Election 2017: Vote Swapping

Blog post, 12/6/2017

So far they have managed to avoid thatOn the day of the election I went to bed early, got up next morning and went for my customary walk by the river, and then when I got home I remembered to switch on the radio. It was shortly after 8am, prime time, the morning after a general election; neither Theresa May nor any of her ministers would talk to the BBC. Extraordinary.

An un-named but senior member of the Tory party (I suspect it was Ian Duncan Smith) was quoted as saying that the Conservatives would now start tearing themselves apart. So far they have managed to avoid that, though there is clearly an uncomfortably large amount of support within the party for Boris Johnson. With the help of the DUP, Theresa May remains as PM, though nobody is sure how long she will last. So much for ‘strong and stable government’.

There were a couple of other interesting things that I heard on the radio that morning. One was that the turnout amongst young people, under 25, was astonishingly high. Another was that the Tory vote had in fact gone up a little compared to two years ago, though they had won fewer seats. Nobody at the BBC, however, noticed the connection between these two political facts.

I only heard about it a day or two before the election: the answer is vote-swapping, via social media. A Labour voter here in Wells constituency, for instance, where Labour has no chance of winning but the Lib-Dems might defeat the Tories, gets in touch with a Lib-Dem voter in a constituency where Labour has a chance but the Lib-Dems don’t; they swap votes. This could change the nature of British politics.

It certainly worked well enough to make a difference, and in future it will quite likely work even better. It makes a mockery of our antiquated electoral system, and if it continues then it must eventually lead to a change in that system to one of proportional representation. And the big parties, which very rarely have the support of 50% of those who vote, will just have to get used to the idea.