Why Glaswegian Labour voters should tactically 2nd vote Green in May

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Mar 172011

Labour generally does extremely well in Glasgow region constituencies – it took all of them in 1999 and 2003, and lost only one to the SNP in 2007 by a few hundred votes. It also does very well in the number of 2nd preferences, 23,000 ahead of the SNP in 2007 and polling nearly double the SNP in the first two elections.

Because of the way that the list seats are awarded in Scotland Labour is unlikely to get a list seat here. It would need to lose both Kelvin and Cathcart and gain another 10,000 or so list votes to qualify for a list seat.

However, Labours avowed Scottish rivals the SNP and our über-rivals the Tories pick up quite a few. The Liberal Democrats also tend to pick up 1 though given that somebody suggested they be hung an extremely unusual part of their anatomy at Mark Steel’s gig last night I suspect they may find that difficult.

If Labour is going to regain power at the election the best course is too elect as many Labour MSPs as possible. The flip side, of course, is to make sure that as few SNP MSPs get elected as possible – ideally by transferring their seats to a party we could conceivably form a coalition with. Working the SNP or the Tories is right out, and while I wouldn’t rule out working with the Lib Dems – it worked pretty well for the first two parliaments – I do think it would be quite difficult to do so this time round. The Socialists and Solidarity are still dealing with the fall out from their split and are unlikely to get any MSPs. The Greens are also likely to pull a Labour government in a more radical, progressive left direction – something I think a lot of Labour voters would like to see.

Patrick Harvie has done some good work in Holyrood, particularly on transport and climate change but also recently on the wider Tory-LibDem-SNP lead cuts agenda with constructive, costed counter proposals. If a reasonable fraction of Labour voters used their list votes this way then the Greens could conceivably take a seat off the SNP, something which if it had happened in 2007 would have left both parties level and possibly keeping the SNP in opposition. So there’s both high politics and low politics reasons for suggesting this, although I will admit to a certain amount of self-interest in this.

On a related note, the Greens are currently going to be excluded from the TV debates – something which esteemed Nat blogger Lallands Peat Worrier wrote about recently – and there’s a petition to right this injustice.

Addendum, 2011-04-27: The poll situation has changed somewhat, as has the d’hondt calculation as described in this Better Nation post. Tactically voting Green to deprive the SNP of a seat doesn’t make sense anymore.