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Daily View: Tactical voting

Clare Spencer | 16:17 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Commentators discuss the arguments for and against tactical voting.

The Guardian editorial says tactical voting is understandable but flawed:

"The crescendo of attention to tactical voting this week is entirely predictable. But it is also an indictment of our way of conducting elections. Tactical voting is easy to understand. Human beings have no problem choosing second-best solutions to dilemmas in other areas of their lives, so there is nothing inherently ignoble about casting a vote in this way too. Voting against a candidate whose victory one fears can be a more urgent course of action than voting in favour of one you support with reservations. Yet tactical voting is simultaneously hard to apply. Accurate information about who is best placed to benefit is notoriously hard to come by. All parties try to mislead voters about their own chances. No two constituencies behave in the same way. Many a well-intentioned tactical voter has discovered too late that their supposedly canny switch has produced the very opposite result to the one they intended."

Nathaniel Mehr in Tribune warns against tactically voting for a hung Parliament:

"A vocal section of progressive activists have launched a campaign with the aim of promoting a hung parliament by means of tactical voting. They argue this will make it harder for any government to implement devastating cuts.
"They must be supremely confident in both the persuasiveness of their message and the accuracy of whatever model they have used to determine precisely how this hung parliament will be achieved. Anything less represents an enormous gamble. If they don't convince enough people by May 6, they will be engaging in an act of small-scale sabotage that will barely register in terms of the final outcome."

Anatole Kaletsky says in the Times that he thinks we need a Tory-Lib-Dem pact and he thinks that can be achieved through voting for Labour:

"If, however, Labour comes second - just ahead of the Liberal Democrats - in the popular vote, the situation would be transformed. Nick Clegg would then have a genuine choice of coalition partners and would be in a position to demand serious concessions from the Tories. Mr Cameron, facing the awful possibility of a Lib-Lab government, would be have to come to terms with Mr Clegg. A two-year co-operation pact, giving the Tories enough time to address Britain's fiscal problems and to prepare a referendum on electoral reform, would be the likely result.
"This would be the best outcome of tomorrow's election. Ironically, such a Tory-Lib Dem pact will only become possible if enough people vote Labour."

Taking a pragmatic view, the Independent has published a guide on how to vote tactically.

In the Independent's Eagle Eye blog John Rentoul breaks his own rules and compliments Tony Blair's advice on tactical voting shown on Newsnight:

"I'm not supposed to do this, but Tony Blair was on Newsnight last night (starts at 3'50"). He was asked about tactical voting, the fashionable cause espoused by Ed Balls, Peter Hain, Alan Johnson, The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Observer and even the Daily Mirror. And he answered questions about it. It was interesting. That's all I'm saying."

Political blogger Wife in the North is succinct in her views towards politicians' warnings:

"Politicians holding forth on tactical voting. (Do they think the voters are idiots that they have to be instructed where to put their cross?)"

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