This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

To say that current polls hint at a rather unpredictable political future for Scotland is an understatement on a par with Spike Milligan’s famous self-penned epitaph: “I told you I was ill.”

Professor John Curtice, president of the British Polling Council, says “pretty much every seat in Scotland will be a marginal”. 

At Westminster, it seems Labour and the SNP could both get 24 seats: killing stone-dead the notion of a de-facto referendum. Independence appears to increasingly be decoupling from SNP support, meaning the party can no longer rely on the constitution to rally votes.

Yet despite that, the prospect of a hung parliament at Westminster would offer the SNP – even with reduced numbers – the best chance since 2014 of securing a second referendum. It’s real Hall of Mirrors stuff. 

Curtice noted how a slight resurgence in England for the Conservatives could deny Labour the outright majority victory it craves.

Matters get even more interesting at Holyrood. In seat projections from Curtice, there’s a pro-union majority. He estimates the SNP will get 49 MSPs, Labour 42, Conservatives 17, LibDems 11 and Greens 10.

SNP and Greens combined fall short of a majority, as do Labour and LibDems. That leaves the Tories as potential “king-makers”, Curtice said, as it would be “very difficult for anybody to run any kind of stable administration”.

So prepare for chaotic and ruthless horse-trading. It’s also goodbye to any hope of the SNP being able to push for indyref2 by propping up Labour at Westminster: nationalists wouldn’t have a mandate in Scotland.

Within all this power-play algebra, however, a rather interesting matter seems critically overlooked. The Greens are projected to increase their seats at Holyrood by two, from eight to ten.

Curtice notes that set against SNP weakness, the Greens are doing pretty well out of their government gig. At the 2007 and 2011 Holyrood elections, the Greens won two seats. In 2016, they increased that to six, and by 2021 to eight. So the trajectory for the party is slowly but surely upward.

The Herald:

What’s going on here? The Greens have been on the receiving end of years of negative publicity, which has only increased as each month goes by. Surely, they should be declining? Yet they appear to defy political gravity.

Here’s the thing: political gravity exists to be defied, just like rules exist to be broken. Time and again, political history teaches us that what was once considered fringe becomes everyday; the outsider becomes the insider.

Just look at the SNP. The nationalists are the very definition of a party that has over the years defied political gravity. For decades, the SNP was a minority sport, to say the least. But by 1970, Scottish nationalists managed to pull in just over 300,000 votes at Westminster. In 2021, Greens took 220,000 votes on Holyrood’s regional list.

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Were the SNP laughed at and hated in years gone by? You bet, even by those who today are now their biggest supporters.

Could it be that negative publicity has worked for the Greens? Have the attacks backfired? Might folk out there who never really paid attention to the Greens suddenly have found them on their radar due to the host of bad headlines the party has garnered? 

In the age of climate catastrophe, perhaps voters are seeing beyond the headlines and finding positions they merit.

Recently, a Green Party member audaciously quoted Gandhi to the Edinburgh Evening News when referring to future hopes: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win… We’re in that stage three.”

Might they be right?

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