Today, I am going to cast a tactical vote. This isn’t the first time I’ve voted tactically. I’ve done it to ensure the sitting MP wasn’t re-elected – in 1992 and 1997 to get rid, eventually, of Michael Forsyth. I’ve done it to ensure a Tory wasn’t elected – for the Edinburgh West seat in 2001 and 2005. I’ve even done it to help get myself elected, voting for the SNP constituency candidate in 2011. This time though, the reason is very different – I’m voting tactically to support a party with policies that match my beliefs.
I know, that doesn’t sound much of a tactical vote. Worse than that, I’m voting for the party DESPITE disliking their leader and because I believe in my local candidate. By now you’re probably wondering how it’s a tactical vote. Let me explain. In my seat, Edinburgh East, it is a two-horse contest between the Labour and SNP candidates – Sheila Gilmore and Tommy Sheppard. I’ve tried to engage with both of them, whether through Twitter or by email. Tommy was responsive and answered my questions; Sheila is not a tweeter and I found her email response to me snippy and poorly put together. Neither party’s policies are a great fit for my beliefs; Labour are too right wing and while the SNP are left-of-centre, they are too pro-business and not community or environmentally-focussed for my liking. That doesn’t leave me with a lot of choices. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP are not even on the same Venn diagram as me when it comes to politics. The TUSC have policies I agree with but have an anti-European streak and their candidate is holding an election meeting on Wednesday 29th of May. That doesn’t give me much confidence in them.
Instead, I’m going to vote for the Greens’ Peter McColl. I’ve known Peter since the start of the AV campaign in 2010. I stood against him in 2011 and sat on the same hustings panels as him. I know his politics and have faith in his beliefs. He is an old-fashioned conviction politician, something that is worth my vote on its own. How is voting for him a tactical vote? I’m hoping that the voting in the seat goes as the polls predict, with an SNP victory having received approximately 50% of the votes cast. That means the lesser of my two evils is elected, letting me vote for whomever I like. Given that, for once I can vote in a First Past the Post election for a candidate with policies I believe in and trust. At the same time, the Green receive the support they deserve and that will hopefully lead to them being treated more as a mainstream party and less as a minor cause and the beneficiary of protest votes. That seems like sound tactics to me.