No, Mainly Macro - tactical voting NEVER works

No, Mainly Macro – tactical voting NEVER works

In response to Simon Wren-Lewis’s latest article, Mrs Mike (remember her?) had just one thing to say: “No, Mainly Macro – tactical voting NEVER works!”

His latest article examines how he thinks we could best use our votes, but it proceeds from a false premise that we should worry about keeping the Conservatives out.

That is neither here nor there in this election. The Tories are so low in the polls that they’ll be obliterated in most constituencies, no matter what happens; they simply won’t get enough votes to make a difference.

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So when Professor Wren-Lewis (who is always worth reading on the economy, don’t get me wrong) says

tactical voting against the Conservatives where relevant remains the best option for this election… because the real prize in this election would be to deprive the Conservatives of clearly being the main opposition party after 4th July,

he’s making too many assumptions; firstly, that tactical voting is needed to punish the Tories in this way, secondly, that run-of-the-mill voters can actually be bothered to think strategically about what happens to the parties that don’t win the election.

Thirdly, it is contradictory that he thinks it is possible – and important – to limit the abilities of the Tories in opposition, while claiming that it is pointless to attempt to do the same to Labour, that stands to end up with such a large majority that Keir Starmer will effectively become the tyrant of Westminster.

Prof Wren-Lewis states:

Voting for a more progressive party would send the next Labour government a message that it cannot take the more progressive vote for granted [but] if a Labour government acts in anything like the cautious manner its election campaign suggests a large percentage of those who voted for it will become impatient and disillusioned and this will show itself in large increases in support for the Greens and LibDems a year or two after the election. That, rather than any voting patterns in this election, is what will influence a Labour government.

Still, under the assumption that Labour will win this election comfortably, for progressives to vote for a party whose policy platform is closer to theirs will almost by definition do no harm.

In fact, it may well achieve exactly the result he wants – pushing the Tories down from being the main Opposition party to third place.

So why isn’t he happy to let people vote according to their consciences? The result is probably going to be the same, no matter what.

If a reasonable number of candidates who are Independent or from more progressive parties win seats, they will be able to act as consciences for both a Labour government and a Tory/Lib-Dem opposition – and that is a good thing too.

But then we come back to the philosophy behind the article:

I have always advocated tactical voting under the UK’s FPTP system, because I view voting in an instrumental way (how can I achieve some end) rather than an expressive way (voting as a statement about oneself).

Actually I would put it more strongly: the right way to vote in a UK General Election is to vote to achieve a better social (or social group) outcome, and if you can do that but you instead vote for the party whose policies are closest to yours you are being a little selfish, anti-social and irresponsible.

This demands that all voters guess how everybody else is going to vote, rather than doing what they personally think is right – and it is a blind alley. We never guess right.

Besides, voting for a party because you think it’s the one that will win is daft because it means voting for policies you don’t want.

Look at Starmer’s Labour. The vast majority of the electorate want public services re-nationalised and the private profit-grubbers kicked out of the National Health Service but that party will not re-nationalise anything and actually intends to increase NHS privatisation.

The vast majority of the electorate want the government to stop providing arms to Israel and instead to pressurise that country to end its genocide of the people of Gaza. But Labour will do neither.

The vast majority of the electorate want a reliable social security system that will provide for us, and not harm us, if we need it. Labour will use it to punish claimants, just like the Tories.

The list goes on.

In an atmosphere such as we have at the moment, with the Tories absolutely certain to lose, voters have the best chance in decades – if not ever – to put their wishes higher on the national agenda than those of the party leaders.

So, because tactical voting never works and because this is the best chance ever to force our government to do what we want, This Writer must insist that you should do exactly as I’ve been saying all along:

Find out who’s standing in your constituency, find out exactly what they stand for (don’t just read the words on their leaflets – find out what they mean), and vote for the candidate who most closely advocates what you, personally, need.

It is, after all, what voters were always intended – expected – to do.

Source: mainly macro: Should voting in this election be about punishing the Conservatives, signalling to a future Labour government or something else?

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One Comment

  1. El Dee June 5, 2024 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Tactical voting? What makes anyone think that the votes, as cast, aren’t already tactical votes? Traditional Labour voters who vote Labour are voting tactically – Labour bear no relation to the Labour Party I remember in my youth, they’re simply choosing the lesser of two evils..

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