Tactical voting: Round 2

Wow. My post on tactical voting touched a raw nerve.

Overnight I’ve had reactions from hundreds of people, many more it has to be said than have actually read the original article. Still, that hasn’t stopped most people having a view on what I said or, sometimes bizarrely, who or what I am.

Life is too short to do a proper count but my guess is that about 40% of the responses have been supportive (thanks) and 60% challenging (fine) or hostile (hmm). Still, that’s the nature of Twitter – conversational, instantaneous and often glib. I just wish some of those who object would come on here and argue their case.

Let’s dismiss the wilder fringes first; the souls who can’t communicate without swearing  and the name callers, the crowd who, as they say, argue the man not the case. Between them they’re convinced I’m Tory, Labour, young, old, sad, cunning, naïve, bitter, demented, and live in England and/or Scotland. Quite amusing was the man who told me that Stirling Council was a ‘hard right Saltire banning Red-Blue Tory imperialist coalition.’ Another challenged me on a particular point and when he didn’t like my polite answer accused me of being a troll, said this was goodbye, and reappeared a few minutes later. Most disturbing (for her) was a woman who first said she knew I was ‘an ex-Tory from Gravesend’ and then, that I had been dead since the year 2000. I suppose she was trying in a convoluted way to accuse me of impersonation. Either that or she has problems I don’t want to know about.

One step up from that lot are the one trick ponies, the people who keep saying the same thing (in often the same words) whatever the response. Amongst this select band I count the man who must devote his life to collecting (or making?) anti-UK graphics. About every hour he’d hurl another four in my direction as if somehow sheer volume would bludgeon me into submission.

Take away all this dross and you have some genuine points being made, although I don’t agree with them. Here they are with my responses.

We need a strong SNP presence at Westminster in order to help reform the place and/or guarantee delivery of the ‘Vow.’ This is an argument often made by nationalists. Many who have made it to me in the last 24 hours have announced their affiliation with or membership of the SNP in one way or another (twibbon, hashtags, their Twitter profile). They must surely know that the aim of the SNP is not reform of Westminster or more devolution. It’s independence/separation. They are either naïve or, more likely, have adopted a fundamentally dishonest position to persuade the rest of the electorate to vote SNP. In any event, a larger SNP presence at Westminster is a guarantee of nothing given that the general election of 2015 is probably the most uncertain for a long time, with more parties capable of winning seats vying for voters’ attention and many potential outcomes.

The real threat to Scotland is not the SNP but the Tories and Labour. Well, if you believe in independence all pro-union parties are a bigger threat.

There is no difference between the Tories and Labour, or as nationalists currently call them, the ‘Red Tories.’ This claim is nothing to do with the real differences between the two main UK parties but an SNP device to turn naturally Labour voters towards them.

Do I really believe that ‘anything’ is preferable to the SNP? Easily dealt with. I never said anything was. I said that a limited range of democratic political parties who can win seats in Scotland and who support the union (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat) is preferable to the SNP.

My views on tactical voting are driven by an ‘unhealthy and irrational hate of the SNP.’ Not true. I disagree with the SNP, I oppose them, and I do not want the one thing they stand for. But I hate very little in life and what I do can be related to a few principles that stand apart from and certainly above party politics.

And that, despite the generation by my previous article of a lot of heat is about it. More interesting for me than the individual responses is the volume. It convinces me more than ever that tactical voting is a threat to the SNP’s electoral ambitions in the general election. It’s the way to go for those of us who have no party affiliation (and hopefully for many who do). I’m looking forward to a lot more about the subject in the coming weeks.

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