With Prime Minister Theresa May announcing a snap general election on April 18th it was expected that the Tory’s would crush the Labour Party and increase the majority it already has. While many polls still predict a Conservative victory, they have fluctuated wildly with some even saying their majority could be cut to just two seats.
This has largely come from Theresa May’s poor campaign, even sending her lackey Amber Rudd to the leaders debate, and the unexpected momentum that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has gathered. The current political climate is making this the most important election in our generations lifetime and the people have a choice between the most right-wing Tory party since Thatcher or one of the most liberal leaders of the Labour Party in decades.
But for many of us the choice isn’t that simple. As we live in a parliamentary system our vote really only matters in electing who our local MP is rather than directly choosing who will become the new leader of the UK. One of the closest seats the Conservatives will have to contest is the one in Twickenham, recently won in 2015 by Conservative Dr Tanya Mathias over Lib Dem MP Vince Cable. Many attribute this to Cable being a member of the coalition government with the Conservatives which increased universities tuition fees, violating a key Lib Dem 2010 election promise and making them seem untrustworthy.
The 2015 election was extremely close with Mathias receiving 25,580 votes and Cable getting 23,563. The 2010 election had seen Cable beat the Conservatives by 32,483 to 20,343 and the 2005 one saw him win by 26,696 to the Tory’s 16,731. Another election with the popular Cable involved is always going to be close, but what adds a new dynamic is the way the Twickenham constituency voted in the EU referendum. The borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, (which the Twickenham seat makes up the most of) voted to remain in the European Union overwhelmingly by 75,396 votes to 33,410.
Dr Mathias did vote remain herself but due to the way Theresa May is dealing with Brexit many people who voted remain seem unhappy with the way the Conservatives are handling the situation, with May seemingly wanting to bring about the break with the EU at any cost. The Lib Dems have committed themselves to protecting many benefits of a relationship with the EU that the Conservatives are willing to sacrifice to appease their voters, even going as far to suggest another referendum on EU membership altogether (which isn’t unprecedented in a European country).
Now if you don’t agree with Mathias or Cable’s parties ideas or stance on the EU, could you instead vote Labour? While you might feel better for voting for a party and a leader that represent more of your ideals in Twickenham, it is simply a wasted vote. Since the seat was created in 1918 it has never elected a Labour MP, and with Jeremy Corbyn being its leader it is extremely unlikely that will change. Labour has also barely competed in the last 12 years, getting 5,868 votes in 2005, 4,583 in 2010 and 7.129 in 2015. Vince Cable has been the only non-Conservative MP to win the seat in its 99 year history. Every seat the Tories lose will make the chances of Corbyn in Downing Street more likely, so the best way to help the Labour Party is to vote Lib Dem in Twickenham.
This may be hard to stomach for some. Personally if I had a choice between Cable and Mathias, I would vote for her again, like I did in 2015 when my local MP was more important to me. Mathias is an ex-NHS doctor who worked as a refugee worker for the UN in Gaza and treated HIV and AIDS in Africa as well as leprosy in India. She is hardly your typical Tory MP. I like her perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, refugees, the EU, and Saudi Arabia. I also respect how she makes her self very visible throughout the constituency. In general, I agree with her more than Cable, although her Facebook cover photo with Theresa May reminds me what party she is in. This election is too important to just think in terms of Twickenham, and I want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister.
As much as I’d rather have Mathias over Cable, I would ultimately much prefer Corbyn leading our country and addressing its real problems than Theresa May, who I believe barely offers any compelling solutions to the many problems facing our country, including policing, the NHS or the EU. So in Twickenham you have to vote Lib Dem to help Corbyn, there is simply no other option.