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January 08, 2005

Labour vote trading

John Harris looks at the alternatives for dissafected Labour voters in today's Guardian. Harris is pretty dismissive of all them but grudgingly suggests that tactical voting is possible. However, he seems to think it pretty unsophisticated.

What he doesn't discuss (and may not be aware of) is vote trading. As I have previously noted in the US, Ralph Nader voters would promise to vote Kerry (and before him Gore) in swing states to prevent giving votes to Bush. In return, a Dem would vote Nader in a safe Democrat or Republican state. Effectively, therefore, it is allowing preferential voting.

With a likely General Election in the UK in May, does anyone know of plans to set up a 'LabourTrader' site? This is where disaffected Labour voters in tight Labour/Conservative constituencies who don't wish to see a Tory win but wish to register a protest at New Labour could vote Labour in the expectation that their 'pair' in a non-Labour seat votes for the Lib Dems where the vote will stand a better chance of helping beat a Tory than a Labour vote would. Both people in the pair should 'win'.

It's not a perfect idea - trust is crucial, but it does go someway to coordinating more tactical voting. Of course, in the US there have been accusations that such schemes are illegal - they may be here in the UK too.

However, there is time to set up something along these lines (assuming Mr B doesn't announce a snap election tomorrow in the Mail on Sunday) and it might, just might assauge some troubled consciouses and maintain a progressive political agenda at the same time.

January 8, 2005 in Politics | Permalink


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I belong to Edinburgh South Stop-the-War Coalition who have launched a campaign to encourage tactical voting in this constituency in order to unseat Nigel Griffiths (Labour) who is a staunch and jingoistic supporter of Blair's policy on Iraq.This is a marginal constituency, especially because of the Scottish boundary changes and unseating Griffiths is an achievable objective.

My belief is that Blair will get back in with a big majority; the beauty of replacing a pro-war M.P.with an anti-war M.P. is that Blair's majority is reduced by 2!! I guess that a pro-war M.P. is probably going to vote for Blair on a lot of other unpleasant measures that Blair wants to introduce.Tactical voting is therefore relevant for peopel with concerns about the direction this government is going generally.

Way back in November, Mark Seddon wrote a spot-on article called "Awakening the dead" suggesting tactical voting and also suggesting a similar website to MoveOn.org, which in the US elections helped among other things to get enough voters out to win Wisconsin for Kerry. It would be great if a similar organisation were to be set up in this country.

The idea of getting a movement going to use tactical voting to send a message to Blair pops up in various places all the time. It appears still to be only among grass roots groups or individuals.But this could be a movement that gathers momentum.

Will someone take this on? Such a lot is at stake.

Jackie Carothers.

Posted by: jackiecarothers | Feb 9, 2005 9:24:41 AM