Edinburgh West profile: Labour candidate accepts that voters will vote tactically to defeat the SNP

Radio 4’s PM programme covered Edinburgh West the other night and the profile was surprising in some ways. The Labour candidate, Mandy Telford, was pretty candid about tactical voting to stop the SNP:

Labour is out there fighting for every vote but ultimately we are dead set against the SNP and their desire to have an unwanted second divisive independence referendum. That’s the message we are getting back on the doorsteps very strongly. People will use their votes in whatever way they want to defeat the SNP.

It’s a cleverly crafted comment. She’s obviously not endorsing any other candidate but she’s summed up the reality of the situation on the ground pretty well.

People want a decent MP who will champion what is important to them and fight their corner. In Edinburgh West they know that Lib Dems deliver on that score. They are also highly motivated to get the SNP and to do whatever it takes to do so. Here and elsewhere I have been staggered by the intensity of people’s desire to see the back of the nationalists for all sorts of reasons. It’s primarily independence, but they are also sick fed up of falling school standards and an NHS lurching from one crisis to another.

Our Christine Jardine had this to say.

People are looking for the party who are more likely to beat the SNP and in this election stopping that independence bandwagon is the most important thing.

Conservative and Labour voters recognise it’s the Liberal Democrats who can beat the SNP.

That was certainly backed up by two Tory voters who were interviewed saying that they were voting Lib Dem.

The SNP’s candidate said with no trace of irony:

This General Election is not about independence.

Yes, Toni, so that’ll be why your First Minister is bringing in legislation for another independence referendum that there is no demand for.

He went on to say:

The unionist parties bang on about independence more than the SNP. We are getting on with the day job.

It was radio, so we couldn’t see if he had a straight face or not, but with the mental health strategy being 450 days late, with kids having to wait up to 600 days to even be seen (think of that as a proportion of your education), literacy and numeracy in crisis and climate change targets being routinely missed, they clearly haven’t got a handle on the day job.

No doubt the SNP conspiracy theorists will have this down as another example of BBC bias but it was a fairly accurate reflection of what we are seeing on the ground. Have a listen to the whole segment here.

The SNP are fighting this hard, though. There is no room for over-confidence and we will need to push as hard as we can for every vote over the next 20 days. We need as much help as possible. If you want to help one of our best prospects with a fantastic candidate, you can find out everything you need to know here.

Lib Dems from all over the country have been pitching up to help. The campaign has a real buzz about it and even today’s downpours couldn’t dent our determination to get out there. Later in the afternoon the sun came out, but even after an hour and a half of sunshine, I was still pretty soggy. And those in other parts of the constituency were still being rained on.

Some people didn’t have the sense to put on a coat.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • It’s interesting as a campaign strategy that the Lib Dems are not really fighting on UK issues or even policy issues but as Caron says just “want to get the SNP”. If so why bother voting Lib Dem, why not just vote Tory? Is that why the Lib Dems seem still to be languishing in the polls?

  • ” why not just vote Tory” well if the Tory has no chance locally, then it would let in the SNP!

  • Exactly. Because if you vote Tory in Edinburgh West, you’ll get the SNP. This is a tactic aimed at Tory and Labour voters who want to minimise the number of SNP MPs at Westminster, which is pretty much all Scottish Tory and Labour voters.

    Labour and the Tories disagree on many things, but both agree that a large number of SNP MPs is bad for Scotland. Many Scots think that the short-term damage of another Tory government is the lesser evil compared with the long-term damage of nationalism.

    In Scotland, probably more so than in the rest of the UK, national polling %ages will not be reflective of the number of seats gained & lost. We have a good chance of winning more seats than Labour in Scotland with less votes.

    And of course it’s time for the mandatory pointing out that we are only faced with this voting and campaigning dilemma because FPTP is not fit for purpose.

  • The numpty keyboard strategists are out in force again today *sigh*. Please all of you, either shut up or get out there to your nearest target seat and work.

  • Chasing tactical votes is like seeking to win the battle and lose the war, it’s a dead end. Parties need solid principles and voters who vote for them because of those principles, anything else will collapse easily.

  • Thomas Robinson 21st May '17 - 4:45pm

    It is obvious from UK wide polls that the Lib Dems are making no progress in the UK as a whole compared to 2015.

    It is entirely possible that the Lib Dems may win this seat and a few others in Scotland based on the votes of those who do not really support the Lib Dems.

    They will certainly have fewer seats (in the whole of the UK) in Westminster than the SNP.

    What will be the influence of these few Lib Dems for the people of Scotland-nothing except to de facto assist the Conservatives in denying democracy to the people of Scotland.

  • Extraordinary to see the SNP attack us for ‘not fighting on UK issues’. A touch of pot/kettle there! And of course the LDs are indeed fighting on UK issues: we have a manifesto full of them. This particular article is about tactical voting because it reports something the Labour candidate has said.
    Of course I can understand how the SNP would be feeling sore about EdinbWest. They screwed up badly there last time by selecting an awfully flawed candidate who has been so consumed with her own legal problems that she hasn’t been doing the job. Even they had to abandon her in the end. Christine Jardine will be a terrific MP.

  • @Fiona

    “Many Scots think that the short-term damage of another Tory government is the lesser evil compared with the long-term damage of nationalism.”

    Presumably you see no long term damage in the British nationalism of the Tories? So really you should be advising all Lib Dems to vote Tory as you are unlikely on current polling to do more than hold on to the Northern Isles (although that looks far from certain).

  • Richard Underhill 30th May '17 - 11:32am

    The SNP deputy leader was on TV this morning clarifying what his leader had said.
    If re-elected to Westminster they will vote against austerity in the Commons, but have no wish to be part of the governance of the UK, not in coalition with Labour, not anyway, they are Scottish nationalists.

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