Be prepared for 'frantic' Lib Dem leaflets on tactical voting, says former MP

Be prepared for 'frantic' Lib Dem leaflets on tactical voting, says former MP
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 02/07/2024

- 15:08

Former Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten has said tactical voting is the “best bet” for individuals to decide how they want to vote with the current voting system and said he agrees with Nigel Farage on electoral reform.

Oaten also defended the party’s role in the coalition, saying they stopped the Conservatives from being “more right wing”.

Speaking to GB News, he said: ““I think in the first past the post system we have, the Lib Dems would argue, and many Labour people would argue it's the only way that you can actually have a real say, use your democratic rights.

“And if you think about it, in a seat where perhaps one party might get 40% of the vote and 60% of the electorate are against that party, it makes sense for that 60% to try and figure out how they can align to defeat the party on 40%.

“So it gives people a choice and it’s not ideal, but in the current system, it's the best bet for individuals to decide how they want to vote.

“You can't force people how to vote, so all of these various campaigns are giving advice, they're providing information for voters. But I find that voters are pretty quick at working this out themselves. They look at who came second last time round, and if they want to get rid of the person who is in first place, then they'll vote for that second place.

“But there'll be a frantic effort by the Lib Dems in the next 48 hours to make sure that people do know where they're in second place. And this is critical.

“My understanding is there's a large number of seats on a knife edge at the moment where that tactical vote could make all of the difference. So you'll see lots of leaflets with bar charts showing ‘only the Lib Dems to beat the Tories here’, and that will be a message they're going to drum home until Thursday and beyond.

“It has taken a lot of rebuilding [since the coalition] and Ed’s been the first to say that a lot of the Lib Dem MPs lost their seats. They paid the price for what they did on tuition fees, but that is now some years away.

“And I think the Lib Dems would argue, actually, yeah, we made some mistakes then. But by golly, look what the Tories have done since after the Lib Dems left the coalition.

“They've given us so many Prime Ministers, so many failed attempts. They gave us Liz Truss. So when you compare what we did on tuition fees, frankly, the Tories have done a hell of a lot worse.

“I think if you look at the Tories in coalition with the Lib Dems, I think history will look back on it as actually being quite a successful government. You had David Cameron as prime minister. It achieved a lot of things. Since the Lib Dems left the coalition, actually, I would argue the Tories have gone in the wrong direction. They've moved more right wing. We've seen failed policies.

“I'll tell you this, if the Lib Dems had still been in coalition, you wouldn't have seen the fiasco over Rwanda, for example. You wouldn't have seen the Lib Dems allowing the Conservatives to pander in the way that they have done to the right and to Reform.

“And it is definitely the case that this Conservative government, after the Lib Dems left, has shifted to the right, and they've done it simply because they're trying to prevent Reform from taking their votes; a policy which appears to be failing.

“Well, [whether a woman can have a penis] is hugely controversial and individuals have got different views on that.

“It’s a sensitive issue with a wide range of views that individuals have on this. I know that here in the seat where I've been trying to help campaign, there are lots of letter writing campaigns on all different sides on this issue.

“I don't think people are going to vote on the transgender issue, per se. I think they're going to be voting on whether a party can fix the NHS or social care or sewage. These are the core messages that Lib Dems are talking about.

“And look, I think the way things are heading, they should maybe get up to 60 or 70 seats on Thursday. So it suggests to me that those messages have been hitting home.

“I think the problem for Reform is that they are going to maybe get 17, 18% of the vote and potentially no seats. Now, that is an outrage. I'm no Reform fan, but that is anti democratic, and the Lib Dems have realised the only way to deal with this is to get involved in tactical voting and to target maybe 70 seats, and put so much effort into those seats.

“It shouldn't have to be like this. Surely to goodness, we can create a system where people can vote, and it links in much more with how many people vote per party. This has to change, and on this, I find myself bizarrely in complete alliance with Nigel Farage.”


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