Monday, January 07, 2008


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Tactical Voting in British General Elections

This site is dedicated to tactical voting in general elections. The aim is simply to provide information to those who may wish to vote tactically to affect the result in a particular constituency. If the site gets enough hits and feels confident in itself it may go on to provide advice as to how to analyse (on a simple level) the information. The site is not sponsored by anyone and is the product of one individual who obviously has their own views on things (see below) which they would not wish to impose on others.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Reasons to vote tactically

1) Tactical voting provides a means of individuals affecting election results locally and nationally in ways that ordinary voting may not;

2) For that reason tactical voting encourages people to vote where there is a decline in voting which can only be a good thing even if it just to spoil your vote in disgust;

3) Tactical voting makes the major parties think more about how they are going to get individuals not to vote against them;

4) The natural inclination of an increasing number of people now is to vote against a party (as all three of the national parties are “broad churches”) and tactical voting provides a good mechanism for maximising the impact of an individual vote against a party;

5) The internet provides an information resource which would enable individuals better to assess where and how to use their tactical vote.

Why people vote tactically

The site doesn’t purport to have any particular ideology or support any particular party but notes that more and more people are tactically voting in order either to:

1. Keep people they do not like out in their constituency; or

2. Keep people they do not like out nationally; or

3. To vote for a single issue that is particularly important in their area; or

4. To register dissatisfaction with the party they normally vote for; or

5. To register dissatisfaction with major parties generally; or

6. Any combination of the above.

How to vote tactically

Clearly the above list is not comprehensive but covers the main areas I have identified as reasons for tactical voting. The ways in which people can achieve their aims are many in terms of tactical voting but the three main ones are:

1. voting for an acceptable (or less unacceptable) party who is in second place where you would not have voted at all or the party you would normally vote for is likely to come third or worse;

2. choosing to register your vote in an area where your vote could have a greater effect than in the normal area you would vote in. Obviously this only affects a minority of people who can choose where their vote is registered (e.g. students, proxy, foreign voters?).

3. Vote pairing - arranging with another person in a different constituency that you vote for the result they want in your constituency while they do the same in theirs - generally where both of you have no chance of your chosen party winning in your own constituencies.

Useful voting information and sites

These are the links to General Election sites where you can check the results for your area or areas;

2005 General Election results by Constituency (BBC)

2001 General Election results by Constituency (BBC)

By-elections in the 2001 Parliament (Parliament website)

Somewhat annoyingly I cannot find constituency by constituency breakdowns on the web as per the BBC 2001 breakdown for any previous election (all the 1997 sites seemed to have closed down or been barred by their web masters) but in the meantime Parliament's website has provided summaries for the elections from 1983 onwards (unfortunately in pdf format).

1997 Elections Results (and before) - summary

2001 General Election

Polls and Polling

I don't really trust polls and believe they contribute to the general decline in voting in that if you are tempted by apathy a belief that someone is going to win whatever happens is not going to encourage you to vote. Worse still they contribute to the increasing tendency of the media to treat speculation as "news" with its ultimate aim of filling space (which in itself seems to be some form of job creation scheme for journalists).

Whatever my views or bile, opinion polls are here to stay and so I have found a site with a quick guide to polling and links to all the main British pollsters. A minor caveat is that ordinarily I would only use sites with verifiable credentials but Mr Wells, though he seems to be a decent, respected and well-informed character, has failed to put his biog on his site so I cannot check.

Anthony Wells' Guide to Election Polls & Pollsters



I will tell you where I am coming from so you can judge if I have spun anything on this site (unless I have spun this as well).

I would put myself as being on the left (close to Marxist but definitely democratic) when younger but slowly getting pinker as I get older. I am a lifelong Labour voter (even when I was fairly extreme left I was realistic) but am getting disenchanted with politics and politicians which worries me because I have always been a political animal. However Social Justice issues are important to me and the marginalisation of a significant proportion of the population while the majority gets more affluent particularly concerns me as does the growing influence of media led politics in which actual information becomes more and more difficult to glean.

I believe that the current first past the post constituency based Parliamentary democracy does work and has certain advantages (and obviously disadvantages) as opposed to a PR system. However I broadly support a PR system for the Lords as part of a bicameral system. I believe that in the past 20 years or so manipulation of Parliament by the government of the day (mainly by making more and more MPs part of the government or aspirants to it thereby tying them to a specific line from the top) has made considerable inroads into that democracy with the result that constituency MPs have less and less input into Parliament’s output and therefore voters feel less and less involved in Britain’s democracy. Tactical voting is potentially a way of undermining those declines and empowering voters. Finally I should say I will never vote Conservative but do have Conservative-voting friends and am considering (only considering at this stage) voting Lib Dem next time – out of pique obviously.


A big thank you to Francis for showing me how to set up this website in 5 minutes flat and his website in praise of dreams

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Monday, December 20, 2004

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As I am a busy individual I was not going to have a comments or response facility at all. However I am interested to see if anyone is interested, or thinks the site is worthwhile or otherwise, so I am allowing comments but only if they follow these two basic rules:

1. Responses are limited to Yes or No (to the question "Do you like/appreciate/value the site?") + three other qualifying words and your e-mail address (e.g. "No. Wordy, patronising, naive."

2. Any form of abuse, nastiness, undemocratic behaviour, breaking of rules and the like will not be tolerated and may lead (if it makes it difficult to administer the site properly and professionally) to either the comments area or the site itself going into premature retirement.

If it is working well then I would hope to expand the site to have general discussions and possibly as an exchange for tactical voting in specific constituencies