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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 17:20 GMT
MP calls for tactical voting
Anthony Coombs
Anthony Coombs lost his Wyre Forest seat through tactical votes
Labour MP Denis MacShane has called for tactical voting at the next election in a bid to drive the Tories to the "margins" of British politics.

The Rotherham MP urged both his own party and the Liberal Democrats to avoid tribalism in the run-up to the next election.


All it takes is for a couple of hundred voters to vote tactically and we can push back the Tories to the margins of British politics

Denis MacShane
Mr MacShane published a list of constituencies where if the electorate had voted tactically in 1997 the Tories would not have won through.

He believes that in 12 of the seats it would have taken just 10% of voters who backed the party which came third to switch to the party that came second for a different result to have been secured.

The Tories would have lost 62 seats if 50% of those voting for the third party had backed the party in second place, and 127 seats if all third party votes had been transferred to the second party.

Push Tories to margins

Mr MacShane said: "All it takes is for a couple of hundred voters to vote tactically and we can push back the Tories to the margins of British politics."

In a lecture to the University of York Labour Club, the MP warned of the dangers of "good" Labour and Liberal Democrat members being replaced by "the new breed of Hague candidates intolerant on gays, blacks and refugees".

Dr MacShane insisted that his speech was "not about bringing the parties together" but rather that it was about "keeping the Tories out".

And he argued that Labour should not shut the door to electoral reform for the Commons.

He also urged his party to refrain from personal attacks on senior Liberal Democrats such as Paddy Ashdown and foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell, saying they deserved to be taken seriously for the firm stance they took over Bosnia.

Many Labour MPs who won marginal seats in the landslide victory of 1997 now fear for their jobs.

Dr MacShane enjoys a safe majority of more than 21,000 in his Rotherham seat.

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