Why the Scottish Greens are getting my “list” vote in this unprecedented Holyrood poll


By Hugh Kerr

The latest Sunday Herald lead story (Battle is on for second vote) has further fanned the flames of the sharpest debate in the Scottish Parliament elections. It’s not about who is going to win the election,everyone accepts that will be the SNP, as Labour and the Tories battle over who will be the official opposition.

The real battle is over what you should do with your second vote on the regional list. A fair stooshie has broken out. The Sunday Herald has in particular been pushing a second vote for the Greens or RISE no doubt partly to damage the SNP but also to plug RISE. The frequent plugs for RISE in the Herald and the National are part explained by the fact that a number of their columnists are RISE candidates and that their political correspondents would like to see RISE beat Tommy Sheridan and Solidarity in Glasgow. I predict that they will be disappointed and that Tommy will easily beat them in Glasgow, although neither will be elected!

I predict that RISE and Solidarity will fail to be the “Phoenix” of the left in Scotland and will register little more than 1-2% in the elections, although Tommy will do better in Glasgow. I recorded the best vote for Solidarity in Scotland in 2011 but it was still only some 800 odd votes. With a rampant SNP there is little room for a socialist grouping on the left. Don’t forget when the Scottish Socialist Party did well in 2003 the SNP was unpopular under the colourless leadership of John Swinney, and only got 26 seats. The SSP got 7% of the vote and six seats and were very close to two more, stopped only by the intervention of Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party. The SSP also had in Tommy Sheridan the best known and most popular leader of all political parties in Scotland. As Willie Mcillvanney wisely observed, it will take a generation for the socialist left to rise again in Scotland,and it’s not going to be 2016.


So that leaves the Greens as the alternative on the left and the signs are that they will do well. The polls have them running at around an average of around 7-8 per cent, enough to secure them one seat in most regions and possibly two in their strongest region, Edinburgh and Lothian. The SNP are aware of this and are desperately reinforcing their message of both votes for the SNP as well as using the name of Britain’s most popular politician, Nicola Sturgeon, at the top of their ballot paper. Now I don’t want to go into an elaborate analysis of the D’Hondt system (the Belgian who invented the voting system), but it is pretty clear that in most regions of the country the SNP are unlikely to win seats on the regional list, as they will win all the constituency seats in that region.

Patrick Harvie
Patrick Harvie

This is confirmed by the latest Daily Record poll which puts the SNP on 53 per cent for the constituency poll, which would win them almost all the constituency seats and indeed enough for a majority in the Sottish Parliament. Significantly, the SNP are only at 43 per cent for the regional list and the Greens are at 12 per cent, enough to win them 10-12 seats predicts the Record. Indeed the Record poll asks who would you like to come second to the SNP, and although Labour are preferred by 38 per cent, the Greens reach an astounding 23 per cent.

The Greens have been getting much better coverage in the election campaign and Patrick Harvie has now become a seasoned TV performer. Of course breaking down the predictions for each region is tricky since the polling numbers are very thin and one or two votes can make a difference. However I confidently predict that the SNP will win all the seats in Glasgow and Edinburgh and therefore will  win no seats on the list. The seats will therefore be picked up by Labour who will I predict get overall around 25 seats, down from 36, the Tories will get around 18, the Liberals 6-7 and the Greens 8- 9. I also predict UKIP will fail to win a seat not least because of the disastrous leadership of their MEP.


Many will challenge my analysis, not least the SNP to which I belong. However I think the electorate in Scotland are very sophisticated and have been energised by the referendum experience. That led to the massive SNP victory in the general election last year and will ensure a big victory this year even in an electoral system designed to stop one party domination. However this politicised electorate also show signs that they are prepared to use their second vote to vote Green. Indeed in an anecdotal basis many people on the left both from the SNP and Labour tell me they are voting Green on the list. This is particularly true in Edinburgh, the Greens’ strongest base, where their number two on the list is the well known land reform campaigner Andy Wightman. Many people would like to see him in the parliament to contribute to the urgent business of land reform in Scotland.

I have just dispatched my postal vote and as an SNP member have voted SNP for my constituency candidate in Edinburgh Central. But I have voted Green on the regional list. I am aware that this public declaration may cause me to be expelled from the SNP but I think it’s important to be open and honest in your political judgements. I used to tease Caroline Lucas and Robin Harper that I was Britain’s first Green parliamentarian because when I was expelled from Labour as an MEP in 1999 I joined the Green Group in the European Parliament. This time in the 2016 election I think it’s important to vote Green in most regions to strengthen the pro-independence forces in the parliament. I think it’s the right thing to do.

Hugh Kerr was an MEP from 1994-97 for Labour and 1998-99 for the Green Group in the European Parliament. He was also press officer for the Scottish Socialist Party from 1999 till 2004. He is currently a member of the SNP.


  1. Hugh sorry but I am trying not to disingenuois but I don’t think that how you or any political cameleon is voting sways anyone. Nor do I find any of the multitude of faux arguements placed on numerous indy sites has any bearing on this election. Save your debates until after independence because watering down S.N.P. votes only serves to give the unionists a stick to beat the indy supporters. If you are kicked out you can always join RISE and pledge your list vote to them.

  2. It’s a misguided decision for someone who believes in independence. To get independence you unite as one, not divide into smaller fringe groups. These fringe groups are largely pissing in the wind ,and living off the oxygen the SNP has given to the movement.

    Good luck getting Harvie’s million signature authorisation for indi 2,in the event of Brexit!

  3. yep Jock & Jack only way , one step at a time stick to the priority for now , Greens cannot be relied on to be a partner in the Independence quest , as far as i can see they are using the good will of SNP supporters to gain support ,Why is it only SNP votes they want ? . for old times sake ? ok i believe that one .

  4. “However I confidently predict that the SNP will win all the seats in Glasgow and Edinburgh and therefore will win no seats on the list.”

    I have a problem with the word “therefore”. It’s possible to have extra list MSPs even if all the constituency seats swing one way. I have great respect for Andy Wightman and wish him well in his battle for the second Green spot on the Lothian list. But I think he is dependent on people NOT voting SNP: the intricacies of D’Hondt are such that SNP might get a list MSP before Green get a second.
    People should vote for candidates they like, rather than trying to game the system

  5. According to an analysis by the Very Rev. Stuart Campbell an increase in list votes for the Greens leads to a reduction in the number of Pro Independence MSP’s in the parliament.
    The SNP will win all the seats in Glasgow, really, tell that to Sandra White.
    The SNP majority in the Parliament is precarious. Check out Mhari Black’s articke in Saturday’s National.
    The SNP must get a majority otherwise another referendum is at risk. Hugh just look at the people telling us it’s fine to give our 2nd vote to another small Independence Party. In The Sunday Herald the article is written by Peter Swindon, an ex advisor to Anas Sarwar, the report he has based his work on is by The Electoral Reform Society Scotland ! Willie Sullivan is the Director and an Ex-Labour Councillor, Rory Scothorne, Campaigns Organiser and a co founder of The “Virulently Anti- SNP web site…”Mair Nor A Roch Wind” . If you want Independence it has to be SNP 1 & 2

  6. A sensible decision Hugh. SNP may get a couple of list seats but at an enormous cost of almost 1 million list votes. Wings analysis is summarised below and (generously) assumes 5 SNP list seats but even that represents an awful cost of 175,284 votes/seat compared with Labour’s 15,707 votes/seat and the Tories 17,362 votes/seat. If around one quarter of the SNP list vote shifted to Greens, the latter could feasibly push Labour aside to become the Opposition. Greens list votes are worth 10 times that of an SNP list vote. This is also why, like you, I will be voting SNP1/Greens2.

    Summarised Wings List ‘Projections’ – votes per list seat (assumes SNP wins 69 constituency seats)
    List votes – 376,972
    List seats – 24
    Votes/Seat – 15,707

    List votes – 295,160
    List seats – 17
    Votes/Seat – 17,362

    List votes – 156,708
    List seats – 9
    Votes/Seat – 17,412

    List votes – 876,421
    List seats – 5
    Votes/Seat – 175,284

    List votes – 78,638
    List seats – 1
    Votes/Seat – 78,638

  7. It’s eyes on the prize. There is no possible way of knowing, when you cast your list vote whether it will be enough to matter. We can’t afford to risk splitting the vote and letting one of the “No” parties winning a seat.

  8. Looks like the Tories are holding back the news about reallocating MOD work that was promised to the Clyde after a “NO” vote , until they see the results of our election that is , If it’s a big vote for the SNP the next day the work heads south ,accompanied by the the well rehearsed excuses about sharing and value for money in these trying times , Well whats another broken promise ,another part of their rancid VOW reneged on . They dont give a f/k we dont vote for them . I wonder what crumb of comfort Cameron will throw those who voted “NO” what reward has he in mind . Well suckers you fell for it , you were well and truly shafted he couldnt even wait one day before he got to work , Remember outside No 10 EVIL thats what you recieved EVIL , never saw it coming, well you were warned now we are in the same shit as you HAPPY NOW ?

  9. Robert, I must confess I’m getting mighty sick of people lambasting NO voters for the shit now hitting Scotland. You should turn your ire to the SNP Government that did nothing to secure the count against fraud, despite pleas from many people prior to the vote. That was where YES lost the referendum. I can no longer be convinced the count was fair. All the evidence. both direct and circumstantial, speaks against it. YES won a majority, but as Stalin was reputed to have said: “It doesn’t count who votes, but who counts the votes.”

  10. Scot Goes Pop and Wings over Scotland have shown that analysis to be wrong many times.
    I wouldn’t want the Greens to go the way of the LibDems. The LibDems thought they could play games with elections and go into business with the Tories, the cost was enormous to us and to their existence.
    Reducing the SNP and our one true chance of Independence would be a disaster for Scotland and for the Greens.
    We don’t know the result until the result comes in.
    The hollowness of the Green argument is shown when it the SNP that is targeted.
    And I remember it was Ross Greer who was trying to stop the Wee Blue Book being used and distributed by Yes supporters.

  11. Difficult to take someone seriously who chameleon like moves from party to party. As others have said there is only one party firmly committed to Independence – vote for them x2.

  12. SNP x 2 in our house and my mom’s house. No other scenario plays and if the whole country could realise that the amount of votes the unionist parties get could be counted on one hand.

  13. @ Brian Fleming 6.37am Aye the SNP doing (apparently ) nothing to secure count, rotten, I’d love to hear an explanation for that, given the work put in by the YES movement we’re owed an explanation on this, BUT it is Niave to think an explanation will ever be forthcoming….. However NO voters should carry some of the blame for our current predicament. Feeble minded No voters can’t be blamed as many folk simply weren’t able to withstand the mind control they were experiencing… . . BUT NO voters intelligent and strong minded enough to understand what was going on, well I hope at some point they feel very uncomfortable. Experiencing guilt for their Actions…..wake up and start on a journey to YES…… After all we need to convert some NO voters to YES

  14. Think it’s a mistake to allow this article advocating a vote for The Greens, there isn’t a single media outlet pushing a vote for the SNP, but even the Sunday Herald and the National are running articles decrying a strong SNP vote, advising SNP votes go to other pro Indy Parties….. To balance things up would be good to see Newsnet.scot posting an article(s) spelling out the threat to a future referendum a vote for the Greens really poses.

    • Clydebuilt, I would agree with you that there is a need for somebody to make a good case for voting SNP 1+2. Thus far I have yet to see much rationale for voting in such a way. The case has however been made for voting SNP1 / Green2, by Hugh here, and by myself in reference to Wings ‘projections’ also shown above, and by various others. This case is based on arithmetic calculations in reference to the D’Hondt voting system, taking account of ongoing polls, and recent election results such as GE2105.

  15. Alf , that’s the point exactly, the current polls. Just one year ago they got the result of the General Election wrong. I’m not going to risk the chance of an Independent Scotland on the predictions of Uk polling companies, and I don’t recommend anyone else does either.

    The SNP majority is precarious as has been demonstrated by Mhari Black.

    The Election analysis by the Rev. Stuart Campbell spells out that if the Greens do well there will be around 5 less pro Indy MSP’s from the List.

    • Wings ‘analysis’ simply illustrates with their own projections the extremely high ‘cost’ of an SNP list vote, as I have highlighted above. Ms. Black’s article in The National seemed even less convincing.

      I’ve still not seen anyone “make a good case for voting SNP 1+2”.

  16. Alf Alf Alf you’ve had loadsa good cases made for an SNP 1 & 2 vote. AND ….

    …….. there’s another compelling case made for SNP 1 & 2 , this time by James Kelly posted on this very site. I’m off to join the SNP 1 & 2 gang round at the new post……. C’mon Alf don’t be a stick in the mud with the “Unhappy Green list vote mob” CYA

    • Clydebuilt, I detect a wee sniff of ‘project fear’ in James’ video. What he does not state is even with an absolute worst case scenario for a SNP1/Greens2 vote the SNP would still be the government and everybody knows that. All an SNP1+2 vote therefore does is ensure the Tories become the opposition, something the msm and NO camp are desperate for to give them something to hang onto for the next 5 years. Conversely, a Yes Greens opposition (and an SNP government) totally marginalises unionism, hopefully for good. A large SNP1/Greens2 vote is well worth the perceived risk in my view.


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