Using the list vote wisely at the 2021 Holyrood elections

Holyrood Parliament building Edinburgh

It is has been suggested by many commentators that if the Holyrood elections in 2021 were to produce a pro independence majority, that the mandate for an independence referendum would be beyond all doubt.  Some SNP politicians, such as Angus MacNeil MP and Councillor Chris McEleny have even suggested using the Holyrood elections as a proxy indyref - that simply delivering a pro independence majority would become a mandate to declare independence if the UK Government continue to refuse consent for a referendum.

Either way, it is vital that the yes movement delivers a convincing pro independence majority in 2021.  If we were to have a repeat of the result in 2016 - it may be interpreted by some that support for independence has stalled.  Rather than simply maintaining one, we must increase the yes majority.

Turning 751,770 wasted votes into 10 more pro independence seats would be useful right? in the 2016 Holyrood elections, that's how many votes were used in list areas where the SNP didn't pick up a single seat.  The SNP picked up almost a million votes in the 2016 list vote, but won just 4 seats - 3 in South Scotland, and 1 in the Highlands.  So what if there was a way to harness those wasted votes and turn them into more pro indy seats, without actually damaging the SNP's presence in Holyrood?

2011 was a fluke.  The unionists did not use tactical voting at that stage, which meant that the SNP managed to scrape a majority.  Many SNP activists use the 2011 result as a reason to continue voting SNP 1 & 2.  But even in 2011, Labour actually won the most list seats, despite only having half of the support of the SNP, so had SNP voters given their list vote to other pro independence parties, the pro independence majority would have been even larger.

Some will argue "we tried that in 2016 and it didn't work."  Well, actually no, we didn't try it in 2016.  Almost one million list votes went to the SNP, much higher than 2011.  Hardly any votes went to other pro indy parties.

In 2016, for the Constituency vote, the SNP won 46.5% of the vote (1,059,897 votes), and picked up 59 out of a possible 73 seats.

For the list vote however, the SNP won 41% of the vote (953,587 votes), massively ahead of any other party, but only picked up 4 out of the 56 available list seats.  Despite getting just about as many list votes as Constituency votes, they won only 4 list seats.  Why?

The D'Hondt system is designed to prevent the SNP from winning a majority in the Scottish Parliament.  The unionist establishment wanted to ensure that it was practically impossible for any one party to achieve dominance at Holyrood, hence why they devised this system.

In 2016, despite winning just HALF of the list votes that the SNP had won, the Tories actually won the largest amount of list seats!  The Tories won 24 list seats altogether, with just 524,222 votes and only 22.9% of the vote - far higher than the SNP's dismal 4 seats with almost a million votes.

Labour won 21 list seats with only 435,919 votes and 19.1% of the vote.  The Green Party won 6 seats with only 150,426 votes, and just 6.6% of the list vote.

Mid Scotland and Fife list results 2016

Above, the result for Mid Scotland and Fife goes to show how list votes can be used more wisely.  As you can see, the SNP absolutely cleaned up with the popular vote but won ZERO SEATS.  That's right, not a single seat.  And in fact, that pattern was repeated in almost every area of the country.

Now of course, in South Scotland, the SNP can only win on the list, because the Tories win the Constituency seat.  So in every area apart from South Scotland, it would be much more efficient to use the list vote for another pro independence party, because it is practically impossible for the SNP to win on the list in these areas.


The above video explains the D'Hondt voting system.  Please watch it and learn exactly how it has been set up to prevent the SNP from winning a majority.

So who do we vote for on the list?  What are our other pro independence choices?  Well there's the most obvious choice, namely the Green Party, who are currently the 2nd largest pro independence party in Scotland.  But not everyone feels like they can vote for the Greens, which is fair enough.

There is of course Solidarity, and the Scottish Socialist Party, but again, many people do not feel they can vote for those parties either.

This is where the newly proposed Alliance For Independence Party would come in.

It has often been suggested that someone should set up a party specifically to beat the D'Hondt system, so that we can harvest a huge amount of list seats from SNP voters who would usually waste their list vote, unintentionally of course.  People have been calling for a list party that would only have one policy - independence, and backing the SNP to achieve this goal.

The main problem is the electoral commission.  You can't just create a party called SNP 2 or SNP List Vote or something along those lines.  It's not allowed.  You have to be an actual political party with policies in order to stand for election in Holyrood.

The Alliance For Independence Party is still in the early stages of development, but there are prominent voices who seem to be very open to the idea.

It would take a giant leap of faith for SNP voters to lend their list vote to another party, but if even half of the SNP votes went to this single issue party, it could potentially mean over 80 pro independence MSPs in Holyrood, rather than the current 70.

And let's face it, any improvement on the current figure would be seen as a significant victory for the yes movement, and a step closer to independence.  And let's remember, those 751,770 wasted votes may as well be used more wisely, rather than flushed down the drain.

Would it harm the Green vote?  Not necessarily because the Greens would still be standing and would still pick up a significant enough percentage of the vote to win seats.

Would it harm the SNP result?  No.  The Alliance For Independence Party would not be standing in areas where the SNP are not likely to win a constituency seat.  It would only stand in areas where the SNP are due to clean up with the Constituency vote.  The Alliance For Independence Party would refuse to stand candidates in South Scotland for example.

The Alliance For Independence Party would specifically be targeting unionist seats.  They would be winning seats with the 751,770 votes that were previously (and unintentionally) wasted by SNP voters, which were effectively dead votes anyway.  They were dead votes!  Why not use them?

Wouldn't it be great if we could have a few pro independence parties in Holyrood without damaging the SNP's presence, and we could drop some of the unionist politicians that stand in the way of progress?

Who knows what will happen after 2021 if we don't use this election wisely?  There needs to be a clear rise in support for independence in the Holyrood elections in 2021.  That can only be achieved by increasing the pro independence seat count.

We must at least allow ourselves to be open minded about how we use our list vote, when it is now so widely accepted that we could collectively turn dead votes into more pro independence seats.  We could have a larger pro independence majority without harming the SNP seat count.  What have we got to lose?

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