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General Election 2017: Let's talk tactics

General Election 2017: Let's talk tactics

Brexit champion Gina Miller launches a tactical voting initiative to oppose the UK's EU departure – but how will it work?



Gina Miller, the investment manager whose recent legal challenge forced the government to seek parliamentary approval for invoking Article 50, has announced she is planning to launch a tactical voting initiative to support candidates who are opposed to a hard Brexit.

A crowdfunding page titled 'Do What's Best For Britain!' set up immediately after the announcement of the snap election exceeded its initial financial target within 48 hours.

"We want to build the biggest tactical voting effort in UK history to ensure candidates across the country that promise to do what’s best for Britain in the Brexit process get the extra support they need to win," said Miller.

"If the deal the next government negotiates doesn’t match up to our current terms, MPs should do what’s best for Britain and reject it. We will be asking MPs to pledge to keep an open mind and not be bullied into giving the next government a blank cheque for the final deal."

Miller has insisted the campaign is apolitical.

"This means the money in theory could support an anti-Brexit Tory standing against a pro-Brexit Labour MP," says the Daily Telegraph. "However, it seems the campaign will mainly support Labour and Lib Dem candidates," the paper adds.

But how might this initiative work?

What is tactical voting?

Sometimes voters deliberately choose not to vote for their first-choice candidate.

"Usually," says the BBC, "this is because the candidate in question has little prospect of winning and so the voters prefer to give their second choice options a better chance of winning the seat."

Often tactical voting takes place specifically to stop one political party getting into power. For instance, if a Labour voter lives in a marginal seat that is closely contested by the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, they may vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out.

How will it affect this election?

With the polls so one-sided, most commentators agree tactical voting is most likely to occur in order to stop the Conservative party.

A tactical voting guide – in the form of a spreadsheet - has already been shared widely online. The guide suggests "which party [Labour or Lib Dem] has the best chance of winning a seat the Conservatives are aiming to win," says Metro.

But tactical voting might also occur along the lines of last year's EU Referendum.

"If you are in favour of [May's] hardline Brexit proposals, the Tories may appear the best choice even for some Labour supporters living in marginal constituencies who are disappointed with their party’s softer stance," says Rob Hastings for iNews.

"Tory-supporting Remainers who reject the government’s approach outright" may also consider supporting one of the other parties, Hastings adds.

What do the political parties say?

North of the border, party leaders have made "thinly veiled appeals for people to vote tactically", says The Times as "the campaign looks set to turn into a straight battle over Scotland’s constitutional future".

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson urged Labour and Lib Dem supporters in Scotland who were against independence to vote for the Conservatives.

“If you do believe in tactical voting and you have a principled belief in keeping the United Kingdom together and respecting the decision that we made in 2014, actually your vote is for the Scottish Conservatives,” she said.

Will tactical voting make a difference?

Dr Stephen Fisher, professor of political sociology at the University of Oxford, believes the chances of an anti-Tory tactical voting scheme being successful are fairly slim.

“If polls are roughly right and nothing much changes, one trouble for Labour will be that there simply are not very many Liberal Democrat supporters to appeal to," he told the Irish Independent.

“So the potential for Labour seats to be saved by Liberal Democrat, and maybe Green, tactical voters is rather limited. In addition, there is the potential for the Conservatives to be helped by tactical voting from UKIP supporters, making the job for Labour harder."

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