By Rab Bruce’s Spider

The other day, I put up a Tweet exhorting supporters of the SNP and Alba Party to stop the personal attacks on each other, pointing out that our opponents in the upcoming election are the Tories, the newspapers and the BBC. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of positive responses to this remark, although I did receive a few critical comments and also a few in which people aimed personal attacks at either Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon depending on the point of view of the commenter. Ah well, such is Twitter life.

As for where to place my vote, I am still undecided. In my region, I don’t think the SNP have managed to get a List MSP for a very long time. As a supporter of independence, I suspect my List vote will go to either Alba or the greens, but there is still some time before I need to make up my mind.

I must say, though, that I don’t necessarily agree that using a List vote in this way is Gaming the System. Every voter decides who to vote for on the basis of what they want to achieve. If you have an overriding political concern, then you vote for the Party you believe could deliver that aim. All political systems have flaws, and although Whataboutery is not a great way to argue, I would say to critics of the plans for a Yes majority that the First Past the Post system employed in Westminster elections is also being "Gamed" by the Tories. They can win an absolute majority having received only around 40% of the votes, and they are adjusting constituency boundaries and introducing plans to disenfranchise poorer voters simply in order to ensure they retain control indefinitely. If that’s not gaming the system, I don’t know what is.

Elections, though, always present a quandary. I’ll be voting for Yes, but each of the Parties I could vote for have disappointed me in some ways, and that’s pretty impressive going for Alba who have only been in existence for a week. But the SNP have their own problems, and have failed to deliver on promises before, while the Greens’ treatment of Andy Wightman was pretty appalling, and I have trouble with some of their policies as well.

As so often, I will need to vote for whichever Party best matches my political aims, always knowing that the said Party will also have some policies or attitudes which do not accord with what I want. It will be a matter of priorities because I don’t think there has ever been any Party which completely matches what I have wanted. The good thing about that is that, not being a member of any Party, I don’t need to toe the Party line and outwardly support policies or ideas I do not agree with.

Which brings me back to my original point. Disagreement about politics is fine. But please let’s disagree on policy issues. Making personal attacks or engaging in Whataboutery when it comes to where to place your List vote serves no purpose except to split the Yes movement even further. This is precisely what the Unionists want to see, and you can bet they’ll be stoking it up for all they are worth. I do understand that people who are members of a Party and who wish to confirm their loyalty will vote in accordance with that Party’s calls, but for people like me, I suspect the List vote will very much depend on which region you live in. In some places, SNP 1 & 2 is likely to produce List MSPs. In other regions, a List vote for the greens may return several pro-Indy MSPs, while in other areas, an Alba vote might achieve the same thing. Of course, that last one is the most difficult to predict since there has only been one opinion poll to suggest what level of support Alba might expect, and the 3% support it suggested is only around half of what they will need. Then again, 3% is quite impressive after only a week, but whether they can double that in the short time remaining must be doubtful, especially when they are under severe attack from the SNP as well as the Unionists. Alex Salmond has always been a divisive figure, and that is even more the case now. Much as I dislike the obsession with personality politics, it will undoubtedly be a major factor in the election because most voters focus on short-term issues without considering that the current Party leaders, no matter which Party they represent, will not be around forever, while the constitutional issue will be a constant until Scotland becomes a normal, self-governing country or is consigned to the minor role of North Britain under permanent tory rule from London.


Personally, I’d like to see the SNP win a majority solely through the Constituency vote. That’s not because I necessarily want to see a majority Government in a Parliament which is supposed to work on consensus, but because, sadly, the SNP seem to have bought into the Unionist narrative that only an SNP majority justifies calling for IndyRef2. I have a horrible fear that, if the SNP were to fall one seat short of a majority, Westminster will insist it is a sign that the people of Scotland do not want another IndyRef, and the SNP will meekly accept that. Perhaps that is too cynical, and I’d like to think they will forge ahead whether they gain an absolute majority or not, but some of the noises being made suggest they are buying into the Unionist narrative a little too much for my liking. I’m also a little worried that the Alba Party are falling into a similar trap by insisting that a super-majority will force Westminster’s hand. The other side of that coin is that, if their support remains at only 3%, and if they end up with no List MSPs while reducing the number of SNP MSPs, Westminster will again crow about the lack of desire for independence in Scotland. We all know that the number of votes cast will be ignored unless pro-Indy Parties gather less then 50% of the overall vote. If that happens, we’ll hear all about it. So, whichever Party you support, the main thing is to get out and vote, and to make sure as many of your friends and family do likewise. This election is critical for our future, and we can’t afford to lose our chance at becoming a normal country just because too many people couldn’t be bothered voting.