Theresa May, despite months of promising that she wouldn't, has called a General Election. She's called it for entirely cynical reasons. Oh, sure, she tells us that she wants to strengthen her hand in negotiations (why would it?) and that she wants to be able to stop people sabotaging Brexit (no one has), but the real reason is that she's ahead in the polls and British political history is littered with unelected Prime Ministers who failed to seize the moment to win a popular mandate and went on to be forced into an Election they lost (Callaghan 1978; Brown 2007). The Tories are riding high in the polls and Labour do appear to be in some disarray; May's hardline Brexit stance has seen off UKIP; the Lib Dems are on the mend but may still be haunted by their role in the Coalition; and in Scotland, the SNP are defending an almost impossibly strong performance in the last election against a mildly resurgent Tory group. So May thinks she can win and win soundly.
The last thing we need is a huge Tory majority. May - urged on by a coalition of far-right backbenchers, newspapers and partoes - has already shown her contempt for democratic process and given the sheer delusional stupidity of her Brexit stance ('I believe in Britain' she says, as if that means anything at all), the Tories need to be held to account more than ever.
So within an hour of hearing that May was calling an election, in a spirit of casting around for something to do, I bought the domain tactical2017.com (and .org and .net, for the sense of completion). I started trying to put together a website that would explain who to vote for if you wanted to oppose the Tories. Fortunately, because I'm not a web designer, this attracted the attention of some web-savvy people and, most crucially, I connected with Becky Snowden who had put together a smart spreadsheet, based on the 2010 and 2015 General Elections, that provided some strong evidence for who had the best shot against the Tories. This escalated and within a few days, we had a great, clear, eye-catching website, a logo, and a ton of newspaper coverage.
No one should vote tactically in an ideal world; all things being equal, you should just vote for who you believe in. But this is not an ideal world and all things are not equal. Our ridiculous First Past the Post system is useless, unjust, and produces absurd distortions of the popular will. It is fundamentally undemocratic - and it lies behind the grotesque spectacle of Theresa May believing that a Government should be defended from the impertinence of Parliament.
So, if you want to keep Theresa May accountable to parliament, you have to vote tactically. Realistically (in England, Scotland and Wales) that means voting Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru or, in a couple of places, Green. That's what our site helps you do - and we're continuing to update it we process the impact of the local elections, where the Tories significantly underperformed in terms of vote share but (because except in Scotland, the local elections are also run on a First Past the Post basis) overperformed in terms of seats.
Will Theresa May lose the election? I doubt it. But it will be no good for democracy or the future of the country if she gets a 100-seat majority (on what will certainly be less than half of the votes and probably more like a third of those eligible to vote). So please, wherever you are, check our website and vote whatever it takes to keep the Tories out.
I'm a Labour supporter and pretty much always have been. I haven't always voted Labour though; I voted Green once, for an Independent once, and Lib Dem once (in a seat where Labour didn't stand a chance).