There’s a lot being said at the moment about tactical voting. For example Remain voters are being urged to vote for whichever party is more likely to defeat the Tories, and probably the converse is happening too for Brexiteers. I have concerns about tactical voting, as (i) there is no guarantee that it will have the desired effect, and (ii) if you vote for a party you wouldn’t normally support, your usual party will suffer in terms of percentage of vote, regardless of the outcome. That can be important when overall voting figures are calculated.
Below I quote from my LibDem PPC, Nigel Jones, who explains the argument well.
‘Generally, people should not engage in tactical voting, which is different from two parties coming to an agreement. People should vote for what they believe in for the sake of the message the result sends and for the future of the party which they truly support, locally as well as nationally.
This applies here in Newcastle under Lyme about voting Liberal Democrat because the other parties are not Remain parties, including Labour.
The voice of Remain needs to be clearly represented especially since we find ourselves in a general election and have not had a people’s vote. In any case we now have the Brexit Party for Leavers as well as the Conservative Party’.
I write this post in the run up to the General Election which is to be held in a month’s time, on December 12, 2019. I have been motivated to write it by discussions with my local party executive committee, after hearing that this previously solid Labour constituency (Newcastle under Lyme) has some voters who have fallen out with Labour, but possibly not to the extent that they would vote Conservative. I thought that my own political journey might be of interest, and maybe help some people make up their minds on this important issue.
I was previously a Labour supporter and member for many years, but I left when Labour stopped representing the centre ground. Peter Mandelson’s ‘broad church’ narrowed as the party moved to the left, and this got worse when Corbyn became leader. It seemed there was no longer a home for centrists, and Tom Watson’s departure was a clear indication of this, if it wasn’t already obvious. The long period of indecision over Brexit was sheer frustration, and although there seems now to be a commitment to hold a second referendum, it isn’t at all clear that party policy will support a remain vote.
When I joined the LibDems I helped set up the Social Democrat Group, whose aim is to encourage social democrat policies to be adopted, and to provide a forum for dialogue with Social Democrats in other parties. Although we can’t take credit for the MPs who have recently joined the LibDems from Labour, having a group in the party that encourages such dialogue hopefully helped them feel comfortable in their new political home.
Returning to the local situation, our long standing Labour MP, Paul Farrelly, has stood down. Paul was an unflinching Remainer and a good constituency MP (hard to be both after the Brexit referendum result, but he managed it). Local former Labour voters who are Remainers, and who may not subscribe to the Corbyn vision, could do far worse than voting LibDem next month. Regardless of the election result, both locally and nationally, a vote for the LibDems signals a desire to move away from stultifying two party politics. With our inspirational leader, Jo Swinson, I hope the party can make progress at this election. I will certainly be doing my best to help achieve that aim.
Since joining the LibDems in July 2015, I’ve got involved in two distinct but very contrasting activities.
One activity I’ve posted quite a lot about is my helping to set up the Social Democrat Group, with George Kendall. This is really beginning to develop some momentum (a rather politically loaded word at the moment!), with a fringe meeting scheduled at the Spring Conference which has the possibility of some high-level speakers (although none are confirmed yet).
The second activity is my post as Social Media Officer for my local party in Newcastle, Staffs. This is exposing me to local politics, which is something new to me. In my Labour years I concentrated on national politics but took little notice of the local scene. That has all changed now, with the local council having to make difficult decisions, and local elections only three months away. I have a steep learning curve to climb. With the local print media and radio ignoring us, making an impact on Social Media is very important. Probably the most challenging part of the job is accessing the information in the first place! But our Twitter and Facebook followers are steadily increasing, so hopefully I’m doing something right!
When I joined the LibDems back in July, I hoped to find fellow members with an interest in reviving the social democrat tradition in the party. I signed up to LibDemVoice, which is a forum for wide-ranging discussions on all aspects of party activities, and was pleased to read a post there from George Kendall, on reviving the party’s social democrat heritage, and potentially attracting disaffected Labour Party members. Since I had already made the move from Labour (as discussed in previous posts), I was sure there were others who shared my views, and I supported the idea of setting up a Social Democrat Group within the party.
Having made contact with George, and had several discussions, I agreed to help with administration and social media for the new group, and between us we set up a Twitter account and a Facebook Page. George wrote a piece about our aims, which has been recently published on LibDemVoice, and we are attracting interest and comment.
Although it is early days for the group, we intend to have an information stand at the Spring Conference, and a launch event at some stage, possibly at or associated with the Autumn Conference. Full details will appear on our Facebook page and Twitter account in due course. There is also a sign-up form on our Facebook page where you can introduce yourself if you would like to get involved.
At a time when it seems likely that Jeremy Corbyn will be elected Labour leader, people like myself who position themselves on the centre-left of the political spectrum may find themselves asking two questions: (i) where will their views be represented in UK politics, and (ii) given the answer to (i), how can these views be aired in the future (with the hope of any impact)?
There is, of course, the ‘wait and see’ approach. How many Labour MPs and members will feel able to remain in a Corbyn-led party is open to question, and a split akin to the SDP split in 1981 might occur. Alternatively, with their new leader, Tim Farron, the LibDems offer some hope, and this is the approach I have taken, as discussed in my previous posts.
On the general subject of Corbyn’s appeal, there was an interesting piece by Tony Blair in today’s Observer (link here). Of course, there are some who are totally prejudiced against Tony, and refuse to read anything from him, but (as always) he makes some good points. One that particularly resonated with me was a general point about politics today: ‘There is a politics of parallel reality going on, in which reason is an irritation, evidence a distraction, emotional impact is king and the only thing that counts is feeling good about it all.’ In his piece, Tony also mentions political developments in Greece and France, showing that it’s not just something that’s happening in the UK. 10 days ago I asked this question of Corbyn supporters on Twitter: ‘Are you putting political ideology before future electability of Labour?’. I only got one reply, on the lines of ‘wait and see what he does’. Fair enough, but there’s a lot at stake here!
Having good opposition is essential, especially with Tories effectively running riot. How well a Corbyn-led Labour parliamentary party can achieve that remains to be seen, but it may not be as effective if it doesn’t give house room to centre-left as well as left wing policies. And I’ve said nothing about the likely contribution of the press!