Polling: August 2008 Archives

Sage advice.

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A couple of days ago Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting (left) floated a radical idea for the next Holyrood election, assuming the SNP remain way ahead of Labour in the polls. Other SNP tactical voters, he suggests, should consider giving the Greens their regional list vote, formerly known as the second vote. 

We are, he says, "a cracking party", hopefully in the "cracking cheese, Gromit" sense. 

Above all, for him and other tactically-minded nationalists, this is because we Greens support a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future. With Wendy gone, no-one else does, so their Bill is almost certain to fall.

However much the SNP find it rewarding to go to the country in 2011 complaining about "obstructive unionists", the electoral system makes getting 65+ seats an exceptionally tall order for a single party. 

This isn't a coincidence: it was part of the original Dewarite thinking - along with "dish the Nats" and "inevitable coalition government". Those two objectives may have demonstrably failed, but 65+ remains a mountain under the alternative member system, which was designed to give diminishing returns as you get closer to the magic number. Some wonk should do a graph. It'd probably look a bit like this

Although Salmond has an eye-popping ability to make extravagant political predictions come true, as noted here before, even he hasn't claimed they can get an absolute majority next time. In his tartan heart he knows it isn't going to happen, otherwise we'd have definitely heard about it from him.

All things must pass, as I keep reminding SNP friends, but it does remain hard to see how Labour can restore their fortunes in less than three years without an Nat implosion of some as yet unknowable sort. If the SNP go into the next election 19 points ahead on the constituency list, might it make sense for them to encourage their voters to back the Greens, at least in some regions? 

To see the sort of wasted votes they're worried about, just look at Central Scotland, where 112,596 people voted Labour on the list last time, almost as many votes as the second and third parties combined. This heroic turnout returned precisely zero list MSPs. The same applied in 2003 and in 1999. Massive piles of votes straight into the recycling, effectively expressing no preference amongst the other parties.

The same happened in Glasgow, and in West, and in South, at all three elections. In short, Labour list votes haven't elected anyone across half of Scotland since the Parliament was established. Liberal list voters in the Highlands have never elected an MSP, either, incidentally.

If the Nats start cleaning up completely in the constituencies (as per this fantasy constituency map), the same would undoubtedly start happening to them, starting in the North East, then Mid Scotland and Fife, then Highlands and Islands. Salmond's people are surely too smart to let those votes pile up for no purpose, unlike Labour strategists?

Under these circumstances, I can quite see why, leaving aside the referendum, SNP supporters might well think it better to make us their second choice. They see Labour as the obstacle, so they're absolutely out. The Liberals stuck two fingers up at them in May last, so they're absolutely out. The Tories have proved pragmatic partners for Salmond's administration but remain ultra-Unionist, so they're out for many. 

So, Green it is, then. While we disagree with a swathe of SNP policy (over transport, planning, climate change and the economy in particular), we also agree on a fair amount too (tuition fees, nuclear power and nuclear weapons, civil liberties, support for small businesses and votes at 16, to pick a few examples). 

Such an election would also not feature the squeeze which cost us so dearly last year, and which was replicated in Glasgow East. Even without tactical voting, we are clearly best placed to benefit from any desire to make post-2011 "a more interesting and diverse parliament" if we work hard and make a clear case for a green agenda. 

Jeff says "it's thyme", presumably because herbs are green too. Whatever the logic, I'm always pleased to see people making the case for Green votes. It's sage advice.


Kez agrees.

Craig, not so much.

Angry Steve, not at all.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Polling category from August 2008.

Polling: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Polling: September 2008 is the next archive.