The contest in Durham City. Should you vote here or at home?

By Rhodri Sheldrake Davies

With the next General Election set for June 8th, students across the country are faced with the issue not only of how to vote, but also where.  Any UK student is eligible to register to vote both at home and at university.

Though at first it seems natural to vote in the place that feels most like home (just don’t tell the parents where you chose!), it’s important to remember that, with 2017 already being called ‘the year where tactical voting could really take off’, a student’s choice of where to vote may prove more critical than ever before.

The UK operates a First-Past-the-Post, Winner takes All system, in which party candidates compete to get the greatest number of votes. This means that any votes which don’t go to the winning candidate in each constituency are all-but irrelevant. This, in turn, means that, in closer electoral contests, each vote has a higher chance of being the decider.

The contest here in Durham is set to be a two-horse race between the Conservatives, currently polling 30% and Labour (who’ve held the seat since 1935), polling at around 40%. Hence, a 10% swing would be needed to oust current MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, making it one of the ‘safer’ constituencies in the UK.

However, a well-focused campaign from Theresa May’s Brexit-touting Tory party may well prompt a much tighter race in Durham yet, with neighbouring Hartlepool already projected to turn away from Labour for the first time in its history. For anyone looking to keep Labour in, or the Tories out, voting in Durham should not be off the cards quite yet.

On the other hand, those hoping for a #Libdemfightback or a sudden resurgence of nationalism, probably ought to give Durham a miss, with minor parties in the area polling a mere 30% between them, even despite the region’s nine Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Just remember, wherever you choose to vote, you’ll have to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.  

Photograph: Roger Geach via Creative Commons

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