The obvious question to ask of David Carr’s article on Common Space is, what “zealotry”? Even his catalogue of selective quoting fails to reveal anything more than commitment and enthusiasm – perhaps fervour – on the part of those advocating #BothVotesSNP. Even those who eschew complex psephological calculations in coming to that choice evince no more than the same settled will as David Carr declares perfectly acceptable in the case of those similarly settled upon voting Labour or Tory. Yet again, we see SNP supporters being held to a different standard, with no better justification than the fact that there are more of them.
If Mr Carr wants to see “zealotry” then he really needs to check out some of the “internet bams” frantically peddling the notion of a childishly simple way to circumvent the d’Hondt system and create a Magic Pick ‘n’ Mix Parliament. In his eagerness to find some semi-convincing evidence of excessive zeal on the part of those advocating #BothVotesSNP, he seems curiously blind and deaf to the vitriolic accusations of stupidity, ‘blind party loyalty’, and treachery being flung at them by those who have lately adopted an “independence” label for the purpose of marketing their favoured left-wing faction.
The proponents of tactical voting to take list votes away from the SNP seem incapable of accepting even the remotest possibility that those warning against such folly might be motivated by genuine concern for the cause of independence based on an entirely pragmatic and dispassionate assessment of the situation. It’s not as if the very serious practical issues with the Magic Pick ‘n’ Mix Parliament Plan have not been set out in detail. It’s just that all of this reasoned argument is ignored as any questioning of the feasibility of inserting OPIP MSPs into Holyrood by means of a controlled and coordinated strategy provokes immediately dismissal as the product of the very “zealotry” that David Carr has so embarrassingly failed to identify.
There will be two kinds of pro-independence voter in the coming election. Those who recognise the crucial importance of securing an SNP majority in the context of a system specifically designed to prevent this, and will vote accordingly. And those who, while acknowledging the crucial importance of that SNP majority, will nonetheless be prepared to gamble with it in the hope of an electoral prize. The former will by no means all be SNP members or supporters. They will be people from across the political spectrum who have coldly calculated the best way to progress the fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status and bring our government home.
The latter will predominantly be people whose commitment to independence is conditional on pursuit of the policy agenda adopted by whatever transient left-wing clique they currently adhere to.
And before David Carr climbs back aboard his SNP-baiting high horse, I say all of this without a trace of rancour. I am accustomed enough to the game of politics to be unmoved by mere opportunism. It would be gratifying, however, if the opportunists of the OPIPs were to campaign on the basis of the much-vaunted radical-but-viable policies we hear so little of, rather than adopting the tactics and language of bitter British nationalism.