In which I seriously contemplate voting Labour

You might find this hard to believe. I was a little bit shocked by it myself. You have to understand the situation I am in. I live in a seat which is, to all intents and purposes, a battle between the SNP and Labour. With a poll this week suggesting that the SNP could win every single seat in Scotland, the unthinkable had to be thought. Should I, could I vote Labour tactically  to try to stop that happening? A large group of SNP MPs primarily motivated by narrow nationalist interests is not something that I think would be healthy for our democracy.

I have voted either SDP or Liberal Democrat in every election since I turned 18 bar two. The first was in the 90s when there was no Lib Dem candidate in my council ward. There wasn’t even an independent. My choice was Tory or Labour. There was no way I could ever in a million years vote Tory, so I had to click my heels three times, cross my fingers behind my back and put my cross next to the Labour candidate. The second was the 1997 election when I didn’t vote at all. When I had headed over to Chesterfield on the Friday before polling day, I rather suspected I might get home before 10pm on polling day. It wasn’t to be. I don’t think Mrs Pankhurst would have minded too much, though, because I was working my backside of in one of the most fantastic campaigns I have ever worked on.

The thought of Scotland sending a contingent of 100% of nationalist MPs elected on barely half the vote was something that deeply disturbed me. they would then claim that they spoke for Scotland, dismissing those who didn’t support them. Don’t get me wrong, there are some issues where I have a lot of common ground with them. However, their nationalism and quest for independence aside, they have a strong authoritarian, illiberal streak which goes against all my instincts. If Labour were the only ones likely to be able to beat them, shouldn’t I hold my nose and just vote Labour?

In the end, though, I couldn’t do it for four reasons:

If the SNP are illiberal and authoritarian, the party who gave us 90 day detention, ID cards and control orders aren’t actually much better. This next Parliament needs the strongest possible contingent of Liberal Democrat MPs to argue against either Theresa May or Yvette Cooper. I would be no better off either way.

Secondly, Scottish Labour are showing absolutely no sign of getting it any time soon. They don’t really understand why they have been usurped as Scotland’s main party. Five years ago, Scotland clung to them as if they were a security blanket to protect them against the Tories. This time, all they’ve got is to try that argument again. They have no compelling narrative and still exude a disturbing sense of entitlement to power, despite having lost every election in Scotland bar one since 2007.

In addition, the pro UK parties all through the referendum, and I’m including us in this, sounded a bit too much at time like a curmudgeonly unionist cabal. Liberal Democrats rose above it a bit, but our distinctive federalist message has been more muted than many activists would have liked.  However, our narrative through this election has been much more edifying than either the despicable antics of the Tories or the dull, business as usual attitude of Labour. I am particularly pleased to see that Willie Rennie and Danny Alexander have roundly condemned the Conservatives’ divisive and damaging campaign. In my view, the ramifications of them setting English nationalism against Scottish nationalism will last way beyond May 7th. The damage to the union will take some fixing.

Thirdly, my Labour MP is distinctly average. He’s responded to correspondence I’ve sent him, sometimes with a little sarcastic jibe about the coalition, but he’s nothing special. I know the SNP candidate from when we were both parliamentary staff – she for Alex Salmond, me for Willie Rennie and I am reassured  that she’s not the cybernat type. Add to that that the Lib Dem candidate is a good friend and I’m his agent and you can see that voting against him becomes much more problematic.

I might have taken a different view had I lived in Paisley. I am no particular fan of Douglas Alexander, but I might have been prepared to string up some garlic round my house and do the heel-clicking, finger crossing thing and vote for him to stop his SNP opponent. I don’t want someone in Westminster who thinks that I, who voted No, is “selfish” and “gullible.”  That wouldn’t be good for anyone.

Whether I could have even done that, though, is up in the air. I’ve not had to make that decision. The most important reason I’m voting Liberal Democrat is that’s where my heart is. In the last five years, our lot have made some howlers that have made we weep with anger and frustration – but they have done a great deal of good. We stepped up in the national interest and governed responsibly. What’s more important is that when the country’s coffers had little in them but a couple of coppers, some polo mints with fluff on them and some random bits of string, we made sure that money was spent on giving opportunities to disadvantaged kids and vulnerable people. I wrote a few weeks ago about why I think this has been the best UK government of my lifetime. Blair and Thatcher didn’t set the bar very high, but still I am very proud of much that our lot has done. Would mental health be at the top of the political agenda if we had been shouting about it from opposition for the past five years.  I think of these kids whose life chances have been improved by starting their education at 2 and by the extra resources given to them in school. These are big things that I wanted to endorse with my cross. Unfortunately, doing so means that it might count for national vote share, but won’t help shape the Parliament.

I’m acutely aware that 11 very special Lib Dem colleagues are asking for tactical votes from Labour and Conservative voters in their seats and that’s fine. I’m not sure I’d ask someone with a 30 year attachment to either party to vote against it although I recognise that they may choose to do so. I know for a fact that there are people travelling into Lib Dem seats in Scotland and working their backsides off who have already voted Labour in their own area. I don’t criticise them for it at all. I totally understand what motivated them to do so.  I came very close to doing the same thing. If I wake up with a nationalist MP who will be bound to do what her leaders tell her whether that conflicts with what’s best for the area or not, I might wish I had. Mind you, if I had sent off my postal vote for Labour and then seen Ed’s ridiculous rock, I would be cringing inside. That thing could well be the moment he threw it all away.

It’s never occurred to me to vote tactically before and it’s been quite an eye-opener. The fact that I, with my deep and abiding commitment to this party, could even contemplate not voting for it is indicative of the seriousness of the situation in Scotland, of the deep divisions which have been created by the referendum. I don’t want to be in this situation again. I really want to see progress towards electoral reform in this parliament so that I can vote with my heart and have it count.

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

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  • Tough call. Voting tactically isn’t just about the two parties, it’s about the two candidates too. If I disliked X and their candidate, I would vote Y to beat them if Y was better than X and Y’s candidate was good. Otherwise vote with your heart.

  • Stephen Harte 3rd May '15 - 8:19pm

    Caron, your post sums up my thinking well. I was very tempted to vote Labour despite also having a fairly uninspiring Labour MP. In the end I appointed as my proxy the local Lib Dem candidate for Edinburgh East – I think we party members really should vote for the party. Saying that, I hope we will see some tactical voting to stem the nationalist tide.

  • Peter Chegwyn 3rd May '15 - 8:30pm

    Stephen Harte – Where I’m campaigning in the NW Highlands, more and more Conservative (and some Labour) supporters are saying they will vote tactically for Charles Kennedy to keep the SNP out. And we’ve even had SNP supporters saying they’ll vote tactically for Charles as the best person for the job.

    There’s nothing wrong with tactical voting. It’s about making your vote count. It’s about casting the most positive vote you can for the best candidate who can win.

    The more Conservative, Labour, SNP & Green supporters who vote for a top-quality Lib. Dem. candidate like Charles Kennedy, the better in my view.

  • As we are the only major party committed to electoral reform we should always vote Lib dem – frankly if i was living in a scotland and didnt have a Lib Dem mp I couldnt give a toss if it was Labour or SNP.

  • I voted a very straight forward tactical vote by post last week..

  • If I lived in an SNP/Lib Dem marginal, I would certainly vote tactically. I’d vote SNP to stop the Lib Dems letting Cameron have his EU referendum.

  • @Caron speaking from experience I’d say don’t do it. You wake up feeling embarrassed and ashamed and then find out you’ve been used.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd May '15 - 8:47pm

    @TCO, I’m not doing it. Ballot is completed and ready to post.

    @Stuart, It may not be a red line, but I doubt we’d allow a party that couldn’t get a majority on a clear EU referendum platform to hold one. I am bruised by Scottish experience in 2007 where we did foolishly make it a red line – and now look where we are.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd May '15 - 8:50pm

    I have felt previously that if I were a voter in Scotland I would vote Labour in Douglas Alexander’s and Jim Murphy’s seat. These are people who I feel I could have a good personal rapport with.

    I also want to praise Yvette Cooper. I know she is a bit of a liberal bogey person, but she has impressed me a lot this parliament. I think she could well be the next Labour leader. She’s better than Andy Burnham.

    Best regards

  • Callum Leslie 3rd May '15 - 9:02pm

    Exactly the conversation I had with my mother the other day, despite being the Lib Dem candidate in my own seat! In the case of Kirkcaldy where Gordon Brown is stepping down we have the choice between an uninspiring, uncharismatic Labour councillor of just three years political experience against the SNP government adviser responsible for the decimation of colleges. Sophie’s choice indeed.

  • Caron, I feel your pain. I have voted Lib Dem in every election since I was given the privilege of the vote. This year I really have found it hard to put the cross in that box. I won’t be voting Lib Dem in the locals but in the general I have cannot not vote for the best candidate.

    So, in the locals I will vote green or spoil my ballot and in the general I will hopefully vote for my next MP.

  • I really do not understand Scottish politics. Could you, Caron, please explain why you say SNP is” illiberal and authoritarian”? You mention Labour’s ” 90 day detention, ID cards and control orders” as not much better; what has SNP done that is comparable? I could understand if the SNP activists are unsavoury types in your or other constituencies, which would engender antipathy at a local level, but we may well have to try to rise above this stuff.

  • Nick Collins 3rd May '15 - 9:26pm

    Wow. LibDems against tactical voting. I guess that you have not been sending out any “squeeze letters” or delivering leaflets with misleading pillar graphs this time, then?

  • @Caron
    I hope you’re right. I hope that Clegg gives a clear answer on this between now and Thursday. If Cameron ends up back in number 10 then I very much wanted the Lib Dems to be there again to rein him in, but if they stand for this, it would hardly seem to make any difference.

    I’m a bit puzzled by all this “red lines” stuff. For five years the general consensus among Lib Dems has been that the biggest mistake re. the NUS pledge was making the pledge in the first place. The gist of Clegg’s apology was that he should never have promised something that he could not guarantee being able to deliver as part of a coalition.

    So how come he can now promise all these red lines? Either he can’t guarantee delivering them – in which case he’s setting himself up for the same kind of fall he did last time; or if he CAN deliver them, then everything he has said about tuition fees for the past five years is shown to be nonsense.

  • Graeme Cowie 3rd May '15 - 9:41pm

    It makes naff all difference if the authoritarian faux leftist wears a yellow or a red rosette. All Lib Dems everywhere should be voting Lib Dem, especially in Scotland, where we need to be a beacon to unaffiliated liberals and to remind them that we’re not going away and we’re not retreating. The fight-back for Holyrood and in council wards everywhere is already happening and that means the message is Lib Dem Lib Dem Lib Dem. Not Unionist. Not Labour or Tory allies. Lib Dem. Anything else writes off 45% of the electorate and condemns us to extinction.

    We win this by being a better vehicle for change for SNP voters, not by mumbling apologetically behind Labour and Tories in the queue.

  • Callum Leslie 3rd May '15 - 9:58pm


    The SNP attempted to introduce a super ID database of their own! They also allowed the police force to be centralised, removing local accountability which led to things like armed officers on patrol as a regular occurrence across the country. The named persons act is another example.

  • I do wonder if the SNP win 100% of the MPs, or even 90% with just 55% of the vote it might just persuade Labour to finally accept that it has to support a fairer voting system? And who knows, maybe constitutional reform in general?
    I think that would be very useful. I have to admit I especially enjoy the prospect of Labour losing all it’s Glasgow MPs, I only wish the same could happen in Yorkshire and some of it’s other northern citadels. There are far too many safe Labour seats where Labour MPs take their voters for granted.

  • @Stuart ”
    So how come he can now promise all these red lines? Either he can’t guarantee delivering them – in which case he’s setting himself up for the same kind of fall he did last time; or if he CAN deliver them, then everything he has said about tuition fees for the past five years is shown to be nonsense.”

    If he can’t deliver them he doesn’t get to be in government.

  • Martin – centralising the police, arming them without making it public, refusing to allow Councils full control of their funding, cutting spending on colleges and forcing them to merge, threatening dissent within the party with immediate removal of the whip….. Need I go on?

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd May '15 - 10:38pm

    Some people seem to be pretty anti tactical voting, but I think the future of “liberalism” depends on not splitting the vote.

    We should have given some candidates a free run in this election, regardless of whether their parties were going to repay the favour. It saves resources and people will appreciate it.

  • Eddie Cunnah 3rd May '15 - 11:06pm

    They will probably abolish the bedroom tax and prevent further privatisation of the NHS, could you cope with this?

  • I also thought about voting Labour. In their campaign they say some things I would like us to be saying. I hate our policy to “balance the budget by 2017” and I believe some of our proposed welfare cuts are not necessary. (I also hate our narrative about being like Greece and that there was no money left. We had no problem raising funds to increase the National Debt and printing money [QE].) In my constituency I believe that Labour will regain second place and has a very small change of winning. However I couldn’t do it either.

    @ Caron
    “we made sure that money was spent on giving opportunities to disadvantaged kids and vulnerable people.”
    Please can you remind me what extra money we found in what programmes for vulnerable people? If we are helping vulnerable people why are some people dying after being sanctioned?

  • Peter Chegwyn 3rd May '15 - 11:17pm

    Eddie Sammon. You’d vote for Jim Murphy? Not if you’d seen him on Scottish TV tonight you wouldn’t! An old-style Labour thug of the worst type.

    And talking of political thugs, Norman Tebbit is urging Tories in the Scottish Highlands to vote tactically for Charles Kennedy who Tebbit says ‘brings joy and happiness into life’. For once Tebbit is right and there are clear signs that Tories in Scotland are lending their votes to Lib. Dem. candidates in key seats to help defeat the SNP.

  • @TCO
    “If he can’t deliver them he doesn’t get to be in government.”

    That’s what he says. What he’ll actually do is a different matter.

    @Keith Legg
    “arming them [the police] without making it public”

    Keith, you really shouldn’t believe everything you hear from Lib Dem politicians! Police Scotland did NOT sneak in a new arms policy without telling anybody. It was in fact public knowledge that this was going to happen months before Police Scotland even came in to existence. See :-

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd May '15 - 11:27pm

    @stuart Hiding something away in a document like that is hardly enabling the sort of public debate that needs to happen before such a major change of policing policy.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd May '15 - 11:36pm

    I have no problem with the abolition of the Bedroom Tax, but I reject the idea that the NHS is being privatised. In fact, Labour wasted a fortune on deals with private companies that were definitely not value for money for the taxpayer. Those are now a thing of the past. Anyone who suggests that the NHS is being privatised is not telling the truth.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd May '15 - 11:58pm

    Oh, Moggy, and huge amounts of garlic, too. And you probably have to click your heels a four figure number of times.

  • @Caron Lindsay 3rd May ’15 – 11:36pm
    “Anyone who suggests that the NHS is being privatised is not telling the truth.”

    Anyone who fails to acknowledge that the coalition government has driven increased privatisation into the NHS is being disingenuous. The Tories have done this with insufficient care for the human costs, for entirely ideological reasons. They would like to carry on in this task. And Clegg would like to see them back in power.

    The King’s Fund report:
    “coalition government’s reforms have resulted in greater marketisation of the NHS but that claims of mass privatisation are exaggerated”

  • WildColonialBoy 4th May '15 - 12:20am

    If the SNP are illiberal and authoritarian, the party who gave us 90 day detention, ID cards and control orders aren’t actually much better

    Labour is hardly the same party with Ed Miliband in the hot seat. And besides, couldn’t it be argued that the Lib Dems are the party who gave us the bedroom tax, tuition fees tripled, doubled unfair dismissal continuity of service requirements, slashed legal aid and introduced tribunal fees, gave a 47,000 pound tax cut to every millionaire and sold off the Royal Mail.

    I don’t think that’s an unfair argument in the sense that Labour itself is a coalition of interests (trade unions, middle-class lefties, ethnic minorities, students etc) and regional voting blocs in the way any large party must be. The liberal wing of the party could argue that New Labour was for them what the 2010-2015 coalition was for the Lib Dems; a toxic mistake. The difference is that Labour has really jettisoned the New Labour legacy and moved in a different direction.

    Can the Lib Dems say the same?

  • We need to save deposits! 500 quid times by hundreds could cause us real problems!

  • WildColonialBoy 4th May '15 - 12:26am


    Are you really denying the huge change in the direction of privatisation that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 is? It’s simply not good enough to say, “But PFI, Iraq, overspending” to any criticism of policy in the coalition.

    I’m very much on the centre wing of the Labour Party, I should be a natural lib dem voter but I simply cannot accept the argument that the Lib Dems were next to powerless as the junior partner; at any time they could have walked out and brought down the government. Lib Dem activists tell me that would have brought in a Tory government but any time from 2011 to early 2014 it actually would have ushered in a Labour government.

    Tuition fees really is a totemic issue because the amounts of money we are talking about are tiny; the Conservatives ultimately did not care about it that much in the scheme of things, and the fact the Lib Dems gave up so easily on it raises questions about how tough they would truly be in another coalition. For people like me, it also stokes the suspicion that coalition with the Tories simply gives centre-right lib dems like Clegg permission to do what he wanted to do anyway (didn’t he say after the election that abolishing tuition fees was an unrealistic policy anyway .. ergo what we did is okay? )

  • WildColonialBoy 4th May '15 - 12:32am

    Oh and just on the issue of electoral reform, if that’s what you want to see then vote Labour

    Labour is going to abolish the House of Lords in the next parliament and replace it with a PR senate of the nations and regions. This will lead to a flowering of British democracy as smaller parties have true representation in the legislature, and at the executive is finally held to account a Commons government will never have an upper house majority and therefore will not be able to force through many unpopular policies as the Lib Dem / Conservative coalition did.

    It will also mean that by retaining the present system for the Commons, we retain local MPs which a PR commons would take away (and STV is a bad system as you need very large constituencies to get any form of proportionality). AV for lower house would be a good system, I wouldn’t mind that.

  • The horse has bolted on this one – but if you are tempted to vote tactically, may I recommend a matching tool such as which allows you to say who you want to vote for, but who you are prepared to vote for in your constituency.

    If you can arrange to swap your vote in this way, you can secure a LD vote where it’s valuable, as well as voting smartly in your own seat

  • I like the wild colonial boys view that you can trust Labour to do anything. Did not vote for Lords reform ,failed to assist amendments to bedroom tax..or are you pulling my leg

  • Russel McPhate 4th May '15 - 8:57am

    Despite being the agent in my Constituency I have toyed with the idea of a tactical vote for Labour more than once in the past few weeks and despite having never voted anything but Liberal Democrat. I know our Labour MP standing for re-election and I know our SNP candidate – both pleasant enough guys if somewhat uninspiring. However, in the end I will vote Liberal Democrat again – I am actually quite pleased to see Labour in Scotland getting the political kicking they have long deserved. I just wish it wasn’t the SNP that were doing it – they are, as Caron says, in policy terms just about bad bad as each other.

  • Well it’s an easy decision for me as tactical voting and voting for my local Lib Dem (Charles Kennedy) amount to the same thing. What would I have done if I still lived in the Western Isles though? That’s where it is not just a question of Party but of personality and whether the previous incumbent has delivered. Lib Dems cannot win there (though I would be sad to see the votes personally built up over the last two Westminster elections lost) so I would have to consider what is the best option. I could not vote for the SNP or the incumbent personally leaving Labour as the only viable option. The candidate has experience, we would be doing the islands a favour even if he hadn’t. I suspect I would be clicking my heels, crossing my fingers and using copious amounts of garlic but in all honesty I do not know for sure. On previous experience I bottled from such a decision and spoilt my ballot (back in the 80’s when no Lib Dem standing) but on this occasion with the stakes much higher………… Whether or not I managed to hold my nose and do it, one thing is for sure, if Labour win the Western Isles seat in the early hours of Friday morning you may hear a quiet cheer from me.

  • I briefly considered voting tactically for Labour but then I remembered the complete inactivity of my Labour candidate during the AV referendum. She clearly believes that MPs should be those who can persuade more people to cast their first preference votes for them than any of the other candidates. So to give her my second preference vote first would be against her wishes. I decided to respect her stance and voted for my first preference candidate, a Liberal Democrat, instead.

  • Jane Ann Liston 4th May '15 - 10:09am

    Margaret Curran has just been on Radio Scotland. In the aftermath of the Scottish Leaders shindig last night, she more than once referred to the SNP saying they would vote against a Labour Queen’s Speech or a Labour Budget were it not to their fancy, yet she never went on to deliver the killer logical conclusion, i.e. the SNP would therefore be supporting the Tories. I think Jim Murphy, despite his footballing skills, also failed to even spot this open goal. Utterly hopeless!

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 4th May ’15 – 10:00am
    “…The died in the wool party supporter, on the other hand, would want to vote for their own party, even if they are sure to lose. They are two good reasons for this: one to show that their party has support locally; the second is to save the deposit.”

    I would suggest that there is a third good reason. To register support for the aims and values of the party as a marker for the future.
    The 2015 General Election is the day after tomorrow, the day after that we have to start rebuilding the party and thinking about the next election.

  • JohnTilley 4th May ’15 – 10:20am ….. The 2015 General Election is the day after tomorrow,

    Aren’t you getting to the polling booth a little early?.

  • Don’t those being sniffy about voting tactically for Labour in Scotland not feel it’s a bit hypocritical given how hard the Lib Dems are appealing for Labour tactical votes (again) to hold on to many of their seats in England?

  • @Caron
    “Hiding something away in a document like that is hardly enabling the sort of public debate that needs to happen before such a major change of policing policy.”

    Caron, you are factually wrong on this.

    The article in The Scotsman I linked to in the other thread was published in December 2012 – over three months before Police Scotland even came in to existence. It contains quotes from DCC Iain Livingstone who was completely frank about what was being proposed. In what sense is announcing something in the national press months in advance “hiding” something away?

    There was also the Scottish Police Authority document I linked to from March 2013 which again is very clear about the proposal for a standing authority to carry arms. How can you describe this as being “hidden away”? Does the Lib Dem member on the SPA authority, for whom the document was prepared, not bother to read such important stuff? This was a tale of Lib Dem incompetence rather than police secrecy.

  • expats 4th May ’15 – 10:32am
    Aren’t you getting to the polling booth a little early?.

    Vote early, vote often. 🙂

  • I live in Clegg’s seat and will be voting tactically…. to remove Clegg.

  • Nigel Cheeseman 4th May '15 - 11:17am

    Smashing Labour to smithereens in Scotland can only be done by the SNP. As unpalatable as the SNP are (and in a straight choice between them and UKIP I’d vote UKIP) a significant opposition to them needs to develop. That won’t be Labour, as apart from the question of the Union, they’re the same thing. Our party needs every vote it can get, in every constituency, in order to survive.

    In my view, eventually independence for Scotland will happen. This will mainly be due to the gross ineptitude of all the parties which oppose it. Even with PR, there will be one party which emerges as the main opposition to the SNP. That could be the Liberal Democrats, providing our party stops doing things which are electorally suicidal.

  • @Jackson are you a party member?

  • Nick Collins 4th May '15 - 11:45am

    “@Jackson are you a party member?”

    Whether he is or not, he’ll be doing the party a service.

  • @Nick Collins only in your op

  • If he is then his local party should be reading up on its disrepute procedures

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 4th May '15 - 11:50am

    @stuart: it was brought in with scant public consultation and was absolutely wrong. The reason it has been changed is because of the Liberal Democrats doing what we do and standing up for civil liberties.

  • @ TCO
    “If he is then his local party should be reading up on its disrepute procedures”

    The people who have brought the party into disrepute are our MPs who failed to keep their tuition fee pledge.

    I think you are looking at the wrong rule. Voting for another party is not bringing the party into disrepute. However members are not allowed to support another political party. Can someone vote for someone from another party but not support that political party?

    (Can you [TCO] answer a question from me?
    (I have answered a personal question from you recently.)
    Do you believe the solutions libertarianism offers especially with regard to economics and the size of the state are the best solutions for the whole population?)

  • @Caron
    I’m not so much interested in the rights and wrongs of armed police as in the fact that Lib Dems did nothing for about a year after the information was out in the public domain – and then accused the police of acting in secrecy. It was wrong.

  • Those who argue that we are wrong to argue against tactical voting when advocating it ourselves – ie we shoudnt vote lab to keep out snp but lab should vote for us to keep out the tories — have completely missed the point. The only reason tactical voting is needed in the 1st place is because of our electoral system. We want to change it – Tories dont and Labour dont – Simple – vote Lib Dem

  • Nick Collins 4th May '15 - 12:59pm

    @ david. I have never seen a bar chart or squeeze leaflet whose message was “vote tactically in order to get electoral reform”. The message, invariably, has been “vote for x because (s)he is the only candidate here who can beat y”.

    Your message does, as you say, have the virtue of simplicity; i.e. “vote tactically when it helps elect a LibDem, but don’t do it to help anyone else”. Simplicty is,of course, its only virtue.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 4th May '15 - 1:03pm

    @stuart We should stop discussing this as it’s well off topic for this thread, What is clear is that as soon as Lib Dems were aware of it, we were on it and we got it stopped.

  • @MichaelBG I answered on another thread. No.

  • @MichaelBG perhaps you’ll also answer a question. Do you think a system of policy determination that relies on self selected representatives is democratic?

  • @MichaelBG “Can someone vote for someone from another party but not support that political party?”

    No. Voting for a candidate of another party is de facto supporting that party against our party where we are also standing a candidate. If that candidate is an independent the same rule applies.

  • Stevan Rose 4th May '15 - 1:38pm

    I have already voted tactically in the council election for the only candidate that can shift the incumbent waste of space. In the General Election, even though my local candidate has been invisible, my LD vote will go on the national tally at least

  • Stevan Rose 4th May '15 - 1:47pm

    “No. Voting for a candidate of another party is de facto supporting that party against our party where we are also standing a candidate. If that candidate is an independent the same rule applies.”

    I disagree. My de facto choice of councillor is either Labour or Tory. Whilst I would love to have a credible and electable Lib Dem to vote for, that isn’t the case right now. So it is matter of comparing the records of the candidates that might win and lending my vote to the one I think will serve the interests of my ward best. So I get my second choice not my third. I am not supporting the 2nd choice but trying to thwart the chances of the 3rd choice.

  • WildColonialBoy 4th May '15 - 2:53pm

    @Bob Sayer

    Labour did not vote against Lord reform, they voted against the programme motion and argued for more debate.

    Probably more important is that if Lords reform had gone through, the Lib Dems had promised to vote for a Conservative gerrymandering of the Commons that would have delivered them a majority at this election.

    All in all, I prefer PR senate in the next parliament under a Lab/SNP bloc than a Conservative government.

    Re bedroom tax, Labour’s policy is to repeal it; simple as that. Why should they amend a policy they fundamentaly disagree with (particularly given the Lib Dems would troop through the lobbies to support it anyway under the coalition agreement)?

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th May '15 - 4:30pm

    I live in a constituency where the Lib Dem candidate remains in a poor third position. If I want to add my single X to those who wish to remove the sitting candidate – who doesn’t believe in anything other than FPTP, so remains MP for as long as [s]he wants to stand – I will have made a tactical vote which might, just might, elect someone who could consider PR. For me, going to the polling station to make a single X has become a totally boring and virtually irrelevant event after all the thinking I do about every election. Actually, I don’t consider the current electoral system fit for purpose. It is antiquated and irrelevant in a modern society of diverse opinions which is likely to return coalitions – as most other European countries do. But the two bigger parties of UK love it as it is, so they can return to Westminster now and again to overturn what the previous party has put into law. Can this be modern democracy? Just think what the Tories would have done if they had not been restrained a little during 2010-15. For Lib Dems to put the Tories back in power again will never be forgiven by me and countless other Lib Dems, and restraining them will be harder and harder as we can see their right wing is becoming ever more vindictive. Remember our origins of supporting all sections of society against the rich land owners – who have somehow conned a section of the middle classes to vote for the rich who boss them about and pay for their votes. Who has come out of the recession better off by far? The same money-grabbing people who took us into the recession. So you can guess that my tactical vote will not be for more Tories but will hope those Labour members of the ERS will see a future without Tory government and work for PR in England [preferably STV]. We have to fight for a fair electoral system while the Tories are not in power – and many LDs hope it is coming this week. It will come – if our reduced number of Lib Dem MPs refuse to join the Tories in government. If we join the Tories again, our party can never recover to fight for all sections of society and will be absorbed into the parties of the right – turning its back on our origins. ‘Centrist party’ in UK means ‘soft’ money-grabbling, ‘soft’ victimisation – and turns citizen upon citizen, for one to win and the other to lose. A tactical vote hope for a better future for everyone not just for the few.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th May '15 - 4:34pm

    Oops: ‘Centrist party’ in UK means ‘soft’ money-grabbing, ‘soft’ victimisation – and turns citizen upon citizen, for one to win and the other to lose. A tactical vote hopes for a better future for everyone not just for the few.

  • Jane Ann Liston 4th May '15 - 5:37pm

    Dear WCB

    ‘Re bedroom tax, Labour’s policy is to repeal it; simple as that. ‘

    Including for private tenancies?

  • Eddie Sammon would vote for Yvette Cooper???? So, on the Milistone, where it says Labour will sort out the housing issues, what did she do as minister? Nothing. Its one thing voting for someone new who may or may not deliver. Voting for someone who could have made a big positive difference but didnt, on an issue that Labour now see as important enough to carve into stone, that is masochist

  • Reports say around half of all Tories in Sheffield Hallam are voting for Nick Clegg.

    I wonder if they’ll be suffering the same kind of angst as Caron and other would-be tactical voters here?

  • @Stuart 4th May ’15 – 6:42pm

    “I wonder if they’ll be suffering the same kind of angst as Caron and other would-be tactical voters here?”

    No, I think they’ll sleep soundly enough.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th May '15 - 7:19pm

    Alistair, I don’t think I would vote for her regardless, but she is one of the candidates I can think of who I would want the party to give a “free run” to.

    When it comes to crime, immigration, terrorism, I’m basically in agreement with her. I think she cares about civil liberties in a way that Theresa May doesn’t. I don’t think she should be lumped into the illiberal bracket with Theresa May, personally.

  • I wonder what the activists attempting to squeeze tactical votes for Lib Dem’s elsewhere will make of this thread? This also shows why AV was such a rubbish choice to offer people. Most of us only have one preference, then some least worst options. In fact sometimes telling the least worst from the remainder of bad options is, as Caron has found, sometimes impossible.

  • Nick Collins 4th May '15 - 8:24pm

    “Reports say around half of all Tories in Sheffield Hallam are voting for Nick Clegg.” Only half?

    I can understand why a Tory might want to see Clegg re-elected. What I cannot understand is why a LibDem would want that. But that’s probably why I am no longer a LibDem; where Clegg leads, I will not follow.

  • @Nick Collins 4th May ’15 – 8:24pm

    ‘“Reports say around half of all Tories in Sheffield Hallam are voting for Nick Clegg.” Only half?’

    The other half are One Nation Tories.

  • @ Steve Way
    “This also shows why AV was such a rubbish choice to offer people. Most of us only have one preference, then some least worst options”

    If this was true then people would not either consider or actually vote tactically. As people do vote for their second and sometimes their third preference this means that a preferential voting system would work. To think otherwise is to think that the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland are very different from people living in the rest of the UK.

  • Caron, You seem, with your comments on people tactically voting Conservative, to be in breach of your request to remain polite. As one of your hated Conservatives I am seriously reassessing whether or not to give my vote to Christine
    Jardine in Gordon. Well played.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th May '15 - 9:44pm

    Margaret, I don’t think I have said anything about people tactically voting Conservative. I am angry with the Conservative campaign, stoking up the fire between England and Scotland to try to scare voters in middle England into voting Tory. I think that such tactics merit the language that I used. It’s aimed at Lynton Crosby and the Tory strategists, not voters in Gordon or anywhere else.

    Some of my best relatives are Conservatives – and to my utter amazement, one is even contemplating voting Labour tomorrow, something I never, ever thought I’d see.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 6th May '15 - 11:22pm


    Yet again you have my respect for your candor.

    Having lived in predominantly Tory areas most of my life, I am well used to tactitical voting, and as a result see nothing wrong with this, for my foremost desire has always been to remove the Conservatives from power.

    Having already voted for Judith Bunting back in Newbury and West Berkshire, this year I am in Scotland for Election Day assisting Pramod Subbaraman and his great team in Edinburgh South, whilst my EMLD colleagues are doing likewise scattered across other parts the country, for we are keen to see how we can positively assist further in the 2016 Scottish, Welsh and London Elections.

    No matter the predictions, what I suspect will be true is that, in a little under eight hours a memorable day in history be made wherever one is in the UK.

    EMLD wishes all LibDem candidates good fortune on 7th May, and I personally look forward to meeting up with LibDem colleagues at the Edinburgh count tomorrow evening when hopefully the negative polls have been proven to be wrong with regard to our Party.

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats

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