Scotland’s Big Voice

By Mike Small

Just as the parties that have campaigned together for the past two years are now desperately trying to disassociate from each other and explain, often in the most convoluted ways, how they are so very different, along comes the genius of Scotland’s Big Voice.

This is a secretive group which is trying to coordinate tactical voting ‘to save the union’. They were interviewed by Politics.co.uk here ‘Secret enemy: Meet the shady group fighting the SNP’.

Alistair_McQuatWe researched who had set up various aspects of the groups online presence. The registrant for the domain name scotlandsbigvoice.co.uk is Alistair McQuat, who also set up their twibbon appeal. His twitter account has since been deleted but here’s a screengrab of the cached version.

Maybe this group doesn’t deserve any attention.Their crowdfunding appeal was for just £500.

But as a marker of the desperation of the post-indyref No campaign, and the tactical disarray of the Unionist bloc, it is heartening as an approach.

The likeliest outcome from this approach is complete confusion.

As the parties fight hard to be distinguished the idea of a tactical vote with a few weeks left and without party endorsement will cause mayhem, diluting the vote and demoralising the activist base.

bigwheelvoiceweeThe project is based around a handy wheel, which keen readers may think reminiscent of another doomed and quickly hidden wheel of fortune that appeared recently.

The group claims over 500 members and their aim is to: “Raise TACTICAL VOTING awareness across Scotland, to ensure the SNP do not damage Scotland and the Union during the Scottish GE in 2016. Scotland’s Big Voice exists to share and express our views on how to strengthen the political union between Holyrood and Westminister. To ensure this happens, a SNP government cannot have a large number of seats in Westminster. This can be achieved through targeted tactically voting.”

It really can’t, but we’re delighted they think it will.



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23 replies

  1. It’s been pretty obvious from the off that the various tactical voting groups are nothing more than attempts to dupe gullible Labour voters into voting for the Tories (and in some constituencies even hand Labour seats to the Tories…!) But what I particularly enjoy is the assumption that everyone who voted No in the referendum is automatically anti-SNP, since I’ve come across several folk who voted No in September (and would do so again) but are going to be voting SNP in May.

    Still, with a mighty £500 in the bank, I can’t wait to see their campaign. Surely it can’t be worse than Vote No Borders?

  2. I think voters are now quite tactically aware. Compare the Scottish votes in 2010 and 2011. Many voters now lend their vote on a case by case basis, parties can’t assume lifetime support.

    The SNP have been careful not to make 2015 about independence, that way they keep their No voters. It will be interesting to see their calculation on that issue in 2016.

    But things become more politically difficult if there is a big SNP bloc in 2015 and they have the choice of allying with Labour or the Tories. Either way, they risk losing the right or left wing of their 2015 support in 2016, especially when positions on issues such as income tax become clear.

    • Not necessarily. If you look at the way the minority Scottish Government in Holyrood managed to negotiate with the tory and labour parties to achieve benefits for the whole electorate, then get re elected as a majority government, loosing one or other “side” does not follow.

      • I think that has worked at Holyrood as the devolved powers are susceptible to a managerial approach and one that is largely within a Scottish consensus (e.g. NHS retained, but some private elements introduced, schools kept under state control – no Swedish free schools, economic development primarily market led, etc.). An outlier issue like fracking is avoided as far as possible as a decision will mean division – some happy, some not.

        But at Westminster, you have access to the powers that are more ideologically-driven – taxation and spending, immigration, defence etc. so the decisions you make as a party will place you on the authoritarian/liberal and left/right political axes.

        The SNP has largely been able to avoid this to date (a bit like the Lib Dems had) but if they become a Westminster power, then they will need to crystalise their position as a party.

      • @ Crabbit.

        I agree with you that Holyrood and Westminster are different, but politics is politics and I see it as just another political game, albeit a different arena Also the existing SNP MP’s will have developed enough Westminster political experience to play the left/right political axes skillfully.

        With the introduction of more MP’s and hopefully Mr Salmond they should comprise a politically astute group, and if the balance of power is held, and they remember the shabby way Westminster has treated them as a small group, then the Westminster parties will be played against each other to Scotland’s (and perhaps England’s) advantage.

        But time will tell.

  3. Out of the three unionist parties, this group appears to be very biased towards the Tories. If everybody in Scotland voted in accordance with their wheel, the SNP would be reduced from 6 seats to nil (of course), but the Liberal Democrats would also lose 4 seats (11 to 7), Labour would only gain one seat (41 up to 42) but the Tories would gain nine seats (1 to 10). Of those nine Tory gains, only four would come from the SNP. Four would come from the Lib Dems and one from Labour (Dumfries & Galloway).

    More realistically, any tactical voting would only likely be able to influence seats where there are more than 2 parties in genuine contention. This is because there would need to be a large enough number of supporters of a third party that some of them switching their support would make the difference between another contender winning or losing. Almost all of these types of seats, such as Berwick, Roxburgh & Selkirk or Dumfries & Galloway, are allocated to the Tories.

    A local Labour MSP (Elaine Murray) has complained strongly to this group about their allocation of Dumfries & Galloway to the Tories, which would mean the defeat of the incumbent Labour MP Russell Brown.

  4. Also,they seem to work on the assumption that a majority of Scots want London rule.

  5. Hardly surprising some in Labour would seriously consider “tactical voting”; it’s worked for them in the past. Five years ago, when there was some discussion about how savvy “switching” might affect the coming General Election, Professor John Curtice suggested that, looking back to Labour’s “landslide” in 1997, tactical voting by non-Labour voters determined to get the Tories out probably contributed around 20 seats.

    It’s a shame, of course, that people feel obliged to effectively vote for the “better enemy”, but it’s one of the unfortunate consequences of our antiquated, unfair First Past The Post voting system. This year, though, I have the feeling that – especially in Scotland – Labour are about to find out what it’s like to be on the receiving end of savvy voters’ intentions!

    • And remember there were 34 Labour MPs who voted with the Tories, on George Cunningham’s 40% majority rule, back in the ’70s, which heralded a 30 year delay in the setting up of the promised Scottish Assembly.

  6. “If your mem’ry serves you well/ You’ll remember you’re the one/ That called on me to call on them/To get you your favors done/ And after ev’ry plan had failed/ And there was nothing more to tell/ You knew that we would meet again/ If your mem’ry served you well…

    This wheel’s on fire
    Rolling down the road
    Best notify the next of kin
    This wheel shall explode.”

    Bob Million.

  7. Surprised you don’t show the wheel in it’s full glory, with Twitter address of sender…

  8. I have come acroos them on Labour facebook they call them selfs SNPOUT, obviously I am a SNP memeber but I was trying to help the Labour see the Light and joing the winning side.

  9. May I just say vote Labour get Tories Vote SNP you get SNP looking after Scotland

  10. Received a leaflet here in Perthshire this morning, ‘Forward Together’, issued by a Mr John Duff of Aberfeldy: Vote Tory in North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) and Labour in Ochil & South Perthshire, was the clarion call.

    It was crass and amateurish so probably not much of a threat, but interesting that these wee groups are popping up all over the place, and that it does seem to be inspired (if that’s the word) by a Tory bias. Be interesting to see if any lingering Labour “swing” voters – surely the only ones who would contemplate such a step – respond to this.

    Bears watching, I’d say.

    (P.S. to Richard Harris: Cannot get that Dylan tune out of my head now! Off to download ‘MacArthur Park’ as an antidote!)

  11. You couldn’t make this stuff up, this group are a bunch of nuts, imagine them knocking on your door tonight? A rambling incomprehensible introduction followed by two swift words!

    Looking beyond the election and the SNP performing as per polls (taking nothing for granted), there will be a reallignment of politics in Scotland, chief casualty will be labour fracturing.

    The main division of left and right will blur and a new divsion will arise –

    – progressive left of centre group of parties with independence as a core objective – this group will be buoyed by having a government in Scotland they support and a large grouping in westminster holding balance of power and placing Scotland first.

    – reactive right of centre group of parties who see continued westminster rule as core objective – this goup will be deflated and directionless, there only focal point or source of power will reside at westminster.

    Currently labour should be fighting for its life, it’s not, it’s relying on its message to hit home being elvers by bbc Scotland. I have no sympathy for them, they have bled Scotland dry, placed party before country and been happy to oversee continuation of poverty amongst large sections of our people – shame on them.

    D McLeoid

  12. What’s with Ms Dugdale’s tweet in your screen shot?

    If (Not) Labour are asking questions at FMQs why shouldn’t the First Minister utter the word Labour in her replies?

    What an illogical position to take (but then that’s Not Labour all over isn’t it? )

  13. On the day that (not so) Red Ed’s claims of an unholy alliance between Tories & SNP hits the papers. Here is the real unholy alliance.

    A few months ago, I sat in the company of a Labour member & activist, who boasted that he had been canvasing Ayrshire farmers that normally vote Tory to vote Labour, to keep out the SNP. I’m sure this tactic is being repeated throughout the country, confirmed to me last month with the appearance of this tactical voting wheel and similar outpourings on Twitter.

    It suggests that not only that the Bitter Together Campaign is alive & well, but also that the modern day Labour & Conservative parties have a lot more in common than either party would care to admit.

    Let them run with this sad and desperate campaign. While this may appeal to some of the more committed/bitter unionists out there. I would imagine that for any remaining decent principled Labour voters the notion would be abhorrent and will only serve to further speed up the rise of the SNP/Greens/SSP and the demise of Labour party in Scotland.

  14. Crabbit – Good point, which I think is often overlooked.

  15. Scots have been voted tactically for 30 years, so it’s unlikely to change now. We know all the permutations. In fact, it was our tactical voting in 2010 that led Labour to believe we love them, really.

    I think people like Mr McQuat, and the Telegraph editorial staff (judging by recent hysterical articles) assume that all No voters are like Allan Massie, and Saving The Union is their political priority.

    It isn’t, and I can’t honestly see stuff like this taking off.

  16. I think its the idea of trying to get life long labour voters to vote Tory, to keep out the SNP, because a vote for them is a vote for a Tory government. Do they not see the narrative constantly being droned on about in Scotland – Vote labour to keep out the Tories, countered by an English Narrative of an SNP vote being a labour vote?

    You would have to be drowning in your own hate to not realise how idiotic this plan is. Even if it is in fact, a tory plan to get some Tory MPs in by convincing labour folk to vote for them, its still countered by labours own campaign message. So it is still a massively idiotic scheme. If this is for 2016 and not 2015 – then these charmless people already know they’re beaten.

    Remember these were the “big” winners of the Indyref. You could be forgiven for thinking that they had in fact been humiliated at the polls and it had driven them insane.

  17. I think a chap called Victor Clement is also also an organiser with this bunch. He is also a failed Lib Dem candidate.

    • Correct also one Ian Campbell (conservative councillor), another charming man) got a lovely picture of the Perth High Street today so lonely.

  18. As of the 1st of this month, scotlandsbigvoice.co.uk is now registered with Andrew Whittaker http://www.nominet.org.uk/whois/lookup?query=scotlandsbigvoice.co.uk make of that what you will!

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