Stephen Daisley Stephen Daisley

How Unionists are playing into SNP hands

There is a chance pro-Union voters in Scotland are about to shoot themselves in the foot, but every time I try to pry the gun away I’m met with outrage and incredulity. The source of the consternation is All for Unity (previously known as Alliance for Unity), or rather my insistence on pointing out some facts they would rather I didn’t. AfU is standing on the regional list in May’s Holyrood elections, hoping to capture the hardcore anti-SNP vote and those frustrated with the mainstream pro-Union parties.

AfU urges Unionists to vote tactically to send a group of anti-independence MSPs to Holyrood. I have pointed out the flaws in this proposition a couple of times now. My problem with AfU is simple: what it says isn’t true. It encourages voters unfamiliar with the electoral system to believe they can vote ‘tactically’ on the regional list. I am in favour of tactical voting in close seats like Dumbarton (vote Labour), North East Fife (vote Lib Dem) and Galloway and West Dumfries (vote Tory) because those are elected under first past the post and that is when tactical voting is most effective. Others would object that the effectiveness of tactical voting in constituencies is offset by the list, which calculates seats by dividing votes received by constituencies won in each region, plus one. However, there is little dispute on this point: it is all but impossible to manipulate the list vote because its purpose is to increase overall proportionality.

ListVoteSense, a pro-independence blog challenging the claims of AfU’s nationalist analogues, cautions: ‘Unless someone can show you actual modelled outcomes to prove their assertions about list “tactical voting”, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. But they won’t because they can’t.’ While it is aimed at SNP voters flirting with Action for Independence and the Independence for Scotland party, I recommend ListVoteSense’s blogging to pro-Union voters similarly tempted.

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