The Westminster rumour mill grinds out the possibility of another general election within less than two years time on the basis of Cameron stepping down earlier, his successor calling a general election based on the move, and Labour not being able to possibly stand in the way of it. This scuttlebutt comes via that amazing source of all things happening within Conservative Party HQ: the Labour Party. Writing on Labour List, shadow minister for small business, Toby Perkins, has said that this relatively up coming general election is a real possibility and that:
“If Labour is confronted with a general election whilst intellectually and organisationally under-prepared, divided and under-resourced we would be hurtling towards catastrophe.”
Well, no shit, Toby. If Labour had to face a general election in the next two years, it wouldn’t look pretty. So that fact alone supports Perkins’ theory a little. The Tories are desperate to face the electorate while Corbyn is still Labour leader, and could take their chances while they are definitely available.
Yet there are many things going against the idea of a general election sometime within this or the next calendar years. First up, the idea that David Cameron is going to be in a hurry to step aside post-EU referendum, or that somehow he will be forced to. It is very likely that if he wins the EU referendum, Cameron will face a second honeymoon with the electorate. This will convince him to stay until at least 2018, I figure. But even if he stood down sometime in the next year, there would be the leadership contest and a need for the new leader to bed themselves in as prime minister to consider. Then there is the final thing to think about: the Tories are on the verge of putting through historic changes to the boundaries that would tilt things in their favour for the foreseeable future even further. Only thing is, they don’t come into play until 2018 at the earliest. Now, you could say that given the Tories would be calling the early election on the presumption of a thumping victory so who cares about this point. But when you call an election, no matter how fortuitous the circumstances, you have to factor in the whole thing not going to plan. So waiting until at least 2018 would be the wise move. The new prime minister would have the Fixed Term Parliament Act as cover in the interim.
So while I wouldn’t rule out an election in this year or the next entirely, it’s not really very likely. I think much more probable is that Cameron hangs on until early 2019 when he announces he will step down sometime in the near future: after the budget, whenever. The middle of 2019 is then taken up with the Tory leadership contest, with the new leader unveiled at Conservative Party conference in late September/early October of that year. And then, a general election in May 2020, just like the Fixed Term Parliament wishes it to be. Sometimes things just work out tidy.