Only Stand To Win – FAQs

I’m a member of the Labour Party. How can I get involved?

You can sign up to table the motion, speak at your CLP, or to plan and co-ordinate meetings here. You’ll be emailed campaign resources including speaker notes, the wording of the motion, and more once you sign up.

Want to get more involved with coordination and our working group? Email our Campaigns Officer.

I’m not a member of the Labour Party. How can I get involved?

You can sign our petition calling on the Labour Party to pass the rule change. 

You can share it far and wide on twitter or facebook. If you want to get to more involved with electoral cooperation across all parties in your area you could also join a Compass Local Group!

Where do we stand? And how do we know where standing is a good idea?

First things first, this rule change doesn’t oblige CLPs to do anything, and is not applicable to all seats but is important for all of them. Everyone benefits from a stronger, truly representative government which this is instrumental to delivering. 

The numbers are clear – to lose the next general election the Tories would need to lose more votes than they’ve ever lost in your generation, or your mother’s, or your grandmother’s.

A loss of 50 seats will deny the Tories the right to form a government. Not all of these will be won by Labour, but this rule change will enable the best-placed progressive candidate to win.  The Liberal Democrats are second in 80 Conservative seats where Labour has no chance of winning. Seats like Winchester, Esher and Walton, Cheltenham, Lewes, St Ives, Eastbourne, and North Norfolk. 

There are only a tiny handful of seats where Labour and the Liberal Democrats are in direct competition with each other: Sheffield Hallam, and some three-way marginals like Finchley and Golders Green, or the Cities of London and Westminster. This does not target those seats.

Let’s work together as a movement to identify key seats where this policy change would have the most impact. Let’s give the silent majority the means to steer their local strategy. Let’s trust our CLPs to understand their own local circumstances.

What about the non-aggression pact between the Labour and the Liberal Democrats? Why does the Labour Party need to change this rule to deliver a win now?

It’s a great step in the right direction. It’s not enough. 

A non-aggression pact between Labour and Liberal Democrats may not be sufficient to win a majority, particularly if the general election is held after boundary changes are introduced in 2023. The numbers are still an issue with at 12%+ swing needed for Labour to form a majority and with the polls swinging around like they have, it’s not clear if the non-aggression pact would be strong enough. If you add in boundary changes, it becomes very unlikely that Labour could achieve the swing needed to form a government. Blair’s swing delivered the biggest landslide in history. In today’s landscape, the same swing would barely deliver a majority – maybe a majority of 1 or 2 seats. We need more efficiency rather than just agreeing not to attack each other. 

That was a generation ago. Our country has changed. 

The tactic is almost 25 years old and we’re dealing with a fundamentally different political landscape. After Brexit, with the nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland, the financial disparity between Labour and the Conservatives for elections, we’re dealing with a different battle. It’s also worth noting that with social media it is not so easy to squash public descent from the as it was in 97. Vocal minorities make a difference. Betting the stakes of the next general election – between a crumbling democracy, the NHS nearing a breaking point, social inequality worsening, and the climate emergency – on a tactic that isn’t guaranteed is too big a gamble because this isn’t just any election but a real possibility to avoid manifold crises. Let’s not try and make a 25 year old plan fit the 2020s. 

Building power doesn’t come from back room deals. That kind of agreement, which was formed behind the scenes by those at the top of parties, won’t work now. This time we’re building from the ground up and bringing the party activists on all sides with us. We need ground up power to best build politics that works for accountability as well as an election campaign. That’s the theory of change we believe in – not parties making deals without the members.

Where are the other parties? It’s not clear how this pact interacts with the Greens, Plaid Cymru, and the SNP. For Labour and Lib Dems to bet on a pact without cooperation from the other parties isn’t enough, especially when we know the Greens are kingmakers in roughly 30 seats now.

The progressive parties aren’t the same – they’re not even all actually progressive. There’s too much between them to make this work. 

You’re right. We are not the same and that’s a good thing. But we have shared interest in many policies and to enact these policies we need a progressive majority government. This isn’t about amalgamating the parties into one. We’re not interested in forming a bloc – this is a strategy that should work to benefit all the progressive parties individually.

Let’s come together, drawing on  the best from all the parties’ distinct traditions and discuss how to build a better society.

Look at your workplace, your friends, your family. We have great working relationships with people who vote for the Lib Dems and Greens in our professional and personal lives. Where we disagree we can talk it through and find solutions that draw on individuals’ experiences. Why not in government?

How can we trust other parties to help us or deliver a government? 

It would be self-sabotage for the Lib Dems to contemplate coalition with the Tories. Recent polling shows that Lib Dem voters in most places are much more likely to vote Labour than Tory if the Lib Dems don’t stand. Many of their MPs benefit from tactical voting by Labour Party supporters in places like Bath, Oxford, St Albans and West London.

Labour is 1,000-times more likely than the Conservatives to offer the key prize for both the Lib Dems and the Greens – electoral reform. There are also distinct policy similarities and overlap in manifestos .

Also on Greens, many greens are working for cooperation and already trying to mediate that in their areas, or have sought to work together before. The only Green MP is involved and the Green MSPs are in a working coalition with the SNP. This rule change sends a clear message of support to cooperative Greens.

We work together because we can work together with people we disagree with but have a common goal and mutual benefit – electoral reform. This is grown up, smart and strategic politics taking shape. 

Proportional Representation and electoral reform is fine, but why do we need this to enable official electoral cooperation?

PR can’t happen without power. We need to form a government to deliver PR.

This rule change assures that we can get moving on the cooperation and strategic targeting of seats that we need to get a progressive government. In doing so, we take significant steps towards actually implementing PR. It’s not only a vehicle for PR, it’s the only vehicle to implement PR anytime soon.

This is the next logical and rational step in the campaign for PR. The only way we get PR is through a government committed to electoral reform. The only way we get such a government is through effective cross party collaboration built from the grass roots up.  

Targeting and tactical voting already happen. Why not just refine tactical voting? 

We need to focus our resources and pressure on the seats we can flip to win a progressive majority government. Our budget is simply not as big as our opponents. Let’s save the money, save the time of volunteers and members and just stand aside in seats that we are tactically not interested in. Or better yet, be able to completely funnel those resources into nearby marginals. 

If there are clear indicators of tactical voting in our elections, where by some counts almost a third of votes cast are tactical (32% in 2019) then our democracy is failing to work for voters already. It’s time for electoral reform. 

Tactical voting also often relies on conflicting information and often fails – sometimes by just a few votes (e.g. Richmond Park in 2017).

Labour are now leading in the polls. Why are we not focusing on winning a Labour led government?

We are. But the numbers tell us that Labour is very unlikely to get there alone. And while all elections are important, the next one is especially urgent when we consider the timeframe of the climate emergency – alongside of the spiralling inequality and attacks on our democracy.

Just because Labour are currently leading in the polls, does not mean that lead will hold over the tumult of the next few months, never mind the fervour of the next election campaign. 

Moreover, a 10-point lead might lead to a 3 seat majority with  the current boundaries but if the next election happens after the boundary changes come into effect, this wouldn’t necessarily result in a Labour majority. 

It’s also important to note that, while Labour is rising in the polls , the Lib Dems are actually benefiting more from the current swing away from the Tories. This rule change doesn’t speak to Labour’s lead, but it does allow Lib Dems the space they need in those key marginals with tight races to defeat the Tories. 

If the stakes were not so high, then striving for a ‘first past the post’ win alone for Labour might be worth a gamble, but that’s not the case. To gamble on an outright Labour win in the current landscape would be an act of recklessness for our children and our children’s children.

Isn’t this motion is paternalistic and undemocratic? Shouldn’t people be able to vote for their chosen party in every election? 

Labour voters deserve the right to vote for Labour in their own constituency. Tactical voting already happens, and voters are smart enough to vote for their own interests without us patching up parties. Moreover, we’re working on campaigning in our constituency and building up for the future so we need to stand a candidate.

The long and the short of our answers for this.

This tactic is specifically focused on this next election to save our democracy and our planet.

This tactic is specifically focused on this next election – because of the context and the urgency of the next general election. We want to pull together with like-minded activists in other parties to beat the Tories. 

Electoral reform is built into the campaign, so that when these progressive parties enter government, they will be committed to getting rid of FPTP. That will mean Labour voters can vote with their hearts, for Labour, in every part of the country, in a truly representative democracy.

Our current government and voting system is anti-democratic, and isn’t currently representative of voters’ wishes ruling with a 56% majority in parliament with 43% of votes.

Electing a government with less than 50% of voters is anti-democratic. The last time a government was formed with a majority was 1935. Most recently, Boris Johnson got 43% of the vote but his government enjoys a commanding majority of 56% of seats.

Why waste everyone’s time and our money?

Why waste everyone’s time and our money? If tactical voting is going to happen, why waste the deposit, the campaign budget and the printer’s ink on putting a Labour candidate up in an unwinnable constituency? Moreover, we know the electorate wants to see us working together. Conversations on the doorstep and data from polling suggests that voters will reward us if we show we’re working together to get rid of this government. Voters know the stakes are high and want to see candidates acting in ways that take that seriously. 

People understand the need for this. 

Voters will understand what we’re doing. We agree, voters are smart, and often ahead of the parties on this. That’s why they vote tactically. That’s why they’ll understand why we’re not wasting their time and ours in zero-probability constituencies. This campaign removes the obstacles to the cooperation that voters want to see – and help build. 

However, we can’t leave this up to just tactical voting alone. In by-elections it can often be very clear who to vote for tactically, in general elections much less so. Research shows that many voters don’t know who is second or third in their seat. This motion allows the party to steer the voters along their strategy – rather than having them depend on potentially conflicting information. 

We often criticise the Tories for putting Party ahead of Country. Now is the time for Labour to show that they’re  better than that.  The stakes are too high to gamble on an unlikely win, we must do whatever it takes to prevent another Tory government like this one. 

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