Scots are probably one of the most sophisticated electorates in the world when it comes to tactical voting.

Tactical voting takes place in every election. You have to weigh up whether you will vote for the party you most want to win or for the party most likely to defeat the one you most want to lose.

When it gets complicated is where, as we do for elections to the Scottish Parliament, you have a regional list vote, which is a form of proportional representation overlaid on top of a first-past-the-post system.

The interesting thing is that this system of voting motivates voters in different ways depending on what their preferred party's popularity is, the policy positions of other parties, whether you especially dislike one party and whether there is more than one party you might vote for.

You do get tactical voting in an election which is purely first past the post; the switch from Conservative to Labour in the recent Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election is a good example, but it is the Scottish Parliament elections where the fun really lies.

Read more: Someone has to take responsibility for the ferries fiasco

Scottish voters have broadly five choices - Conservative (personal freedom - with money), Labour (collectivism, the NHS), the SNP (Scotland - with no money), LibDem (something in the middle) and Green (Stone Age).

If you fervently believe in one of these parties then you are probably going to give both your votes to it but if your objective is to create an outcome for the Parliament as a whole, which is more rather than less to your liking, then that is not what you do at all.

If the party you like most has no chance of winning in your constituency then you give your constituency vote to the other party which you don’t mind and might beat the party you dislike most. You then give your regional list vote to the party you really like.

If the party you like most has a decent chance of winning in your constituency then you give it your constituency vote. You then have a difficult decision as to what to do with your list vote. If in your list region as a whole your preferred party is weaker than in your constituency then you give it your list vote but if your party is very strong in all the constituencies in your list region then you should transfer your list vote to your second favourite party.

You can see this in action in the voting for the Scottish Parliament. The biggest constituency vote is not, surprise surprise, for Nicola Sturgeon but for Richard Cole Hamilton, a LibDem. Jackie Baillie, every Conservative’s favourite Labour politician, wins Dumbarton when the national vote indicated she should have lost.

Support for the Greens is currently about 3 per cent in polling for the constituency vote and about 11 or 12 per cent in the regional vote. The Greens would like you to believe that the difference is because they don’t stand in every constituency, it's not, in an opinion poll for the 2026 election the voter has no idea if they will be able to vote for a Green constituency candidate. The reason the Green regional list vote is much higher is because voters who vote SNP in the constituency switch to the Greens in the regional list not because they like the Green agenda but because the Greens support Scotland leaving the UK. Lo and behold if you look at the SNP regional list vote it is lower than its constituency tally by about the same amount as the Greens are up.

What makes an interesting situation become a fascinating one is the recent behaviour of the parties.

The LibDems, the Greens and the Conservatives remain broadly what they were.

Labour on the other hand has changed. Out go loopy Corbynism and Marxist taxation, in come common sense and moderation. The result is that Labour looks like a potential government rather than a protest party and, crucially, Conservative voters are now prepared to vote for it to stop the SNP. Strategically Labour has played it well.

Forget the guff about Nicola Sturgeon being a winner. The reasons she won were that Scots don’t warm to Conservative governments in the UK, Labour imploded and Alex Salmond played a "come-on-in" big tent middle-of-the-road game that worked well and gave Ms Sturgeon her platform.

It was a platform which she eventually blew. Crazy concentration on fringe social policies, ferries, endless whining about Westminster, continued belief in the magic money tree the voters can see has sadly died, obsession about separation from the UK, serial incompetence in just about everything, punitive taxation. Did I mention ferries?

To please the crowd she dived to the left. If Labour had not got its act together it might have worked. Now poor old Humza Yousaf is at the controls as disaster looms. Oh dear.