Since the December 12th general election became assured, Remain Twitter has gone crazy. We wanted a People’s Vote! Now that we don’t have it, people have to vote tactically! Tactically, do you understand? Here are some quick thoughts on the subject of tactical voting and in particular, how it relates to the 2019 general election and stopping Brexit from happening.
One, please don’t rely on tactical voting websites to guide your vote, no matter how well meaning they are, and most of them are not well meaning. They will mostly guide you to vote Labour and the lion’s share of the time in this election, that will not even be the most tactically astute thing to do. If you look at 2017 general election numbers, voting Lib Dem almost anywhere would tactically be a bad idea, if you wanted to stop Brexit – the party polled 7.8%. Now that the Lib Dems are looking at polling in the 20s this time, without taking this swing into account in a considered way, tactical voting sites are more likely to lead you to do the wrong thing than help you stop the Tories from winning. Basically, the polls have shifted way too much in all directions since 2017 for them to be a reliable guide for how to vote in 2019.
Two, please don’t buy into this “if I vote Lib Dem, I’ll be splitting the Remain vote” rubbish. This sort of mistake keeps haunting British politics. During the coalition years, Labour were sure that a collapse in the Lib Dem vote would equal a majority for them. They were wrong and were always going to be wrong on this count: most Lib Dem seats are Tory facing. If the Lib Dems do well in a general election, the Tories suffer and vice versa. In 2019, if the Lib Dems get a lot of seats, most of them will be at the expense of the Tories. In fact, your surest way to stop the Tories getting a majority, if you’re unsure, is to vote Lib Dem. In most constituencies, this will be correct.
Yes, in some places, Lib Dem and Labour votes could split to let the Tories in through the middle. Voting Labour in the southwest is probably a bad idea if you want to stop Brexit, as is voting Lib Dem in Southampton Itchen or Thurrock. This dynamic applies to surprisingly few constituencies, however.
Three, organised tactical voting has almost never worked. Voters are surprisingly adept at tactical voting and should be left to their own devices. I know this is scary for a lot of Remainers, but it comes down to this: if the country wants to remain in the EU, the Tories won’t win. If it wants to leave, the Tories will probably get a majority. Bleat all you like about the way a referendum would be a better way to settle this – before remembering all that stuff about the referendum being corrupted by Russian bots, etc, that many of you steadfastly believe in. It’s very Boris to be pro-cake and pro-eating it, I will remind you all.
I’ll end on this: even if the Tories win the election, they have all of Brexit still to do. And it will take years and years and years. Even with a healthy majority, Johnson will eventually hit a wall. Even if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes and we “leave” the EU, we can still rejoin reasonably easily until the final trade deal is agreed, which again, will take an unbelievably long time, if it is even achievable. Don’t be depressed, Remainers. Things will work out in the end. In the meantime, just vote for who you want to vote for.