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Justin Trudeau Won In Canada Through Strategic Voting - It Can Work Here In The UK

11/05/2017 10:32
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All the pundits in Canada said the election was unwinnable. After a decade in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative party was widely expected to win the election. His party only lost a tiny 200,000 votes, but Justin Trudeau swept to power on the back of millions of voters who, many for the first time, voted strategically.

Overcoming the 'assumption' of a foregone conclusion was key to changing the outcome of the 2015 Canadian general election. One person who made this happen was Hisham Abdel-Rahman, an IT manager from Calgary, Alberta. Hisham had never before been involved in political campaigning, but wanted to make a difference. He ran a grassroots campaign to get people across the country to vote strategically. He worked with many other groups whose focus was getting out first time voters.

By election day, the combination of giving people belief in the power of their vote and advice on how to vote added 2.7million voters to the election.

Stephen Harper, the sitting Prime Minister, didn't lose that many votes. What brought progressive parties sweeping into power was new, primarily young voters who joined the electorate. The vote among 18-24 year-olds increased by 18.3% vs the 2011 election, with women in this age group up by 20%.

We can do this in the UK.

Hisham is now advising Best for Britain on how to make a difference in the UK General Election on June 8th. Best for Britain wants to help elect a parliament that will hold the government to account and ensure we have a say on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. We know a majority of people don't want an extreme Brexit which will put our future at risk. Yet, people feel powerless to use their vote to change this. We are campaigning to stop this widespread feeling of powerlessness.
We all know that the Conservatives are predicted to win this election by a landslide, but that projection is based on some assumptions that can change.

The first big assumption is on the turnout.

Theresa May's landslide prediction assumes that young people won't vote in larger numbers than they have in past. In the 2015 General Election only 43% of 18-24 year-olds voted whereas 78% of those over 65 voted.

If 100% of the eligible electorate registered and showed up at the ballot box, a landslide would be out of the question, and even the current size of the Tory majority might be in question. For instance, if only the working population voted, opinion polls suggest we'd have no Tory majority and a hung parliament.

The second big assumption is that people who live in "safe seats" but don't support the incumbent candidate have no reason to vote. Our analysis shows that there are seats across the country generally thought of as "safe" for one party or another that are actually hanging in the balance if people who have assumed there is no point in voting change their minds. For instance in Maidenhead, one of the safest Tory seats in the country, fewer than half of all eligible voters voted for the current MP, Theresa May.

There are majorities of people who believe the UK should have a close and constructive relationship with the EU in several "safe" constituencies held by pro-extreme Brexit candidates. While their MPs hold extreme views, local voters hold much more balanced views. We believe parliamentarians should put their constituents above their personal ideology. We'll be putting out more information on this as the election draws nearer so people can see for themselves how people in their area think.

The third big assumption is that people won't vote strategically, i.e. voting in such a way that a candidate who will support their views is more likely to win, rather than voting for the party they usually do or the leader they like best.

What the 2015 UK General Election figures show is that in the majority of seats in the country, if everyone under the age of 45 registered and voted, the outcome would have been completely different. If you haven't done so already, you can register to vote now here.

Don't let other people decide this election for you. The most important decision on our future is yet to come, and we need a Parliament that will fight for what's best for Britain.

Eloise Todd is CEO of Best for Britain

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