General Election on 8th June 2017
Yesterday, the Wicked Witch of Westminster (aka Prime Minister Teresa May) emerged from her Downing Street hovel and announced to the media that, subject to a vote in the House of Commons tomorrow (which is required under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011), there will be a General Election on 8th June 2017.
The Wicked Witch’s announcement may be seen on this BBC News page : “Theresa May’s general election statement in full”.
The pretext for this early general election is that the opposition parties are making life difficult for the Wicked Witch and might put her plans at risk. In reality, a real motivation may in part be to neutralise the hard Brexit loons in her own party.
This morning the Guardian has this: “May’s real reason for calling election? To show EU that Brexit really means Brexit – PM’s decision aims to dispel the lingering belief in Europe that Britain will change its mind about leaving the EU“.
An Election Gamble ?
Paul Goodman writing on the Conservative Home blog as soon as the decision was announced, set out what he considers to the the “pros” and the “cons”: “The Prime Minister’s election gamble. The pros. The cons.” Some of the considerations – especially the “cons” – are well worth further study. To begin, these three considerations do seem relevant:-
- The Conservatives have just notched up their biggest poll lead over Labour. If not now – as Charles Walker might put it – when?
It is worth noting that on 3-4 January of this year a YouGov poll had the Conservatives at 39% with Labour at 26%. Since then the Conservative lead has crept up and by 14-17 April an ICM poll had the Conservatives were leading Labour 44%-26%.
- A contest now means that Labour is trapped into contesting it with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. That might well not be the case in 2020.
Nick Cohen wrote this in the Guardian on 19th March 2017: “Don’t tell me you weren’t warned about Corbyn – Jeremy Corbyn is going to bury the Labour party. If you don’t want that, do something“.
Mr Cohen warned: “You should know there is a faint chance Theresa May will call an early election. She says she doesn’t want to, and it would be difficult to arrange. But May also said she didn’t want Britain to leave the European Union, and look where we are now.”
Corbyn – Under the Witch’s Spell ?
The problem for Labour is, of course, that Corbyn is very much an unwitting helper of the Wicked Witch. One does not know which spell she put on him to turn him into the gibbering idiot he has proved to be – but it seems to be holding fast. Just about everything thing Corbyn says or does is to the Wicked Witch’s advantage. Today, Polly Toynbee writes in the Guardian: “Corbyn is rushing to embrace Labour’s annihilation – The shockingly inept opposition leader will preside over catastrophe for his party. Politics has rarely looked grimmer“. The article is scathing about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership but at least it recognises that the election is an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats:-
“A Brexit election has Tim Farron crowing with relish, the Lib Dem’s crystal clear pro-EU stance destined, thinks Crosby [Conservative election guru], to regain 27 seats lost to Tories in 2015.”
Pundits out in force
Yesterday’s Guardian had this: “Pollsters believe general election is ‘foregone conclusion’ – Snap election gives polling industry chance to restore reputation after widespread failure to accurately predict 2015 result“. There are, however, some passages in the piece which report caveats from Professor John Curtice – the only expert who accurately predicted the last election result – which are worth noting.
Richard Parry of the Centre for Constitutional Change writes: “So Much for Fixed Term Parliaments” and he makes these very valid points:-
- Jeremy Corbyn’s acquiescence in an early General Election has confirmed the supposition that if pushed an opposition party would never want to appear to be frightened of going to the country. The result has been to nullify the point of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 except when there is a coalition government.
- At the UK level, the move is a gamble for May. It is transparently self-serving, inconsistent with previous statements and can easily be portrayed as getting the election out of the way before the bad news starts.
- It is also a golden opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to reassert their historical strength in southern England and make progress in rolling back the Conservatives’ near clean-sweep in 2015.
Writing in the Guardian yesterday, Anne Perkins urged MP’s to reject an early election: “This is no general election, it’s a coup – MPs have a duty to stop Theresa May – The prime minister is setting off on a course that will poison politics for a generation. But to succeed, she needs a two-thirds majority in the Commons“.
Ms Perkins may very well have been right – even though the Guardian reported that [some] Labour MP’s might have asked him to do just that very thing: “Labour MPs expected to urge Corbyn to reconsider decision to back election – Labour leader welcomes move but many MPs are worried by his poor standing with voters and the lack of a manifesto“.
But it was never going to happen – Corbyn is still under the Wicked Witch’s spell and in a dream world of his own. Despite the appalling state of the polls, Labour was never going to stand in the way of an early election.
The Independent had this: “Theresa May needed Labour’s support for a snap election, and she got it – even though Corbyn is heading for a bigger defeat than 1983 – If you are the Prime Minister, looking at the prospect of a massively increased majority, it’s worth the temporary awkwardness of saying you have changed your mind“.
A Liberal Democrat Opportunity
Today the Guardian reports: “New post-Brexit landscape could squeeze Labour out, warns new report – The UK in a Changing Europe called the last six months the most tumultuous political period since the second world war“.
The article suggests that the Liberal Democrats could win seats from Labour in pro-remain Constituencies such as Hornsey and Wood Green, Bristol West, Cambridge, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, and Cardiff Central.
Today, the Guardian has this: “Lib Dems hope to gain dozens of seats with anti-Brexit campaign – Party says it has been preparing for a snap election since before the EU referendum, with 400 candidates already in place“.
The article points out that “The Lib Dems have gained a net 33 council seats since the May 2016 local elections, many of them in the south-west, where Ukip has lost seven seats, Labour has lost 13 and the Tories 21“.
So it may well be the case that the Liberal Democrats do well both in the local elections and in the parliamentary elections which will follow.