Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A hypothetical vote

Hypothetical situation (on which someone with experience of tactical voting may wish to shed some light).

You live in constituency S. There are 5 candidates in upcoming general election (candidates AA, BB, CC, DD & EE). They represent parties V, W, X, Y & Z.

The constituency you live in is currently represented by AA (of party V) whose party are currently the governing party but who look like they are going to lose the coming election. While AA is a member of the governing party, they have shown themselves to be somewhat independent-minded and occasionally voted with their conscience. You don't have a problem with them at all, but don't particularly like the party they represent.

Candidate BB's party W were 2nd in the constituency last time out, and have constantly told you that "only they can win here", despite the last 2 elections in the constituency pushing the party's vote down in the area. You are not keen on these kind of games, don't like that tactic and are generally underwhelmed by the party.

Candidate CC's party X finished 4th here in the last UK election but have proved stronger across Scotland. They have performed creditably in government and look like a party on the up. You strongly support the party's goals but have a particular dislike for their chosen candidate.

Candidate DD's Y party look likely to be the next UK government, but remain a way off winning this seat. While you recognise the strength of some of their arguments (and the charisma of their leader) you are loathe to support them and a local candidate who also rubs you up the wrong way.

Finally, candidate EE's party Z look like facing a struggle to return their deposit, though they showed fairly strongly in the previous (European) election in the area. You appreciate the party's intentions - and have voted for them in the past - but you recognise the difficulties facing them in what is not a PR election and feel that voting for them this time may be a wasted vote.

So, here's your choice reader. Do you:

A) Appreciate the work of your current MP (of party V) and, in your concern that the constituency may be represented by the wishy-washy party (W), lend your support to the incumbent.

B) Vote for the wishy-washy (W) party in the hope that your vote is enough to win the seat for them over the incumbent.

C) Go with the party you strongly support (X) and ignore your feelings about their candidate (increasing their share of the national vote by a minor percentage).

D) Recognise that there is a bigger picture, become a glory-hunter and vote for party Y who won't win this seat but will probably win the election - giving you the opportunity of telling people that yes, you voted in the government.

E) Ignore the fact that your second choice party (Z) have little chance of winning the seat and try to help them secure their deposit.

F) Stay at home on election day.

So there you are reader. The choice, as they say, is yours. Answers on a postcard (or in the comments).


Jeff 26 January 2010 at 10:35  

I didn't know you lived in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey?

Go with your heart Malc but I would politely suggest that option F is not an option (despite the blatant contradiction in that sentence).

I'd say C or E are your only real choices.

Malc 26 January 2010 at 12:07  

Yeah, you know how much Danny Alexander annoys me. I didn't realise his party were in government though...

I'd suggest that each of the options I gave are valid options, otherwise I wouldn't have listed them as options.

But, given that this is a hypothetical situation, obviously none of them are real options...

ASwaS 26 January 2010 at 13:06  

A very interesting hypothetical situation.

I think you should consider just how independently minded candidate AA of party V is. Has candidate AA backed party V's programme down the line with the exception of, just for example, Trident replacement and the Iraq War? How does candidate AA compare with candidate AB off in Hackney & Stoke Newington, candidate AC in Oldham West, or even just candidate AD in Midlothian? I'd say according to Public Whip that candidate AA's reputation for independent-mindedness is a bit overstated.

If it's really a problem you could always try option G of vote swapping with someone you trust in another constituency.

Malc 26 January 2010 at 13:25  


Quite, quite. Which in fairness simply further muddies the picture. That only serves to provide the voter with more reason not to vote for candidate AA as opposed to giving the voter a reason to vote.

Hypothetically, of course.

James Mackenzie 26 January 2010 at 19:20  

What if, hypothetically, Candidate CC was a particular opponent of a public transport scheme being built in the city which contains Constituency S, a scheme being mishandled by a local administration comprising parties W and X, Candidate CC's own party? Would that incline you towards perhaps Candidate EE?

Malc 26 January 2010 at 19:41  


Perhaps, if that were indeed the case. But then the individual voter may themselves have reservations about the potential transport project (and, equally, the way it has been handled).

And maybe if party EE looked more like a potential victor in constituency S, then the prospective voter may be more likely to lend them their vote - yes?

Which leaves us no further forward in solving this hypothetical problem...

Richard Thomson 26 January 2010 at 22:29  

Turning to Freud, assuming you started out, whether consciously or unconsciously, with your labels from the basis that candidate CC actually has those initials in real life, then you've already put an 'x' next to them once in your post...

I'd say go with it :-)

Malc 26 January 2010 at 23:16  

A well-played hand Richard.

I hate psychology. An inexact science if ever I saw one.

Stephen Glenn 27 January 2010 at 12:23  

This being totally hypothetical of course ;)

I'd say that candidate AA is finding that his support is soft, indeed a fair amount of it may be shifting to candidate BB.

Mind you I've never been in the position to bring about real change with my vote, so much as I'd like you to vote for BB I can't say do as I do. However, being a member of one party I suppose I have to really give them my vote, something that you youself don't necessairly need to.

Stephen Glenn 27 January 2010 at 12:26  

BTW I also object to the definition of party W as "wishy-washy" ;)

Malc 27 January 2010 at 13:04  


Surely you hypothetically object to the definition of hypothetical party W as "wishy-washy"?

I think you're all reading way too much into something which clearly isn't there. ;)

Stephen Glenn 27 January 2010 at 13:48  

You're quite right I hypothetically object to that hypothetical definition.

Hypothetically of course I probably would have spent some hypothetical time recently campaigning with hypothetical candidate BB. ;)

Malc 27 January 2010 at 13:56  

In which case, Stephen, it is you who is assigning the "wishy-washy" definition to a particular party - and not I!

James Mackenzie 27 January 2010 at 13:59  

It's sad, this is the most fun I've had in ages. Lucky all this is completely hypothetical!

Perhaps it would be clearer if the hypothetical party W was defined as "unprincipled" rather than "wishy washy"?

Caron 27 January 2010 at 14:02  

I would say that you need to think about how important getting rid of the party in government is to you.

Chances are if you don't vote for the party in second place, which clearly is being effective if you've remembered all their campaign slogans, then the outcome will be that the incumbent will get back in.

Look at Edinburgh South last time round - the Tories came in third place, but voting for them meant effectively that Nigel Griffiths got back in. That's what Marilyne McLaren's literature meant when it said it said only she or Labour could win.

If we want things to change, we need a properly proportional voting system.

Malc 27 January 2010 at 14:57  


Hypothetical fun is the best type of fun! Unless there is only hypothetical beer involved...

paul77 29 January 2010 at 05:06  

Hi Malc, when you say the hypothetical incumbent is independently minded, are you maybe hypothetically confusing the MP with the MSP for the corresponding Holyrood seat?

If I were you, I'd move house to the neighbouring seat and vote for candidate CC's hypothetical party colleague GG ;-)

If you're unable to move house, then I would have to say, parties V and Y sound hypothetically as bad as each other.

Unless you feel that candidate BB has an extremely good chance of winning the hypothetical seat (it doesn't sound like it from what you say, and you don't think much of party W) bearing in mind that party X might have some hypothetical bigger issues on the horizon than one UK general election, I would say put aside any hypothetical dislike of candidate CC and vote for their party X.

Every hypothetical vote party X gets in this hypothetical election will mean that parties V and Y will have to sit up and pay attention to Scotland for a change.

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