Holyrood 2016: Fringe parties blame tactical voting for poor results

Scotland's minority parties, who failed to win a single seat in the 2016 Scottish elections, vowed last night to fight on despite the result.

Tommy Sheridan slammed SNP over election tactics. Picture: John Devlin

The three main smaller parties – Solidarity, Ukip and Rise – fielded a range of candidates, which included some well-known names such as Ukip’s David Coburn, Tommy Sheridan for Solidarity and Colin Fox, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, who was a candidate for Rise, the new party representing Scotland’s left alliance.

Solidarity and Rise both fielded 40 candidates in the eight regional lists while Ukip put forward 26 candidates.

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All three parties were aware that they were highly unlikely to make even the tiniest dent in the SNP vote in any of the eight constituency seats and therefore the fight to gain a seat and get to Holyrood through the regional list was fierce.

A spokesman for Ukip blamed tactical voting for their poor performance in Scotland.

He said: “We are disappointed not to have got any seats, but understand why this happened. We think people are so determined to get rid of the SNP they’ve basically plumped for the Conservatives or Labour. They were using tactical voting to get rid of the SNP.

“There are lots of people in Scotland who want us out of the European Union and we are the only party fully committed to this.

“Our party will grow organically but this takes time, circumstances will change and people will eventually realise they have been sold a line by the SNP.”

Bill Mair, Solidarity’s lead list candidate for Mid Scotland and Fife, said that voters’ concerns over splitting the SNP vote had contributed to the final result.

“We’re disappointed as we put a massive amount of time and energy into this election. We now need to sit down as a party and see what we think has gone wrong.

“We had encouraged people to vote SNP or a pro-indy party for their first vote and then Solidarity, as the system is meant to give advantages to smaller parties.

“But I think people were nervous about splitting the SNP vote. While we failed to get our message out we feel very strongly about what we are campaigning for. So, perhaps the area we need to concentrate on is our tactics.”

Mr Sheridan, writing on Facebook, thanked his supporters but also voiced exasperation at the final outcome of “tactical” voting.

“Thank you to everyone in Glasgow who gave me their peach vote yesterday. Every vote was very much appreciated. Sadly it wasn’t enough. The SNP Both Votes mantra won the day. That is why our great Yes city is now represented on the List by six Unionists. Great tactics guys,” he wrote.

“Putting narrow party interests before the wider independence cause got the SNP nothing but delivered six seats to the Unionists. We told you so doesn’t quite hit the mark. Take care folks and keep your heads up.”

Mr Fox, who stood as lead candidate for Rise in the Lothians, said that the party has made its presence felt despite the final outcome.

“The surprise is that we saw a revival of support for the Tories in Scotland. They were being very clever to tap into the No vote in the referendum and we are also seeing Labour’s anti-independence vote crystallising behind the Tories.

“Rise is a new party, a project to unite the disparate factions of the left and we will continue with the next struggle, which is the EU referendum.”