Want a simple guide as to how to vote tactically? Try the new Tactical Vote Diagram! You can download high res PDFs and PNGs of this diagram here! Text continues below the diagram!
⚠️ This is Version 3 of this post – all changes since Version 1 are signalled in the text! Remain United says it has changed its data, but does not say where it has changed it – so I do not currently know if the blog post below makes use of those changes or not. ⚠️
So you want to stop Brexit? And you have the right to vote at the 2019 UK General Election?
That means you might need to vote tactically to make sure pro-Brexit parties (essentially the Tories) do not win, and that pro-Remain parties do. The problem: which pro-Remain party is best placed to win in the constituency where you live? (Labour is not strictly speaking a Remain party, but is committed to a 2nd Referendum – that ought to be enough for our purposes)
So let’s start.
In which constituency are you entitled to vote? For overseas voters this is the last place you lived when in the UK. Put the postcode in this form, hit search, and a new window will popup where you find out your constituency name from the House of Commons Website:
Note if your seat is NOT listed by name in this blog post it means it is one of the 500-odd where how to vote is clear – the first category!
There are, at the time of writing, 5 online tools that try to help you work out how to vote tactically. These are:
- Get Voting by the pro-EU organisation Best for Britain (their methodology explained)
- Remain United by the pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller (their methodology explained)
- Tactical Vote by Becky Snowden and others (their FAQ)
- tactical.vote by the Vote Tools Collective, inc. Zoe Gardner, Luke Cooper and Mary Kaldor (their accuracy examined)
- 🆕 People’s Vote Tactical Vote Tool by People’s Vote
The problem is that the outcomes from each of these sites – due to the methodology each deploys – can vary quite a lot. So here is a guide through it.
Please note that this guide does NOT cover the 18 Northern Irish seats! Hence 632 seats – the number in England, Wales and Scotland is used as the baseline.
Where to start
tactical.vote has a handy table on its website that compares how 4 of the 5 sites (People’s Vote not yet included) suggest pro-Remain voters should vote in each constituency. Put your constituency name from the step above in there and see what you get.
First, the easy cases where the sites agree
🆕 Please note that some seats are moved from this category as more information emerges! So far only Burton and Christchurch have been moved into this category! 🆕
If there is a tick in the right column of the table – like this:
Or like this:
then you are on safe ground – you know how to vote tactically with a considerable degree of certainty.
Note that People’s Vote (the fourth column) and Get Voting (the fifth column) does not make recommendations for Scottish seats. So if you live in Scotland and the table shows results like this it is nevertheless clear what to do:
Note that Safe Seats for Remain Parties (Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green) are to be found in amongst this 500-odd seats list (they are ones listed None in the Remain United column, and with the other 3 boxes the same).
But anyway here you can relax. Or register to vote if you have not done that yet.
Better news still: this category covers 500 of the 632 seats!
But what if you are in one of the constituencies where there is no consensus between the voting tools?
Second, let’s eliminate the safe seats where the voting tools differ
It might be all very well to vote tactically for the hell of it, but let’s not waste too much time with the seats that are not going to change hands anyway. Here the Remain United tool is the most handy – where that site makes no recommendation it is because the seat is safe, for whoever holds it. The data for the Remain United tool can be downloaded at the bottom of the page here.
Example: you live in Stone. It is a Conservative safe seat. Whether you vote Labour (as tactical.vote recommends) or Lib Dem (as Get Voting recommends) does not make much odds. The Tories are going to win, whether you like it or not.
Of the 132 seats where the five voting tools (🆕 People’s Vote now included) differ in their recommendations, I at this stage eliminate the safe seats where tactical voting is unlikely to work. That eliminates a further 88 of the 632 seats.
These safe seats where the voting tools differ on who to nevertheless vote for are:
Aldershot, Arundel and South Downs, Aylesbury, Basingstoke, Beckenham, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Bexhill and Battle, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Bosworth, Bracknell, Bridgwater and West Somerset, Broadland, Bromsgrove, 🆕
Burton (now moved to first category – clear Labour recommendation), 🆕 Castle Point (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), 🆕 Central Devon (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), 🆕 Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), 🆕 Chelmsford (now in third category below – new info!), Chesham and Amersham, Chichester, 🆕 Christchurch (now moved to first category – clear Lib Dem recommendation), Croydon South, Daventry, 🆕 Derbyshire Dales (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), Devon Central, 🆕 East Yorkshire (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), Epsom and Ewell, Fareham, Faversham and Mid Kent, Folkestone and Hythe, Grantham and Stamford, Haltemprice and Howden, Harborough, Havant, Hemel Hempstead, Hereford and South Herefordshire, Hertford and Stortford, Hertsmere, Hexham, Horsham, Huntingdon, Kenilworth and Southam, Lichfield, Ludlow, Maidstone and The Weald, Mid Bedfordshire, Mid Norfolk, Mid Sussex, 🆕 Mid Worcestershire (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), Newark, North East Bedfordshire, North East Cambridgeshire, North East Hertfordshire, North Somerset, North West Cambridgeshire, North West Hampshire, Orpington, Penrith and The Border, Poole, Reigate, Ruislip Northwood and Pinner, Runnymede and Weybridge, Salisbury, Skipton and Ripon, Sleaford and North Hykeham, 🆕 Solihull (now in third category below – new info!), 🆕 South Holland and the Deepings (now in this category, was in first category – Tory safe seat), South Leicestershire, South Norfolk, South Northamptonshire, South Suffolk, South West Bedfordshire, South West Devon, South West Wiltshire, Spelthorne, Stone, Suffolk Central and Ipswich North, Suffolk Coastal, Sutton Coldfield, Tatton, Tewkesbury, The Wrekin, Thirsk and Malton, Tiverton and Honiton, Torridge and West Devon, 🆕 Truro and Falmouth (see third category below – new info!), Tunbridge Wells, Wealden, Weston-Super-Mare, West Worcestershire, Witham, Worthing West, Yorkshire East.
If you live in one of these make a judgment as to who to back, but what you decide to do is unlikely to have an impact on the outcome there. Sorry! That’s life under First Past the Post. NOTE: not ALL Tory safe seats are in this list. Tory safe seats where the voting tools agree as to who is best placed in second will fall into the first category above!
Third, the complicated cases
So these are the ones you have been waiting for. There are – in my view – 44 of the 632 seats where a judgment as to how to vote tactically is unusual, complicated or even close to impossible. These are the 44 seats:
From Version 1: Altrincham and Sale West, Beaconsfield, Broxtowe, Buckingham, Bury St Edmunds, Chelsea & Fulham, Chorley, Cities of London and Westminster, Colchester, Don Valley, East Devon, Eddisbury, Elmet and Rothwell, Esher and Walton, Filton and Bradley Stoke, Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon, Henley, Hitchin and Harpenden, Isle of Wight, Kensington, Leicester East, Luton South, Macclesfield, Newton Abbot, North East Somerset, Putney, Rushcliffe, Sheffield Hallam, South East Cambridgeshire, South East Cornwall, South West Hertfordshire, Southport, St Austell and Newquay, Wantage, Watford, Wimbledon, Woking, York Outer.
New entries in Version 2 of this post: Ashfield, Chelmsford, Truro and Falmouth.
New entries in Version 3 of this post: Solihull, Ynys Mon.
If you live in one of these seats, read on. And read carefully.
(i) Unusual Seats
Ashfield, Buckingham, Chorley, Don Valley, Finchley and Golders Green, Leicester East, Sheffield Hallam, Ynys Mon
There is no way to look at these other than examine the individual circumstances.
🆕 Ashfield at first glance looks like a solid Labour hold. But on further analysis it is a really unusual case. 70.5% voted Leave. The Ashfield Independents won 9% of the vote in 2017, and have strengthened considerably in Ashfield District Council. One of their main characters – Jason Zadrozny – is running. He’s an ex-Lib Dem who voted Leave in the Referendum. Labour incumbent Gloria Di Piero is standing down, complicating matters still further. Keep an eye on this one! Recommendation: Labour, because the Ashfield Independents cannot be trusted on Brexit issues.
Buckingham (recent results here) is the seat that has been held by the outgoing Speaker, John Bercow. As most parties do not run against the Speaker, there is no data for this constituency that tactical voting tools can use for any election since 2005! However demographically it is a safe Conservative seat – held by the Conservatives since 1970. 🆕 Recommendation: based on similar demography here to neighbouring seats, vote Liberal Democrat. Tory safe seat though, so do not count on it working.
Chorley (recent results here) is the seat of the new Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle. Won by Labour since 1997, the seat will be easily won by Hoyle as Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems will not put up candidates. That the Speaker’s seat is not contested is a democratic anomaly – bad luck, people of Chorley. Recommendation: none.
Don Valley (recent results here) is held by Labour MP Caroline Flint, and she is running again. Under normal circumstances it would make sense to vote for Flint here, as the Tories are in second place. However she is the most hard-core pro-Brexit Labour MP in the running – the only one of the 6 Labour MPs to vote against the Letwin Amendment to stave off No Deal Brexit who is running again (the other 5 are retiring). Recommendation: it’s like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. 🆕 Recommendation: vote Labour. While Flint cannot be trusted on Brexit, one more Labour MP and one fewer Conservative is marginal progress.
Finchley and Golders Green (recent results here) was a Tory-Labour marginal in 2017, but has become the symbol case about Labour’s anti semitism problem. Ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger is running here for the Liberal Democrats, and other Remain parties are standing down for her (Unite to Remain alliance). While the methodology of constituency polls might be open to question, Survation ran such a poll here putting Berger clearly ahead. Recommendation: the nature of the constituency and Berger’s standing means vote Lib Dem here.
Leicester East (recent results here) was held by Keith Vaz who – due to scandals – is not running again, and what is happening in this constituency is currently unclear and hence the tactical voting tools also lack clarity. However it is traditionally a safe Labour seat. Recommendation: vote Labour.
Sheffield Hallam (recent results here) which voted 34.0% Leave is an unusual seat, in that it is a Labour – Liberal Democrat marginal. This was Jared O’Mara‘s seat, and before that Nick Clegg held it for the Lib Dems. In Version 1 of this post I advocated voting Liberal Democrat here, but this is wrong – it implies I am taking sides between Remain parties, and that is not my intention. Recommendation: Labour or Liberal Democrat. The Tories are a long way off.
🆕 Ynys Mon (recent results here) is a new entry as People’s Vote tool suggests voting Plaid Cymru (also Unite to Remain candidate) here, while it is a Labour seat currently. In 2017 Tories and Plaid Cymru were more or less tied for second. Meanwhile the Conservative candidate has had to stand down due to the expenses scandal. Recommendation: this is close enough to need some care. Needs more data.
(ii) Seats with prominent independents and/or incumbents running
Beaconsfield, Broxtowe, East Devon, Eddisbury, Luton South, South West Hertfordshire
Beaconsfield (recent results here) was won by Brexit rebel Tory Dominic Grieve in 2017, and he is now standing as an independent. The Liberal Democrats are not standing, having decided to back Grieve. Labour was in 2nd place in 2017, and is running. Recommendation: Grieve is among the handful of MPs who has done the most to prevent Brexit happening. From an ethical point of view he has to be backed.
Broxtowe (recent results here) was won by Anna Soubry as a Conservative in 2017, and she is standing as an independent this time. The Lib Dems are not running. However unlike Beaconsfield, this has been a Tory-Labour marginal, and Labour stands a solid chance of winning. Recommendation: too hard to call currently. I need more data for this one!
East Devon (recent results here) is a rather different case. Claire Wright has contested the last two elections here as an independent, and secured 35% of the vote in 2017. She is committed to Remain. Recommendation: Claire Wright (Independent).
Eddisbury (recent results here) is slightly different in that ex-Tory incumbent Antoinette Sandbach is running as a Lib Dem here, but the situation she faces is hard – the Liberal Democrats only did well in 2010 here, Remain United sees this as a Tory safe seat, and the seat voted 52.2% Leave. Recommendation: I cannot see how Labour can win this, but if Sandbach can bring enough ex-Tories with her maybe she can run the Conservatives close. Vote Lib Dem.
Luton South (recent results here) was won by Gavin Shuker for Labour in 2017, and he subsequently – via Change UK – ended up as an independent. The Liberal Democrats have stood down here, and are endorsing Shuker. The Tories were in second place in 2015 and 2017, and held the seat until 1997. Recommendation: too hard to call. More data needed!
South West Hertfordshire (recent results here) was David Gauke’s seat, won by him as a Conservative in 2017. 🆕 We now know he is running as an Independent here, and he is now committed to a 2nd Brexit Referendum. However at the time of writing it is not known if the Liberal Democrats will stand aside for him (as they have in Beaconsfield and Broxtowe). Recommendation: this was a safe Tory seat. Gauke might bring some support with him, and other parties are miles behind. Back Gauke.
(iii) Three way marginals with Conservative incumbents, Labour 2nd in 2017
All of the following seats have Conservative incumbents, Labour in second place in 2017, and Lib Dems 3rd in 2017. However they vary considerably in terms of location (and tradition of voting Lib Dem or not), percentage of the vote for Leave, and urban or rural. Polling by Survation in Esher and Walton and Wokingham (clear Lib Dems in 2nd there though!) show affluent outer suburban London leaning Lib Dem.
In these 15 seats, voting Lib Dem makes most sense
Chelsea and Fulham (recent results here) 29.1% Leave, Cities of London and Westminster (recent results here) 28.1% Leave, Esher and Walton (recent results here) 41.6% Leave, Henley (recent results here) 43.1% Leave, Hitchin and Harpenden (recent results here) 39.3% Leave, Newton Abbot (recent results here) 56.0% Leave, North East Somerset (recent results here) 51.6% Leave, South East Cambridgeshire (recent results here) 45.3% Leave, South East Cornwall (recent results here) 55.1% Leave, Southport (recent results here) 46.3% Leave, St Austell and Newquay (recent results here) 64.1% Leave, Woking (recent results here) 44.3% Leave.
🆕 Wimbledon (recent results here), 27.3% Leave – although Labour came second here in 2017, the Liberal Democrats have an advantage in picking up disgruntled Tories and have made some local council gains. The new People’s Vote tool also backs this up. 🆕 Wantage (recent results here), 46.5% Leave added here (was no conclusion below). Looking at the demography and local party activity it make sense to vote Lib Dem here. 🆕 Solihull (recent results here), 54.2% Leave is judged to be a safe seat by Remain United, but I was urged to reconsider it. The seat has had Lib Dem MPs in the past, and due to the demography that looks to be a good call again.
In these 4 seats – based on a more solid history of backing Labour – it makes sense to still back Labour here
🆕 Rushcliffe (recent results here), 41.5% Leave – moved to this category (from no conclusion above). No data on any Lib Dem progress here, and Labour has made some progress over the last decade. 🆕 Altrincham and Sale West (recent results here) 38.6% Leave – multiple pieces of information, not least local council results showing solid Labour gains and no Lib Dem progress, so this one has been re-allocated.
In these 8 seats I simply cannot draw a conclusion, and need more data
Filton and Bradley Stoke (recent results here) 48.8% Leave, Hendon (recent results here) 41.6% Leave, Putney (recent results here), 27.8% Leave, Watford (recent results here), 51.2% Leave, York Outer (recent results here) 44.7% Leave.
🆕 Chelmsford (recent results here) 50.7% Leave (was in the safe seats category above) and Colchester (recent results here) 51.5% Leave (was a Labour recommendation below) has been added to this category – while Chelmsford has not had a Lib Dem MP in recent times, the Liberal Democrats surged here in the 2019 local elections. 🆕 In Colchester there have been Lib Dem MPs in the past, while the council gains in 2019 were more moderate. 🆕 Truro and Falmouth (recent results here) 45.9% Leave is a different case – it was wrongly listed as a safe seat in V1 of this post, but it clearly is not. While Labour did well in 2017, it has traditional Lib Dem support before that. Hence too hard to advise on right now.
(iv) Other three way marginals
In two seats where the voting tools differ, the 2017 result was Tory, Labour, Green
In Bury St Edmunds clearly Labour has a better chance – vote Labour. I would need more data for Isle or Wight, so cannot judge that one.
In one seat where the voting tools differ, Labour won in 2017, with the Tories second and Lib Dems third
Kensington (recent results here) 31.2% Leave
This one is impossible to call. Labour won it against the odds in 2017. The Lib Dems are running ex-Tory Sam Gyimah here. Need more data.
At the time of writing, all four tactical voting tools make the same recommendation in 500 of the 632 seats in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in one of those seats, trust the recommendation.
If you live in one of the 88 of the 632 seats that Remain United gauges as a Safe Seat, you are probably safe to vote with your heart, knowing anyone defeating the Tories there is one hell of a long shot. If you still need guidance there, tactical.vote will lean more heavily on the 2017 General Election result to tell you what to do, and Get Voting will align more closely with opinion polls.
If you live in one of the 44 of the 632 seats that are complex cases and where the voting tools differ or new data indicates errors, read the advice above.
- I view 1 as a special cases (Chorley)
- In 1 (Sheffield Hallam) it’s a free choice between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, without any real danger.
- In 3 (Beaconsfield, East Devon, South West Hertfordshire) vote Independent.
- In a further 18 (Buckingham, Chelsea and Fulham, Cities of London and Westminster, Eddisbury, Esher and Walton, Finchley and Golders Green, Henley, Hitchin and Harpenden, Newton Abbot, North East Somerset, Solihull, South East Cambridgeshire, South East Cornwall, Southport, St Austell and Newquay, Wantage, Wimbledon, Woking) vote Lib Dem.
- In 8 (Altrincham and Sale West, Ashfield, Bury St Edmunds, Don Valley, Elmet and Rothwell, Leicester East, Macclesfield, Rushcliffe) back Labour.
- In the final 13 (Broxtowe, Chelmsford, Colchester, Filton and Bradley Stoke, Hendon, Isle of Wight, Kensington, Luton South, Putney, Truro & Falmouth, Watford, Ynys Mon, York Outer) at the moment I cannot make a call.
Note: data for this blog post gathered 11 and 12 November 2019. If you find an error please point it out to be in the comments, or contact me. Any changes to this blog post will be added, and the original text will be left present for comparison. Leave percentages from Chris Hanretty’s data – table here. I am not affiliated to any of the organisations making any of these voting tools. I voted Remain and would vote Remain in any subsequent referendum, and when I still lived in the UK was a member of the Labour Party. Today I am a member of the German Grüne but that does not shape these recommendations – recommendations are purely based on keeping pro-Brexit candidates out.
Updates since V1
– People’s Vote tool added
– I was informed some of the sites explained the situation in Brecon & Radnorshire and Morley and Outwood wrongly. Having checked the recommendations for both of these, I am reassured the recommendations are right – so those constituencies both stay in the first category
– Seats in category 1 reduced by 1 (Ashfield), and in category 2 by 2 (Chelmsford and Truro & Falmouth), hence 3 more in Category 3
– Explanation for South West Herfordshire amended now Gauke is running
– Rushcliffe moved from no recommendation to Labour
– Colchester moved from Labour to no recommendation
– South West Hertfordshire moved from no recommendation to Independent
– Sheffield Hallam moved from Lib Dem to free choice Lab/Lib
– Chelmsford and Truro & Falmouth moved to no recommendation
– Ashfield recategorised and now Labour recommendation
– Wantage moved from no recommendation to Lib Dem
– Wimbledon moved from no recommendation to Lib Dem
Updates in V2
– People’s Vote tool now fully integrated
– now a recommendation given for Buckingham and Don Valley
– Burton and Christchurch moved from Category 2 to Category 1
– Castle Point, Central Devon, Derbyshire Dales, East Yorkshire, Mid Worcestershire, South Holland and the Deepings moved from Category 1 to Category 2
– Ynys Mon moved from Category 1 to Category 3
– Solihull moved from Category 2 to Category 3
– Changed recommendation in Category 3 for Altrincham and Sale West (was Lib Dem, now Labour)
Hendon more Labour?
Or more like Finchley and Golders Green?
Wimbledon more Lib Dem?
I have also been passed info anonymously that the Lib Dems have been doing OK in council by-elections in Wimbledon…
Is Chelmsford so safe?
Seems the data for Truro and Falmouth is off
And the 2017 result confirms this. I will add this to the next update!
Is the Altrincham call right?
Morley and Outwood is not so safe – will be re-assessed at the next update!
Should I even have made a judgment for Sheffield Hallam?
Handy local lib dem knowledge
A question has been raised about the Brecon & Radnorshire Data