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Tactical voting campaign eyes ‘heaviest possible defeat’ for the Conservatives

17 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Photo James Manning/PA Wire

Campaigners hope the Conservatives will suffer the “heaviest possible election defeat” after making tactical voting recommendations in more than 450 constituencies.

Best For Britain hopes its campaign will unseat a series of high-profile Conservatives, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his predecessor Liz Truss, and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

The group, which bills itself as “fixing the problems Britain faces after Brexit”, has proposed supporting Labour in 370 seats, the Liberal Democrats in 69, the Green Party in three, the SNP in seven and Plaid Cymru in two.

It is recommending people in Clacton vote Labour in a bid to prevent Reform UK leader Nigel Farage becoming an MP for the first time at his eighth attempt.


Best For Britain said its recommendations have been made in a bid to deal the “heaviest possible electoral defeat for the Government, to keep them out of power for a decade and to avoid the election of Reform UK MPs”.

Its suggestions follow a Survation study based on more than 40,000 surveys, which indicated that Labour is ahead in 456 seats – and on course for a 262-seat majority – while the Tories could win just 72.

Survation used the multilevel with poststratification (MRP) technique to model results in constituencies. It polled 42,269 people online or over the telephone between May 31 and June 13.

Best For Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said “we are now a nation of tactical voters” and it could be “fundamental” to Labour’s current poll lead.

She told a press conference in central London: “One in five people who say they are voting Labour at this election have confirmed in our polling that they are doing so tactically.

“Labour is not their first choice, they are lending their vote to Labour. One in three Liberal Democrat voters are saying the same.”


In Richmond and Northallerton, it is predicted Mr Sunak is on course to secure 36.5% of the vote compared with 29.6% for Labour.

Ms Smith earlier said: “More than a third of voters in 621 seats would consider voting tactically to change the current Government, more than 40% of them in about 230 seats and more than 50% in 31 seats.

“Worryingly for the Prime Minister, in his seat of Richmond and Northallerton, where he holds now a very narrow lead of about 7% according to our MRP, four in 10 are ready to vote tactically to get rid of his Government.

“Even in Burton and Uttoxeter, the seat with the fewest number of people prepared to vote tactically to change, 28% of people still say they would do so.”

On Reform UK, Ms Smith said: “We are telling people that in places like Clacton it would be a mistake to vote Conservative to try and tactically vote to stop Farage.

“We think Labour can win there, our polling bears that out and we know there is a significant effort going in to those seats.”

On whether people should vote for the Tories to prevent Mr Farage winning, Ms Smith said: “We also want to keep the most populist and nativist forces off the opposition benches in the next Parliament. We don’t think that those who sow division and seek to divide our country have a place in the House of Commons.

“Our data shows that actually Labour could do it in Clacton.”

Lewis Baston, who as a psephologist studies elections and voting, said the polls show that “anti-Tory voters are mobilised and in a harsh mood”.

He said: “The Conservatives are winning seats with say 33% of the vote, 29% of the vote – these are the bits that are coloured blue in the maps of Britain that we have – it’s really an astonishingly low ebb for the Conservatives to be in and it makes them very vulnerable if people on the centre-left vote tactically just a little bit more efficiently than they plan to at the moment.

“Campaigns like this one are about accomplishing that and we also see it in the efforts of campaigners on the ground.”

Mr Baston added: “I think the context of this election is that the Conservatives are under siege in a way that they really haven’t been before.

“I love historical election maps and the Survation of south-east England looks a bit like the map that the Tories had in 1906, the last year where they got a real clobbering that extended to south-east England.

“However, in 1906 they could still rely on Birmingham and Liverpool to support them and I don’t think Birmingham and Liverpool are coming to the rescue this time round.

“We see Conservative England, Conservative Britain in a fairly desperate state in this election. There’s no heartlands left.”

For Northern Ireland, Best For Britain’s campaign advises against voting for either the DUP or TUV.

It said: “This is because both the DUP and TUV have expressed support for the current Government and their policies, and both the DUP and TUV have been endorsed by Reform UK.”

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