A personal appeal

A personal appeal

Addressed by our Chair to all our followers and supporters

I have today sent this personal appeal to all Norfolk for Europe members and supporters.

We are united in believing that either the decision to leave the EU should be revoked, or that it should be put back to the people for a referendum, with an option to remain. To achieve this we must vote tactically, whatever our feelings about individual candidates, parties or leaders. Some of us will do this with a heavy heart, and break the politics of a lifetime, but if we do not, we will leave the EU, and it may take our lifetimes to recover (Jacob Rees-Mogg said we will recover from any economic setbacks within 50 years).

This week’s election is a landmark event, as important as 1979 which gave us Thatcherism, and 1997 which gave us New Labour. Perhaps even as important as 1945, which gave us the Welfare State. 

The election can have only two outcomes. It may be a minority government, perhaps supported by smaller parties, but one way or another it will be either:

  • another Conservative government, promising that we will formally leave the EU in 7 weeks
  • a Labour government, promising that the decision will be put back to the people in a new referendum within six months, with remain on the ballot paper.

For some people this is an unpalatable choice, and many of us profoundly disapprove of the way our first past the post voting system works. However, it is the system we have for the time being. 

There are two seriously marginal seats in Norfolk and our recommendation is to:

  • vote Liberal Democrat in North Norfolk, and
  • vote Labour in Norwich North.

In those two seats a few votes can make all the difference. In Norwich South we have a strongly pro-remain Labour MP who also deserves support. Elsewhere in Norfolk, Conservatives have large majorities and change is unlikely. In Mid-Norfolk the tactical voting sites are divided between Labour and Liberal Democrat, but everywhere else they all recommend voting Labour. 

If you are in any doubt, consult the tactical voting websites, which are being continually updated as polling evidence comes in. There are six sites, each with its own methodology, but they now only disagree on 20 of the 650 seats. You can find the recommendations of five of them summarised at https://tactical.vote/compare.

You can find below some more detailed arguments – I have put them in the annex below to keep this letter short. We are all busy people. 

I am 74, and this is the most momentous election of my life. If it goes wrong, I don’t expect to see the mess cleared up in my lifetime. Please vote tactically (and keep your fingers crossed) for our children and grandchildren.

Good luck! 

Stephen McNair
Chair, Norfolk for Europe


Annex:  Why vote tactically?

You may want to vote on principle for a party, be it Liberal Democrat, Labour or Green, even if the evidence suggests that that party will come third in their  constituency. The principle is admirable, and if you believe that in your constituency the result is a foregone conclusion, you are at least showing the level of support for the opposition. However, in any constituency where there is any chance of unseating a Conservative, the result would be disastrous.

Perhaps the biggest dilemma is for Liberal Democrats, who hoped for a dramatic swing to their party. However, there is no evidence in the opinion polls that this is going to happen. The Liberal Democrat vote is concentrated in around 80 constituencies where a vote for the Liberal Democrats is most likely to defeat a Conservative. In those seats we need Labour and Green voters to vote Liberal Democrat.  In all other constituencies, a Labour vote is the one most likely to block a Conservative. The Electoral Calculus website, which allows you to test the effect of alternative vote shares, shows that, were the Liberal Democrats to double their vote share across the country, the most likely result would be to increase the number of Conservative MPs, not reduce it.

Johnson’s slogans are lies

First his plan does not “get Brexit done”. True, we would leave the EU formally in January, but that is merely the beginning of five or more years of difficult negotiation with the EU, and the 70 other countries we currently trade with under EU agreements (many of whom have already raised objections to simply carrying over our current relationships).  It is highly unlikely that the negotiations can be completed in the one year transition period agreed, and Johnson has said repeatedly that he will not ask for an extension. That can only mean that we leave without an agreement, on trade, safety, security and all the other issues which bind the EU together. The Brexiters say that we will leave on World Trade Organisation terms but the WTO itself is itself under threat. Its Court, which adjudicates on trade disputes, is no longer functioning because Donald Trump has refused to allow the appointment of new judges.

Secondly, Johnson is lying about “taking back control” quickly and smoothly. The “deal” can only be smooth and quick if we stay bound by the EU rules (which we will no longer have any say in), in which case we will not have “taken back control” of anything. If, on the other hand, we want to diverge from EU rules, the negotiations will be complex, slow and difficult. Once we leave, we become a competitor, not a partner, with the EU. We have already seen, in the negotiations over the Irish border, what formidable negotiators they are when defending the interests of their members and institutions. 

Holding your nose

You may not like the idea of a Labour government, and you may not like Jeremy Corbyn, but in most constituencies in Norfolk, a Labour vote is the most likely to block a conservative majority government.  
You may not like Jo Swinson, and you may feel that the Liberal Democrats were too compromised by their experience in Coalition, but in North Norfolk the real choice is between Liberal Democrat and Conservative.