Jamie Blackett

In defence of George Galloway

George Galloway campaigning ahead of the general election in 2017. Image: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Last week was a long time in politics for my running mate in the Scottish elections, George Galloway. It started with a YouGov poll finding that George is the best known opposition leader in Scotland and the one that voters in several regions think would provide the strongest opposition to the SNP. We used that as the springboard for our Covid ‘Potemkin rallies’, where George announces from his soapbox that he will be ‘holding his nose and voting Tory’ as tactical voting is the only way to defeat the SNP.

If Scottish Tories were grateful for the endorsement of Scotland’s best known left-winger, they had a funny way of showing it. Disquiet in the Tory camp that George is better known than their leader, Douglas Ross, led to aggressive trolling by anonymous Tory accounts seemingly primed with the narrative that All for Unity is a ‘fringe party that won’t win seats and is only going to split the vote’ – a rather implausible accusation given the poll. This canard has been pushed energetically by entitled MSPs who sense, wrongly, All for Unity standing between them and the trough.

If Scottish Tories were grateful for the endorsement of Scotland’s best known left-winger, they had a funny way of showing it

Far from splitting the vote, the clue is in the name. Cross-party All for Unity’s raison d’être is first to translate the silent ant-nationalist majority into victory in as many constituency seats as possible (where we are not standing) through super-charged tactical voting. And secondly to maximise the efficacy of the Unionist vote on the lists. The major parties are handicapped by their list votes being divided by the number of constituency seats already won plus one. The SNP/Green coalition won power, despite a majority of votes being cast for pro-British parties, because the separatist side gamed the system better.

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