How to give Blair a bloody nose

The <em>NS</em> guide to tactical voting

You are a disgruntled Labour voter. You opposed the Iraq war, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. You probably disliked foundation hospitals and top-up fees as well. You would like to weaken Tony Blair and you would probably prefer Gordon Brown as prime minister.

But though you can stomach the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru or the Scottish National Party, you don't want to risk strengthening the Tories in any way. Nor do you want to penalise Labour MPs who, for example, voted against the Iraq war. And you would quite like to keep in the Commons as many Brown supporters as possible, so that the Blair era comes to a speedy end. Ideally, you'd like a Labour majority over all the other parties of about 60, so that Blair is damaged personally, but Labour still has the strength to help the poor and put money into public services.

How can this be achieved? First, in seats that the Lib Dems, PC or the SNP already hold (including the two won in by-elections since 2001), disgruntled Labour supporters should vote for these parties, as they may have done as an anti-Tory tactical move in the past. Second, they should vote for the best-placed of these parties in Tory-held seats to avoid any chance of an increased Labour majority. Third, in most Labour-held seats, they should continue to vote Labour, no matter how hard they have to swallow. But finally, in a small number of Labour seats, where there is a strong third party, little or no danger from the Tories, and no Labour candidate with whom they sympathise, they should cast their votes for the Lib Dems, PC or the SNP. To maximise the chances of a "third party" victory, they should avoid votes for minority parties such as the Greens or Respect.

We have identified 47 such seats. In all of them, the Tories got less than 25 per cent of the total vote in 2001 and a third party got 13 per cent or more. (For Scotland, where seat boundaries have changed, we have used estimates.) All candidates on the list are thought to be Blairites, or at least fellow-travellers. They do not include Labour MPs who voted against the government on any of the four crucial votes of 2001-2005: the Iraq war, foundation hospitals, top-up fees and the terrorism bill. Anyone with a plausible claim to being "real Labour", including several ministers, PPSs and non-rebel backbenchers, has been left off the list.

If all these seats fall, and all other seats are unchanged, Labour's majority will fall to 60. Some big names would go: Charles Clarke, John Reid, Tessa Jowell, Gerald Kaufman, for example. How-ever, Alan Milburn (Darlington) and Jack Straw (Blackburn), for example, are not included because, in their seats, the Tories have 25 per cent or more of the vote, while in Tony Blair's Sedgefield and Geoff Hoon's Ashfield, no third party has over 13 per cent.

In some of our "hit-list" seats, the Labour majority is so large that a loss seems improbable. But if enough Labour voters defect - while those in other constituencies stand firm - the message to Blair will be very clear indeed. True, there is a risk that "floating voters" (or abstentions) across the country will turf Labour out of another 30-plus seats so the party loses its majority. Even then, the probable outcome would be nothing worse than a hung parliament, in which Lib Dems and other non-Tory minorities held the balance. The likely result of that would be a swift Blair exit.

All that said, the only sure way to keep the Tories out is to vote Labour. The NS offers this guide in a spirit of public service. We do not recommend anti-Blair tactical voting - but it is better than staying at home and not voting at all.


The MPs to vote out

John Reid, Airdrie and Shotts
A minister since 1997 and Blair's leading "attack dog", who cheered loudly for Iraq war. Now, as Health Secretary, favours more use of private companies to provide NHS services.
2001 vote (%): Lab 58.2 Con 6.2 SNP 19.3

Terry Rooney, Bradford NorthBUnison member, Mormon, ex-Bradford councillor and PPS to Michael Meacher for five years. Now PPS to Keith Hill in Deputy PM's Office.
2001 vote (%): Lab 49.7 Con 24.1 LD 19.8

Wayne David, Caerphilly
Blair loyalist and former teacher. Prior to election as MP, managed to lose one of Labour's safest seats in 1999 Welsh Assembly elections.
2001 vote (%): Lab 58.2 Con 11.4 PC 21.0

Harriet Harman, Camberwell and Peckham
Once head of Liberty, now a leading moderniser. Despite losing job as social security minister, stayed loyal on the back benches, particularly on the Iraq war. Now back in government as Solicitor General.
2001 vote (%): Lab 69.6 Con 10.9 LD 13.3

Rosemary McKenna, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
A former teacher and council leader. Though only briefly a PPS, she has no record of rebellion on important issues.
2001 vote (%): Lab 57.7 Con 5.1 SNP 26.0

Tessa Jowell, Dulwich and West Norwood
One of group who persuaded Blair to stay last summer. As Culture Secretary, introduced plans for super-casinos. Former health minister.
2001 vote (%): Lab 54.9 Con 22.7 LD 15.2

Hilary Armstrong, North-West Durham
MP's daughter. Chief Whip since 2001, dealing pugnaciously with all Labour back-bench rebellions, particularly over the Iraq war.
2001 vote (%): Lab 62.5 Con 20.9 LD 14.9

Eric Joyce, Falkirk
Ex-soldier who said forces were racist and class-ridden in Fabian pamphlet. Now a PPS and perhaps strongest propagandist for Iraq war, he is often put up by the government on TV and radio.
2001 vote (%): Lab 53.4 Con 8.7 SNP 23.5

John MacDougall, Glenrothes
Former councillor and strong pro-European. Has never held ministerial office, but has hardly ever rebelled.
2001 vote (%): Lab 58.3 Con 7.3 SNP 23.8

Iain Wright, Hartlepool
Won Peter Mandelson's old seat in by-election last year. With Labour's share down 18.4 per cent, majority over the Lib Dems was 2,000, with the Tories fourth. Has proved a compliant new Labour backbencher.
2001 vote (%): Lab 59.1 Con 20.9 LD 15.0

Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield
A mainstream, pro-European Labour politician who is chairman of the Commons education select committee.
2001 vote (%): Lab 53.2 Con 24.9 LD 15.0

David Cairns, Inverclyde
A former Catholic priest who is now PPS to Malcolm Wicks, a minister at the Department for Work and Pensions. No major rebellions.
2001 vote (%): Lab 50.3 Con 10.8 LD 21.1

Adam Ingram, East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow
The armed forces minister and strong defender of Iraq war. Former full-time official for the Nalgo union (now Unison).
2001 vote (%): Lab 53.0 Con 9.8 SNP 23.7

George Howarth, Knowsley North and Sefton East
Served as a strongly anti-drug Home Office minister and a Northern Ireland minister before leaving government in 2001. Isolated rebellions on specialist schools and health authorities, but mainly loyal.
2001 vote (%): Lab 66.7 Con 16.3 LD 13.8

Bridget Prentice, Lewisham East
A whip in 1997-98 and again since 2003. Former PPS to Lord Irvine when he was Lord Chancellor. No significant rebellions.
2001 vote (%): Lab 53.6 Con 23.8 LD 16.4

Jim Dowd, Lewisham West
A whip until 2001, he has remained a loyal backbencher, with no significant rebellions.
2001 vote (%): Lab 61.1 Con 22.4 LD 13.5

Gerald Kaufman, Manchester Gorton
Ex-Daily Mirror and NS journalist; as chairman of culture, media and sport select committee since 1997, has strongly criticised BBC.
2001 vote (%): Lab 62.8 Con 9.9 LD 21.3

Frank Roy, Motherwell and Wishaw
Government loyalist who had to resign as Scottish Office PPS when he warned Bertie Ahern, the Irish premier, against a visit to Glasgow because of the dangers of sectarian violence.
2001 vote (%): Lab 56.2 Con 10.6 SNP 19.3

Calum MacDonald, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles)
Strong supporter of bombing in both Kosovo and Iraq wars. Briefly a Scottish Office minister in the late 1990s.
2001 vote (%): Lab 45.0 Con 9.5 SNP 36.9

Charles Clarke, Norwich South
Cabinet minister who introduced two of new Labour's most controversial bills - on tuition fees and prevention of terrorism.
2001 vote (%): Lab 45.5 Con 24.8 LD 22.6

John Heppell, Nottingham East
Sponsored by the railway union RMT, he devoted his maiden speech in 1992 to keeping the railways in public ownership. But resigned from the RMT in 2002 and is now a whip.
2001 vote (%): Lab 59.0 Con 24.3 LD 13.0

Huw Irranca-Davies, Ogmore
Won seat in 2002 by-election, with Labour's vote share falling to 52 per cent and Plaid Cymru's rising to 21 per cent. Soon became a PPS.
2001 vote (%): Lab 62.0 Con 11.1 PC 14.0

Phil Woolas, Oldham East and Saddleworth
Former left fixer for the GMB, he is now deputy leader of the Commons and widely regarded as an ambitious Blairite.
2001 vote (%): Lab 38.6 Con 16.1 LD 32.6

James Sheridan, Paisley and Renfrewshire North
Former councillor and trade union convener who has rebelled only on procedural matters and on fluoridation of water.
2001 vote (%): Lab 51.8 Con 13.7 SNP 22.9

Kim Howells, Pontypridd
Former communist and miners' strike leader, he has been a loyal junior minister at the departments of culture, transport and education.
2001 vote (%): Lab 59.9 Con 13.3 LD 13.8

Mark Hendrick, Preston
Regarded as a pawn of new Labour when he won a by-election in 2000; many locals wanted the daughter of Audrey Wise, his left-wing predecessor, to get the seat. Now PPS to Margaret Beckett.
2001 vote (%): Lab 57.0 Con 23.0 LD 13.2

Chris Bryant, Rhondda
Gay, former Anglican priest who was once head of European affairs at the BBC. Now pro-Europe, anti-drugs and ultra-loyal to new Labour.
2001 vote (%): Lab 68.3 Con 4.6 PC 21.1

Lorna Fitzsimons, Rochdale
Former PPS to Robin Cook, but did not follow him into back-bench criticism of new Labour. Big supporter of joining the euro.
2001 vote (%): Lab 49.2 Con 13.4 LD 34.9

David Watts, St Helens North
A thorough loyalist and strong pro-European. He is now a PPS to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister.
2001 vote (%): Lab 61.1 Con 18.8 LD 17.6

Shaun Woodward, St Helens South
Tory frontbencher who defected to Labour in 1999. Disparity between his wealthy lifestyle - he married into the Sainsbury family - and the lives of his constituents has been widely noted.
2001 vote (%): Lab 49.7 Con 13.8 LD 23.1

Hazel Blears, Salford
Once a libertarian and an opponent of changing Clause Four, she became PPS to Alan Milburn and is now a Home Office minister.
2001 vote (%): Lab 65.1 Con 15.3 LD 16.2

Meg Munn, Sheffield Heeley
Christian socialist, former social worker and daughter of a Sheffield lord mayor, she is now a PPS at the Department for Education.
2001 vote (%): Lab 57.0 Con 14.2 LD 22.7

Anne McGuire, Stirling
Pro-European Blair loyalist who was a whip until 2002 and is now junior minister in the Scottish Office.
2001 vote (%): Lab 42.3 Con 24.8 SNP 16.4

Neil Turner, Wigan
Low-profile loyalist, best known for returning a constituent's letter with spelling/grammatical errors underlined, before becoming PPS in 2001.
2001 vote (%): Lab 61.7 Con 20.8 LD 14.8

Hugh Bayley, City of York
Old-style public-school soft leftist who returned to the back benches in 2001 after a brief ministerial stint, but has never rebelled.
2001 vote (%): Lab 52.3 Con 23.5 LD 17.8

Candidates who are not at present MPs:

The following are Labour prospective parliamentary candidates who, as far as we can discover, have no recent record of anti-Blairism. (Readers should make their own checks before voting against them.)

Katy Clark, Ayrshire North and Arran
Legal officer for Unison in London.
2001 vote (%): Lab 48.5 Con 17.5 SNP 21.1

David Anderson, Blaydon
Redundant miner who retrained as care worker. Now Unison leader.
2001 vote (%): Lab 54.8 Con 11.4 LD 33.8

Kerry McCarthy, Bristol East
Lawyer from Luton.
2001 vote (%): Lab 55.0 Con 21.8 LD 17.1

Jim McGovern, Dundee West
Locally born and bred GMB official.
2001 vote (%): Lab 50.6 Con 9.1 SNP 27.3

Roberta Blackman-Woods, City of Durham
Northumbria University academic.
2001 vote (%): Lab 56.1 Con 17.3 LD 23.7

Diana Ruth Johnson, Hull North
Blairite barrister and former member of London Assembly.
2001 vote (%): Lab 57.2 Con 17.1 LD 19.7

Nia Griffith, Llanelli
Pro-European language teacher from Welsh-speaking home.
2001 vote (%): Lab 48.6 Con 9.5 PC 30.9

Jessica Morden, Newport East
General secretary of Welsh Labour since 1999.
2001 vote (%): Lab 54.7 Con 23.2 LD 14.0

Gordon Banks, Ochil and Perthshire South
Has pledged tough line on drug dealers.
2001 vote (%): Lab 33.7 Con 21.8 SNP 31.3

Angela Smith, Sheffield Hillsborough
Labour councillor involved in city's school-building programme.
2001 vote (%): Lab 56.8 Con 18.3 LD 22.6

Robert Flello, Stoke-on-Trent South
Charity chief executive and Birmingham councillor.
2001 vote (%): Lab 53.8 Con 24.6 LD 13.1

Barbara Keeley, Worsley
Councillor and charity manager who defected from computer industry.
2001 vote (%): Lab 57.1 Con 23.8 LD 17.5