Theresa May announced earlier today that there will be a snap election on the 8th of June. This represents a massive U-Turn – she has repeatedly denied that she would call such an election before the scheduled date of 2020. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act – which was only brought onto the books in September 2011- Was supposed to stop this exact type of behaviour. The notion of fixed terms didn’t last very long!
Theresa May says the election is all about their BREXIT position and Opposition party intransigence to it. The Liberal democrats are directly opposed, with Labour threatening to vote against the final deal, and the House of Lords already creating problems for example over the Article 50 legislation. But this was always the situation.
On one hand the government say they need strong opposition to challenge the government in their actions, but then on the other they are saying they must have an election to strengthen their position in negotiations because the opposition has the temerity to question some of their policies. So is the opposition strong and doing their job or not? You can’t have it both ways.
In reality from the Conservative party this is about pure opportunism – Labour is weak and divided having held two leadership elections in the past two years. And most of the Labour MP’s do not back Jeremy Corbyn – so secretly they will be hoping Labour loses (without them losing their own seats of course) but in such a way that Corbyn’s position becomes untenable and he will be forced to resign.
It is a big gamble for Corbyn to back the calling of the election. Arguably Labour could have opposed it and stopped it in its tracks, however, for him to not back the elections would also make him look politically weak and demonstrate a lack of a self-confidence. Either way for Corbyn this could be political suicide.
Interestingly Labour policies including nationalising Railways, more backing to the NHS, lowering tax for the low paid, higher tax on the well paid, protecting tax credits for the low paid, raising the minimum wage and several child care policies are showing signs of support amongst the public.
But the real battle for Labour appears to be internal. Not regarding Corbyn, but whether the right or the left of the Party will win out in a post Corbyn world (assuming, as most do, that Labour will lose the election).
But Theresa May is also gambling. Albeit with a stronger hand.
Recent polls show the Tories have a 21 point lead over Labour, enough to cement a large majority. May is gambling that she will win, even without boundary changes that will give them another 20 seats from 2018. And gambling that their one policy election campaign – over their Brexit strategy (hard Brexit) – will win public backing. Gambling that the economy is strong enough and Labour disunited enough to win easily.
The move is cynical, unnecessary, and diverts attention away from many real issues over the economy, immigration, the increased surveillance state and creeping autocracy. They want a strong mandate to do “whatever” they like on Brexit on the back of Labour weakness. So far they have not really showed their hand to the public on what is coming, maybe now they will be forced to show more.
But it may also be the case that Theresa May realises that Brexit will not be easy and post the next 2 years of negotiations the country will be in a far worse position than now, and her election possibilities much worse.
This comment is a summary from Jamal Harwood’s livestream that took place a few hours after the announcement of a General Election by Theresa May on the 18th April 2017. Full Video below.