My current intention is to disregard the advice of my Conservative Parliamentary candidate, Andrew Jones, when placing my vote. His view, as I understand it, is that one should vote for the candidate or party one would prefer to see win, without trying to guess their respective chances of actually doing so.
My own priority at this critical time is for Harrogate to return an MP from the Conservative Party or UKIP rather than one from the Lib Dems or Labour (while some others will no doubt be seeking the reverse).
Mr Jones’ position, that vote-splitting need not be treated as a significant problem, is at least consistent with his party’s failure to enact electoral reform to address such a problem. The last attempt at this, the Alternative Vote (AV) was defeated by them.
Arguably, it was defective in that it gave minor parties the advantage of receiving ill-considered blocking votes from supporters of whichever of the major parties is knocked out first. But such a defect can be remedied by barring vote transfers from major parties to minor ones.
This diluted AV would still serve the purpose of freeing a minor party from the disadvantage that even those who actually prefer it may be strongly inhibited from voting for it. It would also free the voter to follow Mr Jones’ advice without detriment.
This, you may feel, seems a rather arcane matter to be discussing at a moment of high political drama. But remember what has brought us to the present crisis. The two major parties, if in unison, can remain unresponsive to the public will for decades.
The potential for a third party breakthrough, given the right policy, needs to be real enough that one or other of the major parties will more speedily adapt and adopt that policy.
I hope that, if re-elected, Andrew Jones will give this some consideration. Meanwhile I shall vote for him, whether he wishes me to or not.
Harcourt Drive, Harrogate