Well, Corbyn has got to say he welcomes an early election, hasn’t he? Otherwise he appears ‘frit’ (to use Thatcher’s schoolgirl term). But it does look strictly unnecessary – the government is in no immediate danger – and merely opportunistic, in view of the mess Labour is in and the present state of the opinion polls. I’d have liked a couple more years for (a) the effects of Brexit to properly strike home, and (b) Labour to have got its act together, on the basis of Jeremy’s policies, but with possibly a convincing new leader emerging in time, and all the comrades rallying around. I’d also have liked our electoral system to be reformed first, but of course there’s no hope of that; and little more chance of a Lab-Lib-Tory Europhile alliance, which would at least have given the electorate a clear choice on the existential issue of the moment. So the odds are that Theresa Mayhem (I got that recently from a Swedish-Irish friend!) will succeed. We’ll see. Seven weeks of mayhem is a fairly long time.
I was surprised that she could call an election, under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act; which was passed precisely in order to stop this kind of cynical political ploy. But apparently she can, with the support of 2/3rds of all MPs. In principle Labour could prevent it by withdrawing their support. They ought to, and I really wish they would; but the ‘frit’ factor will likely scare them off. So we’re probably stuck with yet another electoral farce; and a ‘hard Brexit’, new-austerity, NHS privatisation, grammar school-obsessed government that will be the last thing the ‘people’ will have genuinely voted for.
There are elements here reminiscent of the two ‘Khaki’ elections of the early 1900s, don’t you think? (British historians will know what I’m talking about.) Both of those were won by the governments that called them, but later backfired. That may be the best we can hope for.
PS. For those looking for a conspiracy behind May’s U-turn, this would fit, if it’s reliable: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/tory-expenses-investigation-general-election_uk_58f66ab4e4b029063d34a756?ir=UK+Politics&utm_hp_ref=uk-politics.
Most of the new Tory MPs (we can assume there will be) are likely Brexit supporters so reducing the pressure on May if a ‘hard’ Brexit is required, and it’s an huge opportunity,( the polls and no Scottish recovery) to weaken Labour further. But the risk is that many Brexit voters have changed their mind, but will they vote Labour, and will there be a Lib Dem revival? Probably not.
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So many unknowns…. But few of them palatable.