Tactical Voting: What it is and how to do it

You may have heard in the media the term ‘Tactical voting’ being mentioned, but are not entirely sure that you know what it is. Let’s answer this concern.

What is Tactical Voting?

Tactical voting is a method of maximising the value of your individual vote. It works anytime there are more than 2 options to choose from. Everyone has one vote. The idea behind tactical voting is to make the most impact with your individual vote in your desired political direction. So, if your ideal party is very left of centre and unlikely to be elected in your region, you can instead choose to vote for a party that is not your ideal, but is preferable to a party in a strong position further to the right. This is how it would look like for you at this election.

So how does Tactical Voting work?

It only works because of the current electoral system. If Proportional Representation were adopted, whomever your favourite party is, they would receive fair representation in government. A vote could not be considered a waste. Instead, the number of total votes does not matter, only how many seats are won. Tactical voting is a challenge to this unrepresentative system. An attempt to make it more representative to you.

Tactical voting is looking at past results, seeing how parties have performed in recent elections and  choosing to vote in a manner to affect change.

For example:

Party A received 20 votes last election, Party B received 19 and Party C 4 votes.

Tactical voting exampleIf your preferred party  is Party C, and Party A is the furthest from your views,changing your vote to Party B could prevent Party A winning outright.

tactical voting example

Now obviously there will be a lot more voting taking place and it is unlikely to come down to just one vote, but each conscious vote can make a difference collectively.

Why would you want to vote tactically at this election?

You would only need to vote tactically if the area where you are eligible to vote has a strong Conservative candidate.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, called an early election in an expectation that she could strengthen her position in government by increasing the number of Conservative Party Members in Parliament. Ensuring less opposition to her more divisive proposals, which even a few within her own party have contested. A larger majority would weaken the voice of concern.

So the primary objective with a tactical vote this year is to prevent an increased majority. The hope though, is to achieve a change of government entirely.

What if the Conservatives are strong where I live?

Although the odds are worse than if you were living in a closely contested seat, it is still worth considering a tactical vote. Benefits can still be achieved by reducing a sizable majority. Politicians rely on the security of safe seats. By reducing the strength of a party in your area, they will need to work harder to ensure they retain them. It is this reason that safe seats can be left to stagnate or taxes unfairly raised. Whereas, areas where the vote is not secure receive greater public engagement and contentious taxing is given greater consideration.

What now?

There isn’t much else to say really. If you want the current government having a blank cheque to write all their own laws. Deciding your future for you, then do nothing.

If you still want to have a voice in your future, vote for whoever can beat them where you live.

If you would like to learn more about why you vote the way you currently do check out my previous blog post

Please share with friends and family. Tactical voting isn’t a dark art, it’s just making sure that your one slice of cake is a fair size.

Policy or Personality? Have you voted wrong all your life?

You vote for a government whom you hope will run the country in the way you believe is best. It may not be perfect, no-one is, but that they are better than the rest.

How do you know that you are supporting the right ones and not misusing your vote?

Choices

Well, the best way to know how a party will run a country, is by what they say they will do if elected, their manifesto, their policies. Making a decision based upon policy, matters. It shows balanced consideration of the breadth of their proposals.

Policy Matters

Here are 2 policy excerpts from the latest manifestos about the ex-military. Read them for me.

Labour Manifesto

We will support former members of the armed forces, who were willing to risk their lives for us, as they move into civilian life. We will maintain and strengthen the Armed Forces Covenant. We will help veterans to start new careers by ensuring that the skills and qualifications they gained in service are recognised by civilian employers and by introducing a one year holiday on Employer National Insurance Contributions for firms hiring service personnel after they leave service. We will improve the coordination of government services to veterans, including housing, employment and mental health services, by introducing a Veterans Board in the Cabinet Office.

Conservative Manifesto

Personnel who are injured while serving should have prompt access to support and compensation. We are fully committed to supporting our veterans. We will promote greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, seek greater consistency in its implementation by public authorities, and promote increased participation in the Corporate Covenant.

We will also roll out a Homes fit for Heroes programme that will insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free.

Based purely on the above policy, which would you vote for?

Out of the two parties, is this the one you usually feel most aligned to?

Now what if I told you that I switched the Party Names around. The first policy was actually the Conservative Party Policy and the second one, the Labour Party Policy. NB I edited the second one slightly to remove wording that made it obvious which party it belonged to, feel free to check pg.120 of Labour Manifesto, for small omitted text.

Does this change things for you? Surely it doesn’t, you made your decision based purely on policy didn’t you?

The reality is that the psychological power of not wanting to vote for a party, or wanting to vote for a particular party, can have a big impact in the decisions we make. This could actually mean we end up voting for parties for whom the majority of their manifesto would not sit well with our sensibilities.

If this already has you questioning your perception and you wish to read the whole manifesto of the party you were planning to vote for, you can find the key party manifestos here

Labour | Conservative | Liberal Democrat | Green | SNP | Plaid Cymru

Why do you normally vote for that party anyway?

Be aware that a large majority of people vote a certain way because their parents do, or because that is how they voted the first time they ever voted. Sometimes it is the influence of friends, you want to fit in and say you voted the same way as the crowd. But people change and so do parties, they fluctuate left and right on the political spectrum. Treat each election as if starting from scratch. Make sure they best represent you. And know that no party is made up of one issue.

The issue of personality

Be aware that apart from the above bias, there are other factors at play. The rise of the personality in politics. That is not to say that a candidate is of zero importance, but the factors that will make the biggest difference to your life is the manifesto that they have campaigned upon, not the person. The detail in their policies, these are the things that will have an impact upon your life and the progress of your nation.

Bernie SandersTrumpIf you want evidence of personality trumping policy, look to the 2016 American election. Two candidates that made the most surprising impact were Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Both were divisive figures for the traditional electorate. Trump with his disdain for authority, to not behave as is expected of a presidential candidate, his willingness to focus on issues that were causing his voters concern and feeding the fear in them meant that he led his support to a fervour, becoming a fanbase. They are not just people who voted on issues, they are fans who vehemently defend him.

On the left side of the Spectrum, you have someone who represents the values of another group of the population. Those who have also had enough of the political game. Who are fed up with the lies and the greed which they believe has led their country to where it is. They see in Bernie an example of someone who has consistently maintained an honest and moral position. They had in one figure a representation of the ideals they hoped for in a President.

Personality in the UK

The same can be seen developing here in the UK. A divisive and fear-mongering Farage gained huge support in the build up to the 2016 Brexit vote. Now, in the build up to the General Election, Jeremy Corbyn is being touted as a figure of hope. Like with Bernie Sanders, and with a number of the same support staff, he has developed a level of Fandom previously not witnessed on these shores. Again he is seen as a person of values, unwavering in his morals. An individual willing to speak out against the traditional elite. It is the ideals that people see embodied in a single figure that have led to his near Celebrity status. The fact that the manifesto he and his party have developed remains true to the perceived ideals, only does more to increase his standing amongst his fanbase.

This unexpected, but vocal force has started to concern the party in government. Whom, with Theresa May as PM, do not have a fanbase but rather a figure representing continuity. Much as Hillary Clinton did for the Democrats. The question is, even though Conservative values tend towards stability. Does the majority of the nation want more of the same?

The discontent is beginning to show. An election was called with the expectation that a substantially increased majority could be achieved. Now, however, the Conservative party are trying to prevent the release and publication of information until after the election fearing that the facts of their performance will reflect poorly upon them. Also, the party and the Conservative media, are targeting the Man, Corbyn, rather than the detail of the party’s manifesto. To make the election about not liking a person, rather than the breadth of what they stand for. The need to target the individual demonstrates the power that the personality can have on an election. Just as much as the power of always having voted for a party can have an influence on you.

So, are you voting for someone because you always have?

Are you not voting for someone else because you don’t like the person in charge?

Have you thoroughly considered the impact the various manifestos will have.

Perhaps you should.

Labour | Conservative | Liberal Democrat | Green | SNP | Plaid Cymru

Or to get a high level feel for which party best fits your views try this quiz. But I highly recommend that you then take these results to guide you to read the relevant manifesto. Then register to vote. For more information, read my past blog entry.

What’s in a Motto?

,A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals of an individual, family, or institution.

The choice of Motto that various political parties choose to stand behind have been very carefully crafted.  Here I look at the 2 main parties and their choice of Motto.

The Conservative Party

Strong and Stable Leadership in the National interest

This is crying out to the traditional voter. Globally, conservative values are generally about national pride. In Support of the nation’s interests, more than its presence in the wider world. Reassurance is found in tradition, looking to the past, at previous strengths and leaders. Comfort in slow, steady progress.Theresa May at a party campaign event

The Motto is literally calling out these ideals word for word, feeding directly into the comforting ideals felt by Conservative voters. Unlike the Labour Party which can to some extent lean on a fanbase of support for the party leader, the same emotions are not exuded from the Conservative voter base for Theresa May, instead their main tactic is to satisfy their traditional voter base with comforting but vague platitudes.

The Labour Party

For the Many, not the few

This statement also calls upon the ideals of traditional labour voters and others with liberal ideals. These tend to be a more global in outlook. A sense of being a part of a wider community and as such there is a strong sense of fairness and equality.

The Motto reflects both the traditional ideology and acts to distinguish the party from New Labour and its ‘New Labour, New life for Britain’ slogan which had been tailored more to conservative sensibilities.

The ideological foundation of the motto rJeremy Corbyneflects the leader, Jeremy Corbyn. In doing so the motto can be representative both of the policies within the manifesto and of the leader as a man of the people, which has given him a level of fandom.

So what does this tell us?

It tells us that the Conservatives are offering more of the same. Traditional, slow and steady, isolationist in the National interest and that they are dependant upon a traditional supporter base. The motto does not reach out to left leaning voters, so it could be considered likely that attacking the opposition to weaken confidence will be a main tactic. This behaviour will not do much damage to Theresa, as the success is built more around the party traditions than her as a personality.

Labour on the other hand are intending to differentiate themselves from the party in power. They are openly talking about what matters to the majority. To be more open, global, progressive.  They are also putting weight into the cult of personality that has been bestowed upon their leader. He may not be a brash, outspoken individual, but in the same way that being different worked for Trump in the US, the breath of fresh air in Jeremy’s calm and considered manner is what is what has proven so popular to his fans here.

But which does the UK need?

At a time when the world is divisive, with anger directed in all directions for the global economic state and increasingly heated global political tensions. Is another nation distancing themselves and only talking of self interests really in our best interests. Or would a calm, yet calculated approach to engagement and reform be the UK’s best hope for economic and social renewal?

How 18-24 yr olds can change the world

It starts with a vote.

Change the world – sounds like a bit of an over reaction right, what have I been smoking? But seriously, it is a good place to start.

Have you ever thought any of the following:

  • What is the point in voting?
  • My one vote will not make any difference
  • None of the parties speak to me
  • All politicians are self serving
  • I just can’t be bothered

Well you are not alone, in the 2015 General Election only 48% of 18-24 year olds used their vote. Compare this to the 78% turnout of those over 65.

This is why they don’t speak for you, you are not voting, so they don’t try to win your vote, they won’t think of you when writing policies, they focus of the older groups. I mean, if you were applying for a job would you hand your CV to someone walking past the company you want to work for, or would you try and get it into the hands of the hiring manager. You’d focus on the one who is more likely to hire you, that is exactly what the politicians are doing. So if you vote, and encourage your friends to vote you would boost this statistic and they would start to pay more attention. For the purposes of achieving that, it doesn’t even matter who you voted for, just that you voted, you are a customer they need to win over.

But why should I care?

That is not to say that you shouldn’t care about who you vote for. Have you ever found getting into Uni too expensive. Are the cost of train tickets prohibitive? Is the fact that you get paid a different wage to someone else just because you are younger unfair? These are all political issues.

Have you ever worried about if you can afford to get treated for sickness or injury? If you can pay to see a doctor? That is what is at stake.

Even the quality of the air you breath is political. Do they support you or allow the companies behind the pollution to continue unchallenged.

So voting matters, but being political doesn’t have to stop there. It doesn’t have to be a dirty word, it can be a badge of honour!

So what Can I do?

  • If I haven’t already said it enough, start by voting.
  • Start challenging politicians, emailing your local MP, or even meeting them.
  • Sign petitions and go on protests, it all acts as pressure, and the more they see pressurising, the more they think about their job safety.Brexit Protest, without clearly visible signs
  • Don’t make it easy for a politician, even if you voted for them, to just do what they want. If you disagree you can let them know.
  • You could even stand for election – I’m not joking, at a local parish council level I just voted in two under 20’s. There are even a few younger politicians in parliament and they’re not all weird and unlike you, just passionate. For example, Mhari Black got voted into parliament in 2015, age 20. This was her first speech.
  • Or you can do what I am doing, speak out more. Whether a blog, on Facebook, Youtube video, you can get your voice heard.

These small steps have impact. The more who start making the steps the bigger the impact.

Now if you don’t know who to vote for, or how to register, don’t fret I have you covered, check out my previous post which guides you through and helps you make up your own mind as partisan as I could manage

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Voting in the General Election 2017

I get it, politics can be confusing, you keep getting different messages from family, friends and the media. If only there was a quick and easy way to decide whether to vote and who for. Well congrats, you’ve just found it, in just a few steps (and in less time than it takes to watch one tv episode) you’ll be set.

Here goes …

Palace of Westmister at dusk with clear blue sky

What is the General Election and why has it been called?

The General Election is when you vote for those who represent you at the houses of parliament. The party with the most seats (not votes) tend to win. If a party gets over half of the available seats, it is theirs automatically, if they don’t but they have the most they will be the main party but can form a coalition with other parties to make up the numbers.

The election has been called by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, as they (the Conservative Party) currently do not hold a large majority. This means that it is more challenging to pass bills as if a handful of Conservative MPs disagree with their own party the bill can fail. The Conservative government believe they can increase their majority and thus make it easier to pass the changes they wish to make.

Why should I vote? It never makes a difference to me

You have probably heard all the old sayings of ‘people died for you to have this right’ and ‘people in some countries do not have this luxury’  and well, they’re not wrong. However, it is more than that.

If you feel that the current government (whoever is in power at the time) is not doing a good job, then you vote for someone else. Not voting is as good as an endorsement for them to keep going as they are. Also, particularly if you are 18-24, and feel that they do not represent your concerns, they never will if you do not vote as they have no incentive to try and win your vote. Instead parties focus their attention on the older generations who will be keep them in power / get them into government.

Also; if you have voted, you have a moral right to moan when they are doing a bad job (and it’s fun to moan) and to challenge them to do better. You participated in getting them their job (even if you didn’t vote for them), they work for you, you can find out more about who currently works for you , how they vote on big issues and see if they represent your views.

How do you know if you are registered to vote?

This one is easy – I have already received a Polling Card through the post for this election, so if you have not, you’re probably not registered.

 

How do you register?

Before reading any further, get registered, it’s really simple and also urgent as you only have until the 22nd May to get registered, so don’t put this off.

  • Check your diary for 8th June 2017 (that is when the election takes place) and see where you are / what you are up to.
  • If you are on holiday, in an all day meeting / lecture, or have a really bad hangover and don’t plan to get out of bed (on a Thursday, really!) then you will need a postal vote. This means you get it all over and done with ahead of time and it is pretty darn satisfying. Or you could have someone you trust vote on your behalf, find out more information on Proxy voting here.
  • If you plan to visit your local Polling station (often a community centre or Church, etc. within a few minutes walk from your home), then you can just register as normal.
  • Now stick the date in your phone with a reminder, you don’t want to miss it. Try and set it early, so that you vote before you go to work or Uni, it gets it out of the way and means that you can stay out with friends or head to the pub and not have to get home to vote.

Okay, registered … but who do I vote for? They’re all as bad as each other!

You will have been getting a whole range of different opinions from many different sources, passionate friends and family, the tv, social media, the truth is the only opinion that really matters is yours. Who actually best represents your ideals?

Yes, none of the parties are perfect, there will not be a perfect fit to your beliefs, however think of it like this. You could walk through a cowpat laiden field in Wellington Boots or in Barefeet. Standing in a cowpat is not an ideal scenario and although both options can be cleaned up and improved by you taking action, there is clearly a better of the 2 options. It is the same with the parties, you want to pick the best starting point – you can still hold them to account if elected.Wellington boots in MudFeet in mud

 

 

 

Understand that unlike the US, you are not voting for a personality, you are voting for the party that have the best plan for the country.

Try this short quiz to determine which parties best align with your views (the results may surprise you).

Okay I have my results – now what?

Well it depends on your results and what you believe in. If your top result was the Conservative Party (the party currently in power) and you are happy with what they have done in the past 7 years and what they are planning to do in the next 5, then you can probably stop reading now, you have your answer.

If however, you are an unhappy with your Conservative result, or whose results indicate views to the left of the Conservative party, there are options.

  1. You could vote for the party that best matches your ideals (assuming they are standing in your area (i.e. SNP only stand in Scotland)
  2. You could vote tactically. This might mean that you do not vote for the party with the top score in the quiz you completed, but for one of the other parties who still likely scored better than the Conservatives, but whom stand the best chance to win in your area. Now this will vary for everyone, so just enter your postcode and this site will tell you the best option you have to change the government.
  3. Or you could protest vote, by voiding your vote by drawing a big cross across the whole page. It is still counted as a vote, but indicates that none of the parties were good enough.

Now feel free to use this information to further your research, look closer at manifesto plans, but don’t get bogged down on single issues that are being forced on you, the government impact is wide ranging.

Be aware that media is bias and that algorithms on things like Facebook can mean things become a bit like an echo chamber and you only hear the same message.

But know that your vote really matters and that if you choose to vote tactically you have a real chance at changing the government or at least preventing a majority and ensuring they continue to feel pressure in the decisions that they make.

If this helped, please share with friends and family – especially if they are in the 18-24 year old bracket who really would make a huge difference to the country if they turned out to vote.