SNP tacticians are urging a select group of local voters to keep backing their Labour candidate in a ploy aimed at locking out Conservatives.
The unusual approach emerged in targeted mail shots in Montrose.
It hinges on the idea committed Labour supporters won’t budge – but might consider using their second and third choice votes for their local SNP candidates.
Under the voting system used in council ballots, people can list candidates in order of preference.
Labour currently has no seats in Angus and typically performed poorly in the area.
By contrast, the SNP gained nine councillors in the 2017 election with the Tories winning eight seats.
Despite the nationalists being the largest local party, the Conservatives are in power along with independent and Lib Dem councillors.
If you want to elect a councillor who is sympathetic to those in need and to promote policies to look after our environment and support social justice, the answer is clear – Vote @ScottishLabour – even the SNP agree! pic.twitter.com/MWOvTsaIfD
— John Ruddy (@jruddy99) April 26, 2022
The tactical leaflet was shared by Montrose Labour hopeful John Ruddy on Twitter, who joked “even the SNP agree” voters should back his party next week.
It reads: “Angus Council has no representation from Scottish Labour and the council is divided between representatives of the SNP and the Conservative/Independent administration.
“The majority of the current administration hold right wing views and are unsympathetic towards those in our society who are struggling.
“If you are intending to vote Labour in this election then we simply wish to invite you to consider giving your second and third preferences to our SNP candidates.”
However, this goes against official advice from the SNP to list no other parties in the election.
The Angus SNP group shared a post on Facebook urging voters to only use their first and second preferences.
Angus SNP deputy leader Bill Duff admitted the local party were trying to use the STV voting system “intelligently”.
He said: “Our canvassing has identified Labour voters in Montrose. We are asking them to consider giving their second and third preferences to the SNP as on social policies we are more closely aligned than the current administration.”
Candidate Mr Ruddy admitted the leaflet may not harm his chances of being elected in Montrose.
He said: “I don’t think it’ll hurt. The only way we’re going to see is at the count.
“It’s good they’re pointing out that if you want to have someone who supports social justice and is sympathetic towards those who are struggling then you need to vote Labour 1.
“The interesting thing for me was it was individually addressed. They’ve obviously got information on Labour voters out there. They are obviously trying to encourage tactical voting in a way.”
An SNP spokesperson said: “In Angus as elsewhere, if you want hard working SNP councillors focussed on helping families through the cost of living crisis you need to vote SNP.”
Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Miles Briggs MSP said: “This is a pretty desperate appeal by the SNP to try to shore up their vote in Angus.
“But it underlines the point that it doesn’t really matter whether you vote Labour or SNP, you’ll still end up with the same thing: a council run by either or both.”