It's a subject which has stirred up a mini-debate amongst Greens, but as we're not standing in the constituencies, to whom should I give my first vote?
Some psephologists in the party suggest we should vote tactically, to help maximise the chance of gaining list seats - for example if the other four main parties gain at least one constituency in a region then they will need twice as many list votes as us to gain an additional MSP. Difficult, as you have to pre-judge how the other parties will fare, and it gets complicated when one party may win so many constituencies that they cannot gain any from the list - as Labour did in Lothians in both 1999 and 2003.
For me that seems too much like hard work. So I've had a look at the contenders and these are my personal feelings regarding the contenders for Midlothian North and Musselburgh.
Scott Douglas (Conservative) - Scott is clearly a political animal; enthusiastic, and a politician for life. He reminds me of Charles Hendry, an acquaintance of mine at Edinburgh University and now honourable member for Wealdon and Energy Minister in the Coalition Government. Scott gave a competent performance at the Eskbank hustings and, though not destined for Holyrood this time, will no doubt add this 'lion's den' constituency to his CV, working his way up to more favourable territory - perhaps ending up somewhere like Wealdon one day. Unfortunately, Scott, hell will freeze over before I vote Tory, but good luck on the way to the green benches and when you get there, say hello to Charles for me.
Ian Younger (Lib Dem) - What is it about the Lib Dems that you don't recall much about them after you meet them? I remember Ian talking at Eskbank, but not what he was saying. Given his party's guilt by association with the Coalition, Ian won't be getting my vote either, and with the Lib Dems' current poll ratings and their 13.77% notional vote here last time, I doubt if it would have made any difference. All credit to him though; it can't be easy being a Lib Dem candidate in these times.
Alan Hay (Independent) - Alan comes across as a genuine guy, and has a lot of knowledge and expertise in social issues. But what else? The problem I have with Independents is you largely don't know what you're getting. True, those with party labels will usually differ from party policy on one or two issues, but if you read a party's manifesto then that's basically what you're voting for. Some people think that not being tainted with a party label is a virtue. An independent can also be a maverick. However, I'm keeping the book open on Alan until I see what else he's offering.
Bernard Harkins (Labour) - I saw Bernard speaking at three hustings and must say I was impressed. He knows his stuff, is articulate and is not afraid to stray from the script. I did wonder why Labour chose a community councillor when experienced councillors were on the short leet, but I now see why. Whether I can bring myself to vote Labour in the one-party state is another matter though, and I'll have to think carefully.
Colin Beattie (SNP) - Colin is a good speaker and spoke clearly and forcefully in the hustings I attended. He's got bags of experience in electioneering as well as in the cauldron of Midlothian Council, so knows how to play the political game. That's the only problem I have with Colin though - I find him a bit too partisan. Holyrood is - has to be - more about consensus and building bridges with other parties if you want to get things done, but then maybe he would adapt.
So apart from ruling out the ConDems, I am as yet undecided. I'll definitely vote for someone on 5th May as we should all, and I wish whoever wins the best of luck as our next constituency MSP.