Tag Archive | Tactical Voting

After The Votes Were Counted The Result Was A Night Of Mixed Emotions

This will not be an easy post to write nor indeed should it be. As I look back on the events of last Thursday evening it is I hope with a cool head that I review the results of the UK General Election and in particular what it means for the politics of Scotland. 

Having won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in the election of  2015 it is I think fair to say that for the SNP this was always going to be a difficult night and I say that openly and with a Scottish National Party card in my purse. The fact this was a snap election called by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to get a mandate for her hard Brexit strategy seemed to wrong foot my party who just didn’t seem prepared for it or the fight it was going to bring. After all the only elections we were supposed to be fighting this year were of the local council variety. 

Talking of the council elections these should have given the SNP a warning of just how dirty  all the unionist parties were prepared to fight. The fact that there were all sorts of tactical voting arrangements in place to defeat SNP candidates should have sent a flashing amber light straight to SNP headquarters and the fact that it didn’t seem to do this is something I find very alarming indeed. All through the council election campaign all three leaders of the pro UK parties were talking of nothing else but the threat of  a second divisive independence referendum and a willing press and media allowed them the space to do so. 

It is my  opinion that the SNP were far too civilised on this issue and we should have went for the throat in a much more assertive manner with all of our pro union opponents and we should have went for Ruth Davidson in particular far harder than  we did and not let her get away with her outrageous and disgraceful behaviour against our democratically elected First Minister.  Ever since last year’s Scottish election Davidson has been acting as if she had won that election, and not the SNP. This should have been held up to ridicule and Davidson should have been forced to defend her Conservative policies rather than get away Brit free with  her one issue campaign on defending  her precious union. 

Now whilst this may be perceived as bias by those concerned I am more concerned  about our apparent lack of fight in meeting this ridiculous claim head on and forcing the unionists on to the back foot.  This must be at least to some extent responsible for our loses on Thursday night as more than any other  party SNP voters need to be inspired by a campaign that motivates them to vote and to me at least that didn’t happen this time 

The matter of tactical voting wasn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as it should have been by the SNP and it  wasn’t just unionists who were  doing it. There were in my opinion three groups of yes voters who exercised their own version of independence and  anyone who says this didn’t happen is denying reality. These groups were left leaning yes voters who voted Labour for Jeremy Corbyn and his vision of a fairer society, Yexit voters in rural areas especially but not exclusively in the North of Scotland , this was a group of voters who voted yes for independence in 2014 but voted to leave the European Union, and the stay at home voters who will always vote SNP when they go out to vote  but who if they feel the party has let them down or are not doing enough in key areas and have not been engaged by the manifesto or contacted by local activists  may exercise their democratic right to withhold their vote and there is no doubt that all three of these factors played against the party on this occasion.

 This however, could have been migitgated at local level if we had been a bit bolder in holding the unionist parties feet to the fire and challenging them on the authenticity and indeed sincerity of their views. For example we should have sought to make much more of the internal Labour Party fued between Jeremy Corbyn and his Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale and highlighted the fact that far from being  Corbynistas the vast majority of the Scottish candidates had more in common with Kez than they did with Jez. 

Whilst I’m not sure it would have prevented any of our loses to Labour with the possible exception of Glasgow North East, I do believe that such tactics might have firmed up our majorities in a significant number of the seats we managed to hold thus making it easier to defend them at the next election. Instead of that it may well be the case though I hope it isn’t, that we have to go in to that election with the kind of fire fighting strategy aimed at avoiding a whole swathe of loses to Labour in what used to be their heartland seats.  It is my opinion that should this be the case the SNP will be looking at a return of between 18 -23 seats maximum and on a really bad night we could go down as low as 8-12. However if as I think we should, we take a more assertive line against our opponents I see no reason why we can’t win between 44-48 seats at the  next election. 

I believe we have to go down this road as I think there are dangers in playing too nice. Let’s face it we campaigned as the nice party in this election and it didn’t work and to be honest I don’t see it working in  future .  You can call me alarmist if you like, but I prefer realistic. You see I learned from the best my like lecturer in electoral behaviour Malcolm Dickson who did the System Three polls for the Herald and our resident professor who at that time gave guest lectures which I always made sure to attend. I am of course talking about the voice of elections in Scotland John Curtice who I’m sure would be happy to see one of his former students exercising such caution in their forecasting 

If  my caution is justified and born of out of both experience and I hope reason, my party’s caution was to some extent dictated by the fact that this was a Westminster election and the fact that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn produced by their recent standards a radical manifesto which captured the imagination of voters throughout the UK and had I not been a member of the SNP and been so emotionally committed to my party and our ultimate aim of independence I could easily have been one of the yes voters who could have loaned my vote to Labour Party to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister.

The other key reasons for my party’s caution was the fact that having won an unrealistically high number of seats it was always going to be a night when the unionist voters would indulge themselves in a wee bit of tactical voting to get rid of some of our most talented and high profile MP’s whilst the media predicted the end of the road for our Westminster leader Angus Robertson who lost his Moray seat to the Conservatives, Callum Kerr and Richard Arkless who were the victims of a Conservative clean sweep in the Border constituencies Kirsteen Oswald whose East Renfrewshire seat once the safest Tory seat in Scotland returned to its natural home for the first time since the days of Alan Stewart, Stuart Donaldson in Kincardine And West Aberdeenshire and Pete Wishart who ironically enough fulfilled my  prediction and held on in Perth and North Perthshire. They didn’t pick up on others which were definitely on my vulnerable list such as Angus , Stirling, Ochil And South Perthshire,  and potentially Alex Salmond’s Gordon constituency  though I thought this was likely to be a Liberal Democrat gain rather than a Tory one.  

I have to say that the more the campaign went the more concerned I became for the SNP candidates who were fighting a difficult election on an agenda over which they had little control. At the beginning of the campaign I rather optimistically predicted that the Conservatives would get no more  than six seats and may even be lucky to get that. It is however fair to say that as the campaign progressed I began to see the direction of travel and it wasn’t travelling in our direction and even as a lifetime optimist I started to think the scale of our loses could be and in all probability would be far heavier than I first thought. Indeed on the morning of the election I forecast to a friend that my prediction for my party was between 38-44 seats, a far cry from the 48-52 seats most of my friends and even some sections of the press believed we would win. 

All things consideredthis  election was not a good one for the SNP or at least not on the surface , but if I take a closer look at it from a more personal perspective I think it could be discribed as a night of mixed emotions for me and my party. Yes we lost some serious big hitters from our ranks but  make no mistake we are a party with plenty of talent in our ranks and I hope that honourable members such as Alison Thewliss,  Chris Stephens,  Joanna Cherry , Lisa Cameron,  Mhairi Black ,  Stephen  Gethins , Stewart MacDonald , Tommy Sheppard and others will be given the chance to shine in this parliament and by doing so demonstrate the wealth of highly skilled representatives we have at our disposal.  
It is I think fair to say  that despite our  loses most of which were inevitable for a party in the mid term of a third term Scottish Government, and in an election when UK politics has been more polarised  than at any time since the 1980’s the SNP still won the Scottish part of this election. I believe to do this in the face of an unprecedented and vicious press and media onslaught represents a truly remarkable achievement from which we should take quiet satisfaction. You see by removing what they see as our most talented MP’s the Conservatives may actually have accidentally strengthened our hand as with no Angus or Alex to cast in the role of the bogeyman it will be so much harder for them cast us as a two man team now than was previously the case. 

Looking back on the  events of the night I have to say that after the votes were counted it was a night of mixed emotions.  From a personal  perspective I had as good an election as was going to be possible given the circumstances as  I watched with pride the return of several of my closest  political allies to serve as their constituency  MPs and my reputation for fairness and accuracy   as a political  pundit was vindicated by my early morning election day prediction being uncomfortably close to the truth 

Meanwhile with regards to the gains  made by the pro UK parties I will await with interest the verdict on the new Labour and Tory intake and how many of them will actually be up to the job. I suggest that it may not be quite as many as they think and once they have to talk on  issues other than their obsessive hatred of the SNP and independence they may  be found out for what they are and the SNP stand  best  placed to benefit from such a scenario.

 At the beginning of this campaign all the unionist leaders in Scotland said they wanted to send Nicola Sturgeon a message, and to a certain extent they got their wish. It is my opinion however, that sometimes people should be careful what they wish for as they may actually get it and find to their horror that it might  not be as good as they think.  

Till next time 

Gayle X


Toxic Twins In A Grand Coalition Is A Suicide Note For In It Together

Hey everyone. I note with interest a story in today’s (Tuesday’s) National that Labour Party leader Ed Milliband was under pressure to rule out forming any sort of ailliance with the Conservatives after an English Labour MP Gisela Stuart who represents Birmingham Edgbaston called for a grand coalition between the two parties.
Once Keir Hardie, Nye Bevan, Jimmy Reid and other giants of the Labour and trade union movement have stopped spinning in their graves, I should perhaps explain that many of those who pass for Labour MP’s wouldn’t have been allowed a membership card in my political youth that was the 1980’s. Many of today’s crop and I include most of the shadow cabinet would have been told to jog on and join the Tories. The sad fact is that these days the party they fought would sooner do that than fight them.

Ms Stuart is the latest Labour figure to promote a closer relationship between the two parties. This however is not the first time this idea has been mooted by senior figure in her party. Indeed Lord Moonie of Kirkcaldy said recently that an ailliance with Tories would be preferable to one with the SNP. It is with this mind that I suggest a new slogan for Westminster’s toxic twins, instead of the laughable better together which they used during the referendum why don’t they use in it together? because believe me they are and they are in it up to their necks.

You see Ms Stuart and her friends don’t give a damn about Scotland and they never will. To them Scotland is some foreign sounding colony which is just a bit too poverty stricken for them to care about. There is of course an exception to this rule and that comes at election time when their jobs not to mention career prospects may be on the line. The thought of losing the cash cow is truly frightening to them, this means they have to at least pretend to care for three weeks every four or five years and you have no idea how much of an inconvenience this really is to them. Make no mistake last year’s independence referendum was meant to scare Scotland in to submission and put those of us whom London Labour like to describe as nasty nats back in to our box where we would stay for another 300 years or until the day came when it suited Westminster to let us go. This of course would be after they had bled us totally and completely dry and our remaining assets had been stripped faster than a chippendale at a ladies night.
Much to there disappointment however far from killing off the SNP and the cause of independence the result of the referendum has merely strengthened our resolve to finish the job we’ve started and if in the meantime that means holding Westminster’s feet so close to the fire that they’ll be burnt to a crisp if they don’t deliver a far greater degree of home rule than was promised in The Vow or by the Smith Commission, then that in increasing numbers is if opinion polls are to be believed is what Scottish voters trust us to do.

This terrifies the Labour Party to within an inch of it’s life and fearing electoral meltdown in some of it’s traditional Scottish heartlands Labour it seems has went in to full blown panic and the fact that some voices within the Labour Party would sooner go in to bed and sleep with the once hated enemy just to stop the SNP shows a party with a serious death wish.

Well, let’s look at the message this sends to the people of England. It says Labour can’t win without a compliant Scotland delivering a bloc of MP who will disappear on to the backbenches until they collect their pension or if they are one of the PM’s favourites a peerage. This is not only nonsense, it is insulting to the people of England and is actually a barefaced lie.

Having graduated with a geography and politics honours degree from a top Scottish university I spent a lot of time studying electoral behaviour not only in Britain but also in France, Germany and the United States. I can tell you that this a lie as I know that Labour would have won England only elections in both 1997 and 2001. Therefore Blair’s government only needed Scottish or indeed Welsh MP’s from 2005 onwards. The problem Labour face in England now was summed up recently by those good guys of the entertainment industry Ant And Dec who said recently that they couldn’t see Ed Milliband as Prime Minister material. In other words Labour has a credibility problem, voters don’t believe it’s leader can lead. Now I don’t know about you dear readers but if I lived in England and I was torn between voting Labour or Tory and I had got wind of this I would end up voting Tory. Well if a team captain admits defeat before he takes the field then his team might as well not bother turning up for the game.

The fact that Labour are even contemplating a grand coalition with a government which is so right wing it could put Margaret Thatcher to shame is in my opinion disgusting beyond all measure. When you add to the mix that a member of Labour’s Scottish Policy Forum has advocated that Labour voters vote Tory or Liberal Democrat in 16 Scottish seats shows a party so blinded by hatred for the SNP that they are willing to see the election of a Tory government rather than see Scotland make progress is in my book completely moronic. On the bright side however the SNP must be smiling at the fact that when Labour try to sell their vote SNP get Tory drivel that they’ve been getting away with for decades the voters can answer back by saying we know who the real Tories actually are and we are looking straight at them. This would unnerve these sensitive little creatures and even the suggestion of a grand coalition could be a very real problem for the toxic twins of in it together. Indeed it may be the suicide note from the politically dead which confines a once great party to the political dustbin. I for one certainly hope so

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X