Tiverton & Honiton: Observer and Davey call for tactical voting

The Observer leader column today calls for voters in Tiverton and Honiton to vote tactically for the Lib Dems and voters to tactically vote for Labour in Wakefield.

In an editorial that does not pull its punches, the Observer describes Conservative MPs who voted to keep Boris Johnson in office as “morally myopic and politically foolish”.

“A double whammy of byelection defeats will frighten Conservative MPs in red wall seats and those traditionally true blue. A scare, the bigger the better, is exactly what the Tories need before this government slithers into even worse degeneracy.”

The newspaper says there is no shame in tactical voting. While “political outcomes are distorted by an antique and unfair first-past-the-post electoral system”, voting tactically is the only way to mobilise “the anti-Tory majority”.

The Tories are running scared and Johnson is running so scared he flew to Ukraine rather than face his own Red Wall MPs on Friday. But nothing is certain until the votes have been counted. It is time for that final push.

Saying that Conservative MPs “flunked the opportunity to evict a profoundly unpopular and deeply discredited prime minister who broke the law and then lied about it to parliament”, the Observer said that since the no confidence vote, ”we have been provided with an accumulation of further evidence that they were morally myopic and politically foolish to allow Boris Johnson to carry on squatting in the office he has so debased.”

But two groups of voters are in a privileged position. The voters of Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton. Both by-elections are being held because their MPs resigned in disgrace, echoes of North Shropshire there. Beyond that, they are very different.

“The surest guarantee of defeating [the Conservatives] is for all non-Tory voters to get behind the progressive party with the best chance of winning. In Devon, that means voting for the Liberal Democrats. To win, they need to demolish a huge Conservative majority. They showed themselves capable of doing that before Christmas when they took North Shropshire. In the climactic days of campaigning, the Lib Dems will be flooding Tiverton and Honiton with hundreds of activists. The result could be close. Labour and Green supporters should recognise that a vote for their first preference will effectively be half a vote in favour of Johnson continuing in office.”

The Observer urges voters to head Ed Davey’s call and back Richard Foord tactically:

“We urge supporters of other non-Tory parties to get behind the Lib Dem candidate to be sure the constituency issues the rebuke Conservative MPs so richly deserve…

“There is no shame in tactical voting. For as long as political outcomes are distorted by an antique and unfair first-past-the-post electoral system, voting tactically is the only way to mobilise the anti-Tory majority. Keir Starmer and Davey have been encouraging tactical voting by sensibly focusing their parties’ energies where each is best placed to punish the Conservatives.”

The Independent reports that a double by-election defeat this week will pile further pressure on Boris Johnson’s leadership. Or rather lack of leadership. At a crucial time when the Red Wall is about to crack, Johnson flew to Ukraine on Friday to meet President Zelenskyy rather than attend the inaugural meeting of the Northern Research Group. It is perhaps true that Ukraine is probably the only place where the embattled Johnson has positive approval ratings but announcing troop training was the stuff of a Zoom call. However, that is not sufficiently photogenic for showman Johnson, who seems to be developing a habit of flying off when the going gets tough.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Mick Taylor 21st Jun '22 - 6:50am

    I really hope we will beat the Tories in 2 days time. The UK is totally going to pot with this government.

  • Yeovil Yokel 21st Jun '22 - 4:52pm

    If we win Tiverton & Honiton it won’t bring down monstrous Johnson and his terrible government. But if the Tories retain the seat it will boost the Johnson regime and prolong the country’s agony. That’s one of the main reasons why we must try to win.

    On Sunday at 4:00pm there were people still queueing at the door of the Honiton HQ wanting to sign up to help; it was quite humbling to see the effort people were prepared to expend and the distances they were prepared to travel to try and get Richard Foord elected. There was even a Labour member down for the day from Yorkshire, and he seemed to be enjoying the buzz of activity (and perhaps picking up a few useful tips).

    Thursday’s going to be a particularly long and exhausting day, but I doubt I’ll be able to sleep well during the early hours of Friday!

  • David Evans 21st Jun '22 - 5:47pm

    Actually YY, and bearing in mind what I have heard about Somerset election celebrations, I don’t think you will be able to sleep for days after the result!

    All the best.

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