Vote for policies or personalities? Vote tactically

There is an excellent website that I commend, http://voteforpolicies.org.uk. By completing the survey based on policies alone, you are advised which party most reflects your views.  Have a go.  You might just be surprised.

Almost 100,000 people have completed the survey and the results are fascinating.  In third place, with 17.12%, is Labour, in second place on 17.99% are the Lib Dems, but the party whose policies enjoy the widest support, on 28.25%, is the Green Party. (The Tories are on 16.28%).

It would be great if people did vote on the basis of policies, but that won’t happen.  In most constituencies most voters will remain true to the main two parties. It often takes a leap of faith for lifelong supporters to transfer their support from their traditional party.

In Brighton Pavilion, those arguing against a Green vote point to Labour’s 5,000 margin of victory in the last general election. Amongst those who argue this is Alexander Craven who regularly comments on this blog: “You shouldn’t neglect the basic fact that Labour had a 5,000 majority in Brighton Pavilion in 2005. And also that most people always vote in terms of the wider national debate.  Let’s be frank. A lot of people here do not see what one Green MP in Parliament could achieve; most people disagree with their policies too.”

On the last point he is right, but as the VoteForPolicies website suggests, there is significantly more support for Green policies than those of Labour.  Having said that, and where I disagree with the Greens, I still hope Labour will be the largest party in the new parliament.

Could a single Green MP make a difference?  You just have to look at Dr Richard Taylor, the Independent MP for Wyre Forrest, who has had a higher profile than any number of anonymous and arguably more influential given his expertise in matters relating to health. And best of all, he is not inhibited by a party whip.  All these apply in equal, if not more, measure to Caroline Lucas.

As for the national debate, this election cannot be seen in the same way as previous ones.  There is a mood to move away from traditional voting trends, for better (Greens and some Independents) and for worse (BNP and UKIP).

It would be great if we could simply vote for policies, but it is most  important that the Tories don’t form a majority Government as this would see a fundamental shift of resources from ordinary (dare I say ‘hard working families’?) to the richest 2%.  So I repeat my call for tactical voting as follows: Eastbourne – Lib Dem, Crawley – Labour, Brighton Pavilion – Green, Brighton Kemptown – Labour, Hastings & Rye – Labour, and Hove – Labour

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7 Responses

  1. Go on make my day, vote Green in Windsor, last time the lib dems took it from the Tories was 1868, time to give some else a chance.

    Oddly Charlotte Vere sometimes seems to try to suggest she is running against me in her tweets

  2. The Greens’ campaign here has been an intriguing one. It has used the most effective methods previously deployed by the Liberals in countless other constituencies – posting letters to voters only days before commissioning a poll is a classic example. Ms Lucas has also attracted a lot of media attention to her campaign too. All these things are a testament to an astute political mind.

    But there is a downside to such a distant technocratic approach.

    One, her centralised campaign (from Brussels) has resulted in a lot of friction within the Green Party’s ranks. Brighton & Hove Greens have now resorted to rallying their troops from further afield, but still their participation peaks at around 10-15 activists on a single Saturday afternoon. That isn’t enough and so where the Greens fail to do the groundwork, Labour and Conservatives can effectively rebut the media hype.

    Whilst spending most of her campaign lauding her own policies, Caroline has not assuaged constituents’ fears about the risk of letting the Tory candidate in through the backdoor. As the Tory vote (around 26%) remains intact, I think we will find a lot of traditional Labour voters sticking to what has been effective in the past.

    So what seemed like a good idea a few months ago seems like too great a risk now.

  3. Alexander – don’t recognise your take on green local activists – Caroline Lucas seems everywhere in Brighton as well as on our TV screens and radio – if she is finding time to spend in Brussels as well at the moment, she is even more impressive than I thought! Far from the 10 – 15 activists, this blog has reported levels of 80 + volunters tuning out for action days – that they come from outside as well as within Brighton is a testament to the support for Caroline within the Green party rather than the opposite which you suggest.

    As yet, the only party to have appeared on my doorstep are the greens. Labour post reams of letters (delivered by TNT) which is probably effective, but must cost a bob or two but have not yet rung my bell.

    Nothing on paper or in person from the conservatives yet – although they seem to pay ‘supporters’ to deliver leaflets rather than rely on motivated volunteers.

    Out of the three you mention, the Greens are the only ones who are doing the groundwork in my area, and only the conservative PCC can compete with Caroline Lucas for a local campaigning presence – so I don’t think that your are correct.

  4. Alexander, you’re surprisingly misinformed.

    We had 80 activists out last Saturday and Caroline was present as usual to rally everyone in the morning and at the lunchtime meet-up.

    To claim that because she is the current MEP the campaign is being run from Brussels is ignorant and childish. There is an incredibly strong local team in Brighton, local membership has doubled in the last year and morale is high.

    The same resolve that saw us take Goldsmid from the Tories last year will see us win Pavilion on May 6th.

  5. Quite ridiculous. I know the game that the Greens are attempting to play – talking up their campaign online to create the illusion of extensive activity on the ground. I thought the SDP/ Liberals had used this tactic to death.

    Take a look at their last “Action Day”: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=116301948384843 where only 13 people bothered to confirm.

    As I mentioned before, the downside to this strategic approach is that no amount of multiple-profiles online can compensate for real action on the ground.

  6. Alex,

    Your last point is ridiculous. Yes, only 13 confirmed on Facebook (a case of online activity actually downplaying the number that turned up) then use the same argument to say that the Greens are using the internet to big themselves up.

    Have you not seen the number of Green posters and placards across the constituency? They are easily dwarfing both the Labour and Conservative campaigns.

    The Greens have won council seats and put themselves in contention in Pavilion because of the ground effort.

    If the Greens win Pavilion it will not be because of the media or the online campaign, but the fact that they did the hard work on the ground.

  7. One thing I havent seen on the ground is a Tory!

    I have seen enough greens to make me scared of the consequences but I know that Labour have multiple teams out every day, have good data and have knocked your door Simon Jay.

    Unlike most Labour types on this blog and others, I think I would prefer Charlotte Vere to Caroline Lucas.

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