Needs must

Yet another blog about tactical voting. Firstly, I’m obliged to point out yet again that there is no “1&2”. This implies preference voting. There is no preference voting in Scottish Parliamentary elections. There are two separate ballots. These are not numbered, as this would suggest an order of importance or significance. Both are equally important and equally significant.

Having thus wasted my time once more, I move on to the second point – the reasons why #BothVotesSNP is the ONLY rational voting strategy for those who aspire to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status and/or those whose priority is to ensure competent government in the meantime.

Let me stress that this is not a matter of ‘telling people how to vote’. A bloody silly notion anyway, as there is absolutely no way to compel anybody to vote in a particular way. People will vote as they please regardless of anything that anyone says to them. This is about helping people to make informed choices -if an informed choice is what they are aiming for. There is no requirement to vote on the basis of sound knowledge and reasoned assessment of the parties and candidates. You are perfectly at liberty to vote for whoever has the nicest tie or shoes, if that’s your thing. You can even pick totally at random, if that’s what you want.

You don’t have to take a test to qualify for a vote. You don’t have to give reasons for voting as you do. You don’t even have to actually vote. You can draw male genitalia on both your ballot papers without fear of punishment or penalty. That vote is yours. It belongs to you in the mast absolute sense of that word.

Just bear in mind that your vote only has the value that you place on it. You can value it as an ineffectual gesture of protest. Or you can value it is an effective instrument in the democratic process. Again! It’s entirely up to you.

Nor is #BothVotesSNP about ‘blind allegiance’ to the party. Of course, there are ideological motives for giving both votes to the SNP. Of course people can, and often will, vote with their hearts as well as their heads. But there are ideological reasons for voting for any party. The notion of ‘partisan loyalty’ is not exclusive or particular to any one party. What matters is the weight that one gives to party allegiance relative to other factors in the matrix of an informed electoral choice. There is precisely zero reason to suppose that SNP members and supporters are more prone to an excess of partisan emotion than the members and supporters of any other party.

The fact that ‘blind allegiance’ is almost never mentioned in relation to any party other than the SNP is just part of the British establishment’s propaganda effort.

What makes #BothVotesSNP the ONLY rational voting strategy for the groups mentioned earlier is that the non-emotional reasons for doing so are utterly compelling. They include, but may not be limited to, the following;

An SNP majority government is an absolute imperative. Nobody among those who are even remotely likely to give their constituency vote to the SNP would disagree. If they were honest, even many of those who simply will not vote SNP under any circumstances would admit that they secretly hope for an SNP majority government.

The failure of the other parties is so abysmal and comprehensive that there really isn’t a meaningful choice in this election. Nobody – not even SNP activists such as myself – considers this to be a desirable, or even an acceptable, situation. It is most assuredly NOT what a healthy democracy looks like. But it is the reality that we have to deal with. Wishful thinking won’t change it. Only the often irritatingly slow grind of the democratic process will bring about the development of parties which offer a credible alternative to the SNP.

For the moment, there is only the SNP. So we have to ensure that they get the seats they need to form a majority government. The SNP is NOT ‘guaranteed’ that majority on the constituency vote. It is likely that regional seats will be required. The fact that, from one perspective, the electoral system works to penalise success in the constituency ballot doesn’t, as some claim, imply that we should be less inclined to give them our list vote. It means that we should be more inclined to do so. Because more votes are needed to be effective in achieving the desired outcome.

Asking people to vote for some other party on the regional ballot is asking them to vote AGAINST the outcome they want.

There’s more to it than seats. It’s important that the SNP wins an outright majority. But it’s also important that the Scottish Government has a clear and unchallengeable mandate from the Scottish electorate. Make no mistake, the British establishment will do everything in its not inconsiderable power to deny or diminish the legitimacy of the Scottish Government. To the very considerable extent that this is a matter of Scotland versus the British state, we need to equip our government with the kind of mandate that even the most rabid British nationalist will have difficulty questioning.

Again, people will object that this is not a great way of ‘doing democracy’. Again, I would point out that we are dealing with a particular set of political circumstances. We are optimising our potential for ‘doing democracy’ better in the future. As undesirable as single party dominance may be, it is infinitely better than the alternative of risking the British parties once again taking control of our parliament.

The third reason I will give for going with #BothVotesSNP is that there is nothing to gain by doing otherwise. While some of the other pro-independence parties (OPIP) are feverishly touting the notion of a ‘rainbow parliament’, the actual possibility of such a thing is almost entirely refuted by the electoral arithmetic. Pleasing as the thought of a diverse, but predominantly pro-independence, parliament may be, there is nothing in current polling to suggest that this is anything more than a fantasy.

And if we want a pro-independence parliament, why would we vote for any party other than the SNP? It is, after all, the only party that is unequivocally and unconditionally committed to bringing Scotland’s government home.

OPIPs claim that they will bring ‘alternative voices’ to the Scottish Parliament. Perhaps! But will they be heard? Is it not more likely that the mainstream media will simply ignore them? The British establishment is finding it difficult enough to accept that the SNP is now part of the equation. What regard are they going to have for ‘alternative voices’? The British establishment’s dearest wish is a return to the halcyon days of the faux rivalries of the British parties. The very last thing they want is to offer a platform to ‘alternative voices’.

Except, of course, when those ‘alternative voices’ are echoing the lies and distortions peddled by the mainstream media. Anything that can be spun into the service of anti-SNP propaganda will be seized upon. Other than that, the OPIUPs might as well not exist.

Quite simply, electing OPIP MSPs does vanishingly little or nothing at all to make our parliament better serve the priorities of good governance; maintaining an environment in which progressive politics can flourish; and progress towards independence.

That’s why my rational choice is #BothVotesSNP.

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6 thoughts on “Needs must

  1. Kenny Scott

    a Scottish Labour Party (pro-independence/home rule) could be a successful Holyrood party. I’m surprised that no Independent Labour party has emerged (either new or a section of the British Labour party Scottish branch) to reclaim the party of Keir Hardie and Robert Cunninghame Graham.

  2. Macbeda

    In a nutshell

    Vote for

    Scotland first, Party Second

    Then, in an independent Scotland

    Vote for

    Whoever or whatever you want because it’s a free country.

  3. Brian Henderson

    I have said before,we are in a propaganda war. We have to keep promoting Scotland.both votes snp is at present the only way forward.The msm will not assist in any way

  4. Neil Anderson

    Some of the language used between both sides of the 1&2 discussion has been very poorly considered. We need to remember we’re talking to allies, even when we differ about the route to Independence

    Happily it’s rare but I’ve seen some very toxic stuff. So bad I reckon it could end up losing SNP1 votes. We also need to turn the momentum into a safr majority for Yes ready for Indyref2. That means bring soft No votes over. We should save the vitriol for active hard unionists.

    BTW ‘telling people how to vote’ is just a metaphor for campaigning in an election & indeed it’s exactly what lies of people are doing. Being told something doesn’t mean being compelled or forced.

  5. Pingback: Every Vote Counts | A Wilderness of Peace

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