Comment: A race to power unlike anything before
This election will be like none that have come before it as far as voters are concerned.
The drastic changes to the political landscape since the EU referendum mean that deciding whether to vote along party lines or because we like a certain candidate are no longer the only choices we face when heading to the polls next month.
Brexit has muddied the waters, and from all quarters voters now being urged to vote tactically.
On the Remain side of the argument there are several campaigns running that highlight seats where voters who fear Brexit should vote for a particular candidate.
There’s the Gina Miller-led Remain United, which has pinpointed 50 seats urging voters to back Lib Dem candidates. Best For Britain, meanwhile, recommends around 150 seats for Jo Swinson’s party.
Now People’s Vote (PV) – the largely discredited organisation which has been dogged by internal rows – has lined up 100 seats as part of its own tactical voting push.
There is also a so-called ‘progressive alliance’ in operation, where the Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru have agreed to step aside for each other in certain seats.
While Remainers are desperately pulling out every trick in the book in an effort to stop a Boris Johnson majority, those on the Leave side of the debate have plans of their own.
The Tories’ key message of being the only party who can deliver Brexit is in itself a clear hint to Leave supporters of all parties as to where their ‘X’ should be going on December 12. And Nigel Farage’s decision to stand aside Brexit Party candidates in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017 can be viewed as an instruction to his own supporters to vote Tory in those constituencies.
For many, all of this chicanery is highly problematic.
For example, a closer look at the candidates endorsed by PV reveals that some of them do not exactly represent the epitome of Remain.
Labour candidate Melanie Dudley, who is the chosen one in the Leave stronghold of Dudley North, says she is committed to “fulfilling the wishes” of her constituents on Brexit.
How do Ian Flynn for the Lib Dems and Mike Harrison for the Greens feel about her endorsement from PV? They both represent genuine Remain parties and are being sidelined for a Labour Party which has not yet decided whether or not it will support a future Brexit deal.
Wolverhampton South West is another case in point. PV advises voters to back Labour’s Eleanor Smith, who last year said she was not convinced by arguments for a second referendum.
In other seats, traditional Labour voters who back Remain are being asked to support the Lib Dems – a party many of them cannot forgive for the role it played as enablers in David Cameron’s coalition government.
On one hand, people are being advised to abandon the parties they may have supported for years over one issue.
But you can also add into the mix the fact that there are Labour voters who can’t and won’t back Mr Corbyn, and Tory voters who feel the same way about Mr Johnson.
By the time polling day comes along, many voters are likely to feel utterly disillusioned by the whole convoluted mess.