Here's how to hang parliament

Vote for a Change is campaigning for a hung parliament - it is our only hope.

Well those debates have made the race to Number 10 a little bit more interesting. But despite the Clegg bounce, the single most popular option at the coming election won't appear on any ballot paper. And that's because more voters want a hung parliament than any possible outcome come May 6th.

So with ballot papers not really helping us out, we've launched a tool to help voters make a hung parliament a reality.

The Vote for a Change campaign started trying to deliver a referendum on voting reform on the date of the 2010 General Election, but politicians were too slow to hear our call. We won the argument, but the big parties failed to get their act together to get the referendum passed in the last session of parliament.

Now we are faced with a General Election, and the prospect of yet another broken parliament. It's increasingly clear that none of the parties can deliver real change themselves. Either they can't or they won't. So what we need is a reforming parliament. And that means a parliament where no one party can ride roughshod over the others. Where the whips aren't all powerful. Where real change has a chance.

We still need supporters to Vote for a Change, but in this election, that means delivering that hung parliament.

Now some supporters have said to us "why don't you just back the Lib Dems?" Well the enthusiasm for Clegg's performance on ITV has forgotten the underlying logic of our flawed elections that got us here in the first place. It is more than possible for Nick to come first and third on May 6th, just as it's possible for Gordon to come last and first.

Now David Cameron's old tutor Vernon Bogdanor has already described the coming elections as having echoes of the "peers versus the people" struggle at the polls 100 years ago. We doubt his old student is listening, but our campaign is all about the People Power he preached about last week. Behind the abstractions, the pie charts, the endless parade of wonks are individual voters who don't have the power to deliver the politics of their choosing. We're asking them to work together, and to think and vote tactically.

Of course we wish voters weren't forced to vote with their heads rather than their hearts. But the logic of First-Past-the-Post often means we have to back a candidate with a realistic chance of winning to prevent a worse option. In this election voters will have to forget about individual candidates or parties and think of the big picture. Our shared goal of a hung parliament will require thousands of voters across the country to make our pledge and vote accordingly on May 6th

Some may vote for a party they've never have even contemplated supporting before. Some may wish to take a nose peg into the polling booths. We know this means sacrifice. But if we can deliver a hung parliament we're sure this will be the last time an organisation likes ours has to ask so much from its supporters.

Willie Sullivan is director of Vote for a Change

 

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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.