13 April 2015

The Tactical Vote Debate

Do you vote tactically or not? This isn't a question for us hardened politicos. We are going to vote for our party, our team and our candidates regardless. However, it is something that the general public will be thinking about.

So how did it go in 2010? A lot of people voted for the Lib Dems tactically because they didn't want a Conservative government and that didn't exactly go well for them. On the other hand, the Greens argued in favour of the marginal improvement offered by the Alternative Vote system, and given that we are still stuck with FPTP, isn't tactical vote swapping as advocated by the Vote Swap website the next best thing?

Our political system is broken. We now have a 5 party (plus SNP / Plaid Cymru) system in the UK. However, UKIP and the Greens are only currently being projected to win a seat each, despite both parties potentially gaining a number of 2nd place finishes.

Why might people use a tactical vote? In a perceived safe seat, like Liverpool Wavertree, anti-Trident Labour supporters might back the Greens to put pressure on their own party. In a perceived marginal seat, Green voters might hold their noses and vote for a Labour candidate because they don't want to see a Tory-led government. In France, in the presidential run off between Chirac and Le Pen, Socialists turned out to vote for "the crook instead of the fascist".

To pretend tactical voting won't go on in this election is to ignore the reality of "squeeze messages" and the unsatisfactory nature of First Past the Post. That is different for actively advocating it. If we as Greens were to go back in a time machine to Brighton in 1997, 2001 and 2005 and encourage our supporters to vote for the lesser of two evils, then Caroline Lucas would not be an MP today.

As the candidate in Liverpool Wavertree, I do have some thoughts on Labour supporters here and I do want to attract their tactical votes at this election, in a seat that is rated by some websites as a 100% certainty as a Labour hold. If Labour supporters want to protect Green space in our city, or they want to make clear that they don't want Trident renewed, or they are unhappy about Luciana Berger's donation in kind from Deloitte (who will be recommending whether or not NHS Professionals should be privatised), then I'll take those tactical votes.

While I appreciate the sentiment, and the recommendation from the Vote Swap website, for Labour supporters to vote Green in Wavertree, I couldn't offer a swap elsewhere and I don't think others should. The lesson for Greens everywhere must be that a large Green vote will help show that the system is broken and every vote will help financially for any Green MP(s) elected to Parliament.

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