Memo to Pickles: the answer to the Tory dilemma in Barking

Sunder Katwala

Eric PicklesBy Sunder Katwala / @nextleft

Paul Waugh has the very interesting scoop that the Tories appear to have taken seriously the idea of dropping out of the general election in Barking, or putting up a paper candidate and suspending their campaign.

They aren’t going to.

CCHQ had mused that it would reflect well on the party’s new shinynes and comfort with the multi-ethnic reality of modern Britain if it appeared willing to eschew narrow partisan interest to keep the racist candidate Nick Griffin out of the Commons. (The “right thing to do” comes with a fair dash of enlightened partisan self-interest on the national stage, so the thinking went, but let’s not quibble too much).

And they went so far as to consult Searchlight, who naturally told them that the plan could probably do rather more to harm than help to the anti-BNP cause. (Democratic parties not contesting the full slate of council seats in what looks like hopeless territory under FPTP is one of the factors that has helped the BNP get a foothold).

Back to the drawing board!

And you cynics at the back should also be prepared to give Tory CCHQ some credit for being worried about our shared democratic commitments.

So perhaps we can find some other way to achieve these desirable goals.

Perhaps without requiring the Tories to sacrifice their own interests.

Nor remove from the voters of Barking the chance to have a say on the big issues like the economy, tax, spending and debt between the major parties.


(Scratches head.)


What if we had preferential voting. Say, the Alternative Vote.

I’m sure I heard somebody talking about that earlier on.

The deal would go something like this:

Voters in Barking could vote for whoever they really wanted to win.

Then, if most of the voters wanted to keep Griffin out, they could achieve that too.

Easy as 1, 2, 3.

So we would find out whether Griffin or an opponent had most support, and I expect a majority would cast preferences for other democratic, non-racist candidates. (It is a scenario in which I would vote Tory, or cast a third preference for our democratic opponents on the right anyway!).

No pacts!

No mess!


So, Mr Eric Pickles, can’t you see the point?

This post was also published at Next Left.

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