Robert recently started a blog - ConservativeHomo - which, he writes, was named in "(cheeky) homage" to ConservativeHome!
The Conservative Party has suffered heavily from tactical voting in the past – in 1992 it roughly halved John Major’s majority. But it was not always the case that a tactical vote was an anti-Tory vote, however much groups like TV87 thought it was. Indeed, in the 1980s Alliance supporters who voted tactically split fairly evenly, and even in 1992 there were plenty who voted to keep Labour out.
Tactical voting, and our approach to it, needs to be distinguished from our experience of it in the 1990s, when it worsened the crushing defeat of 1997. It has already changed since then, with Liberal Democrat voters being far less inclined to support Labour in 2005 than in 2001, resulting in Conservative gains. Yet there is no reason why we could not push this unwinding of Liberal to Labour tactical voting into getting Liberal Democrat supporters to help us get Labour out of office.
So how could we achieve a position where we benefit from tactical voting? First off, it is never going to help us get Liberal Democrat-held seats back. Their voters might quite like the thought of a Con-Lib coalition and incumbent Lib Dem MPs may well benefit from continued tactical support from Labour supporters. However, in the more numerous Labour-held marginals, Liberal Democrat supporters could be crucial.
David Cameron’s first year as leader has seen several key developments which will help draw tactical support from anti-Labour Liberal Democrats. YouGov surveys have shown a marked shift between the 2005 election and now when they ask whether respondents would prefer a Labour government led by Blair (2005) or Brown (2006) or a Conservative on headed by Howard or Cameron, with Blair leading by 52 to 35 just before the election and Cameron now ahead of (predicted) Brown 43-34.