It is reported in today’s Evening Standard that backers of Andrea Leadsom for the Tory leadership are accusing Theresa May’s supporters of doing a deal—whereby she lends some of her voters to Michael Gove to inflate his total and ensure that the final two to be put before Conservative party members are May and Gove, rather than May and Leadsom, which would be favourable to May.
This reminds me of a similar, but far less significant, occasion in 1992 when I was standing for the vice-chairmanship of the Ramblers. The executive committee (EC, now board of trustees) decided at its December meeting whom to propose as vice-chairman at the association’s annual general meeting in the spring (although it was open to delegates at the AGM to propose other candidates).
Three of us
There were three of us: the late Des Whicher from Nottinghamshire, David Grosz who was then chairman of the Scottish executive committee, and I. This was the first (and probably only) time there had been three candidates for the post and we quizzed the chairman, the late Geoff Eastwood, on how he would handle it. Geoff said that it if in the first round no one achieved an overall majority, there would be a run-off between the top two. If there was a tie for second place there would be a run-off between those two candidates to see who then stood against the leader. We were told the rules on the Saturday, with the election taking place on the Sunday morning.
Chris Hall (the president who came to the EC meetings) and I had worked out roughly how the voting would go and judged that I would probably lead in the first round but without an overall majority, and that there might be a tie for second place. We advised my supporters, in the event of a tie, to vote for David since we reckoned I would be likely to win against him but would lose against Des.
And that is what happened. In the first round the voting was six for me and four each for David and Des. In the run-off my backers voted for David so the result was 10 for David and four for Des. Then in the final vote my backers switched back, and it was nine for me and five for David. So tactical voting paid off—and why not?
Theresa May is now claiming that she is not going to do tactical voting (oh yeah!).
What happened to us
I became chairman of the Ramblers in 1995 and David Grosz was elected vice-chairman and succeeded me as chairman in 1998.