The only vote that is wasted is a pointless ‘tactical’ vote. Tactical voting working in the right places.

17 May 2017

One of the more common questions on the doorsteps from Green supporters is why there is no progressive alliance candidate in South West Herts and whether one should make a ‘tactical’ vote.

All my life I have taken the view that I should always vote according to my heart and my conscience unless there was a compelling reason otherwise.

I am a big fan of the Progressive Alliance idea and have tried to engage in a dialogue with my LibDem and Labour peers in recent times but for this election tactical voting makes no sense in either Hemel Hempstead or South West Herts constituencies at this time. 

The Green Party along with the pressure group Compass pushed hard for tactical switching in those seats where there is a realistic prospect of the progressive parties combined amassing a sufficient number of votes to unseat a sitting Tory.  This amounted to around 80 seats across the country and, were these all to have been fought on a Progressive Alliance ticket, there would have been a real possibility of ousting Theresa May from Number 10.  Sadly there has been little by way of positive response from the other parties who remain locked in a tribal mentality that does not serve them nor this country well.  Both the LibDems and Labour seem to live in a fantasy world where they imagine that under the first past the post election system they will again get a sniff at power – Labour with an outright majority or the LibDems propping up one of the other two parties.  When the votes are counted up in the early hours of 9th June you will have Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron to thank for Mrs May’s overwhelming majority.

So what should we do in areas where the progressive coalition does not command anywhere near a majority? This applies to both South West Herts and to Hemel Hempstead where the incumbent Tories sit on comfortably over 50% of the vote with UKIP taking a sizeable slice last time as well.  The progressive centre left in 2015 was around a third of the vote.

I say, vote with your heart and support the candidate you most believe in.

Whilst there are some similarities in the values and policies of Labour, LibDems and Greens there are important differences too.  So whilst the Green/Labour/LibDem voters might all prefer to be governed by any one of the other parties rather than by the Conservatives it is important that these parties put before the electorate their different perspectives and allow voters to express their preferences. 

When people tell me on the doorstep that this is a wasted vote I disagree with them because:

  1. Whoever is the winner in the first past the post system still represents everyone in the constituency and if David Gauke or Mike Penning, for it is likely to be they in these constituencies, know that a large number of voters in their constituencies support the Green policies of putting the environment first in all policy making (and not as an afterthought) then they will (if they are doing their jobs with any integrity) need to respect those opinions.  MPs are surprisingly aware of the voting preferences of their constituents (witness how many EU ‘remain’ MPs seem to have done a volte face where their constituency voted ‘leave’).
  2. The Green Party will have a small number of MPs in parliament after June 8th and it is important for their credibility that they are speaking up, not just for the 20,000 or so Green voters in their own constituencies, but they are speaking up for the whole Green Movement in the country including Green Voters everywhere. The more voters they represent the more powerful their voices will be.
  3. The media do take notice of the nationwide voting patterns.  After the last election both UKIP and the Greens had one MP but the media still took notice of UKIP more because they had three times the number of votes across the country than the Greens. (That won’t be happening this time around!)  More votes will mean more airtime and more column inches.
  4. The more votes the Greens take nationally in order to elect each MP the more obvious it is that the current FPTP electoral system is unfair and not fit for purpose and hence the greater the pressure for reform.  One day reform will come – but it will only come about when a sufficient number of people demand it. Every Green vote is a demand for that change.
  5. There is also a financial incentive – opposition parties receive what is known as “short money” named after Ted Short, a Labour Minister in the Harold Wilson Government of 1974. These are funds provided to opposition parties to help fund their activities (such as research into policy issues) so as to be an effective opposition.  The amount of funding is primarily determined by the number of votes cast for each opposition party in the most recent election. In the last full year the Green party received around £250,000 (and UKIP three times that). 


There are therefore very good reasons therefore for ensuring that even in ‘safe’ seats for voters to turn out and make their vote – arguably there is a stronger reason for the progressive party supporters to turn out in these constituencies than for the Tory voters because their votes really will make a difference to these parties (whereas one more vote for David Gauke or Mike Penning really has no impact).

I cannot think of anything worse than voting for someone in whom I do not believe in the desperate hope that they might beat someone I believe in even less, only to find that the worse prospect gets elected anyway whilst my real preferred candidate is unsupported. 

My final point is that to not vote at all is effectively a vote for the status quo. If you are a progressive voter and do not want the Tory to win then to not vote at all is as good as voting for them to remain in power.

In my view, we should always vote according to our true beliefs unless there is a very good prospect of a tactical victory.  Any other vote really is a wasted vote.

Paul de Hoest

Green Party Candidate for South West Hertfordshire

13th May 2017

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