Nigel Hastilow, political columnist for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star and former Conservative candidate for Halesowen & Rowley Regis, has taken the unusual step of explaining why he’s going to vote for a political party he doesn’t want to win.
He doesn’t like the Conservatives, doesn’t like David Cameron, doesn’t agree with Conservative policies, doesn’t trust their promises and doesn’t want them in government but he’s going to vote for them because he doesn’t like Labour, doesn’t like Ed Miliband, doesn’t agree with Labour policies, doesn’t trust their promises and doesn’t want them in government.
He says that if UKIP do well in a particular seat then they’ll do well in neighbouring seats but not well enough to win and that will let Labour win based on the estimate that UKIP takes 4 voters off the Conservatives for every one it takes off Labour. Were Labour and the Conservatives the only parties standing in elections other than UKIP that might be the case but the political landscape this year is very different from last year, let alone the general election five years ago.
For instance, the same polling that suggests four Conservatives voters switch to UKIP for every Labour voter also says that one Lib Dem voter will switch to UKIP for every three Conservative voters which is more votes for UKIP not at the expense of either Labour or the Conservatives. The polling also predates the Green Party’s recent surge on the far left, hoovering up Labour votes and giving a boost to the Conservatives.
According to a Comres poll conducted after the local and EU elections last year, 86% of people who voted UKIP said they would do so again this year. Those people aren’t going back to the parties they previously voted for, they’re now UKIP voters. They’re not Conservatives casting a protest vote who can be enticed “home”, UKIP is now their home. If any of them can be convinced to vote Conservative, they’re UKIP voters casting a protest vote against Labour not Conservative voters returning home.
But the big logic failure in Nigel Hastilow’s article is the idea that UKIP voters would prefer a Conservative government to a Labour government. Yes, a Labour government is a terrifying prospect and even more so if they end up in a coalition with the SNP. But the prospect of a Tory government is equally frightening, especially if they have to form a coalition with one of the minor parties like the Lib Dems, the Greens or the DUP. As mentioned above, 86% of people who voted UKIP last year intend to do it again this year – they’re voting UKIP because they want UKIP, it’s not a protest.
You can imagine Nigel Hastilow being asked by his colleagues at the Express & Star where they should go for a team meal …
“I don’t like curry, it always makes me ill and I don’t want to go for a Chinese because I had Chinese food last night”.
“What I really want is pizza but everyone always chooses Indian or Chinese so I suppose I’d better say Chinese just in case most people say they want a curry”.
So instead of getting pizza like he wants, poor Nigel is probably going to get Chinese. Again. Because voting for something you don’t want because you don’t want something else just increases the chances of you getting something you don’t want.
If you don’t want to wake up on May 8th to find that your vote has helped someone you don’t want to win the election then make sure you put your cross next to your local UKIP candidate.