This piece from Wee Ginger Dug is by no means the first article I’ve come across that seeks to minimise the debate around the issue of ‘tactical’ voting and disparage those who actually understand what that debate is about. No doubt this patronising mocking of pro-independence activists will delight those “Yooneristas” every bit as much as the serious debate which they are happy to have portrayed as a petty and pointless social media squabble.
The shallow misapprehension evident in all of these efforts to diminish and mock is that the irksome point in recent exchanges on the matter – some admittedly quite heated – is conflict over the advisability and feasibility of tactical voting. While there is certainly disagreement on that count, this is not the real bone of contention. Nobody, I think, is hugely exercised by the discussion itself. Wrong headed as the effort to take from the SNP list votes that may be required in order to secure another pro-independence majority government, nobody is seriously questioning the right of true believers to try and make that argument.
Few, if any, even object to the fact that this is no more than a self-serving vote-grabbing effort by the OPIPs (other pro-independence parties) – and particularly the ramshackle coalition of leftist cliques calling itself RISE. That’s just politics. Many observers are impressed almost to the point of fleeting respect that these fractious factional ferrets have been sufficiently sedated by the remote prospect of a place in parliament to temporarily occupy the same sack.
None of this is what has ignited such anger as there may be. That has been provoked, not by discussion of the merits and demerits of various ‘cunning plans’ to circumvent the d’Hondt system, but by the tactics being used by some of those trying to sell the idea that voters can be directed and coordinated en masse so as to achieve a specified electoral outcome.
In reality, it’s not about ‘tactical’ voting at all. It’s about the direction taken by certain sections of the alternative media which, in the eyes of many, have become mouthpieces for partisan interests in very much the same way as the Daily Record is, to all intents and purposes, the house organ of British Labour in Scotland.
Those of us who recognise the crucial role that alternative media have in the independence movement have very good reason to be disappointed and deeply concerned by this development. It is not enough that pro-independence blogs and news websites should be able to boast of their huge following. It’s not only a matter of numbers. What alternative media requires in order to be an effective counter to the British establishment’s propaganda machine is credibility. It’s no good just competing on the basis of unique visitors versus total readership. Alternative media must acquire the authority that is rapidly seeping away from the ‘quality’ print media.. They need to win the trust that the broadcast media (BBC) has squandered. This will not be achieved by emulating their methods and behaviour.
It is right that people should speak out about standards in the alternative media just as they do about the mainstream media. This is not a trivial matter.