Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Should First Past The Post be perverted by the Lib Dems?

Posted by Jason O on Apr 4, 2012 in British Politics

I recently read a piece by Lord Ashcroft, the Tory strategist, who pointed out a very interesting anomaly about the British FPTP voting system. He remarked how a group of doctors were considering running as anti-NHS reform candidates in the next general election, and how, by draining votes away from Labour candidates who are also anti-NHS reform, they would actually be helping pro-NHS reform Tory candidates. It’s a curiosity that would be alien to Irish voters, as, due to our preference voting system, you can’t waste your vote unless you actually choose to, unlike FPTP.
The same applies to UKIP. Don’t forget, we are not talking about getting eurosceptic voters to realise the error of their ways. Instead, we are talking about getting potential Tory voters to waste their votes. A Lib Dem candidate in contention for a seat with a Tory candidate could do a lot worse than make sure that the UKIP candidate was well resourced, perhaps even going so far as to deliver UKIP leaflets with his own leaflets in strong Tory areas. After all, a voter who is primarily motivated by euroscepticism is very unlikely to vote Lib Dem. However, getting him to switch from Tory to UKIP is much more possible, and of benefit to the Lib Dem.
Is it wrong to do so? It used to be, up to the AV referendum. But as the British people have endorsed FPTP despite this flaw it must surely mean that they accept the possible of such an anomaly. Will Tories protest? Of course, but who cares? After all, there is an electoral system that would prevent just such a thing occurring, and we know where they stand on that.

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