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

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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