Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Back Door Action

As Chicken Yoghurt has pointed out, Peter Hain is clearly the Minister for Anti-Tactical Voting this election. It seems to be his job to go around the country telling people that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the Tories.

But my fuzzy memory is coming in here. The other day I was watching something - I can't for the life of me remember what is was - where the Conservative representative on the panel told everyone that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for Labour.

It can't work both ways. Of course, the sight of Peter Hain and a short reminder to everyone how he has turned his back on his party (I'm convinced if the Guardian run this Turncoat poll again now he'd win handsomely) is probably enough to discourage people from voting Labour. I'm not quite sure anyone would happily listen to him and modify their views accordingly. I suspect if Labour want their core vote to listen, they'll have to send Gordon Brown out with the not-so-subtle message that voting Lib Dem might deny them the chance to see him in power. Would Tony be bold enough to let him do that? I think not...

But it is a sign of how Labour is fearful. This election is probably going to be unprecedented for the lack of a uniform swing. Intense local campaigning in the key marginals as well as more tactical voting than ever is going to make the results night reasonably interesting. I'm predicting that some constituencies are going to swing wildly many ways as people vote heavily against government and Conservative ministers in particular by rallying around one particular candidate. Letwin and Davis are surely very vulnerable.

So although yesterday I was particularly concerned that the surprise of this election would be that there are no surprises - i.e. that the national result is not going to change much - I do feel that at the edges tactical voting is going to go down very well, Hain or no Hain. It probably won't do much damage, but a couple of unusual swings - for example, a pro-Labour swing in Beverley & Holderness to dislodge the Conservative MP there - against what will probably be a national anti-Labour swing could be the defining memory from this election.

People are more prepared to vary their vote than ever. Us residents of safe seats will have the usual no impact on the election. But in these specialised cases, there could be a lot of intriguing results, even though the final total result will not change much.


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