People will have various reasons for voting SNP next week. For some, it’ll be because of Brexit, for others the way Nicola and team have handled the pandemic or regard for a particular constituency MSP. For independence supporters, it will be to see their goal realised.
Winning that goal goes beyond this election. To secure independence, it’s going to take a determined, single-minded effort, a mass campaign and a detailed strategy. It should be exciting and engaging, a reinvigoration of democracy. It might even be fun!
How will a political party which has been at the helm for 14 years, preoccupied with immediate pressures, ignite the heather and put the fire back in our bellies? Who will it work with in order to tackle such a herculean labour and overcome the powerful interests desperate to frustrate it at any cost?
For now, the SNP stands alone, adrift of the forces – parliamentary and extra-parliamentary – required for the struggle ahead. As soon as the voting is over, the relationship between the main party and other bodies pushing for independence will be more crucial than ever.
How can the Holyrood elections begin to re-ignite that relationship? If you want the radical change that independence offers, will voting twice for the continuity party and its continuity leader suffice?
In 2016, like many other activists, I chapped hundreds of doors and stood on street stalls urging thousands of people to vote the same way in their constituency and on the list: “Both votes SNP”.
It didn’t really work out. In Glasgow, over 100,000 list votes for the SNP resulted in zero MSPs, given that the party swept the board in all 9 constituencies.
Across Scotland, nearly a million second votes cast for the SNP produced just 4 seats.
The same slogan has been wheeled out (more continuity!) for the current ballot. But once you’ve voted SNP in your constituency, is it still best to do the same with your cross on the list?
In Glasgow, for instance, there are pro-indy voices who stand a better chance than Roza Salih (top of the SNP list). If you vote Green on the list, you’d get Patrick Harvie who’s had an impressive campaign and seems likely to co-lead the SNP’s main ally in Holyrood. If (relax, I said “if”!) you vote Alba, you’d be supporting Michelle Ferns, a woman who, until 4 weeks ago, was part of the SNP group on Glasgow City Council.
But beyond the arithmetic, tactical ploys and personalities, we should focus on the political strategy of independence. Next Thursday, every one of us will have to decide how to use each vote to help boost our shared goal.