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A tactical vote for our values and identity

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Huw Prys Jones

 The latest opinion polls, including the major YouGov survey, must be seen as a call to action and not a cause for despair and despondency.

Whilst they show that Boris Johnson is on course for an overall majority, they also show that such a victory is far from inevitable.

Indeed, they show that there is no majority support for the vision offered by his Conservative party. The combined overall percentage for the Tories and the Brexit Party of 46% (throughout Britain) compares to a combined total of 53% for Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP.

In other words, the opposition parties are well on they way to handing victory on a plate to Boris Johnson and his fellow Brexiteers.

This makes the case for tactical voting a clear no-brainer. The failure or unwillingness of politicians to form effective pacts means that we, the voters, will need to take the initiative. And give at least as much consideration to assessing which candidate is best placed to beat the Tories, as to which would be the party of our overall preference.

With elections being by definition partisan affairs, it is admittedly not the easiest time to persuade supporters of any party of the merit of voting for other parties. To overcome this scepticism, there must be much greater awareness of the symbiotic relationship between the opposition parties in this election.

It is not a question of asking anyone to sacrifice their party for the lesser of two evils. It is rather a recognition that no one single party can deal with the Tory threat on its own, and expect your vote regardless of where you may live. And that in some instances, the most valuable support you could offer your party would be to vote for another.

Key messages

There is at least one key opinion poll finding that we can use to our advantage: There is no possibility whatsoever that Jeremy Corbyn will lead a majority Labour government after the election.

This must be stressed to supporters and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn alike.

Labour supporters must understand that the only chance of unseating Boris Johnson will be for other parties to beat the Tories in constituencies where Labour has no chance. It is futile to argue about what the Liberal Democrats did in David Cameron’s coalition government, for example, – in this election Labour members must realise that their enemy’s enemy is their friend and act accordingly.

Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, have in effect accepted the principle of tactical voting through their Unite to Remain alliance. Their decision to stand aside in certain constituencies so the individual parties can concentrate their efforts where they are strongest seems sensible enough, although limited in scope.

With no prospects of a major breakthrough for these parties in terms of seats, however, their influence will depend hugely on there being a hung parliament. Given that a majority Labour government is a virtual impossibility, the only way to achieve a hung parliament is to maximise the number of Tory defeats.

For that to happen, Liberal Democrats and Plaid members in some Labour-Tory marginals will need to vote Labour. One could certainly see the merit of this is seats such Cardiff North and Gower where the sitting Labour MPs have been prominent supporters of People’s Vote. Several seats in north Wales also seem to be on a knife edge.

What Plaid and Liberal Democrat supporters must remember is that a hung parliament will be of much greater value to their MPs than votes amassed by their own parties in Tory-won constituencies.  Like it or not, under the first past the post electoral system, seats won is the only thing that counts.

Remain-supporting Conservatives

In arguing for tactical voting among opponents of Boris Johnson, we should not forget what could be the most significant group of all – remain-supporting Conservatives. They could well hold the key to denying Boris Johnson a majority.

The main stumbling block, of course, is that Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister will be anathema to nearly all Conservatives.

That is why everything must be done to maximise complacency towards such an outcome. There is simply no danger of Jeremy Corbyn leading a majority Labour government. In any case, even were Labour to be in a position to form a government, it seems increasingly likely that a key condition of the other parties would be for Labour to change its leader.

On the other hand, it is clear that a huge Boris Johnson majority poses serious risks, and that the one way of avoiding that is a hung parliament. Do moderate Conservatives really want to give a blank cheque to this shameless liar who flaunts his admiration of Donald Trump?

Do they really want an extremist Anglo-British nationalist government for whom idolatry of the nation state and severing all links with mainland Europe is an article of faith?

None of us can rely on hopes of any Conservative MP rebelling in the next parliament, as all candidates have all been required to sign up to the Boris Johnson Brexit deal.  

Under his leadership, the Tories have positioned themselves as a mainstream version of the Brexit party. For all of us who view Brexit as an attack on our values and identity as well as our economy, there can be no higher priority in this election than to inflict maximum damage on them.

 

Huw Prys Jones – Wales for Europe Supporter