Galloway dares to question the infallibility of the Prof!

C for ?

By Alasdair Galloway

SNP 1, Alba 2

John, I have to take issue with your recent blog “Less popular than Boris Johnson? Aye right!”

(https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2021/03/28/less-popular-than-boris-johnson-aye-right/).

I agree with you, as I agreed with John Curtice, that the Greens are threatened by Alba running candidates on the Regional Lists (you can find Curtice at https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/19192169.alex-salmond-alba-stands-party-boost-pro-independence-msp—may-cost-snp-majority/).

The error, I would suggest, you both make is to presume it is the Greens who are at most risk from Alba. The reasons for this view are obvious,

  1. It is known that some who vote SNP in their constituency vote Green on the Regional List. This will include Green Party members, who are unlikely to be swayed by Alba, but it also includes some SNP supporters who, perhaps, are aware that a List vote for the SNP is a wasted vote. In 2016 the SNP secured a List vote of 751,770 in six of the eight Regions but elected no one. Alba would be an obvious home for these votes.
  2. The Greens have fewer members than other parties (except the Lib Dems) and thus are at more risk of being wiped out.

It is hard to argue with both, but they are, I think, if not wrong, then limited.

Let’s address the first one – the danger of being wiped out. Certainly, with only six seats, all List, this is a danger for the Greens. However, if we examine the List votes of their current MSPs, it seems that at least four of them – Patrick Harvie, Alison Johnstone, Ross Greer and John Finnie (though John is not standing in this election) were elected early on in the allocations of List seats. Ceteris paribus, we might argue that others are at more risk than these individuals.

It is though fair to say that Mark Ruskell is at some risk, as certainly would Andy Wightman be (if he stands it wont be for the Greens) as he was elected in the final allocation in Lothian.

So, a more finely grained approach suggests the danger imputed to the Greens is not entirely well-founded. However, another challenge for this theory is that the Green vote, 6.6% in 2016, seems likely to have grown since then – in a recent poll Survation estimated their List vote to be 11%.

Thus, at worst, the danger to the Greens seems to me to be exaggerated, but it also misses the point, going along with what I suspect is a Unionist fabrication.

Hearing Humza Yousaf criticising Alba for “splitting the vote”, was the worst kind of political tribalism and bile. We all know – or it’s easy to establish – that with the polling figures they have just now in the constituency section the SNP are very unlikely to win more than a couple of List seats (probably in South Of Scotland region). The SNP List vote might be enormous, but it is largely impotent – it will elect very few MSPs

Harping on about the Alex and Nicola show, questioning Salmond’s fitness for office (which is almost funny if you have read about the most recent sexual shenanigans of our current PM, which he lied about when the lady was given public funds, during his tenure as Mayor of London), focusing on the conflict of the Greens and Alba, never questioning #bothvotesSNP, all deflect us from one important truth.

This is that the parties with most exposure to Alba on the List are the Conservative and Labour Parties. Of the 31 Conservative MSPs, 24 (including Murdo Fraser!) were elected through the List. Of the 24 Labour MSPs, there were 21 elected via the List (including not only Richard Leonard, but also Anas Sarwar).

It is this which caused Ross to panic over the weekend, sending letters to both Anas Sarwar and Willie Rennie, looking for cooperation during the election and “delivering a Scottish Parliament focused on our national recovery afterwards” (Better Together Mk2, I suppose). To his credit Sarwar told him to “grow up”. While nothing has been heard from Willie Rennie, it seems unlikely Ross will get his way (though it may help him win the votes of more convinced Unionists).

But the clear and present danger of Alba to many of their MSPs must be clear to the Unionist parties. It’s where the notion that the independence side are “not playing fair” or even “cheating” (https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-snp-love-tories/#more-128531) originates. Of course, the fact that the entire electoral system is gamed to, as far as possible, to prevent the possibility of any party winning a majority is ignored, as is the unaccountable and undemocratic power that Westminster has to prevent Scotland determining its own future.

But even that is hardly surprising. John moots the possibility of 20 Alba MSPs. Where do we think they are going to come from? Even if the Green Party was entirely wiped out, the majority are going to be from Conservative and Labour.

Let’s suppose that the SNP fall very slightly short of an overall majority – say 64 seats, which is one more than they have now. Let’s suppose too that the Greens hold what they have – 6 seats – but that John has been a wee bit optimistic with his 20 Alba seats – let’s suppose 16. That would be 86 seats taken by independence supporting parties.

To the suspicious among us, it could appear that the total of 86 was not accidental, but on purpose – and you would be right. The significance of 86 is that it is two thirds of the Scottish Parliament, which would give the independence parties the option of calling another Scottish election whenever they felt they had the need to demonstrate their support (though Theresa May’s experience in 2017 perhaps is a reason to be careful?).

Thus, the message to get out is

  1. The Greens can probably look after themselves
  2. Einstein reportedly said that “a definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome”. We only need to examine 2016 – when the SNP’s constituency vote was even higher than in 2011, yet they ended up a minority – to see that #bothvotesSNP is a recipe for the same old, though the SNP are going to harp on about it)
  3. Voting SNP in your constituency and Alba on the List – though I might make an exception in South of Scotland for both votes SNP – is the route to maximising the independence vote in the next Parliament.

Why do we need to do this? Well, we all have our own reasons for supporting independence, but in today’s National there is a very prescient article by Andrew Tickell (formerly Peat Worrier) – you can find it here, and I strongly recommend reading it, https://www.thenational.scot/news/19192647.jacks-attack-reminder-devolution-will-always-threat/

The core of the article are Article 33 and Article 35 of the Scotland Act.

The former allows the Advocate General, the Lord Advocate or the Attorney General to refer Scottish Parliament Bills to the Supreme Court to establish if they are within its competence. Thus, Alister Jack has written to John Swinney to complain that the recent passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, on the grounds that it “constrains the UK Parliament’s ability to make laws for Scotland.” Set against that, has to be that the UK Government signed the Convention as long ago as 1990! I will leave you to work out their concern.

Jack also has problems, on the same basis, with European Charter of Local Self-Government which Andy Wightman got into Scottish Law. This Charter was drawn up by the Council of Europe, of which the UK is a member. Once again, I think we have to ask, why? Perhaps just to show who is in charge? Or that some of it is a bit wishy washy liberal.

Tickell writes in relation to votes for 16 and 17 year-olds, in jest I am sure (though not entirely), that the present “UK Government .. believes children and asylum seekers should know their place – not at the ballot box, but suspended in a cage over Priti Patel’s desk, saturating the Home Secretary’s office with the invigorating pitter-patter of their tears”.

Article 35 prevents the Presiding Officer from putting forward for Royal Assent, a Bill that has passed through all its Holyrood stage, on the grounds that it “would be incompatible with any international obligations or the interests of defence or national security”, or “it applies to reserved matters and which the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have an adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters,”

As Tickell notes “The first power was used to spike Holyrood’s Brexit legislation in the Supreme Court in 2019. The second power has never been used. Well, there’s a first time for everything.”

Tickell’s conclusion from this is that “if the Conservative and Unionist Party become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism or Unionism: they will reject devolution.”. One example is that, should there be another pandemic, it has been reported that Tory MPs want the response to be coordinated from London without the involvement of the devolved administrations.

Tickell argues that Jack’s response to these two Bills is a “foretaste of things to come”, and that is why a supermajority is not just desirable, but essential, and political sensitivities and certainly not careers, should obstruct this.

12 thoughts on “Galloway dares to question the infallibility of the Prof!

  1. Perhaps Sarwar told Dross to grow up, as he’s aware of how toxic their alliance was to his target audience, when they got together under Better Together? And how impotent it was. Never assign scruples when self-interest is more likely. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another thing that crossed my mind is that we are all assuming that the greens will continue to support Scottish Independence.
    What if they dont ?

    What could sway them ?
    Money ? Well money does tend to sway nearly everything on this planet including politics.

    Look at DUP in Northern Ireland didnt take much to change them did it
    Theresa May openly gave them £ a billion

    Would that sway the greens ?
    Theres more of needed im sure

    Like

  3. Alastair , might I take issue with your categorising a vote for the SNP as a ”wasted” vote ( on the List ).
    You are not alone in using this term . I can see the logic of your use of the term but I see it slightly differently .

    The only time the SNP ( or any party ) gained a majority was , as you say , in 2011 which was down to the List votes .
    In 2016 , despite a much better showing in the constituencies NO majority was achieved .

    Two elections , two very different outcomes under the D’Hondt voting system .

    We are today assuming that the polls are correct and that the SNP will sweep the board in the constituencies so that the List outcomes will be very similar to 2016- i.e. very little for an awful lot of votes !
    I however don’t see these votes as ”wasted ” but rather as insurance in the event that , god forbid , the polls were wrong or that the unionist parties , despite what Sarwar says , managed to game certain constituencies to hold off the SNP !
    I remember Kezia Dugdale actually urging Labour voters in 2017 to do this to thwart the SNP in areas where the Tories were stronger than Labour – with limited success .

    I , unlike Alex Salmond , am not a gambler . Alex is gambling on a sweeping victory in the constituencies , indeed his party’s whole election success is predicated on such an outcome otherwise they will come out of the election with only a free pencil from the voting booth .

    I HOPE that the SNP DO sweep the board but I am truly cautious by nature and I prefer the ‘belt and braces’ approach of SNP 1&2.

    So insurance not wasted !

    Liked by 3 people

    1. James Mills
      Re a gamble and AS
      Yes he loves a gamble but uses 2 skills that the Bookies fear,the 1st of which is
      Intelligence and skill in cold analisation of
      Previous Form, The Trainer,Going, Jockey, Draw,Breeding and any good available on the spot advice
      But the Bookie is the same and sets the odds accordingly
      But the 2nd one makes the Bookie tremble as they accept the Bet and more than likely lay off the bet to protect himself and that is
      2.Gut feeling,second sight,intuition call it what you may, but Never Bad or Good luck
      And with regards Alba Alex has deployed
      All the above and has smelled the coffee
      And put the House on his bet
      And The Bookie in this Instance ( The Unionists ) cannot lay of his bet or reduce the odds rapidly as the Horses are Off and race underway as the campaign (Race) is underway
      As always and Alex knows this Winner Takes All
      So do the Unionists and that,s why they
      Trembling
      What is to be Shall be

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As you say the Greens have increased their popularity in List.
    Everything you have argued also applies to the Greens.
    Alba have certainly spooked the Unionists but have also drawn attention to the d’Hont system.
    The Greens can take advantage of this in an improvement in their list vote.
    Alba is tainted by their leader’s animosity towards the popular NS.
    I’ll be watching the polls but already West of Scotland has 1 green. Maybe I can help improve on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There’s the AMS myth about wasted votes. Not true. 2011 the list vote was closer to the constituency vote hence more seats and a majority SNP. 2016 List votes trickled to other parties, hence few List seats.

    The safest option if you want a “supermajority” is to vote SNP in both. See the following for debunking many of the myths and worked examples of how the seat allocation works: https://listvotesense.medium.com/constituencies-lists-the-whole-truth-d0612b229bca

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What is most important. Total number of votes allocated to the SNP. Or the total number of independence supporting MSP’s .

    Like

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