Derek Bateman sets out his personal view on voting intentions
Oh my god! I forgot it’s election day. Sitting with a coffee from my George Clooney machine looking at a blue sky in Glasgow and thinking there was something I had to do today. Vote, you clown…So we’ll pop round to the Maryhill Burgh Halls a little later. But who to vote for? Am I agonising? Wracked with doubt? Not really, no.
First, when I see who the Unionists are what they think of Scots from Neil Oliver to right wing nutcase Iain Martin to the hypocrites at the Record, I couldn’t vote for them if they changed overnight and backed independence. It is Unionism and its facilitators here at home who have kept Scotland down, stripped us of our resources and people and now tell us we’re so poor after 300 years that we can’t afford national dignity. Some sad Scots will still vote for them. Not me.
I’m fed up too being told I have to think of sharing my allegiance with other parties and that the list vote is some kind of luxury accessory in the campaign for independence. We don’t really need it so we lend to somebody who says they’re really after the same thing as me only they’d do it differently.
They’d add new voices and challenge the SNP. I’m sure they would – I remember the Greens voting down the Scottish budget a few years ago. How much challenge does the SNP need? Is the combined opposition not enough? What about adding in the relentless attacks of the media? When it comes to broadcasting there is barely a single non-payroll SNP commentator in the studios.
There are institutional critics in the unions, the professional bodies and the think tanks. There are loads of them in the universities. Out in cyberland there is no shortage of vehement critics blasting the SNP’s record on everything from the fracking embargo to income tax. Nothing wrong with criticism of course but some of these are the same people who want SNP votes to get them elected.
I don’t want to be hurtful but the stark truth about almost all Greens and Rise support is that it piggybacks on SNP success. They all played a massive role in the indyref it’s true, but in an election they’re reliant on the SNP hoovering up constituencies to provide them a platform to play on. Is Rise standing in every constituency? Or the Greens? Hardly – they’re actually voting SNP on the first ballot because it’s only through an SNP success that they have a voice. Yet they’re the same people who want the right to ‘scrutinise and challenge’ and ‘ hold to account’ the SNP.
The argument is that the SNP can’t expect its own people to ‘challenge’- except on NATO and land reform, that is. Well they probably agree with most of the policy and approach so why would they? However, I also believe there is growing concern among the newer Nats that there is scope to push harder on some social issues and that voices will be raised sooner rather than later. It stands to reason that in a large party there is a breadth of opinion and discipline only takes you so far. So I expect that more radical edge to cut through. And I’m not convinced it makes a difference if there are two or six or 10 Greens making similar dissenting noises in Holyrood but I do welcome a block of Greens as a major contributing factor to the debate – I just don’t want to rely on them for a majority. Why?
Because their main aim isn’t independence. They exist to promote environmental policies and however sympathetic to that you are, that is a siding on the track to self-government. And, as I’ve argued before, however much I disagree with Unionist voters, they are our people and part of our nation and we have to find ways of bringing enough of them onside to win the next time. A coalition with what they see as a fringe party with policies like 60% tax rates would look to them unconvincing. As it would at Westminster, to the opposition at Holyrood and across the media where Nicola Falls Short headlines and endless jibes about failing to meet targets and being rejected will dominate the next few years. Nats Sent Homewards to Think Again will be the gleeful headline across the papers and the BBC.
My objective long term is independence. Only one party unequivocally stands for that.
My objective meantime is competence and good government. Only one party has shown it can deliver that.
I think those who claim the SNP is guaranteed a win of some kind are misreading it. They will be the biggest party but an overall majority is as risky a bet as it was in 2011 when the list vote was essential. Our voting system doesn’t allow a clear preference as does STV in placing your choices in first, second and third. So the list vote is always a wild card as it depends so much on the constituency result. Even backing the SNP on the list isn’t a guarantee of stopping a Unionist winning in some areas but it remains the best bet in an unknowable ballot. It also means you know you couldn’t do more than you did for the cause. If your priority like mine is independence, I’d say it’s pretty much a duty to trust the party leading the drive to achieve it.
(All I have to do is convince someone else in the house to do the same…)