2007 - 2020

Red & Green for 2016

Illustration by Stewart BremnerIt’s almost clichéd to say that we’re living in exciting times, a political landscape rapidly shifting beneath our feet and unpredictable in its destination. No sooner is one historic election out of the way but another beckons and next year’s Holyrood election could certainly be that. But while we live in exciting times we also live in dark times for ordinary working people bearing the brunt of the Tories form of class war they call ‘Austerity’. However next year’s Holyrood election gives us the opportunity to wipe out Unionism, and by extension the pro-austerity parties, as a political force in Scotland at this time, and also build an effective opposition to the SNP from the radical Green Left.

Before I get started I realise that much of what I say may sit uncomfortably with some in the various left groups, greens and others who understandably have their own particular interests to look out for. Believe me it is way out of my own comfort zone. As a Republican I don’t have any rose-tinted view of the Holyrood Assembly, given it can be abolished by Westminster at any time and has no legal right to launch another Indy referendum without Westminster approval it is little more than a Unionist institution set up to preserve the Union rather than further democracy, power devolved is power retained and all that. Furthermore as a socialist with syndicalist sympathies when it comes to fighting elections for “bourgeois parliaments” getting too het up over elections to a wee pretendy parliament, or parish council as Tony Blair described it, seems a distraction from the real job of establishing an independent workers’ republic.

But… now, here, Scotland 2015-16 is not ‘normal’ political times. We’re still riding the wave of activity and enthusiasm unleashed by the referendum and given momentum by the myriad of groups that sprung up as self-organising collectives, organisations such as Women for Indy, National Collective and RIC, where grass-roots campaigners could come together and get their voices heard independent of the party machines.

RIC in particular brought together all manner of radical forces from the socialist left, from the environmental movement as well as the left of the SNP and it seems to me self-evident that we were able to achieve far more working together (and working together consensually and harmoniously for a greater good) than would have been the case otherwise.

And that offers an interesting vision for the situation some nine months later. While those involved with the nascent Scottish Left Project (SLP) have done admirable work, building on the positivity of RIC, by actually getting elements of the Left talking to each other getting past the divisions which have scarred us and set back the cause of Socialism by a political generation or more, it is clear that the distrust that still exists means this won’t be achieved overnight and indeed with their own eyes set on the 2020 Holyrood elections rather than 2016 I fear they are in danger of not just selling themselves short but the needs and aspirations of the working-class in Scotland in the face of an unrestricted Tory government pursuing an increasingly aggressive domestic policy. So while the left still struggles to negotiate the legacy of the well bronzed buffer in its tracks the Greens have capitalised more on their role in the wider Yes campaign, yet their target of “at least 8 seats”, while easily achievable, still falls well short of the potential for a unified radical force.

As things currently stand even if the most ambitious projections of the left and greens were achieved it would still leave them around the same total achieved in 2003 when 13 were returned from this bloc. But… a unified Red/ Green or Green/ Red or Anti-Austerity or Radical Indy (call it what you want) Alliance that was able to tap into the positivity and momentum of the Yes campaign, which we played a large role in creating, could realistically aim to take 20-30 MSPs.

This isn’t based on the overly optimistic predictions of some party loyalist but simply through an understanding of the way the regional list system works in the Scottish parliament. It has an inbuilt mechanism designed to prevent any one party gaining outright control, a Unionist mechanism to prevent an SNP victory and the prospects of Independence, that worked well eh! If a party does well in the first past the post constituency section this will be balanced out by distributing seats on the list to other parties based on their support in the regional list vote. Put simply it means that if the SNP maintains its current level of constituency support they will need to poll well in excess of 50% to be in with a chance of winning any seats on the list.

Take as an example the recent TNS poll (1) which puts the SNP on course to win 70 out of 73 constituency seats. It also has the SNP at 50% on the list which they predict would give it only 3 out of 56 list seats across all Scotland, presumably in the 3 regions where they did not win every constituency seat.

Whilst obviously a lot of caveats apply and it takes no account of regional variations which always exist, if the results from this poll were applied across all 8 regions the returns would break down as follows for the 7 seats on each regional list, Labour 3 seats, Tories 2, Greens 1 and the last place going to a 3-way tie between the Lib-Dems, Greens and SNP. TNS predicts this being allocated as 3 SNP, 3 Lib Dem and 2 Green from the eight regions. So despite pro-Indy parties taking 60% of the regional vote the Unionist parties would take a 5-2 majority of seats in 4 lists, and 6-1 in the other 4.

But, in the hypothetical situation where a unified list of the pro-Indy Green/ Left was able to garner support primarily, though not exclusively, from that broad base of the Yes support who want radical change, this situation could be near reversed.

Let me explain. It’s been well documented that since devolution the Scottish electorate has developed relatively sophisticated voting patterns, voting in different way in different elections to achieve different, progressive, outcomes. This situation has certainly not been diminished by the IndyRef and many Yes supporters, and others, will be only too aware that voting SNP on the list may well be a wasted vote that will paradoxically only increase the chances of a Unionist candidate being elected.

If however a unified candidate of the Green Left radical forces was standing as a realistic, credible alternative then they would be well placed to capitalise on this situation.

So using some basic maths if one-third of the SNP support on the list could be persuaded to vote Red/Green (based on the TNS poll with all the caveats etc.) and coupled with the already existing Green support this could lead to regional voting figures of SNP 33%, Red/ Green 27%, Labour 19%, Tory 14%, LD 5% leading to the election of 3 Red/ Greens, 2 Labour and 2 Tories on each list. This would mean 24 Red/Greens in total making them the 2nd largest grouping at Holyrood behind the SNP, who would have already won the election based on their support at constituency level (it’s probably worth noting that it would be in the interests of such a grouping for the SNP to win every constituency seat in Scotland.)

Again if one half of SNP voters supported this new grouping the corresponding figures would be Red Green 35%, SNP 25%, Labour 19%, Tory 14%, LD 5%. This could result in 4 Red/Greens being elected in each region giving 32 seats across Scotland outnumbering the combined total of all the Unionist parties at Holyrood.

Obviously there is no data to support the claim that SNP voters would support a Red/Green alliance but given the positive and committed role that socialists and Greens played in RIC and the wider Yes campaign and, as has been stated, the ‘sophisticated’ nature of voting in Scotland and increased levels of political activity since the referendum, I believe that this could be achievable, but only though a unified force that wasn’t going to be fighting each other for the same votes.

Now basing politics on opinion polls is not generally the sort of politics that I would touch with the proverbial bargepole, it reeks of new Labour focus groups and the selling of your soul for the sake of a handful of votes in a few marginal constituencies, but this is a different situation altogether, and while compromise is inevitable it need not be at the expense of political principle.

We wouldn’t need a huge unified political programme, just agreement around a set of core demands where unity already exists, opposing austerity, stopping fracking, more green energy projects, real radical land reform, ending zero hour contracts, fighting for better workers’ rights, No to NATO, a £10 minimum wage, more social housing built to higher environmental standards as well as support for an independent Republic. There is plenty we have in common as we showed throughout the referendum campaign.

Realistically the left would have to accept its weakened position at this time and probably offer the Greens at least the top spot on every list, even in its Glasgow heartlands, though Patrick Harvie top of the list, a problem? I don’t think so. Given the potential to elect 2/3/4 MSPs from each list perhaps the rest could be decided by some form of regional aggregates, but I digress.

Here in the Highlands the thought of standing in opposition to someone like John Finnie who played such an active role in the RIC campaign and is top of the regional list for the Greens next year is not something which appeals to me and I’m sure that similar situations would be replicated elsewhere.

Is it too late for this to happen? Certainly not. But whether narrow party political advantage will win out over the NEEDS of the marginalised and disadvantaged bearing the brunt of Tory ‘Austerity’ is another matter altogether.

Socialists and Greens managed to put our differences aside, in RIC and elsewhere, to work collectively for a greater good last year, surely the radical forces of Scotland can do the same for the next? Talks did take place between the Greens and the SSP before the 2014 European elections which indicate that there must be willingness, in some quarters at least, to contemplate this scenario.

But this time round the opportunity for such a bloc wouldn’t just mean the election of one MEP, not even replacing the Lib-Dems as the 4th largest party, but on becoming the main opposition to the SNP at Holyrood, pushing them in a more radical direction and making sure they live up to their anti-austerity promises, the prize is potentially that big. Surely that’s something worth aiming for?


(1) TNS Poll, 9 June 2015 – Regional list voting intentions for Holyrood: SNP 50%, Labour (19%), the Conservatives (14%), the Greens (10%), Liberal Democrats (5%), UKIP (2%) and others (2%)

Comments (67)

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  1. Jim Bennett says:

    If the author had let out the juvenile sarcasm, this would have been an excellent article. The call to action is excellent and deserving of support. The “Holyrood Assembly”/”Pretendy Parliament”/”Bronzed Buffer” commments were just silly diversions.

    1. horse says:

      I think wee pretendy parliament is what billy connollly called it. Apart from quoting that arsehole it seems like a sensible proposal to me!

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    It really is the best way to go. Yes I will be voting SNP on the constituency list and Yes I would like to vote either green or another radical and progressive party on the West of Scotland List. My problem is likely to be that these parties will be unable to agree among themselves how to give me a viable and clear option. Let me say that I voted Green in the European election to try to keep the UKIP out. This failed as the remaining SNP votes counted for almost nothing and they were never going to get that last seat.

    Leaders of the Scottish Socialists, the Greens and all the myriad other splinter groups including citizen Tommy should know that people are willing to vote for them but they need to get their act together. If the greens stand and one other left wing party put up candidates under whatever name they like – I think RIC is best as they are untainted by traditional left wing factionalism – we can get that message out.

    I have done door to door canvassing on the last two votes and know that the will is there.

    Spread the word.

  3. Darby O'Gill says:

    As I understand it there was to be a red/green alliance standing in the european elections but the Greens withdrew. As a result UKIP won a seat.
    I seem to recall that RIC agreed not to form a political party but to remain a movement. That leaves only one left-wing party with a constitution, office-bearers and a manifesto which has experience of being elected to Parliament – the SSP.

    1. Drew Campbell says:

      Well, Darby, I’m pretty active and I never heard any such alliance mooted. Does sounds like a very convenient little story to diss the Greens, though. Got a source there?

      1. Darby O'Gill says:

        Drew, I heard that from one of the Executive of the SSP. I think the SSP were disappointed but appreciated that the Greens believed they could get elected on their own. And who’s to say that a Red/Green alliance would have done any better? There were certainly no hard feelings.

  4. leginge says:

    “a set of core demands where unity already exists, opposing austerity, stopping fracking, more green energy projects, real radical land reform, ending zero hour contracts, fighting for better workers’ rights, No to NATO, a £10 minimum wage ”

    was that list taken from the SNP list of policies ?

    1. donnie says:

      i don’t think any of them were in the snp manifesto, though that wasn’t the point that was being made

  5. Annette says:

    While it sounds tempting, I feel uncomfortable with the concept. If people vote tactically like this and if it goes wrong, for whatever reason, they will feel betrayed. I’d advise people to vote for the party whose platform they support. There are many good reasons for voting Green, the most important being that without a habitable planet all other questions become moot.

    1. kate says:

      sorry but it works this way – if you can’t feed & house & get medical care for yourself & your kids the planet & everything on it can go fuck itself

  6. Stone-circle says:

    I had planned to pass off a vote to greend but I think Hames Kelly at Scot Goes Pop makes some excellent points on taxtical voting by means of Snp voters passing on votes. This may need to be broken down further with some real stand out evidence this would work whilst not actually reducing the number if pro indy seats/mps in Holyrood. Then, I think there would need to be a well planned synchronised chess move to pull everyone together and make it happen, IF, it really can work without reducing the number of pro indy mps gifting the unionist parties a majority. Also this is something im not to clued up on so find quite confusing as many ithers will, this plan needs to be strategically sound and inclusive of those who find this concept murky

    1. Stone-circle says:

      Sorry, Greens… James Kelly. Using smartphone, keyboards iffy

  7. deewal says:

    I don’t think there is any point in voting for a Holyrood Assembly, ( given it can be abolished by Westminster at any time and has no legal right to launch another Indy referendum without Westminster approval it is little more than a Unionist institution set up to preserve the Union rather than further democracy, power devolved is power retained and all that. )
    Seems we are stuck with what we’ve got ( useless SNP pretendy government, Tory Rule forever )

    Why bother voting at all ?

  8. PoP Campaign says:

    I’m afraid this will simply never happen. The Greens are far too sectist too touch the left. Furthermore, many Green voters (Edinburgh et al) will not touch the party if they are associated with socialists.

    As for the actual socialists, there will be no coming together. The SSP can barely bring themselves to deal with the Left Project, never mind the reality of Tommy Sheridan’s potential political prowess.

  9. PoP Campaign says:

    That should read ‘to touch the left’.

  10. Broadbield says:

    Much to agree with in principle, although I don’t think tactical voting of such sophistication is going to work.

    Isn’t it time to move on from “workers”? A Socialist left should be working to unite, to represent all of the population, not making divisions and talking in anachronistic language.

    1. John B Dick says:

      I hate the working class.

      Without the C2’s vote Margaret Thatcher would never have been prime minister.

      There was much more to ‘Class’ than employer -employee relationships. Nowadays ‘class’ is gone. Income and wealth disparity is increasing.

      The disparity can be increased or reduced but not eliminated entirely. It remains a commonly recognised statistical distribution.

      Are the Beckhams working class? Footballers may not be exactly workers by hand or brain, but rather by foot and brain.

      The class war language of the left comforts a diminishing number of fundamentalist believers and Authoritarian Followers, but it repels those who do not self identify as having common interest with male unionised employees in large organisations behaving as a band of brothers forever ‘fighting’ (ie hunting) to obtain advantage for their narrow group without any thought for the potential of a more collaborative approach.

      Brawn over brain tetosterone stuff.

      Time to get over it.

    2. donnie says:

      Socialism cannot, by definition, “represent all the population”. The lairds, big business and the rest of the “ruling class” have different, far different, interests from the great mass of the population, the working class, hence their near unanimous support for a No vote last year. The divisions are real and they were not created by socialists, but by the economic system we live under, capitalism

  11. Juteman says:

    Yet another article attempting to split the Indy vote. One might think that this is a concerted attempt by Unionist ‘agents’. The Greens and ‘Reds’ should target Unionist voters, not SNP voters. I myself would vote for a Socialist party in an independent Scotland, but until that happens, I realise that voting that way will have to wait. The strength of the Indy vote is that it is concentrated in the SNP. The Unionist vote is split between 3 or more parties. The British State would love to see the Indy vote split in a similar way, and are probably working behind the scenes to further that result. It would be remiss of them not to be taking that action.

    If Independence is your main aim, then vote SNP twice. Any other action risks losing the SNP majority, and the ability to call another referendum.

    1. unionist agent says:

      Did you read the article? If the snp clear up like they just did for wastemonster then it becomes difficult to pick up any seats on the list, and impossible to pick up anything substantial, need to get the old cogs whirring on this one. I don’t think the red green thing will happen but the explanation of what could happen seems sound to me

      1. Juteman says:

        Yes, I did read the article. It is just a carbon copy of many that have appeared recently.
        I want the same, or better SNP representation that we have now. Do you?

    2. spackle says:

      Holyrood isn’t 1st past the post. You are totally correct for Westminster elections before but the opposite applies for Holyrood. The list vote is (semi)proportional so down weights votes of parties that win constituencies to make it more fair. Thus SNP votes will be down weighted by every constituency they win. If the Yes vote splits and votes for party A on the List and party B in each constituency then MORE seats are gained, not less.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27Hondt_method

      1. Dougie Blackwood says:

        I was unsure of the mechanics of the D’Honte system so looked it up earlier today. I made a spreadsheet and got it to work using the published results from the 2007 Holyrood Election for the West of Scotland region.

        In that election Labour won 8 seats and SNP one seat in the 9 constituency elections. Labour got 91725 votes in the list ballot against 75953 SNP, 40637 Tory 22515 Liberal and 8152 Green. Labour did not get any list seats at all; the first list member elected was a Tory; second and third were SNP then the one liberal. The end result was 8 Labour, all constituency, 5 SNP including 1 constituency, 2 Tories and 1 Liberal, all list MSPs.

        If we want to reduce unionist seats in Holyrood we need to go SNP in the constituency and either green or a left wing party in the list vote. This would give SNP an overall majority with Greens and lefties to argue their case with perhaps 30 or 40 seats between them.. If we vote SNP in both ballots we are likely to get something similar to now with umpteen Tories and Red Tories sniping across the floor in Holyrood.

        1. Juteman says:

          Nonsense. Away back to your Better Together HQ.

          1. Dougie Blackwood says:

            Do the Numbers! look at the real results.

    3. Donald Mitchell says:

      It suits Nicola just fine to be opposed from the Left.

    4. Frank says:

      The article is not attempting to split the ‘indy’ vote at all. You need to accept that there many people who support independence but who do not support the SNP; that’s democracy. The election of small pro-indy parties can only be for Scotland. Firstly, they will keep independence on the agenda especially if there is no second referendum commitment from the SNP. Moreover, they will also push at the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament and ensure that the SNP’s rhetoric is matched by their practice.

      1. Juteman says:

        If you are a Green, or SSP voter, then vote for them.
        If Independence is your main aim, then vote for the SNP. They are the only party guaranteed to ‘keep independence on the agenda’. If the SNP were to lose their majority, then the Unionist media would have a field day.
        There are folk trying to split the Indy vote, whether their motives are innocent or not, i’ll never know.

        1. Triffid says:

          You can’t “Split the Indy vote” at Holyrood. The entire point of the article is that the SNP get 50% of the list vote, but get 3 list MSPs. The Greens get 10% of the list vote but 10 MSPs. So the Greens get three times as many MSPs on 1/5 the vote. So If the Greens gain more votes from the SNP then the SNP can only lose 3 MSPs at a maximum but the Greens could gain any number of seats depending on how many people vote Green. Thus the Pro-indy seat count goes up. It is all down to the d’hondt system used in Holyrood.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27Hondt_method

    5. John B Dick says:

      And if independence is not your main aim but something else – competent government aligned to the needs of Scotland rather than UK political parties – for example, then the premise on which your argument rests is false and your argument fails.

      Why should it be the Greens and Socialists that are the troops sent to battle the Unionist parties? Is it because they are expendable? Shouldn’t the SNP be leading from the front?

      Split voting will produce an SNP majority parliament. The general drift of the arithmetic is right.

      1. Juteman says:

        The SNP have been battling the Unionist parties for decades. Where do you think their support has come from? You seem to want to take votes from the SNP. Why is that?
        If you want to take votes from the SNP, then I question your motives.

        1. Triffid says:

          What if you want independence but dislike the SNP’s addiction to fossil fuels? Or dislike their slight cowardice when it comes to being leftwing? The SNP area million times better than any unionist party, but that isn’t saying much. The SNP need a pro-Indy opposition to the left of them, just to stop them doing a Labour in 10 years and turning into the bad guys.

          1. Juteman says:

            I dislike many of the SNP policies, but I will keep on voting for them.
            What is this mysterious opposition to the left of them that you speak of?
            I repeat what I said earlier, if you want any meaningful change in Scotland, then we need independence. The only way to guarantee another referendum is an SNP majority in Holyrood next year. Vote SNP twice, as anything else risks the SNP losing their majority.
            Of course, if you are a Unionist, keep on pushing this split vote shite. 🙂

        2. Triffid says:

          The Greens are left of the SNP, unless you have a different definition of leftwing than me. But this poll puts the SNP on 73 seats, of which three are on the list. If the SNP’s list vote was 0% they would still have a majority of 6, larger than their current majority. So unless the SNP start a second holocaust they are going to have another majority. But my point is that voting Green doesn’t damage the chances of an SNP majority at all if the SNP get more than 64 out of the 73 constituences, which is a worse ratio than they got for Westminster and nobody is suggesting a decrease in the SNP vote in 2016. Imagine the impact of a Pro-Yes Government with an official opposition that was also pro-Indy, that is possible if enough people vote Green on the list vote. And surely it would go some distance to righting the medias bias? With the Lib Dems gone all politics shows would have two Unionists and two Yes people, as that would represent Scotland’s four largest parties. Much better than the current 3-1 ratio. The Greens would add legitamacy to the Yes campaign, it couldn’t be attacked as just the SNP in government forever as there would be two credible pro-Indy parties. I think the Greens getting upwards of 10MSPs can only be good for the independence cause.

          1. Triffid says:

            No edit function!

            The Greens are left of the SNP, unless you have a different definition of leftwing than me. But this poll puts the SNP on 73 seats, of which three are on the list. If the SNP’s list vote was 0% they would still have a majority of 6, larger than their current majority.

            But my point is that voting Green doesn’t damage the chances of an SNP majority at all if the SNP get more than 64 out of the 73 constituences, which is worse than they got for Westminster(56/59) and nobody is suggesting a decrease in the SNP vote in 2016.

            Imagine the impact of a Pro-Yes Government with an official opposition that was also pro-Indy, that is possible if enough people vote Green on the list vote. And surely it would go some distance to righting the medias bias? With the Lib Dems gone all politics shows would have two Unionists and two pro-Indy people, as that would represent Scotland’s four largest parties. Much better than the current 3-1 ratio. The Greens would add legitamacy to the Yes campaign, it couldn’t be attacked as just the SNP in government forever as there would be two credible pro-Indy parties. I think the Greens getting upwards of 10MSPs can only be good for the independence cause.

          2. muttley79 says:

            The problem with the Scottish Greens is that they are split on independence, and they have a leadership that is distinctly cool on it (Patrick Harvie being the obvious example). They also do not support FFA. People on here who are arguing that the Greens as a party are strong on independence are kidding themselves.

  12. Donald Mitchell says:

    I cant a agree with Donnie’s views on the Scottish Parliament, like most Scots, not just nationalists, i’m very proud of it. I think the Parliament should declare itself sovereign, so it can never be abolished; we no longer need Westminster’s permission for anything, if we ever did.
    This is where i think the SNP strategy is mistaken, Westminster is a dead end we should focus our own own Parliament, win next May and declare Home Rule; then work towards independence.

    1. muttley79 says:

      I cant a agree with Donnie’s views on the Scottish Parliament, like most Scots, not just nationalists, i’m very proud of it. I think the Parliament should declare itself sovereign, so it can never be abolished; we no longer need Westminster’s permission for anything, if we ever did.
      This is where i think the SNP strategy is mistaken, Westminster is a dead end we should focus our own own Parliament, win next May and declare Home Rule; then work towards independence.

      The Scottish Parliament cannot declare itself sovereign under the present constitutional arrangements. It is a devolved parliament of the UK state, and by definition it cannot be permanent. That is one of the best arguments for independence. The fact of the matter is that as long as Scotland is a part of the British state then we do need Westminster’s permission on more powers, and the need to win agreement on the holding of a future independence referendum.

  13. Alan Weir says:

    I agree with the view expressed above that people should vote, constituency and list, for the party whose views is closest to them, whether that be SNP, Green, SSP whatever. That’s because, contra the anarchist positions, I think that’s our civic duty.

    If, instead, you think you should vote ‘tactically’, that is in order to have the best chance of making a positive difference, say by increasing the number of pro-independence MSPs then you have to confront the statistical fact that, unless the predicted votes pre-election for at least some relevant pairs of parties are extremely close, the probability that your individual vote will make a difference is astronomically small. Hence if your decision about whether to vote and who for is based on probability of making a difference, you shouldn’t vote at all, you’d be better spending the half hour or so it would take working a bit more and donating the money to your favourite party.

    Of course if you are not deciding how you should vote but how to try to persuade others, supposing you have some influence, you are an influential blogger say, then what you say could have a statistically significant chance of making a difference (even if it requires the folk you persuade to be behaving irrationally). But even here we have to be really careful. Under the Additional Member System it is perfectly possible for a movement of some thousands of SNP supporters to vote for Greens or SSP on the list to create not extra pro-independence MSPs (supposing the Green candidates are pro-independence) but rather to let unionist parties in. It all depends on how the rest of the voters vote, something which it is very difficult to predict with sufficient accuracy.

    The simple line is also the principled one: vote for what you believe in!

  14. John B Dick says:

    The number of core objectives is too great. 5 is enough.

    It needs to be cut to maximise support and wider appeal with the electorate. Several are too imprecise to be useful. Some are more contentious than others. Some are too big and some too small.

    What matters is not what has the biggest Pavlovian reaction for traditional lefties, but which has widest support for an initial agenda from a broad left. Then we can think of moving on from there.

    The republican one may be deeply felt by some but is theoretical rather than practical. Clearly the electorate is feart and would prefer independence to come by salami slice, so the SNP are right not to open that particular can of worms till after independence.

    Lo.ts of things are left out already on cultural aspects particularly, and rightly so. You can’t appeal to everybody’s personal wish list. It used to be the case that a significant stream of Nationalists used to think that by promoting the high art cutural products of then living or recently dead Scottish writers and composers that the nation’s spirits could be lifted by its own cultural bootstraps and indirectly its economy and quality of life.

    They did accept that Francis George Scott was not quite as good as Schubert, – but he was improving.

    1. donnie says:

      the ‘list of core objectives’ was chosen merely as an example of specific areas where there is already agreement between the various left groups and the greens to choose from, there will be more. The question of a republic is not a technicality but about which sort of Scotland we want to see, one where the people are undeniably sovereign, or one in thrall to that most undemocratic representative of the British ruling class, the British monarchy.

  15. John B Dick says:

    While I strongly agree with the general thrust of the article and have often/always split my vote I must correct a often repeated myth.

    “It has an inbuilt mechanism designed to prevent any one party gaining outright control, a Unionist mechanism to prevent an SNP victory and the prospects of Independence, that worked well eh! ”

    This comes from George Robertson’s misunderstanding. A moment’s thought would show that it would also (if it worked) prevent a majority for any other party (Labour).

    That it hasn’t worked in the way supposed, is because it wasn’t a Unionist ploy, but a Democratic ploy, desiged (among other things) to deliver three kinds of government, all of which we have now had.

    I can tell you what was the thinking behind it because SIXTY YEARS AGO THE TEENAGE DONALD DEWAR EXPLAINED IT TO ME PERSONALLY AND IN GREAT DETAIL

    but not today.

    1. Triffid says:

      Well they didn’t do so well at the democracy bit did they? the SNP got 55% of the seats on 45% of the vote, Germany’s system is better.

    2. muttley79 says:

      Well, Donald Dewar might have explained it in great detail to you, but that does not mean he was right. Brian Taylor is on record as saying that he was told by Jack McConnell that the voting system was designed by unionists in Scotland to prevent the possibility of the SNP getting a majority at Holyrood. That is cited in one of his books. Putting a caps lock in your posts does not give it greater validity or make it true.

      1. John B Dick says:

        You missed the point.

        In 1960 the SNP were not a significant force. Nobody would design something as complex as that to combat a party of romantic cultural nationalists with hardly any represention if any.

        Also,Donald didn’t work it all out in the five minutes before he told me about it. He must have built on the work of many others around the time of the plebiscite.

        Jack McConnell was only born in 1960. What would he remember of the state of the SNP at that time?

        When were you born?

        1. muttley79 says:

          I have no idea what you are talking about. The Liberal Democrats and Labour in Scotland devised the plan for the devolved Scottish Parliament in the late 1980s and 1990s, as part of the Constitutional Convention. When I was born has no relevance to this subject whatsoever. You obviously treat what Donald Dewar told you as a fact. I do not, as he was a politician.

          Also, why are you referring to 1960, at a time when Scottish Labour had officially rejected their own long standing Home Rule pledge?! Jack McConnell was a senior SLAB activist and figure in the 1990s, when the SCC was coming up with its blueprint. That is why he told Brian Taylor that the PR system for Holyrood was devised to prevent the SNP getting a majority. This is a citation in a book by BBC Scotland’s senior political correspondent. Your source is a supposed conversation with Donald Dewar in 1960. There is no contest imo.

          1. John B Dick says:

            “The Liberal Democrats and Labour in Scotland devised the plan for the devolved Scottish Parliament in the late 1980s and 1990s, as part of the Constitutional Convention. ”

            Most of the work was probably originally done for the plebicite. DD had it all wrapped up by the age of 16 or 17. He might have added a detail or two in the next 40+ years but not much and nothing was changed. He claimed (to great amusement) that it was “official Labour party policy” which he expected to be enacted by “the next Labour government.”

            “You obviously treat what Donald Dewar told you as a fact. I do not, as he was a politician.”

            It is a fact that DD told me these things.

            Even if he was an habitual liar, it does not make it an untrue statement that he said these things. It is I whom you are calling a liar because I am reporting the conversation.

            I have personally met elected politicians in all four parties who are truthful and persons of integrity.

            “Also, why are you referring to 1960,”

            Young Jack McConnell was born then.

            “Jack McConnell was a senior SLAB activist and figure in the 1990s, when the SCC was coming up with its blueprint. That is why he told Brian Taylor that the PR system for Holyrood was devised to prevent the SNP getting a majority.”

            If he said that he was wrong because it wasn’t devised in the 1990’s but before JMcC was born. He or others may have siezed the opportunity for party advantage. If you accept that it is unlikely that the teenage DD had worked it all out by himself then it probably came from before the plebiscite. How could it have been Liberal policy and Labour party policy too for a period without some detail being worked out?

            As you say yourself the Labour party had decades before been in favour of Home Rule. The Liberals stuck with it.

            “This is a citation in a book by BBC Scotland’s senior political correspondent.

            Your source is a supposed conversation with Donald Dewar in 1960. ”

            I supposed that I was actually there, and that it was 100 conversations over three academic years 1954-55, 1955-56 and 1956-57 and a specific formal debate which coldn’t have been in 1955-56 and most likely was in 1954-55.

            You obviously treat what Jack McConell told Brian Taylor as a fact despite the fact that he was a politician.”

            The effect of keeping the SNP from having a majority equally applies to Labour so it is innumerate to suggest that it would work as claimed. FPTP kept the SNP an insignificant political force for decades after the Liberal Home Rule scheme was hatched. It is anachronistic to suggest that fear of the SNP was any part of it. Rather fairness was the aim to give small parties their due representation.

        2. John B Dick says:

          It wasn’t as clear as it should be. Donald’s tutorial on d’Hondt took place before Jack McConnell was born. The SNP were a campaign rather than even a party of lost deposits.

          In 1953-54 I joined the Glasgow Academy Literary and Debating Society. I seldom or never spoke. Donald was not then as prominent as he later became.
          1954-55 Debates had got overheated and were suspended at the end of term.
          1955-56 Debates were suspended
          1956-57 The debating society resumed.
          In 1957-58 Donald had left School but I had not.

          Probably in 1954-55 or if not in 1955-56 a debate on Independence was planned and speakers chosen. Donald asked to speak on a third option – Home Rule. Douglas Crawford may have been one of the principal speakers. The debate continued in the corridor. The crowd around Donald blocked the passsageway and grew as people could not pass. What Donald didn’t say to a Nationalist momentarily silenced him.

          In 1958-59 I encountered Donald again at Freshers week in Glasgow University promoting the Labour club. He spent a long time trying to persuade me to join and I refused to join a political party. Eventually we did a deal. I would give a donation equivalent to a membership fee, and I would be invited to the initial, social meeting at which there would be draft beer and sandwiches.

  16. Frank says:

    Returning to the article, there won’t be a Red/Green alliance. The Greens will stand under their own banner whilst the far left is as divided as ever. Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity Party are standing, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Left Project are standing and I just heard that the Scottish Trades Unionist Coalition are also standing. This effectively means that socialists are going to be competing against one another.

    Is it any wonder that the left in Scotland are a laughing stock?

    1. donnie says:

      Got to disagree, 4 ‘parties’ all fighting each other and polling probably in the region of a combined 1%, with no other discernible strategy to win socialism other than preparing for the next election, there’s nothing funny about that

  17. Kimberley Cadden says:

    As an SNP member I am obviously voting SNP on the constituency vote but was considering a Green/LP list vote. However with the Greens position against FFA being as it is, their voice within the Scottish parliament is an indy voice against more powers for the parliament whilst we remain part of the UK, and this has the potential to do more harm to the indy movement than the voice of largely ineffective unionist MSP’s imo.

    Then the Left Project, as I had feared, has decided to characterise the SNP as neoliberal – which is just plain wrong – and again this misrepresentation, for what I have to assume are political purposes, has much more potential when it comes to harming the indy movement, than any block of tired unionist MSP’s.

    In fact with the way Labour is going, trying to out right wing a far right Tory party, I am not concerned at all that they may still have a fairly loud voice in the coming parliament – I think it’s great that they will have to try to both argue and defend their right wing policies and records in the Scottish parliament. Don’t get me wrong though – I would prefer an opposition to the SNP coming from the left and when we get indy this is the state of play I personally am hoping for; but at the moment I am happy with things as they are as I feel the kind of seats the polls suggest will be good for our prospects of achieving indy ASAP for the reasons given, and this more than anything is what matters to me right now – as this more than anything is what we need to help our poorest and most vulnerable.

    1. Juteman says:

      Kimberley, IF you are a member of the SNP, why would you consider splitting your vote?
      The only way to have a SNP majority is to vote SNP twice. A SNP majority in Holyrood guarantees another referendum.
      Don’t listen to the siren songs of the Unionists posting as Greens. This is all part of a concerted campaign to split the Indy vote, and it will get worse.

      1. John B Dick says:

        Why? Because Kimberly understands arithmetic.

        Your last paragraph is a conspiracy theory which ignores the fact that there are not only nationalists that have a different interpretation of the arithmetic, but that there is also significant number of Greens.

        There are others for whom independence or union is not the main issue attracting them to these parties but something else is. I know people whose interest in independence is lukewarm, but the chance of voting for an electable candidate who could help bring about the removal of Trident outweighs every other consideration.

        Only an Authoritarian Follower would fail to recognise that, yet any party needs votes from those who favour only parts of its polices and vote for the least bad option.

        1. Juteman says:

          Thank you, Kimberley.

      2. donnie says:

        Voting SNP twice will (based on present polls) lead to an increase in the number of unionists elected on the list, a very basic knowledge of maths would help you understand that. Regardless the SNP will likely have an overall majority from the number of constituency msp’s elected. The snp is the largest component of the indy movement but it is not the whole indy movement and never has been.

    2. Juteman says:

      “As an SNP member I am obviously voting SNP on the constituency vote but was considering a Green/LP list vote. ”

      “I myself could not vote for them as I am not an anti-capitalist”

      Make your mind up Kimberley.

      1. Kimberley Cadden says:

        hmm bit aggressive but I will respond; I am sure you will notice the second quote was taken from comments under an article written a day later – the first chance i got to see the general platform the LP are standing on; not that I have to explain myself for considering how I am going to vote AT ALL – but nonetheless I want to make the point.

        Bottom line for me is that I can’t support the Greens or the LP but I wish them the best and I personally hope that when we get indy it’s parties like these that will be the main opposition.

        1. Juteman says:

          I apologise for coming across as aggressive, Kimberley.
          There is a concerted effort to split the SNP vote, and i’m finding it difficult to ignore. Some of those calling for a split vote will be genuine, but I believe badly informed, Green voters. I also believe that some of the folk calling for a split vote are actually Unionists, pretending to have been Greens that voted Yes in the referendum.
          It is vital that folk that want another referendum vote SNP twice in the Holyrood elections. Anything else could result in the SNP losing their majority, and the ability to call a referendum.
          Make no mistake, the British State are masters at running a misinformation campaign.

          1. John B Dick says:

            “There is a concerted effort to split the SNP vote, and i’m finding it difficult to ignore.”

            I’m finding it difficult to find evidence for such an assertion. Many people, including me, have split their vote in the past and there is no sign of co-ordination. There are very logical reasons why this would appeal to some and the article you object to is an excellent exposition of the arithmetic.

            Another reason is ‘use it or lose it’. What do you think is the purpose of the separate vote? If it were just proportionality, it would be simpler to use the constituency votes. There are half a dozen reasons for the system we have. Not least The Margo, and opportunities for new small parties or even old ones [The Crofter’s Party].

            “Some of those calling for a split vote will be genuine, but I believe badly informed, Green voters.”

            They may put environmental issues first, rather than independence and prioritise SGP representation as the most effective precursor to having environmental issues at the forefront of government policy. They may be Greens first rather than Nationalists or Unionists. Why should they not be? You are asking them to vote tactically, something you find abhorrent if SNP members – supporters – YES voters – do it.

            “I also believe that some of the folk calling for a split vote are actually Unionists”

            Yes, you do believe it. It has to be a belief because there is no evidence. My English teacher told us that there is a LIE at the centre of every beLIEf and at the time we thought he was teaching us spelling, but maybe it was something more important.

            “It is vital that folk that want another referendum vote SNP twice in the Holyrood elections. Anything else could result in the SNP losing their majority, and the ability to call a referendum”.

            This is on par with “The largest party has always formed the government.” It isn’t ‘vital’ because it isn’t true, and you might want another referendum but not necessarily asap and there might be other things you want too, or more.

            “Make no mistake, the British State are masters at running a misinformation campaign.”

            That’s your view. Mine is that “The British state” is such a nebulous concept that it cannot usefully be said to have a common purpose (or be run by Common Purpose). If you mean “The elite” subscribing to “The Agenda” in the context of the article, or the Unionist parties, then you impute to them an improbable degree of competence, coordination and collusion in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary.

            You also assume that misinformation campaigns have the effect intended. I could easily make a case that they are counter-productive. The largest party? The Zinoviev email?

            It seems to me that you are a partisan Nationalist ready to find a conspiracy theory to account for any unfavourable circumstance or setback. Just like a Marxist or NeoLiberal fundamentalist, there is one and the same answer to every problem and its only because the bad guys fool the stupid voters that everybody doesn’t vote for your party.

          2. I think it’s an offensive idea to suggest that pro-indy parties who run for office are somehow intent on ‘splitting the SNP vote’ rather than pursuing their own politics, or functionaries of the British State.

          3. Juteman says:

            I think it’s very naive to believe that the British State isn’t working to counter the SNP. If you think my stating that there will be ‘agents’ in all the parties is offensive, then i think you need to study more of British history. The highly placed agents in the IRA are only one example.

  18. Neil Anderson says:

    SNP. Green. Solidarity. Socialist. Syndicalist. Here we go again. The 1930’s, 40’s and on to the 80’s revisited. Watch out young people, the march of the schisms is on again. Watch out for Anarcho-Communists, Anarcho-syndicalists, Libertarian Socialists, Socialist Libertarians, The Peoples Front of Judea, The Judean People’s Front The Front of The Judean Anarcho-Communist-Syndicalist-Solidarity-National-Greenist-(add whatever schismatic political label you wish… ist). Get a grip people. For that is what we are. People. We are human beings, that’s it. I thought the Scottish Independence movement was about creating a more caring and equal society. Now I find that it’s the back door for the old divisive politics of the left. The monsters who currently hold sway in our lives must be laughing heartily. Let’s just make a better world, like we were doing before.

    1. John Craig says:

      Well said Neil,
      a welter of the same old bullshit (you forgot the capitalist imperialist running dogs and the divisionist revisionist gangsters) so how do we go ahead from here. Once upon a time we used to rely on good old fashioned Scottish common sense. That’s being submerged by a wave of the good old fashioned crap that brought us where we are today. Scotland will go towards independence now in a quite steady manner and very few questions have to be answered in the process. Finance of a new nation; future industry; land reform; defence of the nation and relationships with other nations/ alliances are the problems we have to address to get our country up and running. Internal politics are for the future.

    2. muttley79 says:

      The SNP, Greens and Socialists, among other parties, groups, and non-aligned all campaigned in the Yes campaign. It should hardly be a surprise that they are going to contest elections in their own right.

    3. Darby O'Gill says:

      You make a very good point about the ‘schisms’ of the left Neil, but I don’t think its fair on the Greens and SSP. The Greens are currently represented in the European, UK and Scottish Parliaments. The SSP were represented in the Scottish Parliament from 1999 -2007. I believe that the Green Party has more members than the Labour Party in Scotland and the SSP are not far behind.

  19. Muscleguy says:

    Regardless of your juvenile opinions of the Holyrood parliament it is the vehicle for our aspirations that we have and short of the ever mythical revolution there isn’t another one on offer. So lets use it for our aims, imperfect as it is in the short term without throwing unnecessary epithets about.

    As for the suggestion, it was raised in a RIC meeting here in Dundee about two months ago. We need to get moving on it or we will be too late to register the grouping with the election commission and thus get on the ballot.

  20. Darby O'Gill says:

    Muscleguy why do we have a ‘grouping’. Which particular policies of the SSP do the Scottish Left Project object to?

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