At this stage of a Tory Leadership Election there are always rumours of cunning plans and sneaky schemes around tactical voting. They’re often not happening and/or are too clever-clever to actually pull off but here’s a summary of the main theories:
1) The False Friend. What if you wanted to undermine a candidate by suggesting they are losing steam? You could vote for them in the first round, then switch away in round two to who you actually wanted all along.
2) The Stitch-Up. If your preferred candidate is in your view certain to make the final, but you want to aid them winning outright, you could switch your vote to the person you think they’ll most easily beat in the last round. (Some think Clarke/Portillo fans did this with IDS in 2001. Oops.)
3) The Clean Sweep. If your favourite has more than enough votes to make the final, you can have more influence by helping someone come second. But instead of choosing someone weak, you could choose someone who also shares your views. Then you get your way whoever wins.
4) The Spoiler. While the final is a members’ vote, the idea of a leader having MPs’ consent matters. If your preferred person is in the final, the very act of voting for the third place candidate is harmless but weakens the second place person’s clear status as a contender.
5) Fauxmentum. A reverse of the false friend – in which you know who you want, but you deliberately don’t vote for them in round one (maybe backing a minor candidate who’ll trouble rivals) to give you the chance to switch in round two to show your favourite is gaining ground.
There is a final option available, even more sneaky than actually trying to pursue any of these tactics: simply accusing one’s opponents of one or more of the above could have a discrediting effect all of its own.