While the Labour party over the past few decades has chased the Tory vote by creeping ever further right, they forgot to look over their shoulders. Used to the idea of two-party politics, they progressively moved the fence, complacent that their grass routes would have no choice but to follow.
It’s unclear whether Labour are failing to learn the lessons from their recent defeats or whether it’s just too late, but one thing’s apparent, they don’t seem to know where to put their fence, and they may not even know where it is.
The link between Labour’s demise and #BothVotesSNP is of course complacency. Labour became complacent of the Scottish Public and the Scottish Public took note. The reason the SNP are asking for #BothvotesSNP is because they are taking nothing for granted.
In 2011, the SNP won the Holyrood election with an outright majority in a system specifically designed to make that almost impossible. The SNP won because they were seen as a credible party, competent to run the country. To win an outright majority a party needs at least 65 seats. In 2011, the SNP won 53 seats under the first vote and relied on an additional 16 won under the second vote to form a government. Many seats were won or lost on small margins, like Annabelle Ewing for Mid-Scotland and Fife who won by only 41 votes. Equally, seats were lost on small margins, such as in Glasgow were the SNP lost out on an additional seat by only 32 votes.
Among the greatest opponents to #BothVotesSNP are the smaller pro-independence parties such as Scottish Greens, RISE and Solidarity, who would, understandably, like to bolster their own support with the seemingly unstoppable mass of pro-indy SNP supporters. However, there is a risk in their argument.
Possibly the strongest arguments for #BothvotesSNP can be found scrutinising the detail of the 2011 election results.
When looking at the final seat allocation in all 8 regions, a unionist party occupied either first or second place, and in every case, the other party was either the SNP or a unionist party. The Greens were typically in 4th or 5th place either due to insufficient support or having already gained an additional seat. A small swing from SNP to a smaller pro-indy party could, therefore, allow for unionist gains.
|Region||1st place||2nd place||Seat allocated to|
|Central Scotland||SNP 12,029||L 11,780||SNP|
|Glasgow||L 10,420||SNP 10,389||Labour|
|Highlands and Islands||SNP 9,454||L 8,628||SNP|
|Lothian||C 16,510||LIB 15,588||Conservative|
|Mid Scotland and Fife||SNP 12,966||L 12,925||SNP|
|North East Scotland||SNP 12,795||C 12,560||SNP|
|South of Scotland||SNP 14,284||L 14,119||SNP|
|West of Scotland||L 13,219||SNP 13,034||Labour|
Unless pollsters (as accurate as they are…) identify a tidal wave of SNP voters willing to lend their 2nd vote to a single pro-indy party, the only result will be to allow in a unionist candidate through the back door. No such tidal wave has been found, and opponents to #BothVotesSNP are split between multiple parties.
John Curtice, hailed as the only pollster to correctly predict the 2015 General Election result, has in fact argued this point recently, and says Polls may actually be overestimating Green support.
The SNP and their supporters want an SNP majority government with Nicola Sturgeon as First minister. What could be more complacent, than assuming a majority government can be achieved with the first vote alone? The SNP are not taking any votes for granted and that is why they are campaigning for #BothVotesSNP.
David Barratt is a member of the SNP and a local Campaign organiser for the SNP branch for Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay. Checkout out our other article on this subject from fellow Geek Scot writer and Green Party member, Morag Hannah, here.