Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Take that peg off your nose!

I've blogged on this before here, but it's worth mentioning again in the light of Ed Balls' comments over the last day or two.

Voting tactically is a wasted vote.

Here's two reasons:

1) Voting what you think is what actually changes things. Political parties pour over the breakdown of votes in a particular seat and when they see increase support at the ballot box for a smaller party  they look at the best and most attractive ideas from that party and adopt them. Your choice of party might not have got in immediately, but you've shaped the political landscape in a positive way.
Vote tactically with a peg over your nose leaves you dissatisfied and the people in that party assuming that you like their ideas and policies and you no closer to seeing the changes you'd like.

2) Voting what you think creates some momentum.
Voting is a way of showing others that there are more people that think like them. We're not always good about talking politics in public. If everyone tactically votes a monster raving loony supporter may never find out that there's actually 100s of others in his constituency with the same views.

Moving from fourth to third or third to second in a seat means that your choice of party becomes more high profile, gains more members, gets more media time. Nick Clegg wouldn't have even made it into the debates if the Lib Dems hadn't gradually increased their share of votes and seats over the last couple of elections. Yes, this is playing the long game, but they'll always be some reason to vote tactically- at some point you have to go for it.

Many people say they need to vote tactically to 'keep out the Tories' or 'get rid of Gordon Brown', but a huge swathe of voters say 'oh, they're all the same really'. It's not possible to have it both ways - there's no point in voting tactically to get rid of one lot if they're all the same really!

If you like the Tories best vote for them. If Labour, Labour. If UKIP, UKIP. Time to take that peg off your nose and vote for whoever you like.


  1. This debate will run and run. And it won't be settled by PR. That just changes the dynamics of tactical voting. I get the argument against tactical voting. It is a long-term view. But each election stands alone. Each party adopts in a whole host of policies and while we might prefer one party, we might prioritise some of their policies more than others. In that case we would be well-advised to vote for the party best able to deliver it. If we are concerned about creeping European federalism, for example, UKIP may be the best choice. But it would deny the Conservatives a chance to govern and our concerns may be realised. Labour and the Lib Dems share some common ground. If the common ground is a higher priority to you than party allegiance then vote for party best able to win a challenging seat.

  2. Isn't every vote a tactical vote? You'd never support a party's whole manifesto, unless you wrote it. So rather than standing for election yourself and voting for yourself, you compromise on a party that will attract other people's support as well. Where there are several close matches you choose the best one, and if there's not much between them, then why not choose the one most likely to do well?

    For instance, I agree with elements of Labour, Lib Dem and Green manifestos, but given that none of them are remotely like a good match with my views, it seems perfectly rational to go for the one most likely stop the Tories wrecking everything.