THE Electoral Commission has been accused of “letting” a Holocaust denier “disrupt” Scottish elections by posing as a Green figure, taking votes from the real Scottish Greens.

Anthony Carroll, a councillor in Glasgow, spoke out after the results of the Hillhead by-election in the city’s West End revealed what he called “concrete” evidence of the impact of the Independent Green Voice (IGV) on voters.

Hillhead was the Scottish Greens’ first ever by-election victory, but they very nearly lost out – as they did in the South Scotland list in the 2021 Holyrood elections when the IGV also ran against them.

IGV were registered with the Electoral Commission in 2003, but only changed their logo from a forearm with a thumbs up to a leaf with the phrase Independent Green Voice on March 23, 2021.

Carroll said that he had spoken to multiple voters who had to request a new ballot paper after accidentally ticking the IGV’s box. Others reported voting before realising they had inadvertently given IGV their second preference instead of the Greens or SNP.

The National:

One Green voter who spoke to The National said they had almost voted for IGV accidentally before seeing the name of the candidate – Alistair McConnachie (above).

McConnachie is a Holocaust-denying ultra-Unionist and IGV has previously been labelled a “fascist front” by the Scottish Greens.

The claims McConnachie’s IGV are impacting on Green votes seem to have a basis in the figures from the Hillhead by-election, which show that 13.4% of SNP voters and 14.3% of Green voters put IGV as their second preference.

Conversely, 37.6% of people who voted for IGV as their first preference put the Greens as their second, while 27.1% of them put the SNP.

The National: Graphic from Ballot Box Scotland showing second preference votes in the Glasgow Hillhead by-electionGraphic from Ballot Box Scotland showing second preference votes in the Glasgow Hillhead by-election (Image: Ballot Box Scotland)

Carroll said: “For context, in [the 2022 local elections] about two-thirds of the SNP second preferences went to us.

“Now, since the presence of this guy, he got 13% of them, and we got [43%].

“He had a marked effect with this confusion. There's no doubt that that's his intent here.”

Polling expert Professor John Curtice told The National he could see why both the Greens and the SNP may want to raise the issue with the Electoral Commission.

If the by-election had been run under a first-past-the-post system, not single-transferable vote, the effect of the IGV would have swung it away from the Greens.

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As the Electoral Reform Society reported: “Had this election been under first-past-the-post, IGV would have drawn enough votes away from the Scottish Greens to result in a Labour victory.”

In an online article looking at the by-election, the charity added: “Voters shouldn’t have to spend their time trying to avoid electoral tricks and traps.

“We need electoral systems that work for voters, not systems voters have to work around.”

It said the IGV case “does remind us of the reason you can’t just call your political party anything you like in the UK”.

Carroll said that the evidence showed the Electoral Commission, which controls the names and logos parties can use on ballot papers, had to act.

“This person is not here to present any alternative, independent, so-called green voice,” Carroll said. “He's just there to disrupt, where he can, potential for any Scottish Green politicians to win.

“He did that here in Hillhead. He did it in 2021, and unfortunately succeeded.

“The Electoral Commission is actually letting him do it at this point … The Electoral Commission just tried to wash their hands of it.

“Now we have a concrete – thankfully, because with STV you get that – concrete breakdown and it is very clear what happened with the votes, in particular for those transfers.”

Asked if they would be taking a fresh look at the impact of IGV on Scottish elections given the new evidence from the Hillhead by-election, the Electoral Commission remained intransigent.

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A spokesperson said: “We approved an application from Independent Green Voice to register this emblem in March 2021. The application was subject to a detailed assessment against the statutory criteria, including the requirement that voters would not likely be confused with another party’s emblem, as a result of how their emblem looks on a ballot paper.

“The emblem includes the full party name and is visually different to any other already registered emblem.

“The application was published on our website for public scrutiny and comment. Any comments we receive are given careful consideration before a decision is made. No comments were received in relation to this application.”

Despite the Electoral Commission’s comment, the National has previously reported how hundreds of people complained in the wake of the 2021 Holyrood election about IGV’s name and logo misleading voters.

Attempts to contact IGV for comment were unsuccessful.

McConnachie has previously been accused of Holocaust denial for saying he did not believe the Nazis murdered Jewish people in gas chambers, something he stood by when questioned in 2023.

Denying the use of gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps is considered a form of Holocaust denialism by the museum housed at the notorious killing site Auschwitz-Birkenau.