by Rab Bruce’s Spider

My postal ballot paper came through last week. I moved to postal voting because of bad experiences when trying to vote in person since the aids provided for visually impaired voters are not fit for purpose. With a postal ballot, I can at least get sighted help from a trusted family member rather than rely on a member of staff at a voting station.

In my Ward, there are eight candidates standing. I was disappointed to discover that only three of them were representing pro-Indy Parties, and there were no candidates from either ISP or Alba. With only two SNP and one Green candidate, my first three choices were decided straight away, but after that things became tricky. There was one candidate who was standing on a pro-life platform, but since that is generally a euphemism for anti-abortion and anti-women’s rights, he didn’t really feature in my reckoning and was always going to be ranked very low.

But what about the other Parties? OK, it’s easy to rank Tories last because they have amply demonstrated their greed, incompetence and corruption for the world to see. But that still left me with two Labour and one Lib Dem candidate. How does any Yesser make that sort of decision? The Lib Dems have already declared that they will ally with the Tories in any Council where they gain seats, and Labour have shown a great willingness to do precisely the same in practice, even if they pretend they aren’t doing it. Any vote for any of these candidates sticks in the craw, but the best use of the STV system demands that we Vote Till We Boak, so I wanted to make a choice. Eventually, I decided that Labour were more likely to gain Unionist votes in my area, so ranking the Lib Dem candidate above the two Labour candidates might help scupper the Labour vote.

The STV system is very complex, and although I understand the theory, the practicalities of it are still something of a mystery to me. I sincerely hope that my vote will count in at least one of the first three rounds, and I’m fairly sure they will, but you never know. I’d really have loved to have candidates from other pro-Indy Parties so I could have ranked the Unionists even lower. It might have made little difference in the end, because we should not forget that our vote only counts once even if we rank all the candidates. The issue really is where you want your vote to count, but it still would have given me a lot of satisfaction to rank a Tory at number 10 on the list.

Sadly, I fully expect my Council to be run by a Tory/Labour coalition again. I’ll be delighted if the recent Tory scandals do undermine their vote share, but I fear the likely outcome of that is that the SNP will have most seats but without an overall majority, leaving the Council hamstrung. Whatever the final result, the one thing I can be certain of is that the three Unionist Parties will act as one. This is why I get so annoyed about the sniping and in-fighting between supporters (and politicians) of the SNP and Alba. Where our opponents always put aside their differences in order to thwart our aim of becoming a normal country, Yessers are split. We really cannot afford that. Our priority should be gaining independence, just as the over-arching priority of the Unionist Parties is to prevent it. We need to back all pro-Indy Parties until we achieve our aim. The time for internal squabbling is once we are a normal, self-governing country. Hopefully, our new Parliament will be elected on a fully Proportional basis so that discussion and compromise become the norm rather than the sort of confrontational politics we see today, especially in Westminster.

The Council elections may not seem like the sort of arena where constitutional matters should dominate, but the reality in Scotland is that every vote is decided by the constitution. That’s a desperate shame, and the only way it will ever change is once we gain independence and the Unionist Parties will actually need to develop some genuine policies if they wish to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. So, much as we might wish it otherwise, it is vitally important that we elect as many pro-Indy Councillors as possible, no matter which Party they represent. Because if the pro-Indy vote falls even a tiny bit from the last Council elections, you can be sure that the Unionists and their media pals will be declaring that Indy is dead. Let’s not give them that chance. You may detest Alba, or despise the SNP because of their failure to deliver on repeated promises, but you should still rank both of them above any Unionist on the Council ballot paper. Anything less gives our opponents exactly what they want.