Over the weekend, Nigel Farage, who has managed to keep effectively stirring the shit in British politics long past the point you would have ever thought possible, said he thinks Theresa May is thinking of calling another general election. His proof for this was May’s admittedly rather odd social media post, which read:
“The path I set out here is the path to deliver the Brexit people voted for. I will need your help and support to get there. And in return my pledge to you is simple: I will not let you down”
“I need your help and support” does sound like classic electioneering. Could it be possible? Well, for starters, she’s done it once before. Then there is the increasingly impossible bind she has got herself into in terms of customs arrangements, trying to get her cabinet to sign up to something that the Commission has already rejected, all to avoid having to propose something even more preposterous to the EU (which has also already been rejected), all while she faces a rebellion in the Commons that would force us into a customs union – and another, less likely to succeed amendment that could go the whole hog and keep us in the EEA. I guess I can see how you might think a GE was your only way out. Added to this, the local elections weren’t nearly as bad as expected, meaning Corbynmania, such as it ever really was, is on the wane.
Until, that is, you thought about the counterfactual. A general election could go any which way, and the Tories are a long way from assured of a majority – or even of keeping hold of what they arithmetically have now. The Conservatives haven’t exactly excelled at selling Brexit to young people – or indeed Remainers of any age, now that you mention it. Here’s Jacob Rees-Mogg, the great white hope of the Brexity Right, doing his bit to win the yoofs over this morning:
“I think in terms of the Brexit debate that the great opportunities for everybody, but particularly the younger generation, are in leaving and looking to the broader horizon of the rest of the world rather than the narrow closed protectionist European field. For younger people, leaving is the best opportunity that they could have.”
Uh, yeah. Moving on, May is still an abysmal campaigner, Corbyn a very good one. The government has lurched from one disaster to another for the past year. The Lib Dems, if they ran a half-decent campaign this time (which is a big if, but still) could hoover up some Tory seats, putting it to voters in Lib-Con swing constituencies that this will probably be your one vote on the final deal ever, and the Lib Dems will block Brexit if there is a hung parliament, so if you don’t like Brexit, here we are. It has at the very least a better chance of working now than it did last year, particularly now that Vince Cable is leader and not some guy who sounds like a male, less self-assured Caroline Lucas, if Lucas thought that gay sex is a sin.
I ask little of the Tories these days, but I will make this one request: please don’t put us in a position where Corbyn could become prime minister. We’ll never forgive you for it.
Paul W says
The prime minister’s statement certainly has an electioneering ring to it. Indeed, it would not be the first time in the past week that I have heard the suggestion that another election could be called shortly.
May is probably preparing the way for a dissolution of parliament and another election IF the House of Commons votes in favour of the key House of Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Even if it means a fresh election, the Labour leadership won’t stand in the way of having another shot at Downing Street.
But May’s advisers will also have noticed the slight downtick in Labour’s polling ratings recently which has coincided with a slight uptick in the Liberal Democrats’ ratings. They will also have spotted a noticeable swing since the beginning of the year among blue collar voters from Labour to the Conservatives.
My guess is that the simple message, “I will not let you down”, is aimed squarely at these voters. Even if no election takes place, it won’t do any harm to make this pledge.
Matt (Bristol) says
I’m not entirely seriously proposing this, but you don’t think she’s considering a referendum?
If I were a Tory apparatchik, I’d keep her away from walking holiday brochures, in any case
Paul W says
Another referendum? Probably not because another referendum won’t overcome the problem caused by the composition of the House of Commons, (let alone the House of Lords), which in the end has to give legislative effect to whatever is agreed.
Perhaps a bracing Whitsun walking holiday in the Bernese Oberland would help clear the head and help her make up her mind? What do you mean No?
I have heard people referring to hints that there could be an election in October. It would torpedo the Brexit timetable (such as there is one), so I suspect it could be part of a cack handed bluff.
On Corbyn as PM: I do not believe the Labour Party can secure a working majority. Corbyn could try to head a minority administration, but he could only push through Brexit in alliance with the Tories – can you imagine that?
An October election would be destructive for all sorts of things, amongst which would be the Labour Party: they would not be able to write a script that anyone could stick to.