The ‘Tactical Voting’ groupies are in denial

bella_headlineThere’s no SNP majority at Holyrood.  The party came up short on the regional list vote.  The consolation for independence supporters is that the Scottish Greens amassed enough MSPs to ensure a pro-independence chamber.

Those who asserted before the Scottish election that an SNP majority was guaranteed have been proven wrong.  Those who suggested that the nationalists could achieve a majority via the constituency vote alone have been proven spectacularly wrong.

The SNP was never guaranteed a majority.  The ‘guaranteed majority’ line was pushed by people for whom the myth suited an agenda.  Top of that list were those who created and/or promoted the ‘radical’ newcomers known as RISE.

RISE emerged from the socialist left-overs of the independence referendum.  Launched last August it was touted by Cat Boyd as the party that was going to occupy the space that “cannot be filled” by the SNP or the Scottish Greens.  Almost from the outset it adopted a strategy of targeting SNP votes.

RISE didn’t invent the myth of the SNP ‘guaranteed majority’ but it seized on it with relish.  Pretty soon RISE and its supporters were pushing a lie that voting SNP on the regional list was a wasted vote.

The lie morphed into a disingenuous claim that independence supporters could boost Holyrood’s pro-indy contingent by voting tactically.  The ‘tactical voting’ ploy ran in parallel with the claim it would not inhibit an SNP majority.

wasted vote

We can never know how many SNP voters were influenced by the claim that their List vote was wasted, what we do know is that the fall in the nationalist List vote cost the party List seats and ultimately a majority.

Had the ‘wasted vote’ nonsense been confined to the online opportunists it might not have had much traction beyond cyberspace.  But it wasn’t confined.  The pro-Union main-stream media picked it up and boy did it run with it.

The issue of tactical voting was promoted by BBC Scotland in the run-up to the election.  Several broadcasts lent credence to the idea that the voting system could be gamed.

When The Sunday Herald published a disingenuous front page that claimed a leading psephologist had advised independence supporters to vote RISE or Green on the list, the media went into ‘tactical voting’ overdrive.

herald snp vote wasted

The result was that ‘tactical voting’ seeped into the campaign coverage in the final days.  It almost certainly harmed the SNP.

You’d think there would be some contrition from those who promoted RISE and its disingenuous and ultimately harmful campaign strategy.  But there’s not a bit of it.

Here’s Kevin Williamson from Bella Caledonia:

kev williamson1

The tweet is of course a reference to the decision by Nicola Sturgeon to hold up a copy of the Scottish Sun on the day the newspaper endorsed the SNP’s election campaign.  The implication from Mr Williamson is that the SNP’s vote dropped because Nicola Sturgeon was photographed holding a copy of the newspaper.

In another tweet, Kevin Williamson actually attacked the SNP’s strategy [adopted by supporters and pro-indy pragmatists] of asking its supporters to vote for it on both ballots.

kev williamson3

The alternative of course would have been to urge voters to back another party.  But which party and in what regions?  What if some voters ignored the plea?  What if the List vote became so diverse and spread so thinly that it actually reduced the number of pro-indy MSPs?

Had the SNP even considered such a strategy, the pro-Union media would have rightly savaged it for trying to manipulate the system.  It would have faced accusations of a confused message.  Was it endorsing the policies of RISE?  Was it really urging its supporters to back ‘perjurer’ Tommy Sheridan.  Such a tactic would have been disastrous.

Prior to the election Kevin Williamson was amongst those who were asserting that the SNP was on course to win a majority through constituency seats alone.

kev williamson2

There was of course plenty the Unionist media could do about it. One was the cooked-up smear over Nicola Sturgeon and the Chinese ‘deal’.  The other was the promotion of the myth that the election campaign was ‘boring’ and that the SNP was already guaranteed a majority government.  How many people stayed at home thinking the result was in the bag?

I also came across two tweets from Common Space Editor Angela Haggerty that I found pretty insulting.

haggerty both votes snp

The suggestion that the election result should be treated as an indicator of the work required to win hearts and minds was just bizarre.  If it was an indicator, then given pro-indy parties are the majority at Holyrood, we’d already be in majority Yes territory.  We aren’t.  Pro-indy activists already know what lies ahead.

Ms Haggerty’s other tweet made reference to the ‘BothVotesSNP crew’ having meltdowns and advised they take time to reflect on the results ‘properly’.  I am a member of the ‘crew’.  I urged people to vote SNP on both ballots.  I am not in meltdown.

I have reflected on the result and concluded that tactical voting and claims of an SNP wasted vote contributed to the erosion of the SNP list vote.  I have concluded that people who promoted the idea that the SNP would dominate the constituency vote contributed to a myth that an SNP majority was guaranteed without the need for List votes.

I have also reflected on the consolation that we have a pro-independence majority thanks to the gains made by the Scottish Greens.  Had RISE been more successful in its quest for pro-indy votes, we might not have seen the Scottish Greens make these gains.  The Yes campaign avoided a nightmare scenario.  The pro-Union media are dining out on the ‘SNP Failure’ regardless.

mail ruth

Bella Caledonia together with Common Space promoted the electoral flop that was RISE.  RISE gave birth to the idea of an SNP wasted vote and the claim that the voting system used for the Holyrood election could be gamed by ‘tactical voting’.  The tactical vote claim was promoted by the media and shamefully by the Sunday Herald.

I’ve no doubt that some Yessers will think long and hard before deciding whether to continue to plough their hard earned cash into these outlets.  I for one am done with them.  They almost cost us our second referendum.

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30 thoughts on “The ‘Tactical Voting’ groupies are in denial

  1. Sheena J

    The yes movement has to be united.

    Scotland has a history of breaking into factions and dividing, probably aided and abetted by the British state. The election was political, people can do and say what they like in order to gain votes. The SNP failed to win a majority but the parliament is going to be more colourful and co-operative for it which will serve us better in the long term. The Tories will be exposed now for what they are.

    How does this article and others like it, focusing on negativity and turning us against each other help us move forward as a movement? It doesn’t.

    My frustration is that before the election we wasted endless amounts of words and energy on fighting each other, for what? Nothing.

    Let’s stop this now and work together to promote independence instead of wasting time on recriminations.

    Time for maturity and positivity. The positive yes campaign has a lot to teach us if we can just remember it.

    1. GA Ponsonby

      “How does this article and others like it, focusing on negativity and turning us against each other help us move forward as a movement? It doesn’t.”

      What it does is highlight the self-serving tactics of a few who used the Yes campaign in order to try to build their own little radical empire. They did this by promoting dishonest claims regarding the SNP List vote.

      They were prepared to sabotage the SNP List vote and, as it turns out, prevent an SNP majority. They indirectly may have harmed the Green List vote.

      Yes supporters need to be made aware of groups who may hijack any future campaign for their own agendas. They have already introduced division through dishonesty in this election.

      They are pro-independence, very confident but dangerously naive.

      1. Ayrshirelass

        I doubt their support for independence.

        They certainly want Scotland to be a more ‘ socialist country but they are also the people who would ditch independence if Jeremy Corbyn was in Downing Street.
        They see this as party political which is extremely useful for those who would deny Scotland the chance to set its own destiny as a modern european nation not held back by a 17th century political system.

        The Brexit campaign is used in exactly the same way by the likes of Jim Sillars and exploited by the media for the same obvious reasons.
        Its all a distraction from the real battle and the real prize.
        Hopefully the lesson has been learned by those who lent their vote to other parties.
        Vote for the SNP and no one but the SNP until independence is achieved.

  2. Wulls

    Let’s be honest here.
    There are “hard” SNP votes and “soft” SNP votes.
    Only the “soft” faction would be swayed by the “lend us your list vote” arguement put forward by many.
    Let’s be honest again….. It worked.
    The only benefit is hindsight is 20-20 and we can look back and identify clearly the media outlets, parties and individually who pushed this utter tosh.
    They would be the same ones who were encouraging complacency by loudly announcing that the SNP would clean up the constituencies.
    That also was utter rubbish.
    We can lick our wounds, identify the guilty, ostracise them and get on with it.
    What we cannot do is fail to learn from it.

  3. Jim Cassidy

    From my blog…

    “…to spend so much time talking about the unionist situation means that we ignore the failings or successes of the Yes side, if we can still refer to them in such a manner. While most of the Yes support has gone to the SNP, those supporters must remember where they came from. Tribalism within Yes will keep us down and divided, and we must get smarter if we are to have a Yes parliament, not simply an SNP dominated one. Reaffirmation of the Yes movement is needed and agreements should be made for the mutual benefit of the independence movement. Clearly the decision by the Greens to stand against Ruth Davidson cost the SNP that seat and allowed Davidson to claim victory as an endorsed constituency candidate. In some areas such as Glasgow or Central Scotland where polling showed it very likely that the SNP would sweep the board an official SNP 1, Green 2 campaign would have had a significant effect on reducing the unionist bloc. This would mean the Greens would have to agree not to stand in the constituencies and the SNP agreeing not standing on the list. Of course where this falls down is that this would mean some people putting the good of the cause of independence before their personal ambitions.
    As for the minority parties such as Solidarity and Rise, I think that we need to accept that for now they are a diversion and despite some of their fine ideals are not a realistic proposal for the pro Indy voter on the national stage. Over exposure in the National and to some extent The Herald skewed the perception of RISE, and if the don’t completely fall then perhaps the council elections next year may be a more realistic platform for them, where they can help deliver real benefits at a local level.”

    https://anindependentscotsman.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/ruth-davidson-a-new-hope/

    1. Dr Jim

      I think the Greens stood against the SNP not Ruth Davidson and why if you’re a small budget party who knew they had absolutely no chance of winning the seat, nor was it going to raise your profile in any way why would you spend money better used elsewhere

      If you were in business you’d be sacked by the shareholders for that decision
      unless there was another dividend coming from the investment in bringing down another company Ooops!

      Bring in Inspector Clouseau

      Those who did what they did know it and they’ll make excuses for it till the end of time It’s Scottish culture we’re on the verge of a historic win for Scotland and we take off the striker.. Boom…back of the net Gbrovia scores and the crowd goes silent then everybody blames anybody but themselves and the newspapers delight in the failure

      Ah, there’s no place like home

  4. Yes Alliance

    Sorry GA. I find this approach disastrous for the pro-independence movement, that STILL has a majority in parliament.

    The people of Scotland will get another referendum. It’s down to us.

    Stop pointing the finger at other Yes Groups. Lots of angry words have been exchanged. The SNP fell short of a majority. But even 750,000 SNP list votes returned 0 MSPs.

    The SNP still won. A massive mandate.

    I feel like, as Iain McWhirter has said “Petulant defeatism of hypernats is doing unionists’ job for them. There is a majority of independence MSPs. And SNP vote went up not down.”

    Stop trying to destroy the independence movement by trying to defund and shut down groups that have discussions you disagree with. It’s not healthy.

    Independence is coming. Let’s start building it and stop this stupid infighting.

    1. GA Ponsonby

      This isn’t ‘infighting’. It’s pointing out that there are those who have agendas as well as independence and who will implement naive strategies in order to achieve those agendas.

      It will be up to indy supporters whether they wish to fund these sites or not. I have made my views clear on that. I handed over cash to one of these sites after the indyref only to find the site promoting a new political party along with the idea that SNP List votes were wasted.

      There are plenty of groups that have discussions I disagree with and good luck to them. I can assure you that Bella Caledonia and Common Space are *not* the independence movement. They have thrived *because* of the movement. That movement does not rely on either of them.

      1. Yes Alliance

        It’s 100% pointless infighting. And seems based more on your ego that achieving independence. We NEED different voices and groups to win. Focus on getting more supporters not attacking the ones we have already, even if you oppose their politics.

        If anything it’s you who has the divisive agenda. Attacking the Sunday Herald and The National – who supported the SNP and independence.

        We have hardly any support in the media as it is without you trying to bankrupt the few papers and websites that support pro-indy groups. That’s what telling people to remove their money does. We’d have no voice. It’s dangerous and stupid.

        1. GA Ponsonby

          I haven’t attacked The National in this article [I *have* tweeted criticism of the lack of resourcing of it by Newsquest and described it as little more than a money making venture – that debate for another day].

          I have attacked the Sunday Herald for its disingenuous and ultimately damaging ‘tactical voting’ article. Many others also criticised it at the time. The criticism was deserved.

          “If anything it’s you who has the divisive agenda”
          You are free to hold that opinion.

        2. Jams O'Donnell

          No. We need one voice and group to win. We need diverse voices AFTER we have won independence.

      2. schrodingers cat

        This isn’t ‘infighting’. It’s pointing out that there are those who have agendas as well as independence and who will implement naive strategies in order to achieve those agendas.

        aye, world domination for lizard aliens

        get over yersel’ ponsonby, it is you who is being divisive.

        rubbish article

    2. Annette

      @Yes Alliance: So true. It’s the “Both Votes SNP” cohort who are in denial that they have wasted 750000 votes and that they do not understand the Holyrood voting system. If every SNP voted had voted both votes SNP, the result would have been no different. For the SNP to pick up more regional seats, there would have needed to be hundreds of thousands of people voting for a unionist party on the first vote and SNP on the 2nd. Such people do not exist at this current time.

  5. Lynda Williamson

    If we are ever to achieve independence we have to change the minds of those who voted ‘no’ not squabble over the votes of those who support independence already. I would have more sympathy with RISE and, to a lesser extent, the Greens if I felt that they worked as hard to take votes from the unionist parties as they did to take them from the SNP

  6. Alan Ritchie

    The SNP won every constituency in Glasgow, convincingly. Yet they were 36,000 votes short of winning a list seat. Had everyone voted SNP or unionist, there would still be 4 Labour and 2 Con.

    Had the SNP not pushed #bothvotesSNP relentlessly in Glasgow, and just ignored the other indy parties and the indy media campaign for split votes, then perhaps fewer unionists would have been elected. Perhaps not, but it would not have been worse.

    But the idea that independence and an SNP majority are one and the same goal is abhorrent to many. If the SNP embraced more Green or RISE policies, they would gain supporters from the left. But how many would they lose on the right?

    The simple fact is that the SNP tent cannot be big enough to hold both the cut corporation tax and APD and drill baby, drill factions, and RISE and Greens.

    1. GA Ponsonby

      “The SNP won every constituency in Glasgow, convincingly. Yet they were 36,000 votes short of winning a list seat.”

      Arithmetically correct Alan. But you are only able to cite the figure because you now know the result. Nobody knew the result on entering the voting booth. Nobody knew what would unfold. Voters can sometimes behave unexpectedly. Seeking to maximise its vote was exactly the correct way for the SNP to approach this campaign.

      “But the idea that independence and an SNP majority are one and the same goal is abhorrent to many.”

      As it should be. Just as well nobody here has made that claim.

      1. Alan Ritchie

        We could take a wild guess from all the polling showing a strong SNP constituency vote, and a collapsing Labour one.

        “As it should be. Just as well nobody here has made that claim.”
        Then who cares that the SNP fell short of a majority, when the Greens can get the indy ref vote over the line. More list tactical voting could have gained extra Greens at the expense of unionists, and perhaps the SNP would have lost a list seat for a Green as well. Is the indy movement stronger for having a SNP and a unionist MSP, or two Greens?

        So the RISE strategy was not surprising. The question they need to ask themselves is what went wrong – were they not seen as credible MSPs, do they simply not have enough activists, or is there simply not enough voters for a party with their policies.

        But add all the RISE votes to the SNP list, and what seat does the SNP gain?

  7. Ghillie

    What’s done is done.

    The BUM went all out as usual to manipulate and distroy where they could.

    Yes, some folk did maybe use poor judgement in attacting the SNP, if they were truly interested in Independence that is. There were plenty trolls and agent provocateurs about.

    And maybe with hindsight (even though Rev Stu tried to warn us all ) some folk did split the chances of proindy MSPs gaining seats and definitly not losing some!

    Yet the SNP still made history again and now the battle lines are much more clearly drawn between those for and against Independence for Scotland.

    Our new Green MSPs are welcome additions and will, I hope give credit where credit is due and work well and in harmony with their colleagues to improve the lot of the people of Scotland.

    Ruth’s feet will be fair blistered with being held to the fire. The Conservatives can’t hide behind Slab anymore. Interesting times folks!

    Onwards and upwards = )

  8. Dave

    Pomposity. Of the highest order. Extraordinarily counter productive. The egoism here is quite something. What incredible chutzpah to insist that a voting route to Indy *must* be one party’s way. Do you really think this is productive, in getting all those nonSNP-aligned voters with you to ultimately achieving indy? All this amazingly one-sided projection will do is ensure loads of folk go in the opposite direction. Thrawn is the word. Work out a means to live with a coaltion or risk burying your project. The SNP will, I assure you. You lot need to catch on to the incredible negativity of your direction.

    1. GA Ponsonby

      “What incredible chutzpah to insist that a voting route to Indy *must* be one party’s way.”

      The article says no such thing. That you invent something to argue against is up to you. Feel free to comment on my criticism of those who promoted a dishonest strategy on behalf of RISE that *could* have prevented indyref2.

  9. Mik

    Turns out splitting the vote was a mistake, who knew? well loads of us … sadly no one listened ending up with 2 seats short and a tory Opposition (how the hell did that happen (yes, i know how it happened)) we NEED to move forward from this, Over a million list votes for the SNP alone that’s something special, Something to be Proud of, BUT, lessons need to be learned, we need to put this behind us, move on, fight the good fight for Independence, and NEVER be so Gullible again… both votes for The SNP and Both Votes FOR IndyRef2

    Saor Alba Gu Brath my Friends

  10. Brian Henderson

    I do not get the logic behind splitting your vote.if you vote for a candidate of any party.it’s a pointless exercise giving your second vote to another party.
    The splitting of vote in Edinburgh central is a good example,
    All you have done is allow the msm,BBC,Tory’s a little ammunition which they will exploit to the full.The fact that the election was won with an increased vote
    By a party in power for 9 years,a mandate in itself.Will be suppressed.

    1. Alan Ritchie

      Vote for the party that you want on the list. Vote for the candidate you want on the constituency. They might not be the same party. Given that many parties don’t stand in every constituency, and many people may vote tactically in a constituency to stop a worse candidate rather than voting for their preferred option, it is no surprise that many people will choose to split their votes.

  11. David MacGille-Mhuire

    I see that there is an infestation of RISE apologists on this thread seeking to deflect from the results of their Trotskyite opportunism (as is the historical wont of the Trots with their infiltrating track record for narcissistic reasons).

    A superb piece of analysis, Mr Ponsonby, despite the above and foregoing posters self-serving, wriggling casuistry.

    That RISE ran in the contest is absolutely no problem whatsoever. Rather, it is fundamental to democracy that this opportunity be guaranteed.

    The crucial moral issue is that you collectively lied through your teeth in pursuit of your splittist agenda in pursuit of power for narcissistic power’s sake and, consequently, attempting to give comfort and aid to the British state with your web of deceit over the list vote.

    How’s that working out for you now in the cold electoral light of the post-electoral morning where you could not even exceed a fringe, nutter Christian party as well as the BNP?

    Ah well and given some of the oily, passive aggressive, self-exculpatory posts above in addition to the SWP’s solid track record in the foregoing as well as attempting to hijack parties and movements and making a pig’s ear of it, zero. De nada. Zilch and to hell with the collateral damage (see Tommy Ball’s blogspot for the havoc you wreaked on the SSP and sought to wreak on a far greater, democratic scale).

    As it now stands, you now stand full square in the territory of political oblivion as opposed to before the Scottish GE when you could hype and strut your Emperor’s New Clothes shimmie with a “little” help from the BritNat MSM and an increasingly threadbare National (some contributors excepted).

    Mr Ponsonby has got the whole shenanigans of you well summed up. Hence, your bairn-like squealing tarted up in pseudo-intellectual discourse which can simply be rendered as a variant of “It wisnae me, Mammy. Honest”..

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