There has been a lot of chatter about tactical voting in Lewes, with Labour supporters being urged by some Lib Dem supporters to ‘lend’ their vote to the Lib Dems instead.
But what does the Lewes voting record show longer term? Between 1917 and 1987 there were 22 General Elections battles in Lewes with Labour coming second in over three quarters of them and the Liberals/Lib Dems usually coming third when they bothered to stand.
Then in 1992 along came the energetic Norman Baker who, in 1997, took the seat from the Conservatives for the first time. And he subsequently held on to Lewes in the elections of 2001, 2005, and 2010 until he lost to Maria Caulfield in 2015.
So the record shows that over the last hundred years Lewes has usually voted for Labour as the main challenger to the Conservatives, but with the Liberals/Lib Dems getting to the top only once Norman was there to do the job for them. In other words, since 1997 tactical voting in Lewes has usually been for the independent-minded and energetic Mr Baker, rather than for the Liberal Democrat Party itself.
But whatever the circumstances, tactical voting can only ever be a second-best, because the conscientious voter is cajoled into going against their own political instincts and beliefs. Lewes has traditionally been a Conservative – Labour battle ground, and without Norman’s colourful presence as candidate this time around, it seems likely that in the General Election of 2017 Lewes will start heading back in that direction once again.
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