While young people have registered to vote in their millions, the demographic are often guilty of blind, ‘take no prisoners’ politics. LUCY HOLLAND writes how this has to go for tactical voting to win.
Young people have registered in record-breaking numbers for this general election, which is the most significant rise in numbers we’ve seen for decades. This election won’t just decide who’s in charge for the next five years – whoever wins will be in charge of defining the future of our country – our future – for decades to come.
There’s so much riding on this result: Brexit, climate change, the NHS. These issues (and there are many more) have far-reaching consequences that cannot be simply reversed at the next election. This is it.
Luckily, we’re in a position to win it. Though polls show the Conservatives ahead by eight points or more, polls predicted a Tory majority in 2017 – and look how that turned out.
Young people denied them a majority then, and we can do it again. Best for Britain have revised their analysis – fewer than fifty thousand tactical votes are needed to deprive Boris Johnson of his majority. But we have to be willing to do it.
Young people have a choice to make, one that can’t be summarised by ticking a box on your ballot paper. We have to decide whether ideological purity is worth defeat.
Or, to put it another way, whether inflicting another five years of Conservative rule on the most vulnerable in our society is worth being able to say “at least I voted Labour”.
I would hope that my generation has the honesty to say it isn’t – but it’s worth taking a closer look at this mind-set, just in case.
There’s a hypocrisy at the heart of the clean-hands philosophy argued so ardently by many young Labour voters. Their thinking goes that if they vote Labour in a marginal constituency being fought between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, they’ll have kept your hands clean by not supporting the party which propped up the Tories for five years – even if the Tories win that seat because of wasted votes like theirs.
This take-no-prisoners hatred of the Lib Dems is easy to espouse, and easy to agree with.
Clearly, they’re complicit in the horrors of austerity. Clearly, they broke our trust by breaking their promise on tuition fees. Clearly this must mean, they deserve punishment.
But since when was progressive politics defined by what you hated, rather than what you wanted to achieve? When did we decide that losing “in the right way” is worth the cost of losing? When did we adopt this stance of cutting off our nose to spite our face.
To be clear: there is nothing progressive or left-wing about installing a right-wing government by refusing to vote tactically. I’m not alone in thinking this. I volunteer with For our Future’s Sake (FFS), a youth and student-led campaign for a Final Say on Brexit.
On Friday, I found myself giving a speech about tactical voting at the Vote for a Final Say rally. I shared a stage with Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell, and introduced Michael Heseltine. The mere mention of these names will make many of my peers see red – and they have good reasons to be angry.
But if we’re going to win this fight – a fight that will define the rest of our lives – we cannot let anger and tribalism define our strategy. We have to be better. We have to be smart. We have to be brave. We have to remember it’s our future. On December 12, we have to vote tactically.