⚠️ This was originally posted on my own blog – see that original post for all the updates as to how it reached this version! ⚠️
So you want to stop Brexit? And you have the right to vote at the 2019 UK General Election?
That means you might need to vote tactically to make sure pro-Brexit parties (essentially the Tories) do not win, and that pro-Remain parties do. The problem: which pro-Remain party is best placed to win in the constituency where you live? (Labour is not strictly speaking a Remain party, but is committed to a 2nd Referendum – that ought to be enough for our purposes)
⚠️ NOTE THAT THE DATA IN THIS POST IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE! PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THIS AGAIN BEFORE YOU VOTE! ALSO REMEMBER THAT IF YOU REGISTERED FOR A POSTAL VOTE AND DID NOT CAST IT YOU CAN STILL VOTE AT A POLLING STATION ON 12 DECEMBER – TAKE YOUR BALLOT PAPER WITH YOU! ⚠️
Anyway let’s start.
In which constituency are you entitled to vote? For overseas voters this is the last place you lived when in the UK. Put the postcode in this form, hit search, and a new window will popup where you find out your constituency name from the House of Commons Website:
There are, at the time of writing, 5 online tools that try to help you work out how to vote tactically. These are:
- Get Voting by the pro-EU organisation Best for Britain (their methodology explained) – 🆕 Data update 27 November!
- Remain United by the pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller (their methodology explained)
- Tactical Vote by Becky Snowden and others (their FAQ)
- tactical.vote by the Vote Tools Collective, inc. Zoe Gardner, Luke Cooper and Mary Kaldor (their accuracy examined)
- People’s Vote Tactical Vote Tool by People’s Vote
The problem is that the outcomes from each of these sites – due to the methodology each deploys – can vary quite a lot. So here is a guide through it. Note that I am not going to go into detail about the pros and cons of each tool. In most cases most tools do a good job, and that is enough for this analysis.
🆕 Swap My Vote will help those who live in safe seats make their vote count elsewhere! Once you have read this guide do check it out! 🆕
Where to start
tactical.vote has a handy table on its website that compares how all 5 sites suggest pro-Remain voters should vote in each constituency. Put your constituency name from the step above in there and see what you get. 🚨 NOTE I am only linking to this because it is the best overview! I do not recommend ANY voting tool over any other! 🚨
Scotland and Northern Ireland
The way the tactical voting sites work for Scotland and for Northern Ireland is different than for England and Wales. If you live in Scotland please skip to the Scotland Category, and for Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Category. There are 59 constituencies in Scotland, and 18 in Northern Ireland.
Category 1 in England and Wales: the easy cases where the sites agree
⚠️ If you live in Ashfield, Brackley and Broughton, Ceredigion, Don Valley, Eddisbury, Colchester, Harborough, North East Somerset, South East Cornwall, Southport, Watford, York Outer, please skip to Category 3 in England and Wales below! If you live in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Hertsmere, North West Hampshire or Tatton please skip to Category 2 below. Otherwise read on! ⚠️
If there is a tick in the right column of the table – like this:
Or like this:
then you are on safe ground – you know how to vote tactically with a considerable degree of certainty.
Two sorts of seats show up like in this category: competitive or marginal seats where tactical voting will work, and safe seats where tactical voting is unlikely to work, but the recommendation for which Remain party is strongest is clear.
If your seat is one of these you can relax. How you need to act here is clear!
Better news still: this category covers 506 of the 573 seats in England and Wales! After Best for Britain’s 27 November data update 69 more seats have been added to this category! Hooray!
But what if you are in one of the constituencies where there is no consensus between the voting tools?
Category 2 in England and Wales: the safe seats where voting tools differ, or I interpret things differently
It might be all very well to vote tactically for the hell of it, but let’s not waste too much time with the seats that are not going to change hands anyway. Here the Remain United tool is the most handy – where that site makes no recommendation it is because the seat is safe, for whoever holds it. The data for the Remain United tool can be downloaded at the bottom of the page here.
Example: you live in Rutland and Melton. It is a Conservative safe seat. Whether you vote Labour (as tactical.vote recommends) or Lib Dem (as Get Voting recommends) does not make much odds. The Tories are going to win, whether you like it or not.
Of the seats where the five voting tools differ in their recommendations, I at this stage eliminate the safe seats where tactical voting is unlikely to work. That eliminates a further 21 of the 573 seats in England and Wales. (53 seats have been moved from this category back into Category 1 after Best for Britain’s 27 November data update!)
Of these 21 there are 12 where the Tories are going to win anyway – sorry. So free choice. These are:
Arundel and South Downs
Brentwood and Ongar
Bridgwater and West Somerset
Penrith and The Border
Rutland and Melton
There is 1 that is solid-ish Tory, but Labour can come a clear second – so if you want guidance then go for Labour here:
A further 8 are safe-ish Tory, but if you want guidance then Lib Dem in these ones:
North West Hampshire *
Kenilworth and Southam
* – these 4 seats are I think judged wrongly by some of the tools, so these are my own recommendations
⚠️ Not ALL Tory safe seats are in this list. Tory safe seats where the voting tools agree as to who is best placed in second will fall into the Category 1 above! ⚠️
Category 3 in England and Wales: cases that need closer examination
So these are the ones you have been waiting for. There are – in my view – 46 of the 573 seats where a judgment as to how to vote tactically is a bit more complex, but even here clarity is emerging. (16 seats have been moved from this category back into Category 1 after Best for Britain’s 27 November data update!)
⚠️ Please do not just bemoan this complexity! There are very good reasons why making a call in each of these cases is hard. Politics is not a simple game! ⚠️
These are the 46 seats:
Ashfield, Beaconsfield, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Brackley and Broughton, Broxtowe, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Ceredigion, Chelmsford, Chelsea and Fulham, Chorley, Cities of London and Westminster, Colchester, Don Valley, East Devon, Eddisbury, Epsom and Ewell, Esher and Walton, Finchley and Golders Green, Harborough, Henley, Hitchin and Harpenden, Horsham, Isle of Wight, Kensington, Luton South, Maidstone and The Weald, Mid Sussex, Newton Abbot, North East Somerset, North Somerset, Sheffield Hallam, Solihull, South East Cambridgeshire, South East Cornwall, South West Hertfordshire, Southport, St Austell and Newquay, Tewkesbury, Torridge and West Devon, Wantage, Watford, Wimbledon, Woking, Ynys Môn, York Outer
If you live in one of these seats, read on. And read carefully.
(i) Free choice between Remain Parties seats (4 seats)
Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Cambridge, Ceredigion, Sheffield Hallam
These seats are remarkably rare in England and Wales, with two or more Remain parties vying for victory and the Conservatives far enough back to not be able to win. In each of these three cases make your own call between Lib Dems, Labour or Plaid Cymru (in Ceredigion).
(ii) Unusual Seats (6 seats)
Ashfield, Brackley and Broughton, Chorley, Don Valley, Finchley and Golders Green, Ynys Môn
There is no way to look at these other than examine the individual circumstances.
Ashfield at first glance looks like a solid Labour hold. But on further analysis it is a really unusual case. 70.5% voted Leave. The Ashfield Independents won 9% of the vote in 2017, and have strengthened considerably in Ashfield District Council. One of their main characters – Jason Zadrozny – is running. He’s an ex-Lib Dem who voted Leave in the Referendum. Labour incumbent Gloria Di Piero is standing down, complicating matters still further. Keep an eye on this one! Recommendation: Labour, because the Ashfield Independents cannot be trusted on Brexit issues.
Brackley and Broughton (recent results here) is the seat held by Labour MP Graham Stringer, one of only two prominent Labour EU-sceptics standing again. Recommendation: even though Stringer cannot be trusted on Brexit, a Labour MP here nevertheless reduces the chances of a Tory majority and Prime Minister. Recommendation: Labour
Chorley (recent results here) is the seat of the new Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle. Won by Labour since 1997, the seat will be easily won by Hoyle as Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems will not put up candidates. That the Speaker’s seat is not contested is a democratic anomaly – bad luck, people of Chorley. Recommendation: none.
Don Valley (recent results here) is held by Labour MP Caroline Flint, and she is running again. Under normal circumstances it would make sense to vote for Flint here, as the Tories are in second place. However she is the most hard-core pro-Brexit Labour MP in the running – the only one of the 6 Labour MPs to vote against the Letwin Amendment to stave off No Deal Brexit who is running again (the other 5 are retiring). Recommendation: it’s like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. Recommendation: vote Labour. While Flint cannot be trusted on Brexit, one more Labour MP and one fewer Conservative is marginal progress.
Finchley and Golders Green (recent results here) was a Tory-Labour marginal in 2017, but has become the symbol case about Labour’s anti semitism problem. Ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger is running here for the Liberal Democrats, and other Remain parties are standing down for her (Unite to Remain alliance). While the methodology of constituency polls might be open to question, Survation ran such a poll here putting Berger clearly ahead. Recommendation: the nature of the constituency and Berger’s standing means vote Lib Dem here.
Ynys Môn (recent results here) is a new entry as People’s Vote tool suggests voting Plaid Cymru (also Unite to Remain candidate) here, while it is a Labour seat currently. In 2017 Tories and Plaid Cymru were more or less tied for second. Meanwhile the Conservative candidate has had to stand down due to the expenses scandal. Recommendation: Plaid Cymru. Unite to Remain candidate, and Plaid Cymru have been very close to winning this before. Although held by Labour now I think this one is going to go for Plaid Cymru this time.
(iii) Seats with prominent independents and/or incumbents running (6 seats)
Beaconsfield, Broxtowe, East Devon, Eddisbury, Luton South, South West Hertfordshire
Beaconsfield (recent results here) was won by Brexit rebel Tory Dominic Grieve in 2017, and he is now standing as an independent. The Liberal Democrats are not standing, having decided to back Grieve. Labour was in 2nd place in 2017, and is running. Recommendation: Grieve is among the handful of MPs who has done the most to prevent Brexit happening. From an ethical point of view he has to be backed.
Broxtowe (recent results here) was won by Anna Soubry as a Conservative in 2017, and she is standing as an independent this time. The Lib Dems are not running. However unlike Beaconsfield, this has been a Tory-Labour marginal, and Labour stands a solid chance of winning. Recommendation: Labour. Sorry Soubry, but we need to be hard nosed here. This was a two-way Labour-Tory marginal, and better a Labour candidate wins it than a Tory does, and I cannot see how the independent can win here.
East Devon (recent results here) is a rather different case. Claire Wright has contested the last two elections here as an independent, and secured 35% of the vote in 2017. She is committed to Remain. Recommendation: Claire Wright (Independent).
Eddisbury (recent results here) is slightly different in that ex-Tory incumbent Antoinette Sandbach is running as a Lib Dem here, but the situation she faces is hard – the Liberal Democrats only did well in 2010 here, Remain United sees this as a Tory safe seat, and the seat voted 52.2% Leave. Recommendation: I cannot see how Labour can win this, but if Sandbach can bring enough ex-Tories with her maybe she can run the Conservatives close. Vote Lib Dem.
Luton South (recent results here) was won by Gavin Shuker for Labour in 2017, and he subsequently – via Change UK – ended up as an independent. The Liberal Democrats have stood down here, and are endorsing Shuker. The Tories were in second place in 2015 and 2017, and held the seat until 1997. Recommendation: Labour. The Lib Dems have had no strength here, and I cannot see how Shuker can make up the shortfall.
South West Hertfordshire (recent results here) was David Gauke’s seat, won by him as a Conservative in 2017. We now know he is running as an Independent here, and he is now committed to a 2nd Brexit Referendum. However at the time of writing it is not known if the Liberal Democrats will stand aside for him (as they have in Beaconsfield and Broxtowe). Recommendation: this was a safe Tory seat. Gauke might bring some support with him, and other parties are miles behind. Back Gauke.
(iv) Three way marginals or competitive seats with Conservative incumbents, Labour 2nd in 2017 (27 seats)
All of the following seats have Conservative incumbents, Labour in second place in 2017, and Lib Dems 3rd in 2017. However they vary considerably in terms of location (and tradition of voting Lib Dem or not), percentage of the vote for Leave, and urban or rural. Polling by Survation in Esher and Walton and Wokingham (clear Lib Dems in 2nd there though!) show affluent outer suburban London leaning Lib Dem.
The question in seats like this is whether the Liberal Democrats are well enough placed to make the jump past Labour
Chelmsford (recent results here) 50.7% Leave (Chelmsford has not had a Lib Dem MP in recent times, but the Liberal Democrats surged here in the 2019 local elections), Chelsea and Fulham (recent results here) 29.1% Leave, Cities of London and Westminster (recent results here) 28.1% Leave, Epsom and Ewell (recent results here) 47.8% Leave (Lib Dems solid in 2nd earlier in the 2000s, demographically similar to other neighbouring constituencies), Esher and Walton (recent results here) 41.6% Leave, Henley (recent results here) 43.1% Leave, Hitchin and Harpenden (recent results here) 39.3% Leave, Horsham (recent results here) 49.5% Leave, Maidstone and The Weald (recent results here) 56.0% Leave (Lib Dems did not tank here even in 2015 and 2017, no Labour support really), Mid Sussex (recent results here) 46.4% Leave, Newton Abbot (recent results here) 56.0% Leave, North East Somerset (recent results here) 51.6% Leave, North Somerset (recent results here) 47.6% Leave, South East Cambridgeshire (recent results here) 45.3% Leave, South East Cornwall (recent results here) 55.1% Leave, Solihull (recent results here), 54.2% Leave (is judged to be a safe seat by Remain United, but I was urged to reconsider it. The seat has had Lib Dem MPs in the past, and due to the demography that looks to be a good call again), St Austell and Newquay (recent results here) 64.1% Leave, Tewkesbury (recent results here) 53.6% Leave (some latent Lib Dem support, but still looks very solid for the Tories), Torridge and West Devon (recent results here) 57.2% Leave (has been a Lib Dem seat), Wantage (recent results here), 46.5% Leave (looking at the demography and local party activity it make sense to vote Lib Dem here), Wimbledon (recent results here), 27.3% Leave (although Labour came second here in 2017, the Liberal Democrats have an advantage in picking up disgruntled Tories and have made some local council gains. The new People’s Vote tool also backs this up), Woking (recent results here) 44.3% Leave.
NEW – Changed Recommendation in V8!
Now all 5 tactical voting sites are recommending Labour in these five constituencies. I do not want to make extra confusion. So I switch to Labour for my recommendation here!
Colchester (recent results here) 51.5% Leave (there have been Lib Dem MPs in the past, while the council gains in 2019 were more moderate than in Chelmsford), Harborough (recent results here) 52.4% Leave (this one is likely to stay Tory, but the recent results show enduring Lib Dem support, even though the 2015 and 2017 elections that were bad for the Lib Dems. Council elections much better for Lib Dems than Labour), Southport (recent results here) 46.3% Leave,Watford(recent results here), 51.2% Leave (Richard Harrington, the moderate Conservative, is standing down. Labour did very well here in 2017, but that looks like an exception when viewed against historical results – Lib Dems control Watford Council, and had strength here before 2015 and 2017 elections), York Outer (recent results here) 44.7% Leave (complex three way marginal, but strong Lib Dem results in local elections, and a solid local campaign, mean this one is a better bet for the Liberal Democrats).
(v) Other three way marginals (3 seats)
In two seats where the voting tools differ, the 2017 result was Tory, Labour, Green
In Bury St Edmunds clearly Labour has a better chance – vote Labour. In Isle or Wight vote Green (Unite to Remain Alliance).
In one seat where the voting tools differ, Labour won in 2017, with the Tories second and Lib Dems third
Kensington (recent results here) 31.2% Leave
Recommendation: Lib Dem. Sorry Labour, but I have to be hard nosed here – based on the polling and the demographics this one is more likely to go Lib Dem.
Conclusions – England and Wales
At the time of writing, all five tactical voting tools make the same recommendation in 437 of the 573 seats in England and Wales. If you live in one of those seats, trust the recommendation.
If you live in one of the 74 of the 573 seats that are likely Tory safe seats you are probably safe to vote with your heart, knowing anyone defeating the Tories there is one hell of a long shot. If you still need guidance there, tactical.vote will lean more heavily on the 2017 General Election result to tell you what to do, and Get Voting will align more closely with opinion polls, with Remain United somewhere in the middle.
If you live in one of the 46 of the 573 seats that are complex cases and where the voting tools differ or new data indicates errors, read the advice above.
- In 4 (Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Cambridge, Ceredigion, Sheffield Hallam) it’s a free choice between Labour and the Liberal Democrats (or Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion), without any real danger.
- I view 1 as a special case (Chorley).
- In 3 (Beaconsfield, East Devon, South West Hertfordshire) vote Independent.
- In a further
3024 (Chelmsford, Chelsea and Fulham, Cities of London and Westminster, Colchester, Eddisbury, Epsom and Ewell, Esher and Walton, Finchley and Golders Green, Harborough, Henley, Hitchin and Harpenden, Horsham, Kensington, Maidstone and The Weald, Mid Sussex, Newton Abbot, North East Somerset, North Somerset, South East Cambridgeshire, South East Cornwall, Solihull, Southport, St Austell and Newquay, Tewkesbury, Torridge and West Devon, Wantage, Watford, Wimbledon, Woking, York Outer) vote Lib Dem.
612 (Ashfield, Brackley and Broughton, Broxtowe, Bury St Edmunds, Don Valley, Luton South) vote Labour. UPDATE V8: Colchester, Harborough, Southport, Watford, York Outer now changed from Lib Dem TO Labour recommendations.
- In 1 (Isle of Wight) vote Green.
- In 1 (Ynys Môn) vote Plaid Cymru.
Category: Scotland (59 seats)
How the tactical voting sites deal with Scottish seats is different than for English and Welsh seats. People’s Vote (the fourth column) and Get Voting (the fifth column) in the comparison table do not make recommendations for Scottish seats. So if you live in Scotland and the table shows results like this it is nevertheless clear what to do:
The SNP holds 35 of the 59 Scottish seats (full list here) – if you back Remain, vote for the SNP in any of those 35 seats.
In the 24 seats not held by the SNP, the split is as follows:
13 seats – all of these are currently Tory held, with the SNP in 2nd place. Recommendation: SNP.
Aberdeen South, Angus, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, Banff and Buchan, Berwickshire, Roxborough and Selkirk, Dumfries and Galloway, Dunfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, East Renfrewshire, Gordon, Moray, Ochil and South Perthshire, Stirling, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
5 seats – currently held by Labour in each case, with SNP second, where the Conservatives cannot win. Vote with your ideology here.
Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, Glasgow North East, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Midlothian, Rutherglen and Hamilton West
4 seats – held by the Liberal Democrats, with Labour or the SNP placed second, no chance for Conservatives. Likewise vote as you see fit here.
Orkney & Shetland, East Dunbartonshire, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Edinburgh West
Only two seats need more care:
Edinburgh South (clear Labour recommendation, because Tories are in third only just behind SNP – recent results here). East Lothian (recent results here) is a tricky Scottish three way marginal. It was a Labour gain from the SNP in 2017, but the Tory vote also went up in 2017, placing the Tories in third just behind the SNP. The 2015 SNP result here looks like the outlier, not least because at the 2014 independence referendum East Lothian voted more than 60% against independence (results here). Recommendation: vote Labour.
Conclusions – Scotland
Vote SNP in 48 seats. In 5 seats it’s a free choice between Labour and SNP. In 4 seats free choice between Lib Dems, Labour and SNP. In only two seats is it more complicated – vote Labour in Edinburgh South and East Lothian.
Category: Northern Ireland (18 seats)
The main issue of discussion here is if the UUP is an adequate choice for Remain voters. People’s Vote thinks it is. I take the opposite view, meaning there are only 3 Remain parties to recommend in Northern Ireland. These are:
12 seats – Sinn Féin
Belfast North, Belfast West, Belfast West, East Londonderry, Fermanagh,
Foyle, Mid Ulster, Newry & Armagh, Sinn Fein, South Down, Upper Bann, West Tyrone
7 seats – Alliance Party
Belfast East, North Down, Lagan Valley, Strangford, North Antrim, East Antrim, South Antrim
1 seat – SDLP
Belfast South, Foyle, South Down
If you take the view that UUP is adequately pro Remain, then vote for them in Lagan Valley and South Antrim.
A vote for the SDLP in Foyle or South Down is not a danger, in that the DUP cannot win, but I am not making calls between Remain parties if a Remain party is currently in the lead. 🆕 For Foyle, SDLP (who do take Westminster seats) have a chance, while Sinn Féin better in South Down (debate here).
Now all 650 seats (every seat in the whole of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have been assessed!
As some of this data might change between now and the election, please do check back here before you cast your ballot.
But what matters is how many people vote tactically. How to do so in each constituency is now quite clear!