Ifan Morgan Jones
Ideally, everyone would just vote for their first-choice candidate. If you’re one of the people who intend to do so no matter what, then this article isn’t for you.
Unfortunately however, as there’s no proportional voting at Westminster elections, voters are often forced into pragmatically choosing their second or third choice as the lesser of two or more evils.
According to the Electoral Reform Society, over a quarter of us in Wales intend to do just that, and vote tactically, at the General Election.
So here’s a party by party guide to making your vote count on 12 December.
One group that will have to think carefully is Plaid Cymru voters who nevertheless want to ensure that Boris Johnson does not win a majority.
If you’re a Plaid Cymru supporter but want to minimise the number of Conservative seats in Wales, the good news is that you can still vote Plaid Cymru in more than half the seats on offer (see the map above).
There are five seats where Plaid Cymru are either the incumbents or are favourites with the bookies to win at the General Election: Ynys Môn, Ceredigion, Arfon, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr and Dwyfor Meirionnydd.
But there are also quite a few safe Labour seats where there’s no danger at all that Labour will lose them to the Conservatives. These are Aberavon, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cardiff South, Cardiff West, Cynon Valley, Islwyn, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, Neath, Newport East, Ogmore, Pontypridd, Rhondda, Swansea East, Swansea West, and Torfaen. You can vote Plaid Cymru here conscience free knowing that you’re not putting the seat in any danger of a Conservative win.
There are a few other seats however that are a bit trickier. These are current Labour seats that are in danger of being won by the Conservatives.
Those most likely to change are Wrexham, Vale of Clwyd, Cardiff North and Gower. Also in danger but to a slightly lesser extent are Alyn and Deeside, Bridgend, Clwyd South, Delyn and Newport West.
If you’re more concerned about the Conservatives getting in than boosting Plaid Cymru’s overall tally, you may want to vote Labour in these constituencies.
Then there are seats that, if the election turns in their favour before 12 December, Labour could win back from the Conservatives. These are Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Clwyd West, and Aberconwy. However, on current polling these seem quite unlikely to flip in Labour’s favour.
Monmouthshire is another seat where the Tories hold the seat and Labour are in second place, but the Tory majority here is very safe so voting Labour may not make as much of a difference.
There are also four seats where Plaid Cymru aren’t standing anyway as part of the Remain Alliance. In the Vale of Glamorgan, the Alliance is backing the Green Party but a vote for Labour is the best bet at unseating the Conservative candidate. A vote for the Liberal Democrats would be the best way of retaining Brecon and Radnorshire and winning Montgomeryshire.
Cardiff Central is a safe Labour seat so you could vote there for whoever you like there.
If of course, you’re usually a Plaid Cymru supporter but would rather the Conservatives to win a majority (there are a few around), just flip the red, yellow and grey on the above map to blue and vote accordingly.
What if you’re a Lib Dem that wants to Stop Brexit and keep out the Conservative party?
You won’t be able to vote Lib Dem in Ynys Môn, Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Llanelli, Caerphilly or Pontypridd because of the Remain Alliance with Plaid Cymru and the Greens.
But apart from in Ynys Môn and Dwyfor Meirionnydd, there’s no serious threat of a Conservative win in any of those seats. If stopping Brexit is your thing, then Plaid Cymru have a stronger position on Brexit than Labour whose leader has said he will remain neutral in a second referendum.
As in the case of Plaid Cymru voters, if your main aim is to prevent a majority Conservative government, it’s probably best to vote Labour in certain seats (noted in red above) where they are the only thing keeping the Conservatives out or the best hope of unseating them.
Again, if you would rather the Conservatives than Labour or Plaid Cymru win, just flip the red, grey and green seats above to blue.
If you’re a Labour supporter you don’t really have to trouble yourself with tactical voting almost anywhere, as Labour is either the incumbent or competing for second place in almost every seat.
The only seats where you may want to consider voting tactically are in mid-Wales: Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Ceredigion, Montgomeryshire, and Brecon and Radnorshire.
Dwyfor Meirionnydd is a race between Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives. Montgomeryshire and Brecon and Radnorshire are Conservative / Lib Dem marginals so it may be worth voting tactically there too.
Ceredigion is a Lib Dem / Plaid Cymru marginal but Labour are in a strong 3rd position.
The bookies suggest Labour could come third in Ynys Môn, but they’ve held the seat since the early 2000s so the argument for a tactical vote there is weaker.
As with Labour, above, there are very few seats in Wales where the Conservatives are not in the mix somewhere.
The only seats where the Conservatives are in 3rd place or lower are the seats where it’s Plaid Cymru v Labour (Arfon, Blaenau Gwent, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and Rhondda) or Plaid Cymru v the Liberal Democrats (Ceredigion). You may want to consider a tactical vote in theses seats.
In Ceredigion however the Conservatives are in quite a strong 4th place, and a recent poll had them almost coming second, so the argument for tactical voting there isn’t quite as strong as in the other constituencies.
The Greens are standing aside in Ynys Môn, Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Llanelli, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Montgomeryshire, Brecon and Radnorshire and Cardiff Central as part of the Remain Alliance.
Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats are standing aside for them in the Vale of Glamorgan. Unfortunately, however, the Greens aren’t seriously competitive in any seats so if you really want to vote for them, perhaps you should take Kang and Kodos’ advice:
‘Go ahead, throw your vote away!’