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UK Voters: Please Don’t Vote Third Party This Election

A ballot box and polling station. | Photo credit: PA

This past year has been absolute hell for those living in the UK. The 2015 general election was a huge wake-up call for millions of people who had already been disillusioned by their previous government, a largely unsuccessful coalition between the Liberal Democrats (a centrist party which gained support due to its wishes to remove tuition fees) and the Conservatives (a right-wing party which has huge support from the upper and upper-middle classes of the UK). The 2015 election results, allegedly spoiled by what is called ‘gerrymandering’ meant another 5 years of Conservative rule.

Many feared this – and they were right to. Since then, homelessness has risen along with tuition prices, the disabled community has faced extreme discrimination and humiliation, we have alienated ourselves from Europe and our National Health Service has been subject to cuts so extreme some of us are afraid that in 10 years it will not exist. The unemployed must go to extreme lengths to prove that they are legitimately searching for a job, and thousands of disabled people have died after being declared by the British government to be “fit to work”.

Most who aren’t voting Conservative are afraid this election. We’re afraid of losing their chance to own homes, to have jobs which pay us enough, to afford to go to university. We’re are afraid of having to pay money we don’t have for illnesses and injuries we can’t heal, of having to pay to go to the hospital and have a baby, or having to pay even more for our gas and electricity. We’re afraid another Conservative rule may ruin our future.

But the best we can do is vote. Please, please, get out there and vote.

Oh, but another thing – don’t vote ‘third party.’ A ‘third party’ is a party which is not one of the two (or in England’s case, three) main parties. Statistically, due to our incredibly misrepresentative voting system, a third party vote is essentially a wasted vote.

Imagine you have three candidates, and you and your friends are voting for one of them to attend a party. One friend is very popular, the next is a little less popular, and the next even less so. You know that a lot of people will vote for your friend Tory, the popular one, but you and a few of your friends actually think they’re a bit mean, and want your friend Larry to come instead. Not many people actually want the third candidate, Veronica, to come, but she’s nice to some people anyway and has similar opinions to Larry. This means those who like Veronica are likely to like Larry, too.

Imagine you and your 10 friends get 1 vote each, and only the person with the most votes can attend the party*. Tory is likely to get the most votes, then Larry, then Veronica. If 5 people vote for Tory, 4 people for Larry and 2 for Veronica, then only Tory can go to the party. However, if those who had voted for Veronica, who is okay but not great, had voted for Larry, then Larry would be able to attend the party instead of Tory, and Larry is liked by most of the people.

You can see what I am getting at here – and if you can’t, this video offers a great explanation. This method of voting is called Tactical Voting – where you change your vote depending on who you think everyone around you is most likely to vote for.

In the UK, the three main parties are Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat (plus the SNP in Scotland). There are fringe parties, but thanks to our voting system these are sadly pushed into the background. What you, as a non-Conservative voter, need to do is vote for the party which is most popular in your constituency besides the Conservatives. This can actually be calculated by the online Tactical Vote Checker – which tells you which party to vote for to avoid another 5 Conservative years, depending on your postcode.

And I realize this is an unideal situation, that the fringe parties, which often appeal to many people, can’t ever get to power in this system. It’s rough that a lot of people go under or misrepresented by their candidate, and it’s rough that people don’t know quite how unfair the system is until somebody writes about it on the internet.

But now you know the sad truth, and you can use it to change the world. You can use your knowledge of tactical voting to change the future of the UK from the murky one it has had since 2010 to a brighter future for us and our children.

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* Sorry, I realize this was a little of an oversimplification, as coalitions are possible, but this was a good way of illustrating the essence of tactical voting

Image Credit here.

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Young, mixed-race student living in Scotland. Ready to talk about racism, sex education and feminism!

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