By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.
To try to say this before yesterday was like standing in front of a runaway juggernaut. It had to be demonstrated by actual experience. We came extremely close to the absolute disaster of a unionist majority in Holyrood. Entirely because of this. I know many of you will not like reading this, but you have to.
Regional List Vote
North East Scotland 137,086 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 137,086 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Central Scotland 129,082 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 129,082 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Lothian 118,546 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 118,546 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Mid Scotland and Fife 120,128 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 120,128 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
West Scotland 135,827 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 135,827 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Glasgow 111,101 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 111,101 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
That is over 750,000 SNP pro-independence list votes completely wasted, electing nobody at all on the list.
By contrast in these regions the Tories got 376,000 – almost precisely 50% of the list votes the SNP received there – and got 19 MSPs for them!
If the SNP list vote which was completely, utterly and entirely predictably useless in these regions had been given to other pro-independence candidates, the number of Tory MSPs in parliament would have been drastically reduced.
We would not have the BBC crowing over “Tory victory” as the result of the election. Despite the fact that only one in 9 eligible Scottish voters, voted Tory, a fact the BBC will not tell you.
With tactical voting a dozen more committed pro-Indy MPs could have been put into parliament.
The Tories have done disproportionately well because of the “both votes SNP” campaign. This campaign was, undoubtedly, extremely successful in securing both votes SNP. Sadly it was – entirely predictably – totally counter-productive in maximising the number of pro-Independence MSPs.
I published yesterday during the voting: “But in the entire central belt and in NE Scotland, I am prepared to state boldly – and twelve hours will prove the case – that a list vote for the SNP in those regions is almost certainly wasted, and could rather have helped elect a different pro-Independence MSP.”
I was 100% right.
It was blindingly obvious in which regions SNP supporters should give the party their list vote, and in which they should vote tactically.
The question is, why did people I generally admire and, in fact, find quite brilliant like James Kelly and Stuart Campbell, get it so wrong and fail to see the obvious? I fear that the answer is one which raises wider concerns. The SNP has managed to achieve near complete identity with the independence movement, so that any questioning of total obedience to the SNP is taken as disloyalty to the nation. Those like me who want independence rather than the success of a political party find ourselves marginalised and despised. Even when we are demonstrably and undeniably correct. Perhaps especially when we are demonstrably and undeniably correct.
We need the second referendum soon. We are now dependent on the goodwill of the Greens to get it. I stated yesterday I do not trust Patrick Harvie’s commitment to independence. That annoyed some people and I am genuinely interested to see comments as to whether others pick up the same vibe from him. I do hope that the Green influence will lead the SNP to be more radical on Land Reform. That would be a great advantage to dig out of an unexpected situation.
Finally, it is not a bad thing that the Unionists are now firmly identified as the Tories. Many of them were Red Tories anyway, and all that has happened is that their allegiance has become plain. The stark choice between Independence and the Tories is now visible. It was always there, but at the referendum many did not see it. Having the Tories leading the unionist opposition simply brings the day of Independence closer. There is only one winner in that battle.