Friday, 17 April 2015

VoteSwap - Don't do it.

There has been a movement recently in the papers and on social media to promote the idea of ‘vote-swapping’. The basic idea is that Green voters in marginal Labour seats should vote Labour for tactical reasons, to keep the Tories out of power. Where this is promoted by Labour supporters like Owen Jones or Sunny Hundal, it is understandable. But when this is recommended by erstwhile Green Party supporters, it is harder to swallow.

All over the country thousands of activists are working flat out to get their council and parliamentary candidates elected, for what is now the third biggest political party in the UK. Despite our rapid growth, we don’t have the same fat cats to bankroll our campaign. We rely on membership fees, donations from members and crowd funding campaigns. Those donors and all this hard work would be totally undermined and quite frankly betrayed by vote swapping.

If we are to achieve real change in our political system we must vote with our convictions and do it now. Whilst the FPTP system will not favour small parties, if we hope to have any influence over a future Labour government we must ensure that our opinions are heard and the proportion of votes in each constituency is representative. Voting tactically means Labour can sit back under the impression they have an unquestioned mandate and their continuing austerity policies have popular support. We must shake them out of their complacency and open the debate.

The argument that ‘by voting Green you get Tory’ is a poor reason to vote for a party that does not represent you. If they cannot win on policy, they must not win on fear. This might be a principled and un-pragmatic approach – true we do not want the Tories to regain power – but how much difference is there between Tory and Labour now? Remember that since Blairism and New Labour, we have less and less in common with a pro-fracking, pro-austerity, pro-Trident party under Miliband – a party that even went so far as to copy a UKIP policy and then sold mugs that proudly announced it.

So if you are a Green voter or are considering voting Green, then that is exactly what you should do no matter where in the country you are.


  1. To be fair, though, the idea isn't just that you vote tactically for Labour: it's that if you're in a Labour target seat you find a Labour voter in a Green target seat and agree to "swap" votes - ie. you cast their vote in your constituency and they cast yours in theirs. So the Green Party (if everyone behaves honourably) still get the same number of votes, and actually improves its chances of getting more MPs elected.

    There are potentially all sorts of flaws there, and I'm undecided whether the pros outweigh the cons, but to present the idea as simply "voting tactically for Labour instead of Green" is to misrepresent it.

  2. Spot on: it's only by voting for what you believe in that political pundits will be able to ascertain what people want.