An open letter to anti-Brexit voters living in Labour and Lib Dem marginal seats

PUBLISHED: 09:53 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:53 03 December 2019

Boris Johnson on the general election trail. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Boris Johnson on the general election trail. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Alastair Campbell has written two open letters to voters in marginal seats encouraging them to back the Lib Dems or Labour, depending on who is best placed to stop the Tories.

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If the polls, and my sense of the current mood, are right, Boris Johnson is on for a majority. Nothing like the majorities we won for Labour when I was working with Tony Blair, but enough for him to claim he will 'get Brexit done' - which he won't, as we will soon see - and to take the country in the very rightward direction spelled out by him and his candidates.

I have known Boris Johnson for a long time. Like most people who have known him for a long time, I worry about his character, his trustworthiness, his reliability. I worry that, like Donald Trump, deep down he cares only about himself and his ambitions. He sees politics as a game, in which people and ideas are merely pawns.

We have seen in recent months that just with a little bit of power, he is a dangerous force. Lying on an industrial scale, with even the Queen not exempt; attitudes to women and minorities, and to institutions which might stand in his way, echoing the Trumpisation of politics across the Atlantic.

How much more dangerous would he be with his own mandate, his own majority? My fear is that he would be a lot more dangerous.

It would also mean an end to any hope that the people get the final say on Brexit. The vote for Brexit was delivered in a referendum, and if there should be a democratic review of that decision, as Johnson seems to accept with his so-called 'Brexit election,' that should be a Final Say referendum on the deal he has agreed with the EU. But he knows he would struggle to win a majority and so seeks to secure a mandate by mixing Brexit with every other issue, knowing that little more than a third of the vote will see him home.

It is cynical. But it looks like it is working.

As election day nears, I believe there is only one way to stop him, and that is through tactical voting.

I have been campaigning in different parts of the country, and it is clear that without such tactical voting, Johnson will win and could win big. In Wokingham, and Esher and Walton, I met Labour voters telling me that they were voting for Jeremy Corbyn to kick out the Tories. But if they vote Labour there, it helps John Redwood and Dominic Raab more than it helps Jeremy Corbyn. Liberal Democrats and Greens in Bury North, in Sedgefield, in Wakefield, in Enfield Southgate, say they want to vote for their parties to show their opposition to Brexit. I totally get that. But the effect of those votes will be to help hard Brexit Tories beat good, Remain-supporting Labour MPs. It plays Johnson's game for him.

I am not registered as a legal entity in this campaign. I am just one individual voter like anyone else. But I am desperately worried about the consequences of a big Johnson majority for our country. Therefore, below, I have drafted a template for two letters. One is to Labour voters in seats where it is clear that only the Lib Dem can beat the Tory; the second is to Lib Dem voters in seats where only Labour have a realistic chance of keeping the Tory out.

Provided Labour and the Lib Dems tell me in advance whether and in which seats they would like to use the relevant letter, and I agree, and provided they are mindful of their own compliance processes, I would be more than happy for both parties to use it, if they felt this might help persuade people to lend their vote to the party best placed to beat the Tory in individual seats.

My message to Labour voters living in Lib Dem/Tory marginal seats

Dear {name},

Your vote can stop Boris Johnson on December 12th - but only if you vote tactically.

I have been a Labour supporter all my life. I worked alongside Tony Blair in three election victories, and was Director of Communications under the last Labour Government. I worked for Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband in their campaigns. I will be voting Labour this time too, because where I live they are best placed to beat the Tories.

But at this election I'm asking you to vote for the Liberal Democrats in your {name of constituency} constituency.

Across the country there are many seats where if people think and vote tactically, Boris Johnson can be stopped from getting a majority. We have seen what he is like with a little bit of power. Imagine what he would be like with a lot of power.

In seats like your [name of constituency] constituency, the choice is between the Liberal Democrats or Boris Johnson's Conservatives. Voting Labour will just help the Tories.

My message to Labour people in your seat is that only the Lib Dem can beat the Tory. So don't vote Labour, vote Lib Dem.

Rest assured I'm asking Lib Dem and minor party voters in other areas, where the Labour candidate is the obvious choice, to vote tactically too.

To defeat the Tories in this election, we all need to put aside our traditional tribal loyalties. The stakes this time are far too high.

Lend your vote to the Liberal Democrats in your area this time - it's the only way to stop Boris Johnson.

With best wishes

Alastair Campbell

Life-long Labour supporter and campaigner

P.S. Remember - in your area, only a vote for the Liberal Democrats can beat Boris Johnson's Conservatives. Make your vote count on 12th December.

My message to Lib Dem voters living in Labour/Tory marginal seats

Dear {name},

Your vote can stop Boris Johnson on December 12th - but only if you vote tactically.

As Editor at Large of The New European, and as a relentless campaigner for a People's Vote, I totally understand why Remainers want to vote Lib Dem, and why you might not be happy with Jeremy Corbyn. I'm often not happy with Jeremy Corbyn either, and he was not very happy with me when I was thrown out of the Labour Party for voting tactically for the Liberal Democrats in the European Elections in May.

But at this election I'm asking you to vote for the Labour Party in your {name of constituency} constituency.

Across the country there are many seats where if people think and vote tactically, Boris Johnson can be stopped from getting a majority. We have seen what he is like with a little hit of power. Imagine what he would be like with a lot of power.

In seats like your [name of constituency] constituency, the choice is between Labour, who do now at least back a Final Say referendum, and Boris Johnson's Conservatives. Voting Lib Dem in seats like yours will just help the Tories.

My message to Lib Dem people in your seat is that only the Labour candidate can beat the Tory. So don't vote Lib Dem, vote Labour.

Rest assured I'm asking Labour and minor party voters in other areas, where the Lib Dem candidate is the obvious choice, to vote tactically too.

To defeat the Tories in this election, we all need to put aside our traditional tribal loyalties. The stakes this time are far too high.

Lend your vote to Labour this time - it's the only way to stop Boris Johnson in your seat. And only if we stop him do we keep alive the prospect of a Final Say referendum on Brexit.

With best wishes

Alastair Campbell

Leading Advocate of a People's Vote

P.S. Remember - in your area, only a vote for Labour can stop Boris Johnson's Conservatives. Make your vote count on 12th December.

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