This was first posted on Facebook on 31st October 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
On General Election 2019, 12th December – Register to vote: encourage everyone you know who has a right to vote to get registered.
Tactical voting in my view is a matter of personal conscience. If you decide to vote tactically in order to ensure the worst are kicked out or the least-bad get in, that’s as much a right as the right to vote, in a FPTP system: it can be gamed and it’s your right to try to game it in the direction you want – or to refuse to do so and to cast your vote for the candidate/party you actually want to win. I have no criticism or judgement to make either way – I think both are valid choices and you should do what feels right to you.
That said: If you’re going to simply vote for the candidate/party you want to win, you don’t need advice from anyone else in figuring out who that is.
So, any voting advice in a FPTP election is always going to be in the form of “So this is how you should vote tactically to get the result you want” – because if you’re not going to vote tactically, you don’t need advice.
My own biases are these: On 13th December, I want Labour to either have a majority or be the largest single party in Westminster. We have a choice between Labour or Conservative government at Westminster, and the worst Labour government is always going to be better for people like you and me than the Tories – unless I happen to have a closet multi-millionaire reading this. Which I don’t think I do.
But I’m not likely to vote Labour. If I were confident the Tory candidate in my constituency was sure to come in third again, I’d probably vote Green: as it is, I’m probably going to vote tactically for the SNP incumbent.
Further, in this special instance: a Labour government, whether by majority or minority with confidence and supply with either LibDems or SNP, has a clear path to resolving Brexit: a second referendum with Remain as one of the options. (AFAIK no manifestos have yet been published, but this *was* Labour conference policy as recently as September.)
Whereas a Conservative majority government is going to resolve Brexit either with Johnson’s terrible deal or May’s slightly less terrible but still awful deal or with no-deal Brexit.
Also, if Boris Johnson fails to win a majority on 12th December, this being exactly what he was selected for by 92,000 Tory party members who thought his winning, cheery ways would get them into majority government again – I think Johnson will be gone. Even if the Tories are the largest single party. Johnson has lost the Tories the expensively-bought support of the DUP: if he cannot win a majority, I think he’ll have a choice of resign or be fired.
Boris Johnson has apparently protected himself against losing his seat by ditching the Tory constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where he had doughtily brought a 10,000 majority down to 5,000, and scuttling off to the utterly-safe Tory constituency of Rutland & Melton, opened up for him by the decision of Alan Duncan not to stand again: there he will have a majority of 23,000 in a constituency that’s voted Tory since it was created. Note that this is not confirmed on paper – as yet.
None the less: Boris Johnson was elected Conservative Party leader for two reasons: he promised he would deliver Brexit, do or die, on 31st October: and he was felt by the Tories to be an election-winner, popular among young people – the Tories know they’re lost the 18-34 voting cohort, and they want those votes back. If Boris Johnson fails to deliver a majority, as he failed to deliver Brexit, he is gone: and I don’t see him sticking around as a backbencher, more likely demanding a New Year’s Honours peerage as a former Prime Minister.
I don’t think Labour majority government is likely. Labour would have to hang on to all of the 262 seats they won in 2017, and win at least 64 more. This is possible: I just don’t think it’s likely.
For Labour to be the largest single party, presumably Labour can at least hold 262 seats: and the Tories have to lose 56 of the 317 they held in 2017.
The Tories can lose to Labour, to the LibDems, to the SNP, or to Plaid Cymru, and it really makes no difference to the final equation: if Tories go down by 50+ seats, they are certainly out: if Tories go up by 13 seats (from the 317 held in 2017) *we* are certainly out of the EU and Boris Johnson is Prime Minister for the next four and a half years or until being PM bores him and he quits for a peerage.
But even if Tories are the largest single party, they cannot form a government if Labour plus SNP or plus LibDem can outvote the Tory MPs.
If the Tories hold 300 seats and Labour only 260, but the SNP have 45 seats, then Labour+SNP in confidence and supply can form a government – unless LibDems agree to ally with Tories once more.
But if Tories and LibDems ally, while this isn’t good for the country – as we know from 2010-2015 – it does means the price of Tory government with LibDem support will be the Tories abandoning Brexit. Of this, I am fairly sure.
If Labour and LibDems ally, they can count on SNP support to keep the Tories out and oppose Brexit.
If you are going to tactically vote, here are the two key rules and some guidelines:
1. If you had a non-Tory incumbent, vote for the non-Tory. incumbent. This ensures all tactical voting in this constituency is targeted at the same candidate, who’s also in a slightly better position to win than the challengers.
2. Look at how people in your constituency voted in 2017. EU elections follow different rules. Current polling isn’t a good guideline. Unless your constituency has been modified in the last two to five years, introducing a large new group of voters, the chances are excellent that the party that was closest to beating the Tory incumbent in 2017 is going to be the party with the best chance of winning in 2019.
But also; do your research, Go to a hustings. Organise a hustings, if you can. Find out – if you can – what microtargeted ads the Conservatives are aiming at undecided voters in your constituency, and try to counter these false narratives in local media. Do not get entangled in fights with supporters of other parties: the Conservatives are the common enemy and they love it when their opponents are infighting. Register to vote. Vote.
Vote for the Tories to lose on 12th December.