We have been contacted by a handful of voters asking whether the argument to vote for the Liberal Democrats in North Devon to keep the Tories out has any validity. You must, of course, vote how you see fit, but below are a few reasons that we hope will outline why voting for the Liberal Democrats might be a waste of your precious democratic voice.
Here in North Devon, a tactical vote means a vote for the Liberal Democrats. In that situation, a Liberal Democrat MP will mean one less Tory MP, but will also go some way to splitting the national Labour vote. There is a very real chance the Tories will be able to form a minority government unless all the opposition parties work together. So the problem that we have is that the Liberal Democrats have made it absolutely clear they will not work with Labour and will actively work to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of No. 10. At this election, more than ever, the phrase 'vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out' doesn't work because of the position they have taken.
Of course, you may not be as concerned with who is forming the Government in Westminster, as long as there is no Conservative MP here in North Devon. Because Alex White has never been an MP, we obviously can't look at his voting record, but we can draw on Jo Swinson's as an indication of how a Liberal Democrat would represent the people of North Devon. Jo Swinson has a woeful voting record. She voted in favour of the EU referendum and worked with the Tories in coalition, voting with the Conservative whip more times than Jermey Hunt and Michael Gove. You can have a look yourself at https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/
The situation has changed in North Devon because we have 4 new candidates. In previous elections, the Liberal Democrat candidate had been a very well established, well known and prominent Liberal Democrat MP. Sir Nick Harvey was MP from 1992 - 2015 and held high profile positions within the party. Before him, Jeremy Thorpe was MP for 20 years, from 1959 - 1979, and was also the party leader. As you can imagine, such high profile political characters had a great deal of influence on the electorate. Now, none of the candidates have political experience of Westminster and there is a level playing field.
Because we spend so much time out campaigning and talking to voters, we know a familiar comment has been 'I'd like to vote Labour but here we have to vote tactically for the Lib Dems'. In fact, in the entire general election campaign, apart from Lib Dem members, we haven't heard anyone who is planning to vote for the Liberal Democrats tell us they actually support their policies. There are enough Labour voters in North Devon to take the seat. In Torridge, Labour went from third to second at the last election, even with the myth of tactical voting in full swing. All we need is for voters to see through the myth that to keep the Tories out we have to vote Lib Dem.