Why I’m voting tactically for Labour in Leeds after 24 years loyal service to Tories – Dr Jason Aldiss

I SHALL be voting for my local Labour candidate in next month’s General Election. Thousands of others across the constituency will do the same, hopefully enough for her to win and unseat the incumbent Tory Brexiteer MP.

jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson are in a battle for 10 Downing Street - but their leadership is making this the most unpredictable election for a generaiton.

But I doubt that many fellow Labour voters will have given almost a quarter of a century of service to the Conservative and Unionist Party.

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My decision to resign as chairman of the Pudsey Conservative Association, together with my membership of the party, on the day Boris Johnson became Prime Minister seemed at the time to be a difficult one. But within hours I knew I had made the correct call.

Dr Jason Aldiss is the former chair of Pudsey Conservative Association.

I held countless senior regional and national positions during 24 years in Tory ranks. My blood ran blue and I make no apology for that. Neither did I seek to hide my long-standing opposition to Brexit. I have always believed that leaving the EU would be a disaster for our country and nothing that has happened since the June 2016 referendum has changed that view.

Following the grandest of Conservative traditions, I was willing to remain as a loyal member and argue my case from within – while selling raffle tickets, drinking warm white wine and wearing out my shoes for the Tory cause. But the election of Boris Johnson as party leader put an end to all of that.

Stuart Andrew, a Government whip, is seeking re-election as the Conservative MP for Pudsey, one of the most marginal seats in the country.

Johnson, Dominic Cummings and their acolytes are not true Conservatives. (Like me, Cummings is not even a party member). They are insurgents, chancers and double-dealers. They do not act in the national interest. For them, it is about personal advancement and – for some of their number – the misguided pursuit of ideological purity. It will all go horribly wrong.

One only has to look back to the 2016 Conservative leadership election won by Theresa May. Michael Gove had been Johnson’s campaign manager before knifing him in the back, costing both men the chance to seize the crown.

Before the Vote Leave campaign had been conceived, Cummings spent seven years working not for Johnson but for Gove. And yet now he portrays himself as Johnson’s loyal de-facto chief of staff. How could any of these three men be trusted? Are the fawning apologists around Johnson supporting him for anything other than selfish reasons? The flood of decent “One Nation” Conservative MPs announcing their departures in recent days suggests that all of the straight shooters have gone.

So, what can voters do about all of this? Stop the Tories gaining unbridled power – that’s what.

In common with every other genuine Conservative, I have no desire to see Jeremy Corbyn become our next Prime Minister. But, thankfully, that is not about to happen. A cursory glance at literally any recent opinion poll – unreliable though some may be – confirms this.

That leaves two alternatives: another hung Parliament or a majority Conservative government with Boris Johnson as its all-powerful Prime Minister.

Five years of the latter will guarantee the hardest possible form of Brexit and the inevitable break-up of the United Kingdom. But a time-limited rainbow coalition government could chart a perfectly acceptable course.

The Liberal Democrats, who look likely to hold the balance of power on December 12, have made clear that they will not allow either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn to occupy 10 Downing Street. This paves the way for an alternative PM to be installed while what’s left of the Conservative Party tears itself apart.

And what would this Government do? Again, this is down to the electorate. An overwhelming vote for pro-Remain parties next month would surely guarantee a second Brexit referendum with two options on the ballot paper.

One would be to support either a renegotiated Brexit deal or the agreement secured by Theresa May. The second would be for the UK to retain its EU membership.

Following the referendum, which could be held as early as March, I see no reason why another general 
election should not follow shortly afterwards with each of the parties putting forward their own solutions to the many other problems we face as a country.

The scenario I paint is dependent on those opposed to a majority Tory government acting in the national interest. And, crucially, I include the Opposition parties in this as much as voters.

Agreement on which candidate is best-placed in each seat to defeat the sitting Conservative should be the rule rather than the exception. Voters must then play their part by supporting that candidate. Tribal loyalties can resume on another occasion.

If I can do it, then so can you. And in case anyone asks, no I will not be singing, humming or whistling The Red Flag as I place my cross on the ballot paper.

Dr Jason Aldiss BEM is the former Chair of Pudsey Conservative Association. He resigned over Brexit.