

      It’s rocket science ah tell ye…rocket science!

  33. Orri says:

    The SNP haven’t broken D’Hondt yet. A party only does that by getting more seats than they would have if there were no constituency votes. Be interesting to see what the results of previous elections would have been on list alone.

    I’ve several reservations about only having a single constituency vote. A major one is that I believe the SNP vote is, at times, being boosted by tactical votes from supporters of other parties. It’d also reduce the chances of a locally popular candidate of a minority party taking a seat when there isn’t enough support in the region for more than one or two. Imagine the fun if the LDs actually got a constituency seat and their party leader didn’t get in because of it.

    There are 73 FPTP elections this time rather than the 59 at the GE. Allow for enough variation in support for 8 non SNP seats so only 65 and a majority of 1. Variations in regional support will get a handful of list seats though.

    It’s worth considering how D’Hondt works. It’s a method of setting a maximum tarif of votes per seat. On a pure list basis it goes. Assume there’s only 1 seat. Obviously the party with the most votes gets it. Then you wonder if you add another seat who gets it. Easy answer would be it goes to the party that got the next most votes. Not particularly fair if the first party has more than twice their votes. OK so that’s how you allocate seats. The important thing is that when all’s said and done one party has exactly enough votes for the seats they won and all the rest have anything from 1 to just under enough for a seat. That’s why any attempt at tactical voting is doomed to failure regardless of whether your party won the last seat or not.

    The risk is that you barely got that seat. If you’re lucky all that happens is the party you gave a vote to gets in. But as there are at least three, or four if you count UKIP, other parties in the mix then the much vaunted probability is there’s an 80% chance that neither party will get the seat.

    That holds equally for Green voters or any other party with at least some credibile chance at least 4.5% on the list depending on total number of seats and parties. The joy of UKIP on the rise and possibly gaining votes due to the EU referendum is that it might actually boost both SNP and Green chances at a seat.

    End of the day the list vote is no place for a tactical vote if there’s any chance of getting a seat. On the other hand the constituency vote is. Given that you don’t know in advance how the constituency or list votes will turn out then the best advice isn’t to vote SNP or Green based on a risky attempt to game the system or being conned by a party misrepresenting how it works. It’s simply to vote with your heart on the list and your head at the constituency level.

  34. macbedas says:

    Before Independence:

    If you want independence vote for Scotland by using both votes SNP

    After independence:

    Vote for whoever or whatever you want because it’s a free country.

    It really is that simple.

  35. […] notion that only the SNP can secure a second referendum, and that this can only be achieved with political stability. Proponents of the notion often suggest that more conservative policies now are the price we have […]

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