The futility of tactical voting 

Vote SNP, get the Conservatives. Vote Green, get Labour. Vote UKIP, get the Liberal Democrats. Since the start of the year, the electorate have been inundated with message after message from the politicians warning them what voting for a particular party would cause in terms of who forms the next or part of the next UK Government. And whilst those three examples at the start of this paragraph are improvised examples in the context of this blog entry, the rhythm and tone of such messages demonstrate a unhealthy type of competitiveness unfolding within politics.

But why are elements of the political class so struck by insecurity of this kind? Whilst it is fair to say that some politicians and some parties have avoided all the business of going into tactical voting, others have been unable to resist for fear that by not gaining enough votes in May that their fortunes will demise at the ballot box. 

Personally, I think this is not a classy nor desirable way to practice politics and is nauseatingly off putting. And frankly, politicians or political parties that go into the murky business of tactical voting lack the courage of their own convictions to such a degree that even the idea of putting an “X” beside them on the ballot paper is like a vote thrown in the cesspit of a bucket. Why vote for someone who demonstrates nothing but disdain for their own opponent and nothing else?

I would much rather vote for a party or politician who had the best set of policies or a vision that I agreed with the most who had next to no chance of being elected than for a nobody or someone behaving like a nobody who spouted out nonsense about their political opponents. If that is the standard of their behaviour before polling day, then what on earth are they going to be like if they become elected representatives?

The Scottish independence referendum was so brilliant for many reasons, but one in particular was because of the straight choice for voters that was presented before them on September 18th 2014 – two options and no more. Until around fifty years ago, elections to Westminster were of a similar nature. But in 2015, a straight choice between two parties or politicians is literally unheard of. Whilst diversity in choice has it’s benefits, it would sadly not be surprising to see the turnout of the forthcoming Westminster election reach nowhere near as high as last year’s referendum. There are many reasons for this, but some voters may be put off by the wide variety of conflicting messages coming out from the various political parties.

But that said, the prospect of a hung parliament and a wide variety of potential surprises arising on the morning of May 8th 2015 makes this particular UK General Election the most exciting one ever. It will make the 2010 election look like a dull affair and this time, nobody really knows what is actually going to unfold. Scary, yet thrilling.

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