How #Tactical2017 created a network for anti-Tory voting
Throughout the lead-up to tomorrow’s UK general election, a Google Doc created by 28-year-old marketing professional Becky Snowden has been shared frequently among those opposed to the Conservative agenda.
#Tactical2017 and tactical2017.com started out as a database of how to vote in various constituencies in order to oust the Tories. Since then, the project has rapidly gained momentum and become a useful tool for those hoping to see a change in power.
We caught up with Becky over email to find out more about the project.
Firstly, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Becky, 28 from West Yorkshire. I work in digital marketing and do a lot of social media and PR so this type of thing isn’t too foreign to me in some aspects, although in others it’s worlds apart! I’ve always been interested in politics but this is the first time I’ve ever got involved.
Tell us a little bit about the background for the project?
Our voting system first-past-the-post is not representative, and as many as 74% of votes cast in our general elections simply don’t make a difference. This means in my constituency I only have a choice of two candidates if I want my vote to matter. It needs changing, but there’s no time before the election, so I figured I could at least make a list of seats and show people which candidates actually had a chance for the most contested seats at least. Tory supporters don’t really have to worry about this kind of thing as the FPTP system favours them, but for everyone else I wanted to make sure they knew which way to vote so that they could back a progressive candidate without having their vote wasted.
How did you source the data and put everything together?
At first I just looked at the 2015 and 2010 election data which is online for anyone to see via a number of sources, from the BBC to Wikipedia. It isn’t nicely formatted though so that took a bit of doing. Since then I’ve looked at EU referendum data, local elections data and any local “on the ground” information that gets emailed to us from people wanting to help.
Tell us about how quickly things escalated…
The original spreadsheet absolutely blew up! People were retweeting it, even celebrities such as Rou Reynolds and Rob Delaney. Then I was hit with hundreds and hundreds of requests on Twitter and Reddit for me to put up a recommendation for their constituency. So I thought why not? I’ll admit I didn’t realise there were 650 constituencies when I started! Since then I received loads of requests from people offering their time and skills to help, I took them up on it and now tactical2017.com is a fully functioning site and we’ve had over two million visitors.
How have other people helped since the project went live?
People have helped in so many ways! From sharing on social media to offering local advice to giving their time and skills. We have a small team now at tactical2017.com and people volunteer so much of their time it really is incredible. We have some extremely talented people keeping the website up and adding new features, and a great group of people doing things from designing stickers to answering emails.
Tell us how it went from a Google Doc to the full website…
I had some very knowledgeable people offer their help making a website so this would be a mobile friendly project. I tidied up the data and handed it over to tech team and they did a fantastic job making it into a fully functioning website. I helped a little with the technical side, making sure the social markup was included in the metadata. Only a drop in the ocean, but it was nice to be able to help with that side of things because I tend to focus much more on the data analysis, strategy and PR sides of things.
Why do you think so many people have gotten on board with the project?
I think a lot of people believe it’s the best chance we have of preventing a huge shift to the right in British politics. And that means an awful lot to so many people. We’ve had many people contact us just to say thank you for trying to do something about it. A lot of doctors and nurses especially.
Have you encountered any criticism for the project?
Yes, usually by people who support the Conservatives or UKIP. I’m not surprised at all by the Tory supporters for obvious reasons but with UKIP, whose votes were wasted the most last election, I would have thought they’d be able to at least appreciate why we’re doing this even if they don’t support it.
Who is #Tactical2017 for?
Anyone who doesn’t want the Conservatives to have a landslide victory and complete control in Parliament. It’s likely they will still win, but we want to make sure they still have opposition to fight for the NHS and other progressive issues.
Head to Tactical2017.com for more