A Lifetime of Tactical Voting

Another Guest Post by S. Neilson

With 33.5% turnout in Scotland I sit amongst the 66.5% majority who for one reason or another couldn’t be fucked voting. A representative democracy is only representative if it has broad voter participation and it is only democratic if voters have an impact on who actually gets elected – neither of which the Euro Elections and Closed List system offer us. Closed List with low voter participation leads to a UKIP MEP for Scotland being elected with something like <3% of the electorate voting for them.

There were three far right parties on the ballot paper. The Glasgow totals show UKIP with 12,638 votes (!), Britain First with 1219, and the BNP with 1196. Labour have 45,676, Tories 10,985, Lib Dem 3830, SNP 37,820, NO2EU 829, and finally the only supportable party on the ballot paper: Green 15,359. Not a particularly encouraging picture of Scotland pre-referendum.

The disproportionate representation gained by UKIP in these elections is an example of the necessity for no platform. Homophobia, sexism, and racism are not valid viewpoints that should be defended under the banner of ‘free speech’. Groups or individuals who offer bigoted, populist ‘easy answers’ (usually about ‘immigrants’) should not be treated like legitimate political entities and offered air time, debate slots, and media coverage. UKIP have been ubiquitous in the media the last six months. The representation they have gained in Europe is clearly a product of that coverage, that platform. Add into the mix that the Scottish Government appear to be in a pre-referendum political stasis where a paranoia about swinging voters away from a ‘yes’ vote is the governor.

So with <3% of the electorate coming out in support and massive media coverage in Scotland, UKIP gained a Scottish MEP. 15,053 people in Glasgow went out to vote for far right parties in the European elections which shouldn’t be dismissed because of low voter turnout or unrepresentative electoral systems. It’s hard to predict the voting patterns of the 66.5% of the electorate who didn’t show up but I do think it is fair to say the following. There is a lot of talk about how Scotland will ‘swing to the left’ post-independence (a big if!). There will be people who want that to happen, and people who believe it will, who are either strategically voting SNP or not voting at all (like me). An SNP vote is not a coherent left wing vote, strategic or otherwise. The only clear option was Green and while they outnumbered the right-wing voters by several hundred it is still too close for comfort.

A fascinating interview I read about the situation in Ukraine suggested that the relative disorganization of the left compared to the militancy and organization of the right allowed Svoboda to come into Euromaiden and more or less run shit.

If all it takes is low voter turnout to give UKIP a Euro seat then not voting in elections and only discussing UKIP’s disproportionate media representation in the pub probably doesn’t cut it.

Does tactically voting SNP?


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