Letter to The National, 3rd February 2016
The article by Professor John Curtice was a very welcome one, and threw up some interesting points. If his analysis of the polling data is correct and his forecasts are accurate, the SNP will pick up no list MSP’s outside of the North East, the south of Scotland, and the Highlands and Islands. This would identify those three areas as the ones most likely to benefit from an SNP 1 and 2 vote. It would also suggest that outside those areas an SNP 1, Pro-Indy other 2 would be a better bet. All well and good you might think. But with all the argument about which pro-indy party might be the best option for the second vote, we appear to have overlooked how the Unionist parties could also benefit, and they could do so in the most bizarre way. Supposing the voters (if not the parties) accept that their first past the post candidates are going to be roundly beaten, and they acknowledge that the bigger the beating they receive on FPTP, the more likely they are to receive list seats. The sensible thing to do therefore would be to actually vote SNP1 and then the unionist party of their choice with their second vote! If that is unpalatable they could abstain on vote 1 and vote for the party of their choice with vote 2. This would virtually guarantee their representation in a straight carve up of the list.
I think this illustrates what a perfectly strange electoral system we have here in Scotland; a hybrid which really isn’t fit for purpose. Unfortunately any reform of the system would only be implemented were it to redress the balance towards the Unionist parties, and that is not something we should even begin to contemplate.