A straight choice? Does this squeeze message hold water?

Under our First Past the Post voting system, the squeeze message is a legitimate one, used by all parties when it’s to their benefit.

Voting for the third (or lower) placed party in the seat is, they all argue, a wasted vote. Those lower placed parties will say otherwise, but it’s a fair tactic. Lib Dems would say that under a better voting system, tactical voting wouldn’t be needed.

But in this election we’re seeing a new twist on the theme from the Labservatives, and it’s a bit of a stretch to see how it could be honest or legitimate.

Take the neighbouring constituencies of Withington and Cheadle in Greater Manchester.

Withington is a Lib Dem/Labour marginal, held by Lib Dem MP John Leech since 2005. The Conservatives managed just over 10% of the vote last time round, so whatever happens in the South Manchester suburb, it’s not going to make the slightest difference to the number of seats Cameron commands in the Commons.

Labour want local voters to think otherwise. David Cameron, they tell us, is desperate for more Lib Dem MPs.

David Cameron wants you to vote Lib Dem

But Cameron isn’t the only party leader sweet on the Lib Dems. In neighbouring Cheadle constituency, voters are being told that it’s Gordon Brown who’ll be dancing in the streets if the Lib Dems win.

Cheadle’s been Lib Dem since 2001 and Labour lost their deposit last time it was fought, so the chances of what happens in Cheadle giving Labour any more or fewer MPs would appear to be slim.

Not so, according to the Conservatives. They’re telling voters that Cheadle’s “A straight choice” between their man and Gordon Brown. They claim that a vote for Mark Hunter, the sitting Lib Dem MP, is a vote for Gordon Brown.

A straight choice

Cheadle Conservatives daringly claim that

At the next General Election there are only two possible outcomes.  Either your local Conservative candidate, Ben Jeffreys, will be elected as part of David Cameron’s Conservative Government, or we’ll have five more years of Gordon Brown.

Can’t see any holes in that argument.

So, to recap, the suggestion is that not only Nick Clegg but also Gordon Brown and David Cameron are all desperate for more Lib Dem MPs to be elected – something which will simultaneously result in both a Labour and a Conservative majority government after May 6th.

Or is it a little more plausible than more Lib Dem MPs means more influence for the Lib Dems and more chance of getting Lib Dem policies like te £700 tax cut for people on low and middle incomes and smaller class sizes?

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12 Comments

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Apr '10 - 10:21pm

    “… it’s a bit of a stretch to see how it could be honest or legitimate.”

    The words “pot” and “kettle” spring immediately to mind…

  • “This is why we mustn’t reform the electoral system” said a Labservative spokesperson this afternoon, “we in the Labservatives haven’t got the hang of how the current one works yet. Bring in a new one and we’d be really confused.”

  • There is a grain of truth in both the Labservative claims, though not in either of these seats. But voting Lib Dem in Lab-Con micromarginals is not the best way of removing Brown’s Commons majority in these seats- that is voting Tory. Conversely, in Lab-Con marginals where Labour start 10+ ahead, the best way to block a Tory majority is to vote Labour.

  • David Allen 4th Apr '10 - 11:09pm

    It’s taking off…. will Hugh become Britain’s first genuine Labservative MP?

  • Jessica Ashman 4th Apr '10 - 11:54pm

    As long as the lib dems refuse to tell the public who they will support if the is a hung parliament these are both entirely legitimate arguments. If you don’t like it you have the power to stop it. Whats it going to be?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Apr '10 - 9:59am

    Iain

    Have I missed something? Is Nick Clegg going to hold a separate vote on May 6th so that the people can decide what he should do in a hung parliament?

  • Malcolm Todd 5th Apr '10 - 10:04am

    Jessica – parliament isn’t an electoral college. Lib Dem MPs will support Lib Dem policies. More Lib Dem MPs means more chance of getting Lib Dem policies enacted. It’s quite simple, really.

  • Some people have no concept of what a multi party democracy should be. If the Lib Dems decided to support one party or another before the election they would be accepting the fallacy that there are only two answers to every problem. When obviously there are only three answers 🙂

    Seriously, to paraphrase a great quote there are a lot of simple answers to complex problems and all of them are wrong – supporting Lab or Con now would be a simple but wrong answer.

  • Sgt Skepper 6th Apr '10 - 12:05pm

    I am a constituent of Manchester, Withington and am constantly getting these patronising leaflets through from Labour and they just consistently make me less likely to vote for them. It reached another level last week when we even got a letter from no other than Ed Milliband telling us not to vote Lib Dem because that would be a vote for David Cameron or something. It’s infuriating.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Apr '10 - 1:08pm

    Iain

    Well, I’m all ears. How on earth does Nick Clegg “keeping all options open” during an election campaign and then supporting one of the other parties – quite possibly the one with the smaller popular vote – equate to “the people deciding who gets to form the government”?

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