Simon Wren-Lewis on his Mainly Macro blog raises an interesting question: with the Brexit Party making overtures to the Tories about an electoral pact, should Labour and the Liberal Democrats do the same?
He makes some good points in favour of it – there are many seats where it would make sense for either party to stand aside, allowing the other a greater opportunity for victory, and it makes no sense for the Liberal Democrats to try to block Labour, only to let the “no deal Brexit” parties have a majority in the House of Commons. Every Liberal Democrat attacking Labour is supporting a Johnson/Cummings administration.
But if the Liberal Democrats have any kind of reputation at the moment, it is for treachery. They cannot be trusted. That position will only have been strengthened – against Labour – with the defections to that party of former Labour and Conservative MPs. That will push Labour away.
And the Liberal Democrats themselves may fear that Tory propaganda painting Jeremy Corbyn as the Devil himself will put marginal Tory voters off switching to them, if they go into a pact with Labour.
So Professor Wren-Lewis is supporting tactical voting – supporting the LDs where they have a more realistic chance of winning, and Labour where that party would fare better.
But his logic isn’t perfect. He says voting for a Labour MP who supports leaving the EU will not help as such a person would not support a second referendum with remaining in the EU on the paper – but this fails to take into account the fact that such a referendum is Labour policy and it is better to have a government with such a policy, if you are a remainer, than a government former by a Johnson/Cummings/Farage “no deal Brexit” alliance.
He also says the Tories can expect around 350 seats according to current polling, but he is out of date. Current polling, it seems, suggests the Tories could only muster around 285 seats unless they win constituencies that would be far from their grip usually.
He also suggests that Labour cannot hope to enjoy the huge surge it had in 2017 because Dominic Cummings will use all the social media expertise he learned during the EU referendum campaign to undermine it. This ignores the fact that the media will have to ditch their anti-Labour bias by law, that hundreds of thousands of young people are signing up to vote just so they can support Labour, and that Labour has a thriving social media presence of its own that has made mincemeat of the Tories on that platform for years.
I mean, you’re reading This Site – right?
Professor Wren-Lewis is right to sound a note of caution – but I wonder if he is going too far.
You can read his article here.
What do you think?
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