Local Leaders Spotlight: Anti-Tory tactical voting will be ‘incredibly important’ in this May’s local elections, Basingstoke Council Leader says

Anti-Conservative tactical voting will be ‘incredibly important’ in this May’s local elections and ‘will make a big difference’, the leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough council has said. 

Cllr Paul Harvey, the leader of the Independent Forum on Basingstoke Borough Council, made the comments in conversation with cross-party campaign group Compass on their Local Leaders Spotlight series.

Compass aims to facilitate greater collaboration between Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens in key areas to help progressive candidates win power. 

Cllr Harvey’s comments come ahead of an important set of local elections this May, which will see voters in Basingstoke and Deane go to the polls to elect one third of council members. 

In 2023, the Conservatives lost their majority on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for the first time in 17 years. 

As a result, the Independent Forum, an umbrella grouping of independent councillors, along with the Liberal Democrat group, came together to form an executive on the council. This administration was also supported by the Labour group.

Cllr Harvey said this kickstarted ‘a massive change to the district and our borough’ and said the grouping was focussed on rolling out a policy programme focussed on renewal, trust in politics and delivery on key issues relevant to residents.

He said: “There was a sense that we wanted to do something different. We each had an agenda that overlapped, for example on the social housing agenda, on the regeneration of our town, on investment in leisure services, on investment in frontline services. There was a coalescence of agreement.

“Those on the other side of the political spectrum come together, and they do it very effectively. We, as progressives, need to understand that we can work together and we achieve an awful lot when we do. 

“There is a sense that by working together, you actually achieve far more. We have far more in common than that which divides us. By really emphasising what we have in common, we can work together and achieve more.” 

When asked about the role of tactical voting in the elections this May, he said: “I would encourage people to think about who is actually standing in their ward. In the area you are going to be voting in, who are the challengers to the Conservatives in those wards and how do you best go about achieving what we all want, which is progressive politics?

“Tactical voting is incredibly important, and you will find Liberal Democrats, Labour and independents all of whom are committed to winning seats from the Conservatives, and tactical voting will make a big difference.

He added: “I hope we’ve put enough in place that we can keep some of the direction of travel going. I also hope that the national political scene and the way people are feeling means the Conservatives won’t be back in control. But you take nothing for granted.”

Cllr Harvey added that his focus in the run-up to the May elections was encouraging as many people to go out and vote as possible. 

He said: “Please go out and vote. These are local elections, they are really important, they will determine the services you receive most, and also they will shape some of the national political message as well.”

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