This is an election in which you may have to make tough decisions about what to do with your vote, even to the extent of swapping your vote with a stranger or voting for a party that has helped to slash your benefits.
The polls, pushed by an endless stream of tabloid hate, may just have begun to move in the Conservative’s favour. The possibility of £12 billion in benefits cuts, hitting disability living allowance, personal independence payment, housing benefit and carers allowance is still very real.
The Tories themselves are pouring huge amounts of millionaire donors’ money into identifying and bombarding a tiny number of undecided voters – perhaps 40,000 – in key marginals. If they succeed in frightening them into voting Conservative, the election may well be theirs.
So, should claimants – who have the most to lose if the Tories get in - also be resorting to ‘under the radar’ tactics, such as vote swapping and tactical voting?
Vote swapping was credited with taking seats from the Tories in the 2001 general election, it could certainly do so again next week.
And tactical voting takes a strong stomach, but it can also achieve results.
Labour supporters in safe Labour and safe Tory seats are swapping votes with Greens in Labour marginal seats using the Vote Swap website.
This way the Greens still get the same share of the national vote, but by voting Labour their supporters also get the chance to prevent a Tory taking a swing seat.
It neatly solves the issue of whether to vote with your head or your heart.
Vote Swap claims to have arranged over 10,000 swaps already.
After all, every seat the Lib Dems take from the Tories reduces the Conservative’s chances of being the largest party. And the Lib Dems have said they wouldn’t support the full £12 billion in benefits cuts.
There are undoubtedly still some left-leaning Lib Dems left in the country. The Swap My Vote site gives you a chance to make contact with a potential swapping partner to check out their political opinions, because you can only register using your Facebook or Twitter login.
The tactical voting alternative
If you’re in a Lib Dem/Conservative marginal and don’t like the idea of trusting someone else with your vote, you can simply vote Lib Dem to try to deprive the Tories of a seat.
For many claimants voting Labour will be unpleasant enough, voting Lib Dem almost unthinkable.
But if it reduces the chances, even by a fraction, of massive benefits cuts it has to be worth considering.
You can read more about vote swapping and tactical voting on the Benefits and Work website.
If you have an opinion on this issue that you’d like to share, you can also complete our Vote Swapping and Tactical Voting Survey. It’s anonymous, there’s only 4 questions and the results are posted online as they come in. We’ll also be publishing selection of your comments.
All parties are not the same
However you decide to vote, please don’t fall for the fiction that we’re still hearing too often – that it doesn’t matter who gets in, all the parties are the same.
The difference is immense.
In a report published yesterday, the Institute for Fiscal studies (IFS) pointed out that the amount that Labour are planning to cut from the working age benefits bill benefits is . . . zero. This is because their 1% cap on child benefit uprating is unlikely to save anything because inflation is so low.
In addition, Labour plan to actually add to the benefits bill by abolishing the bedroom tax.
On the other hand, the IFS say it’s ‘disappointing’ that the Conservatives still refuse to say where their massive £12 billion benefits cuts will fall.
They described the cuts as ‘extremely challenging’ and ‘painful’ and once again listed some of the cuts the Tories would have to look at making, including:
Taxing DLA, PIP and attendance allowance
Making all housing benefit recipients pay at least 10% of their rent
Abolishing child benefit
Reducing the child element of universal credit by 30%
The Conservatives announcement today, that they will pass a law to prevent a rise in the rate of income tax or VAT in the next parliament, only makes it more certain that they will have to impose massive benefits cuts.
So, if you’re unsure how to cast your vote, check out our Election special: who can you vote for to prevent “life-changing” benefits cuts?
And, regardless of the urgings of Russell Brand, please don’t give up the fight. Instead, go out next week and vote for your life.
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