Scottish Daily Mail

Leaked, plan that may stop SNP win­ning ma­jor­ity at Holy­rood

Tories pin hopes on tac­ti­cal vot­ing

- By Michael Black­ley Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor European Politics · UK News · Politics · Elections · Scottish Parliament · Cambridge Union Society · Scottish Conservatives · Conservative Party (UK) · Tories · United Kingdom · Boris Johnson · Scottish National Party · George Adam · Douglas Ross

TAC­TI­CAL vot­ers who sup­port the Union are to be tar­geted in a bid to deny the SNP a ma­jor­ity in May’s Holy­rood elec­tions, a leaked Tory re­port shows.

The elec­tion strat­egy doc­u­ment, seen by the Scot­tish Daily Mail, claims the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives can win ‘up to 40 seats’ by en­cour­ag­ing tac­ti­cal vot­ing on the re­gional list bal­lot.

It warns that a split Union­ist vote on the sec­ond vote, which uses a pro­por­tional sys­tem, will re­sult in more pro-in­de­pen­dence SNP and Green MSPs get­ting elected.

The SNP has said it will launch new leg­is­la­tion to hold an­other in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum if a ma­jor­ity of MSPs who sup­port it are elected.

Na­tional polling sug­gests the SNP is on track to in­crease its seats in May and win an out­right ma­jor­ity, while the Tories are on course to win only 20 per cent on both the con­stituency and list vote.

The doc­u­ment out­lin­ing the Scot­tish Tory cam­paign strat­egy, com­piled by se­nior of­fi­cials, makes clear that the main aim is to deny the SNP an out­right ma­jor­ity.

It says: ‘If the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives were able to re­tain the con­stituency seats they won in 2016, turn out the same num­ber of votes in the list as they won in the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion and turnout re­mains con­stant, we es­ti­mate that the party can deny the SNP a ma­jor­ity, even tak­ing into ac­count changes in sup­port for other par­ties.

‘The more that the pro-UK vote con­sol­i­dates be­hind the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives on the list, the more chance we have of

‘Ready and will­ing to tac­ti­cally vote’

stop­ping an SNP ma­jor­ity. Any split in the pro-UK vote, par­tic­u­larly on the list, will guar­an­tee an SNP ma­jor­ity.

‘If Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive mes­sag­ing can get across to vot­ers the im­por­tance of the list vote, the party can stop an SNP ma­jor­ity. If the pro-UK list vote con­sol­i­dates slightly more (even around 1-5 per cent), mod­el­ling sug­gests the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives will achieve enough seats to stop an SNP ma­jor­ity.’

If the strat­egy is suc­cess­ful, the doc­u­ment sug­gests that the Con­ser­va­tives can go from the record high 31 seats the party won in 2016 to ‘up to 40’ in May.

Un­der the Scot­tish par­lia­ment sys­tem, vot­ers pick their pre­ferred can­di­date to be­come a con­stituency MSP but also rank par­ties on the re­gional list.

The 129 seats in the par­lia­ment are di­vided into 73 MSPs elected through first-past-the-post con­stituen­cies and 56 elected through re­gional party lists, where the more pro­por­tional ‘ad­di­tional mem­ber’ vot­ing sys­tem is used.

The Tory doc­u­ment states that it is ‘in­tended to in­form the party’s cam­paign­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the 2021 Scot­tish par­lia­ment elec­tion’.

It says the Con­ser­va­tives are the top choice for Union­ist tac­ti­cal vot­ers in 36 Scot­tish par­lia­ment con­stituen­cies, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of the 2016 Scot­tish par­lia­ment and 2019 gen­eral elec­tion re­sults.

Cit­ing ‘in­ter­nal fo­cus groups and polling, it says there is now an ‘in­creased will­ing­ness for Union­ist tac­ti­cal vot­ing’.

But it adds: ‘Our in­ter­nal polling shows that, while vot­ers are ready and will­ing to tac­ti­cally vote, they have not yet re­alised the im­por­tance of the list vote to stop­ping an SNP ma­jor­ity.’

The paper ac­knowl­edges the SNP are ‘likely to win a large ma­jor­ity of Scot­tish con­stituency seats’. How­ever, say­ing that the SNP is un­likely to win many list seats, it warns that ‘the few that they will win are likely to be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a ma­jor­ity and mi­nor­ity’.

It says smaller par­ties, such as Re­form UK, could split the proUnion vote and lead to ‘po­ten­tial list seats losses to the SNP’.

Na­tion­al­ist SNP Ge­orge Adam said: ‘The Tories are clearly pan­ick­ing – and their ap­proach smacks of des­per­a­tion. If the Tories were so con­fi­dent in the lead­er­ship of Dou­glas Ross and Boris John­son, they’d be putting for­ward a pos­i­tive ar­gu­ment in­stead of urg­ing ac­tivists to try to save seats they al­ready hold.’

 ??  ?? Di­vi­sion: The Holy­rood elec­tion, in May, will fo­cus on the in­de­pen­dence is­sue
Di­vi­sion: The Holy­rood elec­tion, in May, will fo­cus on the in­de­pen­dence is­sue

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