There is a General Election in the air, one of four things will force it.

Either the house will pass a bill that Johnson and Cummings can’t stand and they will use the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) to call a GE, Jeremy could get a Vote of No Confidence (VoNC) through or enough of the Tory MP’s Johnson seems to want to alienate will get in before him and resign the whip leaving Johnson with no majority collapsing the Government.  

Or lastly Johnson could prove to be too scared of the backlash of how any of these scenarios looks in the media and his bruised ego will preemptively use the FTPA provisions to push a motion to request an Election. 

I think we’ll see the last option with Johnson running scared of everything and everyone and calling a GE before either the House passes a bill, he loses his majority of 1 or there is a VoNC. 

He’ll bet that going into a GE, seemingly on his terms, looks better in the media than it being forced on him.  He’ll try to spin it as him bravely putting all of these upstarts in their place but make no mistake it’s because he’s scared he’ll look bad.

So, with a GE in the offing, we need to talk about our voting system.  Like the rest of our political system, It is utterly unfit for purpose these days but is unlikely to change before an election. It marginalises dissenting voters in safe seats and minimises the representation of voters who don’t vote for the two main parties (in a given geographical area - The SNP broke this in Scotland by becoming one of the main choices by replacing Labour.).

Idealism now has to give way to pragmatism and we have to play the game we have in front of us and not the game as we’d like it to be.  If we fail to be pragmatic we’ll be checkmated as we try to accuse Professor Plum, in the water works with the history question for a yellow wedge.

Johnson is pushing the Conservatives to the right to win back the UKIP/ Brexit Party voters and spaffing money from the non-existent magic money tree about all over the place to buy a vote from anyone else.

Lib Dems were looking to be picking up the bulk of the “not-no deal” / remain floating voters and have a chance to take a good chunk out of some of the Tory-shire seats but their new leader is stumbling a little on this.

Labour seem to be coming out of their period of sending mixed messages on Brexit but are still suffering from a whole lot of in-fighting.  It’s looking now like any GE will coincide with conference, so if it isn’t cancelled, hopefully one Labour voice can come out of conference with a manifesto that everyone can unite behind.

The SNP are looking likely to regain their 2017 losses and consolidate Scotland for the foreseeable future, winning back the Tory seats.

But there is a lot to play for and anyone who doesn’t want a hard right DUP/Conservative/BrexitParty coup needs to vote tactically for the least worst option that can win the seat.  That is the game in town and it’s the game the other side will be playing.

Ideally, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and the SNP would all independently decide not contest some seats.  They need to not split the anti-hard-right vote. It ballparks to anywhere a party got less than 7500 votes in a seat in 2017 needs to not contest that seat in 2019.

Take Richmond Park for example:

In 2017 the Conservatives won this seat with a majority of just 45 from the Lib Dems both getting 22,000+ votes, Labour took just over 5000 votes.  If just 50 more Labour voters had voted Lib Dem as the least worst option that had a chance of winning - then Johnson would already have lost his majority when Chris Davies was recalled after forging receipts to fiddle with expenses.

If your a labour voter who thinks that the Lib Dems are just yellow Tories but you are also one of the 5000 labour voters who live in Richmond Park and voted Labour instead of Lib Dems then you put a blue Tory in instead of a yellow one.  By voting with your ideals rather than pragmatically, your vote in the broken system made the overall result worse.  

It’s time for some national solidarity, you’re going to have to do something you might not want to do so that the outcome is not as bad as it could be.  “Not as bad as it could be” has to be the objective.  It’s wrong, and it’s objectionable but It’s “hold your nose for the greater good” time.

I’ve called it national solidarity as it needs to be a national policy led from the front not left to local associations or party groups.  Labour need to recognise where it is just not going to win and where contesting the seat will ultimately make it worse for themselves and stand down in those seats. 

It’s not about collaboration or cooperation.  Ultimately it’s just all about pragmatic selfish self interest and getting more seats than the other party.

Photo Credit: Eva Patricia  (license)