Discussion Forum
May 1st Elections - Tactical Voting

From Bill Smithson
Friday, 11 April 2008

Although I cheered in May 11 years ago when Labour were elected, I haven't done much cheering since.

I live in Heptonstall and I would like to know where to cast my vote in the local elections to keep Labour out. I'm not too bothered who I vote for - I feel it's too late for the ethics of the issue - but I really would like some advice.


Iraq. Removal of the 10pence tax rate - hurts low wage earners and benefits the very rich. Post office closures - destroying local communities, maybe mine. Nationalising Northern Rock - we take all the risk, while the shareholders breathe a sigh of relief - and Alaister Darling has his mortgage with them. Did I mention Iraq? Gordon Brown dithering over attending the Olympics in China - I assume had he been alive he would have gone to Berlin in 1936. By the way, Iraq.

I could spend another 10 minutes on this, but most of you know where I stand. By the way, please do not tell me that national issues should not impact on local politics - all the research shows that they do.

So where to cast my vote?

Posted by Barry G
Saturday, 12 April 2008

Bill, we have just spent the last 40 minutes discussing your points.

This is one of the most engaging postings for a while. Thank you!

Posted by Janet Oosthuysen
Saturday, 12 April 2008

As the Labour candidate in the local elections I have to respond to this posting.

Let me start by saying that I share some of your disillusion, and Bill I wouldnt dream of saying that national politics dont impact on local elections. Of course they do.
I share you disgust with the wars, lived in Hong Kong and so have been pro Tibet all my adult life, am horrified at the 10p tax rate, and so many other things.

So why am I standing for Labour? And why should people whose protests I totally respect vote for me? A veteran trade unionist put it best. When rats take over your house, do you move out? No, you stay and fight until every last rat has gone. The working class has spent 100 years nearly building the house of Labour and we have to regain it.

If all of us in the Labour Party who abhor what has been done in our name leave what will happen? The rats win and they cannot be allowed to do so.

So people like me and many of the people working with me stay and fight- for peaceful, ethical solutions to foreign policy, for taxation that creates equality, for decent housing for all people, for living wages, for a proper and effective green agenda. We fight for a voice for working people like we always have.

I think - but I would wouldnt I? - that to vote for a socialist, anti-war, environmentalist, trade unionist pacifist would send a different message to the leadership. One which says if we stand by our principles, we are electable and it is selling them down the river that makes us not.
(BTW I am all of those things - its not just me ticking boxes!)

But I totally respect your right for a protest vote. It's just not the way for me. And I do believe that we can make small changes locally that will impact on our community for the better, even when we are campaigning in any way we know how for the big changes too.

From Bill Smithson
Sunday, 13 April 2008


I totally respect your position, and understand the way in which you have to reply. Indeed it is interesting to note that you are the only 'professional' to reply at all as yet.

However, it is still the fact that a vote for you and your party reassures Gordon Brown's spin machine that all is well with the world. Labour sucesses on May 1st will mean business as normal - and I do not want anymore of this governments idea of 'normal'.

From Rev Tony Buglass
Sunday, 13 April 2008

I left college the year after Mrs Thatcher came to power. Having grown up on urban Tyneside, I returned there to be a minister, and spent the next years watching as jobs haemorrhaged and community was destroyed, and the poorest were hit hardest. So I was one of those who stayed up until silly o'clock in May 1997, rejoicing to see the Tories booted into the wilderness.

I had no idea that we were electing another Tory government. I think I understand why Tony Blair implemented his "New Labour" programme, but I can't help being disappointed at what has been left undone. Yes, there have been good things - minimum wage and the like. But I'm disappointed.

However, voting to keep Labour out will let someone else in. Who do you want in? Will the BNP slip in the back door? Will you let the Tories back in? Will you then wish you'd voted for Labour, even if it was voting for the least worst option?

Tactical voting is a dangerous game. Wars are won by good strategy, not bad tactics. So I'd rather vote as near as I can to my personal convictions, whatever other compromises I have to make.

From Susan Press
Monday, 14 April 2008

I think Janet has said most of what I wanted to say. And I was saying similar stuff when I stood for Calder four years ago (and lost). For socialists in the Labour Party, Gordon brown is a major headache. But to flee into the arms of the SWP or whoever would be a pointles, self-indulgent exercise.

I know the values Janet is standing on and I can assue you voting to "keep her out" will stop a passionately committed and decent candidate out of the Town Hall. And, dare I say it, socialist. Your choice . . .

From Andrew Hall
Thursday, 17 April 2008

I am more than impressed with Janet Oosthuysen's comments on this thread.

So many people in the Calder Valley believe in true socialist principles, and I have absolutely no doubt that our local labour politicians, Sue Press, Dave Young, Stewart Brown et al, are amongst that group. It must pain them, to their hearts and beyond, that their beloved party is being manipulated by the 'suits' - the Millibands and Balls of this world, shallow people more interested in their own careers than in any true commitment to a socialist cause.

So, tactical voting? Well sometimes it has its place but, as Tony Buglass points out, it can often backfire with regrettable consequences. It's a little bit too contrived for me, with undertones of done deals in quiet smoke-filled back rooms. Far better to have the courage of your convictions.

If something needs changing, and there cannot be many here who don't think the Labour party needs drastically changing, then it's far better to fight from within, rather than witter and moan from outside. If Janet's commitment is true to her manifesto, we need look no further.

So what can a minor politician in an insignificant area like Calderdale actually do? Well not a lot on their own, but this scenario is being re-enacted countrywide, and that's how things can ultimately change. The only thing that can stop such a process is cynicism.

Simplistic comments, I know, but well-intentioned. I've never met Janet Oosterhuysen, but I wish her well on May 1st.

From Janice S
Friday, 18 April 2008

Thank you Janet, for your excellent response. I remember when I resigned from the National Trust, because they allowed deer hunting on their land, then realised that I no longer had a voice in that organisation to change things. It's best to stay and fight, in the hopes that things will get better.

I'm so disappointed with Gordon Brown (in my naive way I thought that, because he was Scottish, he might be another John Smith). However, he's better than any of the alternatives - even if that's 'damning with faint praise'. Good luck in the election.

From Margaret Boyle
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Your posting has led to some interesting discussions and it popped into my head again today when Gordon Brown was interviewed about his u-turn on the 10p tax rate, after heated pressure from within and outside the Labour Party. There are all manner of ways of getting your voice heard and influencing our elected politicians. Tactical voting is obviously a legitimate ploy in a "first past the post" election, but using a local election to punish the national government relegates it to a national opinion poll and I think it matters a great deal who takes the decisions at the Town Hall.

There are local issues such as fair wages, affordable housing, constructive policies for our young people, air pollution, the scale of developments, which matter a great deal to Calderdale residents and on which Janet Oosthaysen has positive and thoughtful solutions and these deserve to be fully debated. The other point which strikes me is Janet's emphasis on the way we do politics, with elected representatives engaging with ordinary members of the public throughout their term of office and not just at election time. This is one way to break through the general disillusionment most people feel about politics, with last year's Calder Ward turn-out below 40%.

So Bill, forget Gordon Brown on 1st May and vote for the candidate whose beliefs and priorities best matches your own.

From Brian Oosthuysen
Thursday, 24 April 2008

Hi. I am a Labour county councillor from Gloucestershire and, perhaps more importantly, the father of Janet.

When I was asked to stand in 2005 I wondered if I could, bearing my dislike of Tony Blair's war in Iraq, his timidness (with a big majority since 1997) to effect real change, his admiration for Thatcher, which was almost the last straw, but I knew I believed profoundly in social justice, I knew that I wanted to do my bit - and perhaps more importantly, help others to do their bit, to make life more tolerable and fair.

While we didn't have the Hebweb discussion forum, I heard from people who had voted Labour and felt they could no longer do so. In my division the Greens were are very strong and I was on first name terms with all of them, but I felt that, if Labour didn't get in, the Tories might, so I gritted my teeth and stood under the Labour banner.

To my joy I discovered that the Labour group thought as I did on matters, that we were able to change things, small things admittedly, and that we - despite being only 12 councillors on a 63-councillor county council, dominated by old 1950s Tories, were able to harry the administration on matters like climate change and the like.

What I am bumblingly saying is that I am immensely proud of Janet, that she will make a damn fine councillor and people should vote for the person, the very fine person she is. She will not let them down.

From Derek Pollard
Wednesday, 30 April 2008

I am in agreement over tactical voting, anything to keep labour /socialist out. After working in engineering 50 years and getting my hands mucky every day and being made redundant 4 times, the last thing a working man wants is a socialist government because it is always the working man who has to pay off all the billions of pounds they borrow. How much do this government owe now and who is going to pay it off? Every housewife knows you can't keep on borrowing, reality has to kick in sometime. Socialism is equal shares of misery for the working person, you have it I want it. One of them will tell you to tighten your belt another will tell you to go on strike and yet another type will tell you to demonstrate, always preaching at you. Who remembers Tony (still a millionaire) Benn advocating to "Nationalise printing presses." Socialism, nationalisation, we would be beter voting to join the flat earth society.

From Anon
Wednesday, 30 April 2008

I am a 17 year living in Hebden Bridge I desperately wish that I could vote for Janet Oosthuysen as she is what Labour should be. As other posts have said, if a change is so badly desired in this party then there is no way but from within to do so and while this may “only” be a local election with, some would say, no real chance of making an impact on national politics, it doesn’t make voting for a socialist candidate any less worthwhile. I think that it is necessary to vote for the candidate as opposed to the party because it is the individuals that will change what most needs changing. Not only that, but she is the most locally active of the councillors available, and the amount of passion and drive this woman has, should hold her far above the negative image of her party. I realise that I, at best, seem naive and idealistic but are they really such bad qualities?

(Note to contributors: We won't usually publish "anon" messages - please provide a name - thanks, webmaster)

From Janet Oosthuysen
Friday, 2 May 2008

Dear Anon
Thank you for your lovely comments. I especially like the fact that you realise that being naive and idealsitic are such pluses. Where would we be without them? Stuck in the same old cynical world.

I wanted to reply before but hate that kind of electioneering so have left it till close of poll to reply! Derek I'll leave until I am more compos mentis, (I'm very tired and my feet hurt) but I just wanted to say how great it has been to be a part of so many efforts on the part of people to improve their small part of the world.

We've always said from the very beginning of this that we were fighting a campaign not an election camaign and I feel that so strongly.

We want to be a real Labour party, fighting alongside communities to make a difference.

And on a personal note I want to thank everyone who voted for me- and everyone who helped me. I'm so proud that we never lost our integrity- despite great provocation.

I'm afraid you havent seen the last of us.....whatever the result!

From Carole Oosthuysen
Monday, 5 May 2008

Well done Janet Oosthuysen and all your team. What a magnificent effort. It's very refreshing to come across someone in politics with whom one is proud to be associated,someone with ideals, morals and integrity. You did brilliantly and I am impressed with how many people rightly judged you to be worth their vote.The town is all the richer for having you working with people there to improve life for everyone.

You've had an unerring sense of justice and a passion for fair play since you were very young. I am immensely proud to see my daughter in action, caring for others and maintaining her dignity and humour when the going got tough.I'm not surprised that you inspired an idealistic 17 year old. There will be others and they are the future. You will not let them down.

From John Rhodes
Thursday, 8 May 2008

Thanks to everyone who supported Janet on the day; whether that was tactical or not.We came within a whisker of defeating the Lib Dems and went against the national trend. Some things to think about. Voting Green is a wasted vote in a first past the post election in this ward - if you want green vote for Janet. While much power has been removed from Town Halls by Tory and New Labour Governments it still matters who "runs" Calderdale. What also matters is the content and style of local campaigns.

Our local Labour Party is serious about developing a local style that is inclusive, democratic and really progressive; our campaigning will continue. In two years time people will have another opportunity to support Janet based on a solid record of campaigning. Finally a very big personal thank you to Janet from her comrades in the local Labour Party for being such an outstanding candidate. Part of the reason our vote went up is precisely because of, "the very fine person she is".

John Rhodes
Chair, Calder Ward Labour Party