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Keeping the Tories out – a guide to tactical voting

Despite a shocking campaign, the Conservatives look set to win – here’s how British youth is thinking of smart ways to vote against another term

So here we are again. Britain is preparing to vote, again, for yet another thing. It’s hard to imagine that we might ever have a year where there isn’t an election, and where the result doesn’t propel us into further uncertainty.

Unfortunately, it is completely legit for Theresa May to call a General Election with only six weeks notice. She has purposely left the opposition with so little time to mobilise because she thinks she is going to win, or certainly thought it’d be easy. She believes it’s simple choice. She was walking around like she owns the place: eating chips, laughing on The One Show, repeating the words “strong and stable” over and over again until we all feel so bored that we vote her in. But things haven’t exactly gone well over the past two weeks, in fact they’ve been dreadful. But the worrying thing is she/they might still win.

Since the election was announced, there has been a huge drive for people, regardless of party affiliations, to support a movement against the Tories and their vision for the UK. One crowdfund has already raised over £390,000 to tour marginal seats and encourage people to use this vote to protest against the Conservatives at all costs. A big factor in this has been the recent decision to leave the European Union, harsher living standards and threats to our health services.

However, wouldn’t it be beautiful if her cunning power grab plan fell flat? YouGov polls before the snap election predicted that only 23 per cent of voters would throw their weight behind Labour as opposed to 44 per cent Conservatives. But after the release of its manifesto, Labour has shot up to 35 per cent, which is more than Ed Miliband managed in 2015. But if we are going to keep the Tories out, you might have to think about voting a little more strategically given the tight deadline and projected outcome in the polls.


In the UK, our voting system means we have more than two candidates/parties. One of these may be a party you prefer or believe in, or you might hate all of them. If one thing you are certain of is that you want to prevent another Tory win then tactical voting comes in. This simply means voting for something other than your preference, and for whoever has more chance of providing a better outcome. It can also cover where you vote.

Funnily or depressingly enough, this method of voting gained prominence the last time we could get rid of the Conservatives. In 1997, individuals from a number of the main opposition parties formed GROT (Get Rid Of Them) to stop a fifth term.


Well, aside from the splitting of the opposition vote, a mainstream press that is right-wing and has a very close relationship with the Conservative party, and political apathy – our voting system can be unrepresentative. First Past the Post (FPTP) allowed the Conservatives to take 51 per cent of seats with only 37 per cent of the vote. Lib Dems got fewer votes than UKIP but gained more seats. Stats like these make people feel like their vote doesn’t matter and in the end, they’d rather make their vote count against an unfavourable result. 

“The problem with (only voting for the party you believe in) is that it frequently splits a belief shared by many over a handful subtly different candidates. This results in splitting the vote and allows for a single candidate with beliefs not shared by others to be elected on a minority of votes, ” explains David Kitchen from Tactical 2017, a website informing people on how to unite against the Conservatives. “FPTP systems are the only systems under which tactical voting makes sense. For as long as the UK retains an FPTP system, people will need to get better at tactical voting to express their beliefs and to feel that they are represented. In that regard, the system is broken and has long been broken.”

The two charts below show the difference between how Britain voted and the result we actually got:


For this election employing tactics in order to swing the vote is more important than the last. “Some of the Tory wins in the last election were won by a few hundred votes. Some Labour or Liberal Democrats seats were won by a few hundred votes,” explains Kitchen. “The only way to make your vote count is to vote tactically.”

You can check how your constituency voted last time and use tools like this comprehensive spreadsheet. If you’re already in a Labour seat then voting Labour is the easiest way to go, if you’re in a Tory seat with Labour second, vote Labour and so on.


Another thing to bear in mind is whether you have two possible addresses to vote from. Certain seats may need your vote more than where you are based. If where you study is a Labour safe seat but your home constituency has Conservatives and another party neck-and-neck then you may want to consider sending a postal vote to swing the result at home. This site will tell you where your vote will mean the most based on your postcode. Be quick.


Yes. If you are a young voter, you need to show that you are engaged and that whoever wins needs to listen to you. If your area is a Conservative safe seat, vote for the second party – unless they are evil too. If you live in a Labour safe seat, show how strong the support is for them in that region.

You can also do what is known as vote swapping. Websites like allow two people who don’t know each other to make a pact to vote on each other’s behalves over social media. It asks who you want to vote for and who you would consider voting for and pairs you with someone who can make your vote count in another geographical location where it is likely to make more of a difference. This system doesn’t break any laws but is entirely built on trust so it is a bit of a risk.  

None of the above can give a clear guarantee for a particular result, but with our current voting system, it is important to know your options for stemming the Tory tide across the country.