November 12, 2019 by Paul Goldsmith
There are some very disappointed candidates in England and Wales as they are having to explain to their potential constituents why they are no longer standing in the election.
This is because the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have made a set of agreements to stand down on December the 12th, leaving only one of them as candidates in sixty constituencies.
Eleven of these constituencies are in Wales and the rest in England. Recognising the respective sizes of the parties, the Lib Dems will get a clear run at 40 seats in England and the Greens will try to claim the full anti-Brexit vote in nine seats. In Wales Plaid Cymru will not face off against Lib Dems or Greens in seven seats. In addition to all this, the Greens have taken themselves off the ballot in two constituencies in Northern Ireland, leaving the way open for Remain-supporting Sinn Fein there.
However, with Labour not involved it is hard to know how well this will work. The whole deal was started by Plaid Cymru and supported by the ‘United to Remain’ group. The latter approached Labour to ask them to join the pact, but Labour refused. The SNP in Scotland meanwhile simply argued that anyone who wanted to vote Remain could vote for them.
So why is this happening? Well this won’t be the first blog in which I blame our electoral system – First-past-the-post (FPTP) for something.
Because the only way to get a seat is to get one or more votes than anyone else there is nothing to be gained by three parties getting 15% of the vote each in a constituency when one of those parties could win with 45% should the other two not stand. That is what the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru are aiming that. There is no prize for coming second in a constituency, however many votes you get.
As for whether this will work, it’s hard to know, because it is so hard to work out how many Remainers will vote Labour.
What is already for sure is this – under FPTP the Brexit Party will almost definitely cost the Conservatives seats if the latter refuse to form a similar pact. As long as the Remain alliance that has begun works, anything could happen.