Conflicted: Should I vote Green or SNP?

I am conflicted over whether or not I should vote for the Green party in the next General Election. I really should, I’m a paid up member and I like their policies the best. They are the party most concerned about, and who offer the best solutions to, the long term problems we face. They focus on building a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable future for society.   And in terms of liking their policies I am not alone. The website, Vote For Policies, which matches you to a party based on your answers to a questionnaire has the Greens as the most popular party after half a million respondents. Although many people ideologically agree with the Greens, they don’t vote that way either because they are unaware of this fact, or they feel that under the current First Past The Post system, a vote for the Greens would be wasted.

In order to counter the second reason, an interesting website was set up called I’ll vote Green if you do. It is a place where people can pledge their allegiance to vote Green, and if enough people do so, then they can visit the ballot box with some confidence that their vote might actually count.

I should be pledging my allegiance too, however I am struggling to commit to the cause. On current polling, the Greens are probably going to get one seat in the UK, whereas the SNP are currently looking at getting in the region of 33. It is looking probable that those 33 seats might be decisive in propping up a minority government and could be used as negotiating chips in order to secure some progressive Westminster policies. I worry that a surge in the Green party vote in Scotland may not be enough to secure constituencies for the Greens but may detract from the SNP vote enough to let Labour win some marginal seats and give them a majority.

There are a two main issues here that will affect my decision:

Would people moving to Green affect the SNP more than Labour?

I can find no reliable gauge of this. Historically Labour have more votes to lose so maybe a Green surge would affect them more and therefore be good for the SNP. It seems that there is evidence that the Green surge is reducing Labour’s predicted seats at the Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2016.  However, the 2016 vote is done by the Alternative Vote System and people think tactically for Westminster elections. Having been involved with the Independence movement, I know many supporters of the SNP (or at least supporters of a strong pro Scottish voice at Westminster)  who are borderline Green supporters and vice-versa. A Green vote for me would help Labour get a majority and therefore make a continuation of the Westminster Status Quo more likely. A situation that I voted to opt out of in September

Would the Greens benefit from the SNP winning a lot of seats?

You could argue both ways on this one. The main change that would benefit the Green party would be a Proportional Voting System for the UK Parliament. However, this is probably the worst thing that could happen from an SNP perspective as it would most likely kill the Independence movement. A large proportion of Yes voters were not Nationalists but were concerned by issues of equality and representation. Many of these issues could be resolved by changing the voting system. So, the SNP will not use their potential new power to help the Greens obtain this.

On the other hand, the SNP are anti Trident, pro renewables, pro EU and have a good record on social justice so could work with the UK Greens on issues such as these. The SNP would also be putting pressure on for more devolution of powers to Scotland which is in the interest of the Scottish Greens. This in turn could lead to more devolution for UK regions, potentially leading to a more federal system which may help the larger UK branch of that party. Especially if SNP pressure on Scottish issues laid the seeds for proportional representation parliaments in those devolved regions.

It could be argued that the Greens could achieve more by winning the two seats in England they have the chance of winning on current polling and working with the SNP in Westminster. As opposed to potentially letting Labour win an overall majority and having no influence.

Weighing up these issues is pretty common in UK elections and shows why we would be better off with a different system. Under a proportional system I wouldn’t think twice about voting Green. In the past, the main argument for First Past The Post has been that it provides strong government. Well, we are about to elect the second government in a row where this is not the case.

It would be good to hear from you in the comments if you are having a similar dilemma. Even if it is between different parties.  Maybe you can provide more insight to help me with my decision?

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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24 Comments on "Conflicted: Should I vote Green or SNP?"

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Bidge
Guest
I am absolutely in the same position. I am a Green (not a party member, but I am a Green). The SNP’s refusal to endorse a Yes Alliance has left me struggling what way to vote in May. Had a formal alliance been formed, there would be no risk of splitting the vote. However, without a formal pact this is guaranteed to happen now. People who will not vote SNP, but supported Independence will vote SSP or Green and weaken our overall position. This is going to cost us some seats, it’s inevitable, but people have right to vote with… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

Great comment. I’m thinking along similar lines at the moment in voting SNP tactically this time but voting Green for Holyrood. I’m hoping someone can come up with some info that will change my mind as ideologically I would prefer to vote green green.

Steve W
Guest
I’m in the same boat. As a Scottish Green party member, I’ve decided to tactically vote SNP for Westminster. I’m putting my current efforts into supporting the Greens in England, where they could take more than one seat. Bristol West is their best bet for seat number 2 and Norwich South is in with a chance if enough effort goes into it. (It’s also worth supporting Caroline Lucas, making sure she’s re-elected in Brighton Pavilion) Come 2016, when we’re not forced to vote tactically by first-past-the-post, I’ll be campaigning for the Greens to get many more MSPs elected to the… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

So far it seems the only sensible solution. Would be good to see the Greens pick up a few extra seats Down South.

Debra Storr
Guest
The YesAlliance idea fell as the evidence from local elections (STV where we can see 2nd preferences), is that SNP voters are less likely to switch to greens than voters of other parties – and Green voters are as distrustful of SNP as any other party. So the idea that Greens and SNP (andSSP) firming an alliance fell at the first hurdle – the practicality of votes transferring. Greens do take votes heavily from LibDems and Labour. So a green candidate might actually help the SNP. Has the SNP some cash to give us to fund a few more candidates?
Gutted Beyond Belief
Guest
I’m in the dilemma of not having a Green candidate to vote for as they don’t have the luxury of being bankrolled like the rest. Having campaigned long and hard for indyref I feel terribly let down that everyone jumped on the Vote SNP bandwagon before it was even thought through and it was as if it was some underhand plan to pull everyone that way before the vote had even taken place. As much as i feel we need independence (100%) I could never vote SNP never mind Labour or Tory, and many people I know feel the same.… Read more »
sarah
Guest

Thankyou for your post , this is my position too and it is good to see it put so clearly – much better than I could :0) I was wondering, though, whether to vote libdem as they want proportional representation? (As another post said, I don’t see why snp would want proportional representation when they are doing so well.) Would this not be more helpful than writing GREEN at the bottom of the voting slip?

autonomyscotland
Admin

I used to vote Lib Dem’s but where I live it is a wasted vote in the same way a vote for Green is wasted. They have no chance of being elected where I live. However, I would love PR and you are probably correct in saying the SNP won’t go out their way to deliver PR.

Gutted Beyond Belief
Guest

Oh, and if you think 1, 2 or 3 Green MPs from Scotland won’t make a difference then look at Caroline Lucas. The Greens will never hit the ground running if we keep to the charade of strategic voting. If everyone I’m the SNP 20 years ago did this they would be nowhere and got to start somewhere.

autonomyscotland
Admin

I think Green MPs from Scotland would make a difference but just don’t think there is a chance of getting any in the current system

Meanwhile In Scotia (@DinnaeBlameMe)
Guest
Gutted Beyond Belief states that the SNP have placed strategic independence campaigners in key Green target seats. Firstly, the SNP don’t place anyone – PPCs are voted for by the local party membership, of which there are a great number. Secondly, and no offence is meant here, but there is NO seat in Scotland that the Greens can win, not yet anyway. The SNP today placed a moratorium on fracking, which is a not too subtle wink to Green supporters – lets face it, the SNP are the Green’s best shot at exerting any kind of influence. The ‘Yes Alliance’… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

I agree with what you are saying. Just wish we didn’t have first past the post. I am most likely to vote snp in May and then greens in 2016.

Gregor
Guest

BH – if you believe in the Greens then vote for them. If SNP don’t get enough seats then it’s their fault for not convincing enough people (including you) to vote for them.

If you’re going to vote tactically then why not just vote Labour in an attempt to vote the Conservatives out?!

The right thing to do is vote Green IMO

autonomyscotland
Admin
I really don’t like Labour but I did vote for them in the past. Also, on current polling, it is likely Labour will win but not by a majority. I would rather have Labour working with SNP/Greens than a Labour majority. That said, I am sympathetic to your view that I should vote Green because they are the ones who appeal to me most. With PR we wouldn’t have these issues. I think Labour minority having to work with the SNP would be in the best interests of Scotland so that is where I am tending for 2015. Greens in… Read more »
DCL
Guest
I am a new member of SNP (could just have easily have joined greens though – I am somewhere between the 2 of these parties). If I lived in Scotland I would be voting SNP as I think with the membership numbers they have the best chance in the FPTP system (I just think it will be a while before more Scots are pre-disposed to the Green party; but they are on the up for sure). So as a member of the ‘English’ electorate my vote will be going to the Green Party. I have checked and there is a… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

Nice comment. I would vote Green if I lived south of the border too. Hope you get to vote in 2016.

Tom Chalmers
Guest

I’m in the same boat. Only I’m stuck between three parties. I’m a Green member, so instinctively would like to vote Greens based on their policies. I would like the SNP to win seats because I like some of their policies and it would be a huge statement of intent to send 30+ SNP MPs down to Westminster. On the other hand, I still want a Labour minority from this election, despite my hatred for them. They are the lesser of two evils but a Labour minority is best for everyone.

autonomyscotland
Admin

I wouldn’t vote Labour even though they are the lesser of two evils. If they don’t get enough votes to form a minority government then that may be good in the long term. They need to change for people to start trusting them again. I’m still torn between Green and SNP but will probably go for the latter as like the idea of the strong Scottish Bloc at Westminster.

LadyEmilie_
Guest

I feel as if I have no choice but to vote SNP, as the Greens aren’t standing in my area. Labour has moved so far from it’s natural roots as to be laughable now. The Greens will definitely get my vote in 2016, but for now, I really dislike the first Past the Post system.

autonomyscotland
Admin

Sorry, took me a while to allow your comment. Been neglecting the site recently. I agree with you. I interviewed the secretary of the SNP last week for a podcast and he said they are going to try to get pr, devo max, get rid of the Lords ect. These things would help the Greens in the long run.

Euan Bruce
Guest

My plea would be to vote SNP for Westminster 2015 and then vote SNP OR Scottish Green OR SSP for Holyrood 2016

ruthlewis100
Guest
Hi, thanks for this blog, I’ve been having the same dilemma myself. I’m proud to say I’ve voted Green in every election all my life but wondered if I should vote SNP this time for all the reasons you’ve said above. The thought makes me feel really uncomfortable though as I’ve always believed you should vote for what you believe in and I’ve never agreed with tactical voting. What swung my decision for me though was checking out the electoral calculus website, according to that, SNP have a 95% chance of winning the seat in my area so they don’t… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

Sounds like a win win situation. I’ll check out that site later.

Florence Roberts
Member

I opted for green.

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