Nicola Sturgeon is fond of maintaining that, for the SNP, the general election is about austerity, not independence. I doubt whether she believes this any more than we do.
Hers is a divide-and-rule strategy. She knows full well SNP talk of independence at this stage will encourage tactical voting among Labour, Tory and Lib Dem voters.
The failure of Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie to embrace tactical voting is understandable but it badly serves the unionist cause in Scotland. If the SNP are not to sweep the board in the election, it is now clear that every pro-Union voter will need to forget party politics and vote for the candidate in their constituency with the best chance against the SNP.
It’s a sad day when we see a writer of Allan Massie’s calibre reduced by desperation to issuing an appeal to voters to abandon their political aspirations, heritage and principles by voting tactically to keep out the SNP.
Like many people, I was unimpressed by the braying and bullying exhibited by the unionists during the television debates, but not particularly concerned at the attempt to co-ordinate a gang-voting effort. What does surprise me is how a man of Mr Massie’s intelligence has missed the supreme ironies inherent in his suggested strategy. First, it is an overt admission that the unionist parties in Scotland have lost the political argument.
Second, were this strategy to be deployed and were it to be successful, the country would be even more polarised and the end of the Union hastened. In that scenario the SNP would continue to flourish.
So, speaking as someone who does not have blinkered hatred for the Scottish unionist parties and who has always regarded Westminster as the second prize, I say to tactical voters: crack on –you’ve nothing to lose but your pride.