Tactical voting call by Labour condemned as 'desperate'

I want every vote, says Brown, as Tories and Liberal Democrats unite to reject Peter Hain's offer of an unofficial pact

Calls by senior Labour figures for people to vote tactically against the Conservative Party in tomorrow's election were condemned as "desperate" by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats yesterday.

Nick Clegg dashed Labour's hopes of an unofficial pact in which both parties would encourage their supporters to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the Tories. He told voters: "I want you to vote with your heart, with your best instincts, for the future you want."

Tactical voting moved to the top of the election agenda after the Cabinet minister Peter Hain told The Independent that people should "vote with their head, not their hearts" in 100 Conservative-Labour marginals to keep David Cameron out of Downing Street, and hinted that Labour supporters in Liberal Democrat-Tory marginals should also consider voting tactically.

His move was backed yesterday by two other Cabinet ministers, Ed Balls and Tessa Jowell, but Labour was accused of being in disarray after refusing to endorse it officially. Labour's rulebook says members must not advocate supporting a candidate from another party.

Gordon Brown said: "I want every Labour vote because I think people will look at the votes as a whole and they will look at what Labour has achieved." Douglas Alexander, Labour's campaign co-ordinator, warned that supporting Liberal Democrats could actually let the Tories back into power. He added: ""If you vote for the Liberal Democrats you could wake up on Friday morning and see a Conservative-led government, including Liberal Democrats. We are campaigning for every vote."

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said: "We have Labour candidates standing across the country. It's they and we who believe in the Labour approach and believe this is the best approach to take this country through the recovery." Asked about constituencies where Labour candidates did not appear to stand a chance, he said: "You never know whether the Labour candidate stands a chance... The only alternative to a Labour government is a Conservative government."

However, Mr Balls was authorised to brief journalists that he understood why Labour supporters in Lib-Dem/Tory marginals might vote tactically. "I'm not going to start second-guessing their judgments," he said. "Of course I want the Labour candidate to win but I understand people's concerns about letting the Conservatives in."

Mr Hain, the Welsh Secretary, yesterday urged voters to "act intelligently" and said: "My ultimate aim is to get a parliament which drives through political reform, with Labour in alliance with the Liberal Democrats and others who want to reform the political system from top to bottom." Ms Jowell, the Cabinet Office minister, told the BBC that calls for anti-Tory tactical were a "good thing" but added: "Ultimately, the point is, people make up their own minds."

Campaigning in Liverpool, Mr Clegg said: "Peter Hain and Ed Balls [are] telling people what they should vote against, not what they should vote for. I am fed up with the old politics, where two cliques in the Labour and the Conservative parties think it's their birthright to play pass the parcel with your government, as if you've got nothing to do with it, as if you've got no say. We had David Cameron measuring up the curtains for No 10 yesterday and Labour politicians today telling people how they should vote."

The Tories contrasted Labour's "negative" move with their own positive campaign. Mr Cameron said: "What's interesting is you've got senior Labour politicians basically saying that the best way to keep Gordon Brown in Downing Street is to vote Liberal Democrat. This backs up what we have always said, which is if you want to have a new government which rolls up its sleeves on Friday, starting to clear up the mess, you need to vote Conservative."

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow Culture Secretary, said Labour's calls for tactical voting could backfire by persuading people who wanted to oust Mr Brown to switch to the Tories.

Tam Dalyell, the former Labour MP, said there was "sheer fury" in the party about the three ministers' calls. He said: "What must it feel like if you were a small Labour Party in a difficult constituency, fighting for all you are worth to get your candidate in, and then having Cabinet ministers advising that people should vote against you? It is difficult enough without this kind of ministerial intervention."

Highlights of the day

Typing error of the day

Embarrassment for the Tories in Kingston and Surbiton where the apostrophe button on the office keyboard seems to have gone missing. A leaflet reassuring constituents they could trust the Conservatives with their children's education was entitled: "Being responsible with your childs [sic] education." So that wouldn't include the correct use of apostrophes, then.

Internet game of the day

After more than a month of campaigning, many voters might be forgiven for wearying of politics. Now a new game allows players to vent their frustrations by punching the three party leaders in the face. In Downing Street Fighter, gamers play as Gordon Brown, David Cameron or Nick Clegg in a bid to knock their opponents out and become the last politician standing.

Quote of the day

Chris Mullin, outgoing Labour MP for Sunderland South, told BBC Radio 4 his advice for improving your life: don't read the Daily Mail. He said: "I had a woman come in who was on the edge of a breakdown. She was talking about civil war and chaos, immigrants coming up the lanes of Sunderland with knives between their teeth to murder her. She was really in a terrible state. I said to her, 'What paper do you read, love?' and, of course, it was the Daily Mail. I just said, 'Stop reading it and you'll find life gets better'."

Billy Kenber

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance / Accounts Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Locksmith / Engineer / Technician

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading Key Cutting equipm...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - B2B Sales & Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you great at forming strong...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss