All for Unity

BY EFFIE DEANS

We don’t know when the next Scottish Parliament Election will be. It might be in May as scheduled or it might be delayed. Polls suggest that the SNP will win an overall majority.

Each of us gets two votes for the Scottish Parliament. The first is for 73 constituencies elected by First Past the Post. The second is for 8 regions elected by proportional representation by the Additional Member System.

The last opinion poll I have seen puts the SNP on 52% in the constituency vote and 46% in the regional list vote. If this stays the same, then the SNP are projected to win 72 seats out of 129 which would give them an overall majority.

If the SNP wins 52% of the constituency vote, they will win nearly all of the constituencies. The only exceptions may be a Conservative seat or two in the Borders and the Lib Dems winning Orkney and Shetland.

But the SNP will win very few list seats. The whole point of the Additional Member System is that the number of seats a party gets reflects its share of the vote. So, if the SNP won say 70 constituencies it would not win 46% of the list because it would already have nearly its fair share of seats.

This is why independence supporters might vote Scottish Green because a vote for the SNP on the list seats may not lead to more SNP seats. A Green nationalist is the same as a yellow nationalist. For which reason Pro UK people who are concerned about the environment must never ever vote for the Scottish Greens.

The main Scottish opposition parties are doing very badly indeed:

  • Conservatives are on 20%
  • Labour are on 17% (16% on the list seats)
  • Lib Dems are on 6%.

Even if we add all these votes together it won’t be enough to beat the SNP. But this makes the argument for cooperation between the opposition parties unanswerable. If there are three Pro UK parties splitting the vote in the constituencies, they will hardly be able to defeat the SNP anywhere. But if there were only one Pro UK party standing where it had the best chance to win it might be possible to win more than just 2 or 3 constituencies. One party could at least compete.

The problem with the three main opposition parties is that they do not wish to cooperate. They do not wish to stand only one Pro UK candidate where he has the best chance.

Tactical voting campaigns rarely if ever work. It’s only when parties stand down their candidates where they cannot win that there is the possibility of defeating an opponent who is polling as well as the SNP. It would be better still if there were only one Pro UK party with a variety of political opinions from the Left to the Right. What could we call such a party? All for Unity.

All for Unity is the new name for Alliance for Unity. The Electoral Commission didn’t like the Alliance bit. But I much prefer All for Unity anyway. All Pro UK people in Scotland must unite to defeat the SNP and maintain the unity of the United Kingdom.

How bad does it have to get for Scottish Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives, before they decide to work together? Unfortunately, it is not bad enough yet. Career opposition politicians can rely on the list system so that they keep their jobs. Perhaps if they were in danger of losing their salaries they might think again.

The All for Unity strategy is simple:

1. Vote for whichever Pro UK candidate has the best chance of winning the constituency where you live.

2. Vote for All for Unity in the list seats.

Imagine if All for Unity won 10% to 20% of the list seats. This would mean that current Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MSPs would lose out. But it would not mean that there were fewer Pro UK MSPs. The method of calculating list seats is designed to reflect each party’s share of the vote. If Conservative, Lib Dems and Labour supporters  switch to All for Unity in the list vote it isn’t going to increase the vote share of the Scottish Greens or any other separatist party, so it ought not if the system is fair increase the number of Scottish Green seats or anyone else.

If a number of Pro UK sitting MSPs lost their seats to All for Unity, it would do more than anything else could to stir the rest into action. It might just make them see the benefit of their being only one Pro UK party in Scotland.

The SNP are on 52% and the Pro UK parties nowhere, because the Pro UK parties have been failing Scotland. MSPs are mainly anonymous and they rarely have the talent or personality to make convincing arguments against the SNP on television or in the press.

52% out of 100% is not a big lead, but already the Pro UK opposition has given up on the constituencies and leading MSPs are seeking safety on the lists. But they have given up because they are divided and because they don’t want to work together.

Pro UK people in Scotland must put aside party-political difference. If All for Unity makes progress, there will be an example of people of different political perspectives working together for the sake of our country. Only by overcoming the division between Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, will we be able to overcome the division in Scotland that is threatening to partition Britain.

Many people are complaining that All for Unity will split the vote. But it doesn’t matter if the Pro UK cake is split four ways rather than three. What matters is getting Pro UK MSPs who are willing to fight the SNP rather than agree with them and who put the unity of our country before party politics and career. Holyrood has become a cosy club. I have the impression that many of the opposition wouldn’t mind that much if Scotland became independent so long as they kept their jobs.

The choice is between remaining divided three ways which will just give us more of the same or trying something different that just might make a difference.  All of us working together for unity is the same argument about everyone in Britain seeking unity rather than division. All for Unity is the Pro UK argument.

The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.