A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A little reminder about tactical voting

Compass are consulting their members about whether to advocate tactical voting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/23/compass-tactical-voting-ballot

Mehdi Hassan at the New Statesman has correctly guessed I wouldn't be impressed: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2010/04/tactical-voting-compass-labour

Compass' contemplation of advocating tactical voting is silly on two counts:

a) the Lib Dems have at no point indicated any preference for falling in with Labour in the event of a hung parliament, in fact logic suggests they would have nothing to gain by propping us up if we had just been ejected by the electorate. Therefore helping increase the number of Lib Dem MPs by tactical voting might just be increasing the size of majority of a Con/LD partnership.

b) the only thing that the LDs have said would influence their behaviour in a hung parliament is the "mandate" acquired by the other two parties. Assuming that as PR supporters they mean they will help the party that got most votes to form a government, it is important to ensure that Labour maximises the number of votes we get nationwide, including in seats where we are in third place, as any tactical votes "loaned" to the LDs will not be gratefully acknowledged as such, they'll be used as ammo for suggesting that Labour has less of a "mandate" than the Tories and that therefore the LDs should help Cameron form a government.

Advocating tactical voting is an appalling betrayal of local Labour Parties and PPCs battling away in third-placed seats and a sure-fire way to undermine our activist and local government base in those areas so that we cease to be a national party. It is also often based on dud information - results from 2005 that are five years out of date and in any case notional because of boundary changes are used to try to guess who the main challenger to the Tories is in a given seat. If this criteria had been followed in 1997 tactical voting advocates would have called for a Lib Dem vote in seats like Hastings & Rye which in fact Labour gained from third place.

By the time they have completed their ballot Compass many well find the scenario they are trying to respond to out of date. For instance, if tonight's MORI poll (Con 36% (+4), Lab 30% (+2), LD 23% (-9)) turns out to be the start of a trend rather than a rogue poll, we are back to the tight two-party Lab vs Con fight we saw until the first debate.

Just a gentle reminder to any Labour Party members who are in Compass that if they as individuals publicly advocate tactical voting for other parties they can risk being automatically expelled from the Labour Party under Chapter 2, Rule A 4 B of the Labour Party Rule Book:


"A member of the party who ... supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate ... shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member, subject to the provisions of part Chapter 6 A.2 below of the disciplinary rules."

Where we can identify potential Lib Dem voters as seeing themselves on the centre-left (not all do) we need to be getting them to understand that Clegg has given no assurances that he won't help give the keys to Downing Street to the Tories and that the only unambiguous way to block Tory participation in government is to elect the maximum number of Labour MPs.

13 Comments:

Blogger Hughes Views said...

Given that our current voting system is clearly not fit for purpose, tactical voting, even with all its shortcomings, seems to offer a least worst option for voters more motivated by opposition to one party than by particular enthusiasm for another.

How do you feel about Labour leaflets in Lab/Con marginals that urge Lib Dem supporters to vote Labour?

Only a kangaroo court would judge support for tactical voting as constituting support for a candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate...

11:07 pm, April 24, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well at least I've never seen the Labour Party putting out leaflets saying 'LibDems can't win here' in areas where the only election running is the Euros!

11:43 pm, April 24, 2010

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I don't think anyone is arguing that a vote for Labour is not required, but that in some seats where clearly Labour are out of the picture, a vote for the LD's may deny the tories a majority.

Labour haven't a prayer in Somerton & Frome, Maidenhead, Lewes, Guildford, or Solihull, and voting LD there will make no difference to the number of Labour MP's, but may deny the Tories a majority

2:19 am, April 25, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think any members who might suggest tactical voting will be quaking in fear about expulsion. Membership is so low that a purge is the last thing that is going to happen! Also, there have been so many 'nudge, nudge' comments from senior Labour people, that its pretty clear they are PRAYING for suitable tactical voting. Nor is co-operation unprecendented - occured in low level ways in 97 and 2001 particularly.
A pity that is should come to this, but the Labour leadership have just not done enough to advance a progressive agenda - now the price is being paid

11:03 am, April 25, 2010

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

I hate the phrase 'tactical voting'. ALL voting is tactical - one of many ways in which you advance your political interests - unless you actually see the process of ticking a box in a booth as some kind of glorious practical expression of your highest principles, which would make you a bit mental, to be honest.

2:58 pm, April 25, 2010

 
Blogger snowflake5 said...

Agree with this article completely. This is not 1997, and the LibDems hate Labour. In Southampton, they sided with the Tories to put them in power in the council.

The mad Compass tactic is part of a similar fantasy you see in the Guardian from Polly Toynbee about creating a new-left alliance.

As you say, we are likely looking at a Lib-Con government and Labour's goal should be to get as many seats so that the Lib-Con majority is narrow and we can put pressure on them.

4:41 pm, April 25, 2010

 
Anonymous Phil Harris said...

Luke were you ever in the LCC ?

9:25 pm, April 25, 2010

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I was on the LCC executive for the final few years before it was wound up.

9:36 pm, April 25, 2010

 
Anonymous Ben said...

Good piece. Compass is behaving not just disgracefully, but stupidly. Unsurprising, but no less distressing for it.

Perhaps our comrades in Compass need to be reminded that Clegg has today said that he would not back a third-placed Labour Party to stay in office. And rightly so. But it does mean that unless Labour come second in the popular vote, the country will definitely be condemned to a Tory government. Well done, Compass.

10:46 pm, April 25, 2010

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Tactical voting is very important in key marginals. The problem however, is most people probably can't remember the vote share from the last election. People don't necessarily have the information to make a tactical vote

luke you are obviously very worried about the lib dems stealing votes in your marginal seats. Clearly there is a real risk that the Tories could get landslide victory if too many of last elections labour votes go lib dem.

The problem for labour now is that you clearly are going to come second. You can't win and the polls are showing this. Labours job now is to make sure the Tories don't get a landslide.

12:02 am, April 26, 2010

 
Anonymous Blem said...

Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but for a political party to even advocate tactical voting (and it's not just Labour who is doing this) is to have lost all faith in politics as medium for creating a better society. This goes hand-in-hand with the contemptuous discussions towards the lazy voter where so much emphasis is given to trying to figure out how to get the lazy voter to vote, rather than considering the failures of the political parties' lack of vision for a better society. As far as I see it, there are only technical differences between the three main parties, nothing that excites me in particular. I watched perhaps the best discussion on the elections recently where young kids bring out some of the bigger questions we need to be thinking about, and all the politicians/PPCs (Diane Abbott, Keith Angus, Andrew Boff) could offer was a re-hashing of old ideas - no connection between the insightful questions and uninspired answers! http://current.com/news-and-politics/92398968_question-dine-a-row-is-on-the-menu.htm

1:38 pm, April 30, 2010

 
Anonymous Elizannie said...

The trouble with a lot of the websites that claim to give a 'picture' of how tactical voting will work in one's constituency is that they are obviously compiled solely on the 2005 figures. They do not seem to allow for the boundary changes or local 'conditions'. Your old constituency of Castle Point is a good case: in 2005 the sitting Conservative MP Bob Spink was returned with about an 18% lead over Labour. Dr Spink is now standing on an Independent ticket, there is a Conservative candidate plus a BNP [yuk] candidate as well as a very good Labour Candidate and a good Liberal Candidate. This really does throw the field into a different starting position to 2005.

10:07 am, May 05, 2010

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

Totally agree Luke, and have therefore allowed my membership to lapse.

2:20 am, May 08, 2010

 

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