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  1. Politics
4 May 2010

A call for tactical voting: the climax

Balls, Hain, Mirror and NS join clamour for Labour and Liberal votes to keep Tories out.

By James Macintyre

Mehdi Hasan’s fascinating interview with Ed Balls is making all the running in Westminster today, after the ally of Gordon Brown, who is often seen as a “tribalist”, hinted that he is in favour of tactical voting among Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters in those marginal seats where a vote for one or the other could keep out the Tories.

The interview is making waves partly because, observers note, if Balls is favouring such a move then it is an indication that there is increasing acceptance inside the Labour camp that the party needs to “borrow” Liberal votes to retain power.

The call follows those from Andrew Adonis, Douglas Alexander and the Independent on Sunday and coincides today with similar exhortations from Peter Hain, the Mirror and the New Statesman.

Balls is with the Prime Minister today, who is making a speech with Ross Kemp in Warwick, seeking to emulate the passion he showed yesterday. Brown will face questions about whether he agrees with what Balls told Mehdi. However, a cabinet minister tells me that Brown has decided to stay removed from calls for Labour people to vote Liberal Democrat (though he does make the call in the Guardian today for Lib Dems to vote Labour).

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This is because he believes it will play into the hands of the Conservatives, who will counter: “Vote Clegg, get Brown.”

Nonetheless, real tactical voting — justified among parties that reject the status quo of our voting system — is surely Brown’s only hope.

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