I abhor their record in office but I'm also a pragmatist.
This weekend, I did something I’ve never done before – and something I don’t intend on ever doing again after this Thursday – I campaigned for a Liberal Democrat candidate.
I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for pretty much all my adult life. I was Campaigns Officer for my University Labour Club, I’ve campaigned in multiple elections for Labour candidates and I’ve always voted Labour.
I was always proud to be part of a party which introduced the NHS, the minimum wage, Sure Start centres, civil partnerships and so many progressive advances for working class people in the UK.
So to do anything other than full-throatedly support Labour, as I have been over the last few weeks, felt akin to driving on the wrong side of the road. The actions are all the same, but the principles have totally changed.
But there is a reason why – this General Election is different.
Usually, elections decide the direction of a country for 5 years. This one will determine our future for a generation.
This election is about whether or not to give Boris Johnson the majority he craves to deliver his Brexit Deal.
The hard truth is that the only way to do that in some places is to vote tactically for candidates who might not be from the same party as you.
It means that, for those of us campaigning for a Final Say referendum, we’ve had to change how we work.
For our Future’ Sake (FFS) – the youth and student-led movement which has been campaigning for a Final Say for the last two years – has always been cross-party.
So when the General Election was called, we were comfortable proceeding in that spirit.
We had chosen 17 key seats with high proportions of young people and students, who can really make the difference.
Not just in those areas, but all across the UK, we know that just over 40,000 tactical votes is the difference between a devastating Johnson majority, or a hung parliament.
A Johnson majority won’t just ensure his botched Brexit Deal passes Parliament next month: it’ll give him the mandate to deliver the most regressive agenda pursued by a British Prime Minister in generations.
So as difficult as this is to hear (and as difficult as it is to say):
If I lived in Stirling, I’d be voting for the SNP candidate
If I was from St Albans, I’d be voting Liberal Democrat candidate
If I was in Belfast South, I’d be voting SDLP candidate
In those constituencies, and many more besides, the Labour Party either isn’t running or simply won’t win.
We can argue about the reasons why – the vile anti-semitism that is within my party, the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn with the wider public, or our dithering over Brexit for the last 3 years.
I know that saying this may get me thrown out of my party. I also know it leaves me open to charges of being a supporter of another party – I’m not. I’m a Democratic Socialist, a Unionist and someone who abhors the Liberal Democrats’ record in the coalition.
But I’m also a pragmatist.
We need to stop Johnson getting the majority that he desperately wants. On 12th December, that means voting with our heads as well as our hearts, and voting tactically.
Richard Brooks is the head of communications at For Our Future’s Sake, a young people & student-led anti Brexit campaign
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