As you will be aware, there is a Scottish Parliament election this year. On the 5th May you will go to the polling stations and have two votes to cast; one for your constituency and one for your region. The Scottish Parliament election uses the Additional Member System (AMS) to elect the 129 MSPs. The first 73 members are our constituency MSPs and they are elected by the First-Past-The-Post system.
The final 56 members are elected using the D’Hondt System. This system can seem a bit complicated, as there is a bit of maths involved. Basically, in order to elect our regional list members this method takes the total number of votes received by each party in the Region and puts the number through seven rounds of voting; one round for each list seat to be allocated. In each round, every party has its list vote divided by the number of seats it already has in the region – both constituency and list – plus 1. We call that number (total seats +1) the divisor. The +1 is necessary, as any party that did not win any constituency seats would be starting at 0. A number we know you cannot divide by. Therefore, the higher number of constituency seats a party receives, the higher number their votes are divided by. If the Scottish Parliament was elected wholly by FPTP and the May 2015 results were emulated, the SNP would have 123 SNP MSPs, with only 7 MSPs coming from other parties. (you can find more information on this at; http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/Education/16285.aspx )
It is the second vote that is currently causing issues with voters and they are questioning who to give that vote too. We want to make it clear that as a SNP supporter and/or member your second vote must go to the SNP.
SO WHY BOTH VOTES SNP?
If we use the 2011 election results and consider current polling, the idea that ‘RISE’ in particular can make any gains in this election is fanciful. Take the example of Central Scotland, the SNP took six constituency seats in 2011, and got three on the list. This means that by the time their final seat was won, their vote of 108,261 had been divided by nine, making 12,029 votes. To take a single list seat, that’s the target (12,029) the fringe parties would have to beat. The Green vote in 2011 was 5,634, so they would need to record a 109% increase in their vote to achieve this. The Scottish Socialist Party, which is now effectively ‘RISE’ only received 820 votes, they would ned an increase of 1437% in vote share and finally Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity got 559, so they’d need to increase their vote by 2,107%. This picture highlighting the challenge facing the fringe parties is largely emulated across Scotland. Consequently, a sizable drop in the Labour vote and increase in the SNPs ‘second vote’ would allow the SNP to make net gains before the fringe parties get a look in. So thinking for one second lending your second vote to RISE or the Greens is going to help the cause for independence is just total nonsense. Only in a dream world would they see such a surge in their votes. Also, you must remember that the Greens in particular do not have Scottish Independence at the forefront of their agenda. (A more in depth analysis is available at: http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-eye-of-reality/ )
Largely for the reasons outlined above, Tactical Voting will not work for the ‘second vote’. Tactical voting only really works in a binary system where there is a clear choice between two parties. In the General Election, the SNP won 56 seats because a solid proportion of the electorate got behind the SNP, however, the Unionist vote split between all the Unionist parties. Had the Unionist vote got behind one party, the outcome for the SNP might have looked somewhat different. You don’t see the Tories telling their voters to lend their second vote to Labour or the Lib Dems so why should we be lending our second vote to RISE? Frankly it is a ridiculous idea.
If the SNP suffers a significant drop in their share of the ‘second vote’, think about the message that would send to Westminster. The headlines the next day would call out the beginning of the end for the independence movement. The majority of 2011, allowed us to hold our independence referendum. The only way to keep Scotland’s interests at the forefront of the political debate is by getting behind the SNP. Increasing our share of the ‘second vote’ would send a completely different message, reiterating that Westminster is on borrowed time. Remember the SNP is the only party that is large and resourced enough to take our movement towards independence forward and fight for Scotland’s best interests. Do you not want a party that can actually stand up for our country and continue to fight against Tory austerity? I can tell you now that RISE would never be able to do that if they got elected.
Members of political parties are prohibited from the promotion of other parties. Indeed, the Labour Party removed several members for displaying any sign of sympathy towards the SNP and independence in the lead up to the referendum. Of course that makes complete sense, if you are a member and/or a supporter of the SNP both your votes should be for the SNP not another party.
A Cautionary Tale – Polls will be Polls
It is easy to forget, but going into the 2011 election the Scottish Labour Party were ahead of the SNP in the polls. The complacency and arrogance which came with relying on polls resulted in a humiliating electoral defeat whereby they lost some of their best candidates who they failed to secure for the Regional List. We should learn from this in the SNP and take nothing for granted.
So think carefully about who you give your second vote to on May 5th. If you believe in a Scotland that puts its people first then there is only one party to vote for… The SNP.