DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Oh yes, cried the people of the United Kingdom. Just what we want! More politics and arguing followed by a big vote and then more arguing.
In that spirit, it is fair to say that the decision by Theresa May to have an early general election – for June 8th – will provoke a weary response from some voters. It comes after the financial crisis, the recession, Gordon Brown, the 2010 election, the coalition experiment, the Scottish referendum, the UK General election of 2015, Holyrood in 2016 and then, the biggie, the Brexit vote and associated shenanigans in the aftermath. People are exhausted. Journalists are exhausted.
But stuff that. This pre-Brexit Commons is not fit for purpose. The Tories need to make the case and win approval for a proper majority to deliver a decent Brexit. Corbyn, the self-indulgent and useless leader of the opposition, needs to go. If there is to be a new party and a realignment, get it underway soon, or get on with building a proper Labour opposition and banishing the far left for ever.
May cannot, of course, order an election. But she can ask the Commons for one under the Fixed Term Parliament Act – which is hopefully about to be consigned to history. Corbyn has previously said he will welcome it. Will any Labour MP want to vote against it and thus run away from the voters? The SNP, presumably, will welcome this chance to show what a strong demand there is in Scotland for a second independence referendum…
Anyway, here are some initial observations. Much more to come in the next 7 or so weeks:
1) The lady has steel. May resisted pressure for an early election and then when she saw her moment she went for it with impressive brio. No matter what you think of her policies or approach so far, this was an act of proper leadership. Bravo for avoiding the temptation to just get through the next two years.
2) The Tories are a 45pts party again, thanks to some of the UKIP vote going back but also because May has connected to an extraordinary extent with voters, including former Labour voters. She is, according to the latest YouGov poll almost as popular with poorer voters as she is with the affluent. Authenticity, experience and style is at the root of it and she connects in the north of England. She’s a reluctant Remainer now determined to get on with it. A lot of voters agree. Outside London this is electoral gold dust for the Tories.
3) Corbynista hard left? Meet the voters… what is potentially so delicious about this election is that these malicious muppets in the far left leadership have been for decades strutting about as though if only they get their turn they will sweep the board. They have been exposed as total duds. Now, we are about to watch them attempt to run a general election campaign with a media hungry to see what happens. Corbyn deserves this early election. He is not a nice man at all. He is a friend of the IRA and a far-left loon who would bankrupt the country.
4) Fear for the good people in Labour, of which there are many. Decent patriots who want the best for their country, who are appalled and horrified at what has become of Labour. There are terrific Labour MPs. Joy at seeing Corbyn bested does not eclipse a fear that anti-Corbyn longstanding activists and MPs will now pay for his dastardly experiment in disorganised stupidity and electoral suicide.
5) Get ready for a major Lib Dem revival. They have attracted new members and they are the electoral arm of the resistance to Brexit. A lot will depend on how cleverly their leader Farron fights. Time to grow up Tim. The indications in recent weeks are that they are well-prepared both in Westminster where the press operation is highly efficient and in the country once again they have the troops. The open question is whether they can become the repositery for the overwhelming bulk of ultra-Remainer votes.
6) Watch Scotland. The SNP won all but three seats in 2015 at the point when the party’s post-referendum surge was heighest. Since then the Tories have been doing particularly well under Ruth Davidson. Any loss of Westminster seats by the Nats will be used by opponents of independence to claim a reverse and retreat is underway. If Scotland is desperate for a referendum (it isn’t) then the SNP will win every seat north of the border? Won’t they? Let’s see.
7) Can it go wrong for the Tories? The events of the last few years, and indeed political history in general, suggest that of course it can. May goes into this with an enormous poll lead and voters and the media like plot twists and fresh faces.
8) Maggie time. When it comes down to it though, what seems most likely (likely, not guaranteed) is that Theresa May is about to benefit from a super-split opposition effect, much like the split that helped Thatcher to two landslide general election victories in 1983 and then 1987. From this far out it looks like the Tories pushing 45%, thanks to some returning Ukippers and Labour switchers. Labour is a low 20s party now. And the Lib Dems have plenty of room for growth. Result? Split opposition. Tory majority of 100.
9) One last idle thought. Will the London Evening Standard support the Tories this time? Might the editor have a view?
10) I forgot UKIP. Who? Arron Banks. No thanks.
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