Johnson can be toppled by tactical voting

by Andrew Gowers | 26.11.2019

With barely two weeks to go, the national polls point to a majority for Boris Johnson and his disastrous Brexit plans. But what if those polls give too much weight to national averages and not enough to the particular circumstances in individual constituencies?

A close reading of the runes in seven seats suggests the battle to stop this madness is far from lost. Analysis by Datapraxis combining polling data with other features of each constituency such as age and demographics shows how. It demonstrates that tactical voting could unseat some Big Brexiter Beasts, including in a best-case scenario Johnson himself.

Let’s look at the math. In his adoptive constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where he famously promised to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop a new runway at Heathrow, Johnson had a majority at the 2017 election of just over 5,000, half the figure in 2015 and the lowest for a sitting Prime Minister since 1924. If turnout is high, especially among under-40s, and Lib Debs and Greens vote tactically for Labour, the challenger Ali Milani has a chance of staging the biggest upset of the election by toppling Johnson.

Even if Johnson prevails, there are other, more vulnerable targets which are also juicy. Dominic Raab, the widely disliked Foreign Secretary, won by a large margin in 2017 but his constituency Esher amd Walton voted 58% Remain in the referendum and poll projections see his majority this time falling to just under 3,000. Surely it wouldn’t take an earthquake to persuade Tory and Labour Remainers to band together to replace this most rabid of Brexiteers, who admitted as Brexit Secretary that he didn’t know Britain relied on trade between Dover and Calais. 

Similar logic could apply in Wokingham, where the even more swivel-eyed John Redwood is defending his 2017 majority against former fellow-Tory Phillip Lee; or Chingford, where Iain Duncan-Smith, arch-Brexit-spokesman as well as the most incompetent Tory leader of modern times, had a wafer-thin margin last time and could lose it to Labour if enough Lib Dems vote tactically. 

Want more InFacts?

To receive regular updates from the InFacts team, fill in your details below.

    Subscribe me to your mailing list

    In Richmond Park, Lib Dem Sarah Olney is all but certain to repeat her 2015 victory over dodgy Zac Goldsmith. Other vulnerable Brexit beasts include hardline ERG Chairman Steve Baker in Wycombe and Trump admirer Philip Davies in Shipley.

    So voters of Uxbridge, Esher, Wokingham, Chingford, Richmond Park, Shipley and Wycombe, the message is clear: vote tactically to topple your Tories and stop a Hard Brexit. Yes, you can!

    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    Categories: Uncategorised

    8 Responses to “Johnson can be toppled by tactical voting”

    • I don’t think people are really thinking about tactical voting enough. LibDem/Labour votes are not as interchangeable as tends to be assumed. While maybe 70% of Labour voters could be persuaded to vote LibDem to topple a Tory, going the other way only 60% might while the other 40% would switch to the Tory if it looked like Labour would win (so net only 20% of the LibDem vote is available to Labour).

      In many of these Southern seats where Labour seem to be in second place they still stand no chance, while the LibDem could take the seat if only Labour would face up to the reality.

    • It would be lovely to see Boris toppled in his constituency. His Get Brexit Done nonsense is really deceitful though sadly it seems to be working in some quarters as a piece of political spin – should be Get Brexit Spun…

    • Is it not a problem that different tactical voting sites make different recommendations? The only possible effect of these differences is that the local anti-Tory vote is split so that a Tory who needn’t have been let in is let in.
      Exploration of the various recommendations suggests that the People’s Vote is anti-Labour in its recommendations.
      In 2017 I thought it (People’s Vote tactical site) made the wrong call in my constituency. I complained. They changed from a vote Tory recommendation (admittedly the then incumbent Tory had voted Remain in 2016) to a Vote LibDem recommendation. But with LibDems having 10K votes more catch-up to do than Labour did, voting LibDem seemed to me utterly pointless.
      Still my main point is: aren’t tactical voting sites themselves pointless if, despite having a single aim in 2019 — sc. of stopping Johnson getting Brexit “done” — they make different recommendations? Are their methods different? And even if each favours its own method, shouldn’t they try not to work against one another?
      Still, let’s hope tactical voting can be effective in the constituencies you’ve singled out.

    • Barry, the sites are designed for those who’ll vote however might serve best to stop a Johnson Brexit. If people aren’t thinking about tactical voting enough, then not enough people appreciate the dire need to stop a Johnson Brexit.

    • Remember, remember the 12th of December
      The date for us voters to be sure to dismember
      A liar: from Uxbridge and as our PM
      So pro bono publico, carpe diem.
      Roll up to the poll, ‘cos if some libdems won
      We could take back control and GET BREXIT UNDONE!

    • Agreed – Croydon South is a good example. Best for Britain and Gina Miller’s website are going for Lib Dems but Peoples vote have chosen Labour so it really is not going to work. Best way will be vote swapping with a marginal.