The SNP won 56 seats out of 59 on the first-past-the-post vote – the unionist vote was as good, about equal to the Nationalist vote, but divided between Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems.
Had the unionists held open primaries to select a unionist candidate per seat, they might have taken half the seats.
In late summer 2014, after the referendum, I suggested unionists should discuss this – the Conservatives replied the next day stating they would do no deals.
In North East Fife (NEF), the Lib Dems really believed that they would get more than the SNP even when Ashcroft polls showed the SNP on 40/45 per cent with Lib Dems on 30 per cent and Tories on 14 per cent – and the result was on those lines. The Tories, likewise, told all who would listen that they were going to win. Party came before common sense and statistics.
That was clear, as even the No campaign saw each party trying to get credit for being the backbone of Unionism.
Tories here (NEF) would not concede that a single unionist would be better, as they wanted the satisfaction of Tories beating the Lib Dems, which they thought they’d do as Menzies Campbell had stood down.
It is now past time for unionists in Scotland to reform – they need a broad coalition or at least a deal to stop the SNP clean-sweeping at Holyrood in 2016.
I suggest they hold cross-party open primaries to select the single unionist candidate for in each constituency. The parties should still put forward full party list for the additional members contest.The alternative way to put the full glare on the SNP in power in Holyrood is for Cameron to give Holyrood full fiscal autonomy now.
The SNP, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney should immediately have to carry the full the can for a Scottish Budget from the autumn statement onwards. That would remove any case the SNP could make to blame Westminster as usual, and dodge those realities already evident – such as the poorer showing of the NHS and education in Scotland compared to England, etc. Let Unionist parties in Scotland now develop a joint, selfless strategy.