Labour needs to accept tactical voting is needed until the system can be changed
PUBLISHED: 15:48 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 09 December 2019
CALLUM TENNANT campaigned to Leave in 2016 - but now backs remaining in the EU. In this election he’s fighting for Labour, but recognises tactical voting might be needed in this election, because of the imperfection of the voting system.
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For some, voting is a duty, for others, a chore. Come December 12th, for many in this country, it could be deeply unpleasant. Part of that reasonining is the fact they might have vote tactically.
Consider the tactical vote: it is an inherently awful thing. You're taking your democratic right to vote, a hard-won privilege, and using it to back your non-preferred choice.
Rather than acting positively, you are voting to keep an individual, a party or a policy you don't want, from triumphing in your seat.
In the looming 2019 general election, up to a third of people may have to vote tactically. The key words are 'have to' - no one wakes up saying they want to vote tactically.
If you want to remain in the EU, I'm afraid there's a significant chance that you might have to vote tactically.
As a Labour member, I'm not telling you that you should vote tactically. Ridiculously, as highlighted by Alastair Campbell's expulsion, that could and likely would get me kicked out of the party I love, the party I feel at home in and the party that I (well, as much as a student can) contribute to financially.
I am not telling you to vote tactically.
I will be out campaigning for Labour who, thanks to their pledge for a Final Say referendum, I believe are OK for a Remainer to back. However, I hope to highlight what can be achieved by voting tactically in this all-important election, which will determine the future (and hopefully the end) of the Brexit process.
St Ives perfectly sums up the flaws of our First-Past-The-Post voting system, and illustrates why tactical voting exists.
In 2017, the Conservatives won there with 22,120 votes, the Liberal Democrats (who, to clarify for any members of the Labour NEC who might be reading, I don't like very much) came second with 21,808 votes and, sadly, Labour limped in with 7,298 votes.
So, we have the modern-day Conservative Party - so similar to the Brexit Party that the latter has stood down in hundreds of seats - who, if successful, would return a pro-Leave MP. We then have the Liberal Democrats, who would return a pro-Remain MP if they won. And we have Labour - who I believe Remainers can back - and who I would argue would return a Remain-friendly MP.
It is incredibly unlikely that Labour will win St Ives; the distance between themselves and first place is a huge 14,822.
However, the Liberal Democrats need improve only by roughly 300 votes to win this seat.
If you were weighing up your chances of returning a Remain-friendly MP in St Ives, your best bet would be to vote Lib Dem.
I am in no way encouraging you to vote for any other party, but I recognise the argument being made in an area like this.
As things stand, there is a majority for a Remain-friendly MP in St Ives. Yet, because the Remain vote is divided, both parties' voters are stuck with a pro-Brexit Tory.
That one Tory could represent the one parliamentary vote it takes to drag the UK out of the EU and plop it all alone on the edge of the world stage - that is how much is at stake.
There are seats where this dynamic is the other way around, for example Kensington, where Labour has a minuscule majority of 20 votes.
If you want to have a hope of stopping Brexit, then you should vote Labour here. And I proudly encourage people in Kensington to vote Labour.
Tactical voting is, of itself, not a bad thing for a voter to do, but the fact it is necessary reflects badly on our voting system.
It is awful that some of us have to even think about doing that, but it's a brave and mature decision to take.
I am lucky; as a pro-Remain Labour member in a safe Labour seat I can vote with my heart, and I can also spend my time campaigning in Kensington. But, for many people, that's not the case. That has to change and that means a new voting system.
I have one final point to make, and that is how ridiculous it has felt writing this 'Labour rule-abiding' article on why people may vote tactically.
And I would stress again that this general election is one of the most important elections any of us will ever vote in: at stake is what kind of country we will be, how powerful and relevant Britain will remain and, crucially, whether we reward politicians who lie during a campaign.
If we had a proportional voting system, I wouldn't have written this article. I wouldn't have to explain tactical voting, only why I'm voting Labour and why you should too.
Unfortunately, that is not the system we have, and our parties seem more intent on expelling members who are forced to vote tactically, than they are on changing the root cause of the issue, which is our medieval electoral system.
So I finish by reminding you to vote Labour... but I've also attached links to some tactical voting sites. Make of that what you will.
- Callum Tennant is a 'Remainer Now' having campaigned as a student to Leave in 2016, but now backing the anti-Brexit cause.
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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.Become a supporter