How to make your vote count: is Tactical Voting a necessary evil? With Femi Oluwole | Crooked Media
Jon, Jon & Tommy's first ever book is here - Order Democracy or Else NOW! Jon, Jon & Tommy's first ever book is here - Order Democracy or Else NOW!
June 13, 2024
Pod Save the UK
How to make your vote count: is Tactical Voting a necessary evil? With Femi Oluwole

In This Episode

The polls are indicating a landslide victory for Labour come the election on July 4th. But that hasn’t stopped the calls – from both the left and the right – for citizens to vote tactically. But what does that really mean in Britain’s broken electoral system?


Joining Nish and Coco on the PSUK sofa is Femi Oluwole, activist and campaigner, and Joe Twyman, a seasoned pollster covering his 9th election. Together they discuss whether this is an election for people to vote with their heart or if being “strategic” is more important and whether our new parliament has any hope of delivering long overdue reform to our electoral system.


We also hear from Jessica Garland from the Electoral Reform Society.


Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Contact us via email: 

WhatsApp: 07494 933 444 (UK) or + 44 7494 933 444 (internationally)








Femi Oluwole, YouTube Campaigner, Tactical Voting activist

Joe Twyman, Co-founder and director of Deltapoll


Audio Clips:

Sky News



Channel 5



Useful links:


Come to see Pod Save the UK live at Edinburgh Fringe!






Coco Khan The polls are predicting a Tory wipeout and a Labour landslide, but not a single vote has yet to be cast.


Nish Kumar In spite of the fact it feels like this election has been going on for 17 years. So how do we make the most of our votes in a broken electoral system? I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan and this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar Today we’re joined by pollster Joe Twyman. The Electoral Reform Society’s Jessica Garland and political activist Femi Oluwole. But first.


Clip Do you didn’t care, did you? No, I cared deeply. Why didn’t you stay? As I said, the itinerary for these events was set weeks ago before the general election campaign. I participated in events both in Portsmouth and in France. And having fully participated in all the British events with British veterans, I returned home before the international leaders event. That was a mistake and I apologize for that.


Coco Khan That’s Rishi Sunak speaking to Sky New’s Sam Coates in possibly the most painful moment of the campaign so far? Now many of our listeners will have heard about this story already, but it’s really worth turning it over. This is a catastrophe for the Tories.


Nish Kumar So yeah, it’s been a second disastrous week for, I think, maybe the worst campaign I’ve ever experienced. In 2017, Theresa may went into that election that she called with such kind of boisterous confidence because the polls were saying she was going, and then she ran such a bad campaign that she kind of squandered all of her kind of political advantage and ended up narrowly winning the election. But having to go into a kind of confidence and supply arrangement with the DP to prop up her ailing government. This campaign is even worse. So just to summarize it, for people, perhaps outside of the UK or for people who’ve just buried their head in the sand and are trying to not not engage with this at all. Rishi Sunak decided to ditch the D-Day ceremonies in Normandy last Friday and instead pre-record an interview with ITV news. So he attended, the British events, in the morning. But then there was a huge international celebration, which was a pretty significant deal because it’s widely seemed to be the last day celebration where there will be people who were actually on the beaches attending. Emmanuel Macron was there, who himself is not sure of a couple of political problems. But he managed to make the time Biden was there. So that left David Cameron in his stead. Who is, let’s face it, the ultimate substitute teacher. Keir Starmer actually remained, and there were lots of photos of him with, Vladimir Zelensky looking very much like the prime minister of the United Kingdom. It’s, it was a catastrophic piece of political miscalculation.


Coco Khan Last week, we were talking about how the problems with Diane Abbott and Pfizer Shaheen were overshadowing Labour’s policy pledges. Basically, they couldn’t really get any other messaging out. That seems to have kind of curtailed. And in a way, this is the Tories answer to it. However, we’re on day six now. I have a feeling this is going to roll on and get bigger and bigger and bigger.


Nish Kumar So the reason that he skipped the D-Day celebration was to do an interview with ITV, which is actually going to air tonight. We’re recording this on Wednesday morning. That interview will air tonight. ITV and the journalist Paul Brand, who gave the interview, have repeatedly reminded the public that D-Day was the only time they were offered by the Conservative Party to interview the Prime Minister. So Paul Bradley’s got out of his way to tell us, look, we didn’t even want to do it.


Coco Khan Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Nish Kumar It’s the only time we were offered by the Conservative Party. And listen, if there’s one golden rule in British politics, you don’t fuck with World War Two.


Coco Khan So on Tuesday night, ITV began trailing the interview. Here’s a taster.


Clip Prime Minister, hello. Good to see you. Very nice to see you. Hey. Sorry to have kept you. I’m well thank you. No, not at all. I know you’re filming. Yeah. It all just ran out there. Was incredible, but it just ran over. I’m sure it was. So apologies for keeping you.


Nish Kumar ITV. They are absolutely loving sticking the boot in. That’s the sound of Rishi Sunak entering the interview room and telling the interview with that the event had run over. Yeah, it was incredible, but it had run over. You skipped most of it, mate.


Coco Khan There were some other tasty morsels in the interview. You probably would have heard people talking about how Rishi Sunak has been saying he had some sacrifices that his family had to make when he was younger. One of them is they didn’t have Sky TV, which is obviously very rough. It is worth pointing out that Rishi Sunak is currently richer than the king, though.


Nish Kumar Yes, it’s quite an extraordinary line to not have a prepared response to, only because it’s probably one of the most famous fact, I’d ventured, that there’s all of our international listenership. A lot of them know that Rishi Sunak is richer than the King of England. It’s a line that’s consistently trotted out about him and his personal wealth, and it is sort of vaguely incredible that nobody within his campaign team is there. We should probably have an answer for that. Yeah. And instead he said, well, we had to give some things up. We didn’t have Sky TV, I didn’t have Sky TV when I was younger, but now. Maybe it’s like Sky TV. I can’t go around going the hardship of my child. Truly, it was hard. That. Does it portray you as being Oliver Twist?


Coco Khan Well, he is, out of touch. I think we can all agree on that. And anyway, yeah, like we said, you know, this week the Tories were attempting to sell their manifesto. Yeah, it’s not been a good week for them to get those messages out. But don’t worry, because if you missed it in all the D-Day drama, we’re going to be talking about it this weekend. We’ve got a massive manifesto breakdown episode coming your way.


Nish Kumar But for now, polling data suggests that the Tories will be facing a wipe out at the latest. Poll from Sky news and YouGov on Tuesday showed the Tories at 17%. That’s only one point ahead of reform at 16. The Lib Dems polled at 15%, suggesting the parties are now in a three way race. What we’re potentially facing is Labour, Labour and Liberal Democrats on opposite sides of the despatch box and the Liberal Democrats being the biggest party in opposition.


Coco Khan So the Tories have been trying to shore up support from defecting voters across the week. Here’s Rishi Sunak making his case to voters while speaking to BBC’s Nick Robinson on Monday evening.


Clip There’s only going to be one of two people who’s Prime Minister Keir Starmer or myself. A vote for anyone who’s not a conservative candidate is just make it more likely that Keir Starmer is that person.


Coco Khan All right. So what’s actually going on here? Is Sunak encouraging the public to vote tactically, not necessarily voting for the candidate you want to vote for. That is a symptom of first past the post and to learn more about it, I had a chat with Jess Garland from the Electoral Reform Society. So, Jess, explain it to me like I’m five. What is first past the post?


Jessica Garland Well, it’s taken from, horse racing, right. So it’s the first horse to get across the line. So basically it means that the winner is the candidate who’s got the most votes. But that only needs to be a plurality. Doesn’t need to be the majority of the votes. They can have one more vote than the second place candidate, or they can have thousands more votes and the second place candidates, whichever way it goes. Yes, the person with the plurality that wins. And of course, that means we do get a lot of people waiting on 3,035% of the vote, which is pretty low when it comes to when it comes to an election result. No one’s talking about changing to the first past the post system because it is so flawed in in so many ways in most countries, not just in Europe, around the world, are using some form of that proportional system.


Coco Khan And so because we have this system where you can become prime minister and your party can form the government with 30%, 35% of the votes, it’s probably not surprising that tactical voting has emerged. If you would, it might again, for our international listeners and for me, the little five year old inside, what exactly is tactical voting?


Jessica Garland Well, tactical voting is basically defined as someone who’s going to vote for, not their first choice of, say, or policy, but another party in order to keep out a party or candidate that they dislike more. So, you know, and this kind of coalesce around different sort of, areas or policies. But essentially it’s like, you know, hold your nose voting.


Coco Khan It’s weird when you explain tactical voting, the hold your nose approach because, you know, quite often the idealistic view would be that you vote for the person or the party that inspires you the most. But under that system, you vote for the one that you, hate the least. Or certainly one that is not the one you hate the most. It seems to be a system that requires a villain and a boogeyman. Does that sound right?


Jessica Garland Yeah, absolutely. If it feels like. I think that’s a really good description, it feels like quite a negative vote. You know, you’re kind of you’re not voting with your heart. You’re trying to make a sort of strategic choice to kind of an affect an outcome. And of course, when you’re making all those decisions, it might not actually have the effect that you think it’s going to. And of course, you know, whether tactical voting then actually has an impact on results relies on so many things going in a particular direction that, you know, you can be going to the polling station not voting with your heart. Voting in a white is, you know, as you say, to hold your nose and still it not leading to the outcome that you want it to. So there’s a lot of risk in that approach as well as it being quite a negative thing to be doing.


Coco Khan So I mean, you know, on this episode we’re going to be looking at tactical voting in depth. And I just suppose in a nutshell, do you think it’s a good idea?


Jessica Garland Well, I think people shouldn’t feel like they have to cast a tactical vote. And it’s so, you know, easy and straightforward to make it a non-issue by having an electoral system where people can go and vote for exactly who they want to and vote on the basis of that party’s policies, not on some strategic choice. We’ve got the current system we have. And so obviously it’s, you know, it’s voters want to make those choices. That is entirely up to them.


Coco Khan So it sounds like our electoral system certainly needs reform, as you would know. But why is it taking so long to move this up the agenda. And what is the resistance from the mainstream parties?


Jessica Garland Well, the big issue here is, of course, that, you know, the the government needs to change the system, will bring forward legislation to change the system. And our governments necessarily have just won an election under the previous system. So there’s a bit of an inbuilt bias, which means that even, you know, certainly in other countries where there’s been big reform movements, even policies like promising reform, when they get into power, get into power and that system, and then sort of start rethinking whether they are just as keen on it as they were before. So where you’ve seen change, you’ve seen more of a cross-party approach to it, or sometimes you’ve seen one party pick up the mantle of another party when they get into power. But I do think there are already strong reasons to do so, and I think everyone who gets into power needs to be thinking about not just the next four years look like. But what does the next decade or two decades look like?




Nish Kumar Joining us in the studio now is the writer and activist Femi Oluwole and Joe Twyman, co-founder and director of Delta Paul. Welcome, Femi and Joe. Joe, you’re really kissing up to our parent company by wearing a Crooked Media t-shirt on the podcast.


Joe Twyman Yes, this was a gift from an American admirer, and I’m a big fan of, of their podcast.


Nish Kumar Wow. Somehow he’s managed to be both a kiss ass and a dick from Joe. Joe is wearing a Friend of the Pod t-shirt for the benefit of, of everyone listening.


Coco Khan But crucially, not our pod.


Joe Twyman I’m completely made that clear from the outset. I have no strong opinions either way.


Nish Kumar Yeah. That’s fine. You’re allowed to be partial about US politics.


Joe Twyman Yeah, well, I don’t necessarily think that’s true.


Nish Kumar Femi, you’ve had a busy couple of years since 2016. And you, how involved are you and what what sort of form is your campaign campaigning, taking in this election?


Femi Oluwole Right now we’re really focusing on A, getting out the votes and B, the discussion around tactical voting, which is a massive discussion, especially among Gen Z and the take on TikTok. Because a lot of people are disillusioned with Labour. They’ve seen the direction that it’s gone and aren’t happy. But at the same time, after 14, 15 years, the Tories, we’ve got to get them out. And so there’s a huge battle going on there and I’m just trying to keep the peace.


Nish Kumar Well, this is a perfect segue into what we’re talking about today. This is perfect. Yeah. We’ve we’ve we want to discuss this idea of tactical voting. I mean, instinctively, for me, just taking out the context of it, just instinctively put on a personal level. How do you feel about tactical voting?


Femi Oluwole Tactical voting is a sign that our democracy isn’t working, because you shouldn’t have to vote tactically. The only reason why you have to vote tactically is because our voting system is broken. If the if the in your town, let’s say 30% vote Labour, 30% vote green and 40% vote Tory, then even though 60% of the people in your town want, generally speaking, progressive left leaning policies, you’ll have a Tory MP, so the 60% vote won’t have any effect. If, however, the people in that constituency all tactically vote for the same party, the 60%, then they can oust the Tory, that sort of thing. That shouldn’t happen. We should have a situation where if one party gets 30% of the votes, they get 30% of the seats. But unfortunately we have a first possible system which doesn’t allow that.


Nish Kumar Joe, as a pollster and looking at the numbers, how does tactical voting stack up with reality? And does it actually does actually work?


Joe Twyman Well. Well, it depends what we mean by work. Does it does it change the overall results of an election? That’s really difficult. Too difficult to test if you go to back to 2017 when it was really close, between the conservatives getting a small majority and ending up with the minority that they see. Actually, when you look at it, the number of votes that needed to change hands was fewer than a hundred in. And if that happened among the right people in the right constituency, that’s the difference between a conservative majority and a conservative minority. So it can make an impact. But generally speaking, it’s it tends to be talked up a lot more than actually once, given that when you look at the data, the as we as we do, the potential for impact is there. But the reality is something different.


Nish Kumar Okay, let’s hear some voices on both sides of the argument around tactical voting. So first up, the long time proponent for tactical voting, Carol Vorderman talking to politics. Joe.


Clip My mission is to absolutely eviscerate them, not just that they lose, but that they can’t even form the opposition. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and tactical voting is the methodology with which we can deliver the absolute swipe, wipe them away because that’s what they deserve.


Nish Kumar Okay, so Joe, obviously you’re a neutral person. Your t shirts have their own mind of their own electorally. But is Carol right? And is this, you know, because listeners to this show will and have had various questions about what the best way is to remove the Tory government, it is Carol Vorderman. Correct.


Coco Khan Also, I would just follow up and say she says this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I thought tactical voting has been going on for decades.


Joe Twyman Well, it’s certainly, certainly been a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you’ve never voted in an election and you intend to die before the next, which may not be completely outside the realm of possibility, but but yeah, every election is that once in a lifetime opportunity, the reality is somewhat different. We ask people how interested they are in tactical voting, but we also ask them if tactical voting will play into their decision to vote. And about 13% of respondents. So fewer than fewer than 1 in 7 said they are explicitly intending to vote tactically. And then you have a further 11%. So just over 1 in 10 who say they prefer another party, but it stands no chance of winning in their constituency. So in other words, tactical voting by another name. So you have roughly a quarter of people who are. To the potential of tactical voting, but that’s only one element of it, because in order to vote tactically, you then need information about your constituency in order to come to the quote unquote right conclusion about who to vote for tactically. And back in October, on the old constituencies, we ran a study asking respondents about the knowledge they had of their constituency. And only 3% of the people we spoke to in a nationally representative survey can say who came first, who came second, and the margin of victory. In other words, those three things that you need for making an informed choice. And that was before the boundaries changed. And so now it’s very different. And so if people are going in not informed, then tactical voting is going to be largely neutralized.


Coco Khan Again, I mean, I remember reading about who votes tactically. And as I understand it, it tends to be older voters and it tends to be wealthier voters. And it tends to be people who are university graduates. And that made me.


Joe Twyman They’re the people who say they vote tactically. But it is a question about whether, on this basis, whether they’re actually voting tactically or whether they just believe they’re voting tactically.


Coco Khan Right. I see.


Joe Twyman It’s one of those nuances of public opinion research.


Nish Kumar So for me, is that the challenge then, for groups that are trying to encourage people to vote tactically is that you got to close that knowledge gap?


Femi Oluwole Exactly. That’s what we’re trying to do. They’ve they got thousands of people signed up to the local elections last year. Carol Vorderman spearheaded that. So that’s where we’re looking to go as far as it being a once in a lifetime thing. The confluence of events on this one is a you’ve got the opportunity to never have to vote tactically again. Why? Because the majority of the country is clearly in favor of changing the voting system to one where all votes count equally. The Labour Party’s membership membership has voted explicitly for, changing its from post house to post to PR. Now the the leadership is the problem. But if Labour gets in and we managed to work with Labour members to get the leadership to change things, and this is the last time we’ll ever have to vote tactically. So that’s one element that it’s once in a lifetime. There’s also the fact that the Tories are polling so low that we have a chance to potentially push them into, third position, which is what the with the movement forward is trying to push for. Because if we end up in a situation where the actual party of opposition is the Lib Dems, that change the landscape significantly, rather than Keir Starmer answering to either Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman or Nigel Farage.


Nish Kumar He’d be. He’d be answering to Rishi Sunak from California.


Joe Twyman Can I come in on the public support for for this you can test things, in various different ways. You can test absolute support for, for tactical voting and indeed for electoral reform. And you find that actually the picture is, the picture is mixed on, mixed on that. And also it’s simply very low down people’s list of priorities. And things can be done to change that. But my suspicion is that we won’t see things change next time around unless it’s driven by the Lib, the Lib Dems in some form of coalition agreement. I can’t see, I can’t see, I can’t see a situation where a party that has one on the current system, particularly as large as Labour, may win on current polling. I don’t see that how that then translates into them saying, oh yeah, actually.


Coco Khan That’s always the problem.


Joe Twyman Exactly, exactly. And so the only time in recent memory, of course, where we have had this was when we had the coalition agreement with the Lib Dems, and that led to a referendum which was then soundly defeated. And they were, but.


Femi Oluwole It was defeated on the basis of that.


Joe Twyman There were lots of good. So people that’s a good.


Femi Oluwole Representation has never actually been put to the people. We’ve never had a chance to have equal votes about counting equal.


Joe Twyman I completely agree, but I don’t imagine, particularly in the political context, that it would have to take place. I don’t imagine that if there were a vote next time around, it would.


Femi Oluwole And as far as it being mixed, if you look at YouGov, the polling consistently shows PR something like 4,548% in first past the post, like 2,022%.


Nish Kumar So PR would so PR would win ironically on a first past the post.


Femi Oluwole Yes.


Coco Khan Okay, so let’s listen to Owen Jones. He’s on channel five Storm Huntley program arguing against tactical voting.


Clip I’m a lifelong Labour voter, but I voted for the Green Party for this general election for the first time. In my life, the Tories are toast. There’s no chance of the Tories winning. There’s going to be a landslide victory. Spoiler. There’s going to be a landslide victory for the Labour Party come what may, so people can vote according to their conscience in this election. I think if you vote for the Green Party, then you send a message to Labour.


Nish Kumar So for me, how do you respond to that? Because I mean, you, you’ve, you’ve you’ve yourself said already so far that you have some frustrations with the Labour leadership. Isn’t there an argument if we’re looking at a thumping Labour majority, that this is the time to at least send a message to the Labour Party as well? Well, Owen Jones was saying about this is an election to vote with your conscience, not necessarily to vote tactically also.


Femi Oluwole Yeah. So with the group, the movement forward then stop. The Tories don’t vote. The idea is not to try and get a huge thumping Labour. Majority. The idea is to keep the Tories out and ideally push the Tories down into third position. So there are many seats, at least over 100 seats so far, that we’ve counted where you don’t. They’re not actually giving advice on which party to vote for. They’re saying vote with your heart. They’re saying vote for whichever party you actually like. So they’re saying, here are the places where you don’t need to vote tactically as well. But in the areas where it is going to be a fine line between Labour and the Tories, the Lib Dems and the Tories, those are the seats where they’re giving recommendations and saying vote Lib Dem here, vote Labour here, vote green here.


Nish Kumar Jo, how realistic is this conversation about the conservatives possibly being pushed into third place? But don’t threaten me with a good time. But I can’t conceive of it. Surely this is. I mean, because the the threat to the conservatives posed by the Reform Party, surely that’s too diffuse nationally in terms of the reform vote to actually have an impact on the Tories final seat count?


Joe Twyman Yeah. I mean, second place can mean different things. In 1983, the Lib Dem, SDP. So Lib Dem, the SDP, Liberal Alliance ran the Labour Party very close to in terms of share of the vote and yet completely different in terms of share of the share of the seats.


Nish Kumar Okay. That yeah, that’s really important. Let’s just just walk people through that. Because we obviously have some younger listeners to the podcast who will not be as familiar with Shirley Williams and the leading figures of the SDP with, some of us up, but just walk people through that. So it was a period in. So for the 1983 election, a new political party had been formed that was sort of breakaway group from bits of the, I guess, what you would call the moderate wing of the Labour Party, which at the time was being, led by Michael Foot. And in the 1983 election, they stood as a third party. And they nationally, you’re saying that they ran the Labour Party close in terms of how many votes they actually got?


Joe Twyman That’s right. Basically a fringe group within the Labour Party broke off, formed the Social Democratic Party, which actually still exists, but is very different nowadays. And they joined up in a pact with the liberals in the 1983 election. And, and so ran against, ran against Michael Foot’s Labour Party and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives. The Conservative Party go on to win 42% of the vote and 397 seats, a whopping a whopping majority for Margaret Thatcher. The SDP Liberal Alliance wins 25.4% of the vote and Labour win 27.6. So really close between the two in terms of share of the vote. And yet in terms of seats, well, the Labour Party won 209 and the SDP Liberal Alliance won 23. So a huge difference there. And I imagine that if reform and it is an if if reform do run the conservatives close in terms of share at the vote, it will be similarly a huge gap in terms of the number of seats. The conservatives worst performance up until now at least, was in 1997, a still 165 seats, then 94 of which at the time had not changed hands since the Second World War. And so it’s difficult to see how they can go significantly lower to lower than that, and at the same time, reform pick up large numbers of seats across the country in order to in order to overtake them in terms of seats.


Coco Khan Because whenever we have a conversation about tactical voting, and perhaps this is just revealing my own echo chamber, but it seems to be a conversation that happens amongst progressives, doesn’t seem to be happening amongst right people on the the right side of the, of the spectrum. Do you see that changing?


Joe Twyman So it’s already changed. Nigel Farage and Richard Tice at every opportunity of banging on about electoral reform. And I imagine the the if Labour do go on to win a big majority, then that post conservative government world and post government conservative party will have to have some sort of informal or even formal discussions with reform. And what Tice and Farage are hoping is that the inequality, this such obvious inequality that they expect to occur as a result of the current voting system will mean that the desire for electoral reform becomes so strong, not just from the traditional home on the left, but also in the New Right that the momentum snowballs and it becomes an inevitability. As I say, I don’t think that’s actually the most likely outcome, but that is certainly the play that families and ties are making at the moment.


Nish Kumar So Femi, say what you will about Nigel Farage. He’s good at forcing referendums. Does that give you some weird hope that, you might, from an unlikely source, receive the support that British politics needs to build a critical mass to have that conversation.


Femi Oluwole Yeah, I do expect that because, I mean, there’s one election where Labour actually got fewer votes than the Tories, but still actually became the got the government of the, of the, of the time. So we do we have such an unfair system. So there are cases where proposed representation would actually favor the right. However, in every single election apart from 1955, 1959 and 2015, the majority of votes have gone to Labour, Lib Dems, SNP and the Greens. So parties that are generally speaking to the left of the Tories, that’s who we generally are. So if we did have a proportional voting system, then yes. Nigel Farage, Ukip, Brexit Party, Reform Party, whatever want to call themselves would get some seats in parliament. But the progressive majority, if things stay as they are, would be there, especially with Gen Z coming on onto the voter base. I would also argue that it’s also easier to challenge them in Parliament than it is to challenge the one back alley Facebook group. So I’m I’m actually okay with the idea of them getting seats in Parliament.


Coco Khan Femi, I do want to just ask you just about, just emotionally, do you not feel concerned that tactical voting is just going to deepen people’s disaffection with the voting system? We already have low voter turnout, partly because people feel like their votes don’t matter. And then in tactical voting, that is writ large. And actually you have a small percentage of people somewhere between whatever, 5% or 10%, whatever it might be, that can can swing it even more. Isn’t this deepening our problems with democracy?


Femi Oluwole Yes, that’s that’s why I keep saying that. People say the argument between vote with your heart versus vote tactically is pointless unless you.


Coco Khan Do two wrongs make a right, Femi?


Femi Oluwole Well this is the point. Neither side is right unless they say, and this is what we’re going to do afterwards, because it’s all about what happens after the election. If we consider that a Labour majority is inevitable, then the question isn’t how am I going to vote green? Am I going to vote Labour? The question is afterwards, am I going to be doing absolutely everything in my power to make sure that we end this first past the post voting system? Am I joining make votes matter? I am, I am, which is the movement for democracy. Am I signed up as a tactical voter? Am I working within the Labour Party to push for PR? Am I protesting in a way that makes it impossible for the government to function unless they give us a fair democracy? Unless you’re doing those things saying, oh, I’m not voting Labour or I am voting Labour is irrelevant.


Nish Kumar So another argument for voting with your heart, I would say comes from largely the Green Party, because if the party doesn’t receive 5% of the vote in the electorate, they lose the 500 pound deposit the candidates have to put up to run in the election. And overwhelmingly, that hits the Greens hardest. In the 2019 election, the Green Party was far and away the biggest loser, deposits, losing a total of 232,500 pounds, whilst Labour and the Tories only lost 6,000 pounds and 2,000 pounds respectively. I mean, it’s. It’s the greens that come off worse from tactical voting, seemingly chose that, right?


Joe Twyman Well, I mean, it depends on how you characterize it, but yes, given that the Greens are very, very unlikely to win in all but maybe 2 or 3 constituencies at best. Then yes, you could, if you, so inclined, characterize a vote for the Greens in any, any other constituencies as a wasted vote. Yeah. And so therefore, the tactical solution is to vote for, vote for the party that you, you think will achieve what you want in that constituency. And that will hurt the Greens. But at the same time, if you remove the deposit limit, then, you have issues with, with all sorts of, all sorts of people entering.


Coco Khan [AD]


Coco Khan One of the things that people say is good about first past the post is it enables commons, the House parties to get things done, like the coalitions. We’re all just going to be arguing and everything will get stalemate. I mean, what do you think about that? Is that?


Femi Oluwole It’s important to remember that in in Europe there is only one other country that uses first past the post and even partially in that is Belarus, which is often referred to as Europe’s classic tater chip. So we’re not in great company there. As far as, the idea of getting things done, the idea is saying that we want a situation where a party that only minority of people voted for can do whatever they want. Route that. To hell with the views of the parties on the other parties, even though the majority of people voted for those parties. And if you want a party that only minority support to be able to do whatever they want, that’s not democracy. That’s the other thing.


Joe Twyman I’m not here to defend one political system or political party.


Coco Khan You are neutral. We know.


Nish Kumar You’re systemically neutral as well as politically neutral.


Joe Twyman To my to my very core or other parts of my body.


Nish Kumar I’ve got a Samsung and an iPhone. Yeah.


Joe Twyman Exactly. So I’m not here to defend one political system over another, nor am I here to defend one political party over another. But what I will say is that one of the arguments for first past the post is that it helps, to some extent keep extreme parties out, and that if you have, a, even with a threshold in there, there, there can be enough support nationwide for particularly sectarian parties, parties from a particular religious group or, with a particular single.


Coco Khan Binface is taking a seat. Count Binface here he is.


Joe Twyman And all of this could and all of this could be damaging for, for the health of the health of the democracy. So there are arguments for and against which I’m sure some people out there would want me.


Nish Kumar Yeah, I’m sure that, yeah, I think and I think that’s a difficult situation to find yourself in, because then the counterargument to that is, you know, the last 14 years, we’ve essentially seen the Conservative Party genuflect to the right flank to such an extent that, you know, they’ve essentially handed Nigel Farage everything that he’s wanted. Nigel Farage has had the most influence on the Conservative Party’s direction in the last decade, particularly without having to win a seat in it. So there’s the there’s a there’s a there’s problems with both systems.


Femi Oluwole Exactly. And it’s there are lots and lots of conservative voters who have seen the direction the Conservative Party has taken. They’ve seen it move to the right place that they’ve had to follow, because the alternative was Jeremy Corbyn and they hate Jeremy Corbyn. So they’ve got to go. We’ve got to keep following the Conservative Party as it moves further to the right. That two party system enabled extremism.


Nish Kumar Well, let’s talk about three specific seats just before we wrap up that are solely I’m solely raising because it would be funny if the incumbent MP, when the highest profile MP who seems to be under the most threat in their seat, is Jeremy Hunt. Hunt himself has told Bloomberg that the seat is probably going to be won by the conservatives by 1500 votes or fewer. He as recently as 2015, he had a majority of 30,000, which now feels like a lifetime ago. Is there a possibility that the current Chancellor of the Exchequer could lose his seat on election night?


Joe Twyman Yes, yes, there’s certainly a possibility. And I think I think on the current polling it’s certainly it’s certainly possible. What I would caution, however, is that it’s actually very difficult to estimate with any degree of certainty because constituency level polls, because we have only around 70,000 people in each of the constituencies, constituency level polling is very expensive and very difficult to do well. And so generally speaking, it isn’t done. And so we don’t have great individual polling. Also things like MRP polls that do estimate individual constituencies can’t take account or don’t take account of hyper local.


Nish Kumar Just define MRP for us.


Joe Twyman Well, it’s multilevel regression with post-gentrification waiting, Nish. As I’m sure you know.


Nish Kumar I know that I just wanted to make sure the listeners knew that.


Joe Twyman For for the it should the in the unlikely event be any listeners who don’t understand what that means. Let me explain very briefly. The way to think about it is like a it’s like a Lego set. When we do a conventional poll, we have a big pile of Lego, and then we try and split that up into individual constituencies and estimate what those constituencies will be based on something like uniform swing and how votes move from one party to another. The way MRP does it is it’s like lots of individual blocks where each block the result of each block is modeled using statistical statistical techniques. And then that’s all added up into to make the big Lego set. And that can be used to estimate individual constituencies and in the past has had some success in doing that. But as I say, you can’t take account of hyper local factors and something like incumbency, something like a quote unquote famous MP can make a difference. But that raises, of course, the specter of the Portillo moment. Those of us who were old enough to remember 1997, will remember how my. Portillo lost his seat in Enfield. But the thing about that Portillo moment was it was actually a surprise, right? Those of us who were watching it thinking, my goodness, my analysis says, even Portillo might lose his seat. Yeah, it was a shock when it happened. Still, this time around, because the conservatives are doing so badly. I almost feel like there won’t be any Portillo moments because everyone’s like of course I’ve lost his seat.


Coco Khan I’m sad to hear that we can’t, you know, count our chickens because Jacob Rees-Mogg is another one.


Joe Twyman Jacob Rees-Mogg. Yeah.


Coco Khan And as I understand it, there’s been a boundary change. And his constituency now includes a lot of Lib Dem voters. So. Well, can we start to enjoy a bit?


Joe Twyman Well the thing about. I mean, obviously I can’t enjoy it because I’m neutral. I can’t stress that enough, Coco. But actually that’s a really good illustration of the kind of seats the Lib Dems are going for. That whole swathe of seats in the South West was basically the Lib Dem heartland through, through, Paddy Ashdown. Yeah. Then Charles Kennedy, then Nick Clegg. But after 2015, things got worse for the Lib Dems in that area. David Cameron’s Conservative Party in 2015, to some surprise, came from swept all of those constituencies up. And the Lib Dems, if they’re going to fight back in any area, probably need to start there more than anything else. And so that brings a lot into play now. Jacob Rees-Mogg constituency is slightly different and I think others will go before his goes, but I think it’s certainly possible that that could be another area.


Nish Kumar So, Femi, is that a is that a target constituency for a tactical vote? I mean, if there’s a if there is a case to be made for tactical voting, it’s absolutely you could get rid of Jacob Rees-Mogg from the House.


Femi Oluwole Especially if it means giving a boost to the Lib Dems, who have the best chance of sort of potentially edging out the Tories in in terms of second place. That’s the hope. As far as Jeremy Hunt goes, I’d say that if it is likely that he might lose his seat, that every junior doctor in the country needs to go there for election night.


Nish Kumar But it the. Okay. So then my final question on this is, Is Rishi Sunak okay? This is the prime minister. He has a big majority in his seat. Is there even an outside chance. Because one of the characteristics of Richmond in North Yorkshire is that it does have a very large, military population that live there, and Rishi Sunak has, I think this is a technical term taken a dump on his rap, a little bit. Is there any possibility that Rishi Sunak loses to see you on election?


Joe Twyman Well, I can only assume you’re referring to Delta polls later survey for Mail on Sunday just gone.


Nish Kumar Thank you.


Joe Twyman Where?


Coco Khan Smooth.


Joe Twyman Yeah. Exactly. You see what I did there.


Coco Khan Yeah.


Joe Twyman Delta poll with a D. We. We ran a survey that showed that the Labour Party is at the moment, enjoying a 25% lead over the conservatives. Now, polls are only a snapshot of public opinion at the time, but nonetheless, that’s an enormous lead. And if you were and I, it’s a big if. But if you were to apply uniform national swing to that. So in other words, the idea that the swing from conservatives to Labour in that national poll is replicated in, in, in every individual constituency. On that basis, Rishi Sunak would lose his seat. But inevitably it’s more complicated that, as I say, hyper local factors would have to come into play. But they work both ways. Tactical voting could be particularly powerful, and if it’s going to work anywhere, you could argue Rishi Sunak seat will be the seat where people were energized to vote against him and to and to look into it. There’s also the arguments about whether actually he’s trying very hard in his own constituency, because prime ministers campaigning in their own constituency is not really something that happens. Of course, it’s very it’s very complicated in that respect. And he may simply not want to. I mean, I I’ve never been a a billionaire’s husband. But it does strike me as a job that I could do well. And secondly, that I’d really enjoy and so and so maybe maybe there is an element of, of that, and he just thinks, he just thinks, actually, would it be better if we’re going down in, in a blaze of glory or lack of, would it be better for me to lose my seat so I can, so I can leave immediately? I’m not suggesting that’s actually the case, but, the fact that his seat is potentially up for grabs, the fact that we are even having this conversation is such an illustration of the situation the conservatives find themselves in as the polls stand at the moment.


Coco Khan Now, if you’re interested in voting tactically, there’s loads of resources available you can check out Get,, or just Google tactical voting. Some of these resources are based on 2019 results. And since then there has been boundary changes. Some mix and match with the current polling as well. Some take a different tack, for example sprint for PR, which instead aims to achieve a left leaning hung parliament. They do that through tactical voting, so we encourage you to have a look at this information. No matter how you choose to vote. And just a reminder, please enroll to vote. The deadline is the 18th of June. That’s next Tuesday. You’ll need a photo ID to register and postal vote registration closes at the same time.


Nish Kumar It’s very important that you do that because otherwise, what the fuck have we been doing this goddamn podcast for? Joe, Femi, thank you so much for joining us. That was a great discussion.


Joe Twyman Great. It’s been fine.


Coco Khan Thank you.


Nish Kumar He cannot take a position. Thanks for listening to Pod Save the UK. If you have any news from your own backyard or any other comments you want to share or topics you want us to look into, email us at  We really love to hear your voices. So if you’re feeling brave, want to ask us a question? Send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07494 933444. Internationally, that’s +44 7494 933444.


Coco Khan Don’t forget to follow at Pod Save the UK on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. You can also find us on YouTube for full access to episodes, and you can drop us a review too, if you like.


Nish Kumar Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Coco Khan Thanks to senior producer James Tindale, assistant producer John Rogers and digital producer Alex Bishop.


Nish Kumar The video editor is Narda Smillionage and our theme music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.


Coco Khan Thanks to our engineer Alex Bennett.


Nish Kumar The executive producers are Anoushka Sharma, Dan Jackson and Madeleine Herringer, with additional support from Ari Schwartz.


Coco Khan And remember to hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.