There are plenty of clever ways to make your point at the ballot box – even if you live next door to Theresa May, says Eleanor Marriott
Polling day is rapidly approaching and it’s time for us all to decide who we are going to vote for. There are so many factors at play in this election that the choice isn’t such an easy one as voting for your favourite party. Maybe your priority is to try to stop Brexit, or at least a hard Brexit. Or you just want to ensure that your constituency, or indeed your country, doesn’t become or remain Conservative. You only get one vote and you really don’t want to waste it. So here’s an overview of all the information and organisations out there help you add some oomph to your x.
1 Sign up for the Progressive Alliance
This campaign group is encouraging collaboration and tactical voting to try to keep the Tories out. Just go to their website and type in your postcode and they will instantly advise you on which party to vote for to try to stop the Conservatives winning, or holding, the seat. It may mean putting your personal party allegiances aside but the reasoning is that any party (bar of course UKIP), or a collaboration between parties, is better for the progressive agenda than having another Conservative term. progressivealliance.org.uk
2 Swap your vote
Does your party not stand a chance in your area? Then consider signing up for Swap My Vote online – simply type in your postcode, declare who your allegiance is with and, conversely, who you are prepared to vote for if someone in return votes for your chosen party in their area. The website will then bring up a list of possible takers, including their constituency and a breakdown of the latest poll predictions, so that you find your perfect partner with whom to swap votes.
Swapping votes only works in some areas. For example if the Conservative Party has a strong lead in your constituency and all the other parties are lagging pretty far behind, you will be hard stretched to find someone willing to swap votes with you because the result is pretty much a done deal anyhow. But in areas where two parties are neck and neck it can be very effective.
For example, if I was willing to vote Labour in my constituency (whose predicted result is too close to call between the Lib Dem candidate and the Labour one) and ‘Fred’ , a Labour voter in Carshallton and Wallington will vote on my behalf for his local Liberal Democrat, who is currently three points behind the Conservative candidate in the polls with Labour trailing far behind, I will be happy because I may be able to get a Lib Dem MP elected in Carshalton and Wallington and Fred will be happy because Labour may win in my area. As my priority is to keep the Tories out I don’t really mind whether I vote Labour or Lib Dem anyway, but if Fred rewards me for voting Labour by helping to gain a Lib Dem victory where he is I will feel more empowered.
Vote-swapping is totally legal, built on trust and based on the assumption that both swappers will not find their pencil veering towards their favourite party come polling day. If you want to find someone to swap with just don’t leave it to the last minute to organise, as you have to wait 24 hours to see if your proposed swapper agrees before trying elsewhere if you’re unlucky.
3 Take a stand against Brexit
Remember Gina Miller, the lady who successfully held Theresa May to account in court for not wanting to allow MPs a debate and vote on the triggering of Article 50 in Parliament? Well, she has popped up again, with a crowdfunding campaign resulting in the establishment of the Best for Britain campaign. This basically consists of a website with similar aims of the Progressive Alliance, though the main emphasis is one of stopping a hard Brexit. So it will be in favour in the foremost of MPs who voted against the triggering of Article 50 at the Parliamentary debate, and secondly of candidates who may be able to prevent a Conservative landslide, with the reasoning that the smaller Theresa May’s majority, the less able she will be to push through during the Brexit negotiations in Europe. So if your number one priority is to turn back the clock on Brexit, then this is the place for you.
4 Work out the least-worst option
You may find that you are effectively being strong-armed to vote tactically in your area whether you want to or not, as your preferred party may have decided not to stand in constituencies where they feel that they will split the opposition. UKIP has taken this stance in a lot of seats because the main thing that they were originally campaigning for – Brexit – will happen if the Conservatives stay in power anyhow. (In fact, many are arguing that the Conservative Party is now effectively UKIP under another name).
The Green Party has taken a similar approach by, for example, not putting up a candidate in Southampton. The Conservatives won by a mere whisker at the last election, gaining 3.2% more votes than the Labour Party. The Greens took 2.6% of overall votes, so their reasoning is that if they don’t stand then those votes are likely to go to the Labour Party, giving them a stronger chance of beating the Conservative candidate this time. If you find that your chosen party is missing from your ballot sheet, just go with the flow taking solace by the fact that you might go down in history as a voter that helped prevent the predicted whitewash for the Tories.
5 Check if you’re one of the 48
I’m not talking about the 48%. Is your constituency one of the 48 where the combined votes of the opposition outnumber votes for Conservative? If you want to keep the Tories out, you are advised by the Guardian newspaper to vote for the biggest opposition party in these constituencies. You can check here if your constituency counts.
6 Become a swinger
Alternatively you can find out if you’re in a marginal constituency (i.e. one where a swing from one party to another is a distinct possibility) by visiting the Election Polls website electionpolling.co.uk/tactical-voting, which tells you whether you should consider voting tactically to help create that swing. This site differentiates itself from the others I’ve listed in that it is neutral. Apparently, not everyone hates the Conservatives!
7 Make student votes count
Students don’t have much to be happy about these days – what with tuition fees and Brexit – but they do have one thing going for them. They are allowed to register for two constituencies to vote – their home one and also wherever they are studying (this is because the elections are taking place just at that time when term may or may not have ended).
I suspect the Conservatives, knowing that students generally vote Labour, were hoping to catch them out by making it inconvenient for them to vote. But not only have over 90% of students registered to vote for this election, they can they cover both bases and in doing so have a tactical advantage by placing their vote where it is more effective. For example, suppose your home constituency is a true blue one but their university one is borderline between the Tories and Labour. A smart student would cast their vote in the latter one! This useful website is specifically set up for students to help them use their vote wisely http://ge2017.com/students
So those are pretty much your options for voting tactically. Hopefully it will make you feel a bit more empowered. Who knows, there has been so much collaboration between parties and dissemination of tactical voting options this election that maybe it will produce some surprising results. If you’re in a constituency whereby you don’t think you can influence the vote because the margin is so big, well, just go out and vote for your party anyhow. You may feel powerless but at least you are showing support towards your party and employing your constitutional right to vote too. It may not seem like much of a voice, but it IS still a voice, so please use it. See you at the voting booth!
Eleanor Marriott is a writer and photographer. She has a website and blog: www.anenchantedeye.com