Can We Please Stop With The ‘Tactical Voting’ Bullying


First, let me say that I’ve been an SNP supporter and voter in the past, currently regard them as an ally and a broadly positive force and wouldn’t rule out voting for them in the future.

However, ever since I came out as a vocal Green supporter in the wake of the referendum I’ve noticed an unexpected hostility from many SNP supporters and activists, asserting the apparent need for all Yes voters or progressively minded people to get behind the SNP for the greater good, adding that the Greens are too small, too radical, too idealistic and/or too hamstrung by First Past The Post.

This has only intensified as the Greens have surged in membership, polled more competitively and recently announced that they will run the candidates in more seats than ever before at a general election.

Initially this confused me, but I came to understand that the folks expressing these issues were simply incredibly loyal or dedicated to what the SNP represent and regard any competition, especially from folks they see as being broadly ‘on their side’ as a betrayal.

The irony is, this is the exact same language that Labour supporters have used to undermine the SNP for decades and it is in direct opposition to the spirit of the broader Yes campaign, which was remarkably diverse, pluralistic and inclusive.

The attitude that we have to tactically vote SNP to oust Labour from Scotland is the exact same argument used for so long to persuade people to vote Labour to attempt to prevent a Conservative government in Westminster. The SNP railed against that attitude for so long and only truly made headway as a party of significance once the proportionally elected Scottish parliament was created.

Surely with that experience still looming large in the rear view mirror, they should be a little more supportive to fellow progressive parties struggling with the same obstacles? Unless of course, the SNP (or more truthfully a vocal minority of their support) have adopted Labour’s attitude of an almost ‘divine right’ to rule in Scotland with the whole of Westminster replacing the Conservatives alone as the boogeyman to keep those of us who might have issue with some of the SNP’s policies in line.

I find myself unable to support the SNP with a vote this time as I disagree with their policies on NATO membership, local government and corporation tax as well as being suspicious of their erratic line on issues like TTIP and fracking.

I’m realistic, I fully expect the SNP to sweep Scotland in May and I will applaud an SNP victory in my constituency but I’d still like to see the Scottish Greens perform well, retain our deposits more often than not and generally show that we are now an electoral force to be reckoned with ahead of the campaign for the Holyrood elections in 2016.

Such is the SNP’s apparent advantage in the polls that I wouldn’t imagine a single seat being withheld from them if every Green-minded voter in the country voted as such. Hell, both of our target seats are Labour held and it’s worth remembering that disgruntled Labour voters are more likely to vote Green than SNP, given the long-term antipathy between those parties.

Even if this were not the case, I would resent being called a splitter or a traitor purely because I chose to support and vote for a different political party than someone else. My vote is my choice and having a go at another political party for daring t stand against you is a bit… authoritarian.

Politics is (or should be) about difference of opinion, which is resolved through rational debate and co-operation, not fixed loyalties along party divides and an absolutist attitude to people being for or against you.

Disagree, debate issues and do so passionately, articulately and in a civilized manner. Don’t look at potential allies and lambast them for refusing to meekly get in line behind your preferred party. It might make future coalition discussions a tad strained…

For the sake of representative, functional democracy, the more parties standing and the greater variety in how people vote, the better. History also tells us that moves towards an artificial consensus where one party is regarded as the font of all truth for ‘the people’ leads to dictatorships.

So, can we agree that we both want a progressive future for Scotland but that we disagree on exactly what that looks like?

Excellent. Perhaps we can also agree that it is a better use of our time to be campaigning against the regressive neoliberal ideology that affronts us both?


Since I wrote this piece, the wonderful Sarah Beattie-Smith of the Scottish Greens wrote this excellent piece lambasting Scottish Labour for promoting tactical voting for Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates to try and stop the SNP from winning more seats.

I’d also say that I made a much more comprehensive argument against tactical voting a few months ago which you can check out here.


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