No dilemma

There is no dilemma. No matter how the media present things, for those of us who recognise and accept the priorities of this election, there is no dilemma. There is only an apparent dilemma if your priorities are different. If your priority is to weaken the SNP and the Scottish Government, then it will suit you to present a dilemma. If your priority is some measure of electoral success for your favoured OPIP (other pro-independence party) you will want voters to perceive the election as presenting something of a quandary.

If your instincts are geared to promoting uncertainty, confusion and trepidation simply as an exercise in manipulative power, then you will be inclined to concoct dilemmas where none exist.

But if you are looking at the electoral options rationally, and you are one of the people whose priorities are those that both informed and derived from the Yes movement, then there is no dilemma.

If the priority is to ensure that Scotland is served by a competent administration for the next five years, there is no dilemma. Regardless of any other consideration – and setting aside all prejudice – it has to be allowed that the SNP has earned a reputation for effective management of Scotland’s affairs. Disregarding the British establishment’s desperate efforts to portray Scotland as some kind of ‘failed state’ where all is catastrophe and crisis, the popular verdict on the last couple of SNP administrations is that ‘they’ve done no bad’.

If it is a straight choice between the SNP and what else is on offer based on who can be trusted to manage the economy and generally look after Scotland’s interests, there is no dilemma. If good governance is the priority, then the rational agent will seek to ensure another SNP majority. They will not do anything to jeopardise that majority. They will ask penetrating questions of those who insist that this majority is safe enough that they can afford to take chances with their list vote. They will reflect on the matter of what they might stand to gain even if the gamble pays off. They will think long and hard about the price of losing.

They will be left in no doubt that the only rational strategy is #BothVotesSNP.

If the priority is to take forward the cause of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, there is no dilemma. The rational individual will ask how this project could possibly be served better than by voting for the party of independence. They will recognise that the SNP’s commitment to independence is unequivocal and unconditional. They wonder how this might be improved upon. They will note that other pro-independence parties (OPIP) are somewhat less firm in their commitment to independence. They will listen to how their talk of independence is hedged around with caveats and conditions and references to narrow agendas.

They will be perplexed by claims that such wavering and tenuous espousal of the cause of independence might add more to the pro-independence credentials of the Scottish Parliament than the total commitment of the SNP.

They will come to the reasoned conclusion that, to whatever extent they are motivated by the desire for constitutional reform, their purposes are best served by ensuring that as many votes as possible go to the party that is dedicated to bringing Scotland’s government home. There is no dilemma. It will be #BothVotesSNP.

If the priority is to safeguard the legacy of the Yes movement and maintain an environment in which a new politics can continue to develop, there is no dilemma. Realising that the imperative driving the parties representing the British establishment is to crush and suffocate any progressive challenge to the old order and the old ways, voters will ask themselves which party is best placed to stand against the power of the British state.

Only the SNP has the strength to do this. The Scottish electorate has shaped the SNP, in large part, for this very purpose. No other party is anywhere close to being in a position to challenge the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. Even those who are dissatisfied with the SNP’s performance in this regard must, if they are being honest and realistic, acknowledge that there is nothing better on offer in this election.

If the priority is to protect Scotland’s potential for change, then the best strategy is to secure an SNP majority. And this strategy is enhanced by going that bit further and striving for the biggest possible mandate. A mandate that can serve as both shield and sword in the hands of Scottish Government confronted by a British establishment fearful of a potent challenge to its authority and status.

It is ironic indeed that, for those whose stated purpose is to break free of the ideologically-driven austerity of a British state seemingly irretrievably mired in neo-liberal orthodoxy, success in this Holyrood election might be the worst possible outcome in terms of that purpose. For them too, there should be no dilemma. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, they too are best served by #BothVotesSNP.

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