“The Conservatives cannot win on a leave only platform”
The Conservatives cannot win an election by relying solely on supporters of Brexit, while Labour could get closer to its goal of majority government if it does more to peel off anti-Brexit voters who are still backing the Tories: these are two of the key conclusions of a new report we published on 24 October 2017.
The report – from independent data scientist Dr Abigail Lebrecht – shows that the Conservatives were successful in appealing for the votes of previous UKIP supporters and other leave voters but that was not enough to deliver victory in the face of a grassroots revolt by tactical voting supporters of remain.
Dr Lebrecht states that the evidence shows “the Conservatives cannot win on a leave only platform” and “we can say with some confidence that the grassroots anti-Brexit tactical vote denied Theresa May her majority.”
Her work shows that the Conservative’s vote rose in proportion to support for leave in each constituency but also fell in proportion to remain voters. Labour’s vote rose in proportion to the remain vote, but there was no clear relationship with leave votes.
In 2017, The Tories went for ‘peak Brexit’ and yet lost their majority – strongly suggesting that they cannot win by travelling further in that direction. Labour said little about Brexit during the campaign but were big beneficiaries of grassroots-organised tactical voting campaigns – including that organised by Best for Britain. B4B’s ‘tactical voting dashboard’ was visited over one million times during the course of the campaign – particularly in marginal constituencies.
Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain, added: “We did not issue a blanket call for Labour votes, but we did back Labour in many of the key marginals where Dr Lebrecht’s work suggests the outcome was determined by tactical, anti-Brexit, voting – such as Bristol North West and Kensington.
“We also endorsed Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru candidates in seats in which they were most likely to win and advised supporters where the Conservative candidate was likely oppose an extreme Brexit.
“The electorate has understood the power of their vote, the remain vote swung the 2017 election and both main parties will need to attract more of that floating vote if they want to get ahead and break the UK’s Brexit stalemate.”
Unsure about whether you should vote for your first-choice party or vote tactically to keep a different party out? This guide can help.
The UK goes to the polls on Thursday – but even if you know which party you want to vote for, you could still be faced with a tough decision at the ballot box.
What if your favoured party can’t win in your constituency? What if a party you really hate wins your seat because you voted for a party that had no chance? Could you help stop that by voting for a party that isn’t your first choice but has a better chance of beating the party you want to keep out?
Then choose which party standing in your seat you’d ideally like to vote for; which party would be your second choice; and which party you’re most keen to keep out of your seat. We’ll tell you whether you should think about switching your vote.
Help Labour Remainers if they’re in danger. Remove Tory Brexiters where that’s possible. But, otherwise, pro-Europeans should vote for the Greens or Liberal Democrats on June 8.
The top goal for those who want to stop a destructive Brexit should be to get as pro-European a House of Commons as possible. That could involve backing a Labour candidate who has a chance of unseating a Tory. There are also a few cases where it makes sense to back a Conservative, such as Nicky Morgan, who has been trying to restrain Theresa May from doing something crazy.
But there are many safe seats where there’s no chance of removing the sitting Tory MP. In those cases, backing a Labour candidate won’t make any difference. It is then better to support one of the two parties which are genuinely pro-European – the Greens or the Lib Dems. Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy may be better than Theresa May’s, but it’s spineless and riddled with holes.
Even if the prime minister gets her predicted landslide, there will also be some safe Labour seats. Where the sitting MP, such as Ed Miliband, has been battling to stop a destructive Brexit since the referendum, voters should back them. But otherwise, it’s better to boost the national vote for committed pro-European parties.
In these cases it’s better to vote Green or Lib Dem. The more votes they get, the more authority they will have to oppose May’s Brexit plans after the election.
But which party should pro-Europeans back: Greens or Lib Dems? That depends. Both are promising a referendum at the end of the Brexit negotiations to check that the people still want to quit the EU. There’s not much to choose between the two on policy.
When one of the parties has even an outside chance of winning, voters should obviously back that party. But these will, by definition, be neither safe Tory nor safe Labour seats.
The Greens also aren’t standing everywhere. In 31 cases, they have stood down to make it easier for progressive parties to defend themselves or attack the Tories. Labour and the Lib Dems sadly have been so tribal that they haven’t been willing to engage in pro-European pacts or so-called progressive alliances.
Be that as it may, in any safe Tory or Labour seats where the Greens are not standing and the sitting MP hasn’t done anything to fight a destructive Brexit since the referendum, the choice again is easy: back the Lib Dems.
In all other cases, there isn’t any good reason from a Brexit point of view to support one party over the other. Pro-Europeans in those seats should vote for whichever of the Lib Dems and Greens takes their fancy on other grounds.
Theresa May called this general election in a cynical attempt to crush the opposition to her hard Brexit. But together we can foil her plan – with tactical voting for progressive candidates who are best placed to win their seat.
Remainers are in disarray right now, not sure what strategy to follow. Should they vote tactically for Labour to avert a disastrous brexit? Or vote for the Lib Dems in any case? Unlike what May is saying, or the media propaganda would have us believe, the country is not coming together and uniting over Brexit. Rather, the 48%-ers are starting to think that Brexit is inevitable. If Lib Dem want to win with a Remain message, they need to change this narrative and stop playing the Tories’ game.
As competitive chess players know, the moment you play the opponent’s game is the moment you start losing. Right now, all political parties in the UK are playing the conservatives’ game. That game is that Brexit is a fait accompli, and that May needs a “stronger mandate” to accomplish the best Brexit deal.
The Liberal Democrats are targeting Remainers, which was a clever move, but their message is too unclear and too nuanced for Remainers to go out and vote. Their biggest risk now is to lose that enthusiasm they had when Sarah Olney won Richmond Park.
As a new party member, I see the following conservation on an almost daily basis:
“A second referendum on the deal? Wait, does that mean Lib Dem is not pro Remain?”
“Yes, they are because remain would be an option on that referendum.”
“Oh… right. But how would that work? Would there be three options then?”
“No, the options would be accept the deal, or reject the deal and remain””
The second referendum still follows the will-of-the-people narrative, and thus plays into the hand of the Conservatives. I am part of several 48% groups, composed of hardcore Remainers. You’d think that of all people who would vote for the Lib Dems now, it would be these people.
Wrong. Remainers are in disarray right now, not sure what strategy to follow. Should they vote tactically for Labour to avert a disastrous brexit? Or vote for the Lib Dems in any case? Unlike what May is saying, or the media propaganda would have us believe, the country is not coming together and uniting over Brexit. Rather, the 48%-ers are starting to think that Brexit is inevitable. If Lib Dem want to win with a Remain message, they need to change this narrative and stop playing the Tories’ game.
Consider the following facts:
Macron’s party En Marche! did not exist 18 months ago. It had no infrastructure, no base of faithful voters. And now, Emmanuel Macron has just been inaugurated as the next French president. Note that even if the French presidential elections worked via a first past the post system, Macron would have won (as he won most votes in the first round). So, you can build up a political movement from zero and win. You need to be prepared to win, and signal to your voters that you can win.
The Conservatives are holding a vigorous campaign that we can’t see, using the Leave.EU/Trump playbook; they’re using targeted Facebook ads — it is massive, and it is expensive. This is what we are up against. The Lib Dems need smarter online campaigning.
Recently, Labour started recovering somewhat in the polls whereas the Lib Dems are sliding. Although the leaked manifesto did not have a huge influence, leaking it was still a clever move of Labour and it also signals that Labour are starting to refuse to play the Conservatives’ game (finally!)
So what should Lib Dem do know? They should pledge to stop Brexit. Not a second referendum on the deal (Because to be honest, who wants another referendum? More Arron Banks bankrolling, more battle busses with lies on them, more anti-foreigner rhetoric? Please.). They should argue plain and simple that if they win this election, they will have a mandate of stopping Brexit.
That is being bold and refusing to play your opponent’s game. Of course, the right-wing press and the Tories would scream: Will of the people! But the Lib Dems can just say, so what. The people didn’t vote for hard brexit, and they can change their minds, in any case.
Or here, from Britain Elects, a poll in the Kensington constituency, which voted nearly 70% to remain. While Kensington is not representative for the whole of the UK, it does show what an unapologetic stop Brexit stance could do in the polls. Especially note how the Stop Brexit party could eat into the Conservative Remain voters’ current voting intention.
As we can see in the graph below, LibDem have lost a lot of their Leave voters (let’s not forget about 1/3 of people who voted Lib Dem in 2015 voted to Leave). In this graph, it is clear that while Lib Dem are making modest gains among Labour remainers, few Conservative Remain voters are going to the Lib Dems. Those considering to move are still undecided. Best to cut their losses now and focus on the Remainers.
Here is a suggestion from Katharine Pons, who works in communication and marketing, reprinted from FaceBook with her permission:
Our overall message is not clear and direct. We are fighting “against something”, our objective is to be the “opposition”, this doesn’t give people enough desire to vote for us. They want to vote for people who can win. A message can’t be “I don’t want”, I am “anti-“, this is weak. Psychological, we must communicate positively.
Our message on Europe is not clear enough. We should be unapologetically pro-European, enough of this soft/hard Brexit. Brexit is not in any way a fait accompli. It can be stopped. We should be following Macron and flying the EU flag at every opportunity. The Lib Dems should be unequivocally targeting only Remainers at this stage and no worry about Leavers. There are 16 million of us. This is what Boris did when he switched camps. He focus only on the demographic that would elect him. In this instance, by being too liberal we are not progressing as we would like.
So this is what it takes. A bold departure from the will of the people and the people have spoken narrative. That second referendum? It is now, at the ballot box:
Do you want the UK to remain a member of the EU?
Remain: vote Liberal Democrats
Leave: vote anyone else/don’t vote
A lot more attractive than maybe Remain two years down the line.
Don’t let the Government turn back the clocks to Downton Abbey days. Here are some excellent reminders as to what this election is about. And if you haven’t done so yet – now is the time to register to vote – and why you need to #VoteTactical
To download the full set of 9 graphics, click here.
Feel free to share these on social media – no credit to me is required. Try and start honest conversations with people. Social media is terrible for changing people’s minds, but we have to try something.
I passionately believe that Theresa May’s Conservative government is dangerous. For the future of the people who live in Britain. Please vote against them.