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Tactical voting gets us nowhere
I bumped into a much loved friend this morning at the local sports centre where I live on the Island. We had a catch up, and then she said "Vix. Do you mind if I ask you a question. I do not want to waste my vote. Who should I vote for in order to make a difference in May?"
Such a good question.
In previous years, those of us on the IW who disagreed with Conservative policies largely gathered around the Liberal Democrat candidate as our best opportunity for a non-Tory MP. It was an obvious tactical vote to make, as the Isle of Wight - as well as having the infamy to be the only County in England to have never returned a female MP - has only ever returned a Conservative or a Liberal member to Parliament.
In 2010, I too voted for the Lib Dem candidate (the assured Jill Wareham) along with 22,000 other islanders. Yet, we didn't succeed in getting a Liberal MP. In fact as the Lib Dems joined the Tory-led coalition, many island liberals felt betrayed and left the party they had worked so hard for on the Isle of Wight.
Fast forward to 2015 and the question from my friend - who should those of us who don't want a Conservative or UKIP MP rally behind?
The obvious answer for me to give would be - The Green Party! As I truly believe that we have the best mixture of policies to help our island: social equality and a green identity. However, I didn't say this to her. I know she is looking at the Liberal candidate and the Labour and myself and any Independents. Who stands the best chance?
I replied. "Vote for the person or party who best reflects the policies that you agree with." For too long, especially on the Island, we have attempted to vote 'tactically' and put a cross on the ballot paper next to someone from a party we don't really support, but under pressure from friends and the press have come to believe that we need to vote for 'for my vote to make a difference'.
Your vote will make a difference if you vote for the policies you want. Your vote will make a difference if you show how *much* support there is on the island - and nationally - for policies of social justice and a sustainable future.
In the past, our votes for parties whom we don't truly support have given a false impression of their popularity. Politicians at Westminster think that not enough people care about a living wage or keeping the NHS truly as a public service or renationalising the railways or banning fracking - and so they have ignored them as key vote winners. Yet public polls show the great majority of voters want these things! The website vote for policies in a blind test have the Green Party as the most popular party based purely on the policies they put forward. And it is policies which should count!
So please, make your vote count. Make your vote matter. Make your voice heard. Vote Green in May 2015 and shake up Westminster.
Thank you for the question, H.