27 August 2004


Here are the letters from this week's Tribune responding to my column of August 6 on tactical voting (click here)

Don't scotch Labour's chances

Paul Anderson struggles to decide which is worse: voting Tory or voting for the Scottish National Party. I'm afraid I can't help him, being of the view that you should always vote Labour. Perhaps though, I can help him with his confusion about the SNP.

If their desire to break up the United Kingdom wasn't bad enough, SNP members are already actively campaigning against the proposed European constitution. Romano Prodi recently made it clear that an independent Scotland would not be part of the European Union.

The soon-to-be SNP leader, Alex Salmond, is an unabashed Reaganite, believing that applying the Laffer curve to business tax is the key to a bright economic future for Scotland. Worse than that, SNP members believe that, while they're slashing taxes for business, the shortfall will be made up by increasing personal taxation.

Worst of all, they will always opportunistically back the Tories in Parliament where they calculate it will do the Labour Party the most damage. They haven't changed since they backed the Tories to bring down James Callaghan and usher in 18 years of Thatcherism.

So, if you get stuck with a Tory MP, you'll be represented by a man (because they almost always are) who is Eurosceptic, would slash public spending and opportunistically oppose everything Labour does. On the other hand, if you get stuck with a SNP MP, you'll he represented by a man (because they almost always are) who is Eurosceptic, would slash public spending and opportunistically oppose everything Labour does.

Colin Edgar
Head of Press, Scottish Labour Party Glasgow

Microscope needed for Lib Dem principles

Michael Foot hails Tribune as a truly great international socialist document. Yet, in the same edition, there is an article by Paul Anderson exhorting Labour supporters to vote for the Liberal Democrats.

I have lived in areas where Labour has not had a chance of winning, yet have always voted Labour to register my support for a socialist democratic party. In such areas, Labour activists work hard supporting the party, standing in unwinnable seats, to ensure that people have a chance to vote Labour as part of the democratic process.

In recent by-elections, the Lib Dems have jumped from third to first place. Does this mean Anderson wants us to abide by rules that they don't? In addition, since they are clearly doing this by attracting an anti-Labour vote from Tories, should committed Labour supporters give the Lib Dems such succour?

Should Labour supporters really help a party which can knock on one door and say they are against hanging and knock on the next one and say the opposite purely to gain votes?

Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten has said that he and others would like to move the Lib Dems to the Right. They could succeed and have a larger parliamentary party, increased by tactical voting.

I suggest that calling on Labour supporters to vote tactically, rather than on principle, does little to help stem the disillusionment of many in the political process.

Rachel Blackmore
London SE8

Treacherous advice is a pernicious vice

Paul Anderson has exploited your pages to try to damage the Labour Party.

He urges people to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats in seats where Labour starts in third place. Quite apart from the fact that there is no equivalent effort by Lib Dem pundits to get their supporters to vote Labour where we are the main challenge to the Tories, his list is compiled in complete ignorance of the local circumstances in the seats concerned, and in the knowledge that it will be used to squeeze the Labour vote in Lib Dem leaflets.

In some of the seats he mentions. Labour's vote is going up and we may overtake the Lib Dems. In others, the two parties are neck and neck and the main challenger is unclear. In yet more, there is no hope of anyone beating the Tories for the parliamentary seat, but a strong Labour campaign might deliver local Labour councillors on its coal tails.

Anderson's insistence that the differences between Labour and the Lib Dems are nugatory can only have been written by someone who has not encountered the Lib Dems' vile behaviour in local government, the constant anti-Labour sniping of Lib Dem MPs such as Norman Baker and the drive by senior Lib Dems for their party to adopt neo-Thatcherite economic policies.

Even more absurdly, Anderson says Labour supporters should vote Lib Dem in all the seats they already hold - including, presumably, the ones that Labour could actually gain from them such as Chesterfield.

His article is a slap in the face for dedicated Labour activists who are working hard in the seats concerned.His treacherous advice should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Luke Akehurst
London N16

Anderson confounding

I hate to say I told you so. If you leave Paul Anderson long enough, he will abuse his position as a columnist to try to get Labour voters to vote Liberal Democrat. And that is exactly what he has done.

Anderson is not making some abstract point in favour of anti-Tory tactical voting in his article. It is specifically aimed at getting some Labour voters to vote for the Lib Dems. It will not get any Liberal Democrat supporters to vote Labour in other constituencies. He tells us that he has sent a copy to the Lib Dems, because he knows that it will be of use to them.

What is worse, in his own words, Anderson has "carefully written it so that Liberal Democrats can use it in election material to make it look like Tribune, the Labour weekly, backs their candidate".

Tribune is not saying that Labour voters should back the Lib Dems. And Tribune was not saying that at the last general election either, when Anderson's articles were used by Liberal Democrats to claim that Tribune was supporting them then. Anderson has waited until Tribune was changing its editor before writing his article. Let us hope that the new editor responds decisively to deal with this slur on the good name of the magazine.

John Morgan

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