IT was not a surprise to learn that Michael Fry had decided to give his “list vote” to Alba, especially as the leader of that party used to work for RBS (This is why I’ll be giving the Alba Party my list vote in May’s election, March 30).

What was a surprise, though, was that he had to justify this ith an untruth, a misrepresentation and no objective analysis of his anticipated list outcome in his region.

Mr Fry also fails to address a pivotal issue: that switching a list vote from SNP or the Greens to Alba could deprive the SNP or the Greens of a list MSP without delivering an Alba MSP, a rather glaring omission for a supposedly serious article.

With regard to the untruth, I am not sure what data Mr Fry is looking at, but I suspect he is looking at incorrectly conflated data that Unionist supporters misleadingly like to convey.

READ MORE: Michael Fry: This is why I’ll be giving the Alba Party my list vote in May’s election

The coronavirus death rate in England is higher than the rate in Scotland. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous or is not a serious analysis of the data. According to the most accurate intra-UK comparison (deaths due to Covid-19 within 28 days of a positive test), as of Monday out of a total of 126,615 deaths across the UK, 7584 were in Scotland (0.14%) and 111,414 were in England (0.20%). Forty percent more deaths on a population basis in England suggests possibly as many as 3,000 lives saved to date in Scotland due to the First Minister’s more “cautious” approach.

International comparisons of “excess deaths” appeared to be useful before the winter months, when mixed reductions in flu mortalities caused some weekly deaths even to drop below those of previous years making deaths specifically associated with Covid-19, difficult, if not impossible, to determine in a meaningful international evaluation. What may be confusing Mr Fry, to some extent at least, are already discredited comparisons of NRS and ONS data (refer reports by Channel 4, The Financial Times, London School of Economics) as besides lagging the NRS data from Scotland, the ONS data has been found to under-report presumed or suspected deaths related to coronavirus in England.

READ MORE: Claim that Scotland has a higher death toll than England is simply untrue

Writing that the First Minister “hates capitalism” not only diminishes my view of Mr Fry as a professional journalist and objective commentator but – besides using language I would prefer to see relegated to use by desperate Unionist trolls – he makes a conclusive statement without consideration of the facts. Being criticised by some such as Jim Sillars for wishing to re-join what he views as a “capitalist club”, the EU, while pursuing policies focused on improving individual attainment and maximising company growth, particularly in the industries of the future, is hardly evidence on which to base such an extreme statement.

Advocating a list vote in favour of one party without any discussion of how such voting if adopted by others might affect the outcome, even in his own region, does not provide sufficient information to assess whether his advice is legitimate and robust or merely a personal whim.

Furthermore, while one might understand a conservative Mr Fry being supportive of a party seemingly following a Ukip-style strategy it does not seem logical, and perhaps is contradictory, that someone who espouses the merits of capitalism would seemingly prefer to support those previously associated with the 79 Group, which had radical socialist aims, rather than support the SNP with progressive but apparently more moderate socialist objectives. Everyone has the prerogative to vote as they please, although it is generally advisable before making decisions to first get your facts right!

Having said all this I find it somewhat ironic when Unionist parties, and especially the Tories, claim that new independence parties are deliberately “gaming the system” but are happy to continually exploit the UK electoral first-past-the-post system which under-represents a large majority of the UK public. Any advantage that might be gained by the Greens or Alba, or other pro-independence parties, in Holyrood elections via the list vote might reasonably be viewed as a rather small “correction” of democratically perverse representation at Westminster.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian