An election nobody wants

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So May wants to have an early election, in one of the biggest political U-turns in recent history. We were assured for months that there would be no such thing, why the whole reason for the fix term parliament act, which the Tories brought in during the last parliament, was essential to ensure stability and continuity of government….which they now propose to ditch at one of the most critical moments in recent UK history (hence why the markets suddenly dropped today as result of this announcement).

However the massive Tory 20 point lead in the polls proved just too irresistible to ignore. But this polling lead is due to a key electoral asset the Tories possess – Jeremy Corbyn. The danger is that sometime between now and 2020, he’d be unseated. And the upcoming local elections, where its expected labour will do badly, could be exactly the sort of opportunity for Corbyn’s opponents to do this. The Tories didn’t want to wait and risk having an election without Corbyn as labour leader, so they’ve decided to pre-empt any move to topple him.

Also there’s a lot of bad news in the pipeline over brexit. Prices are starting to go up, its starting to dawn on people that it might not have been a great idea. The Tories will face pressure from both directions during the brexit negotiations. On the one hand, they’ll have to make a lot of concessions to the EU which will infuriate the little Englanders. And on the other hand, there will be further rounds of cuts to spending in keeping with the expected fall in tax revenue. The impact of all of this on a 2020 election is difficult to foretell, particularly when you factor in a possible 2nd indyref. So the danger of waiting is their poll numbers could slide and next thing you know they’d be kicking themselves for waiting.

And there is history here. Gordon Brown was urged to have an early election after he took over from Tony Blair. Labour had seen a bounce in the polls, it was expected he’d win easily, gaining a mandate separate from Tony Blair’s. But he hesitated, in part due to some polls suggesting their majority might be reduced. Then the financial crisis hit and the rest as they say is history. Churchill too, delayed an election due to some ongoing European matters. Only for him to then lose the 1945 election to labour. So waiting might not be a terribly good strategy.

So should there be an election? My view no, and I’m not just saying that because I expect the Tories to win. They are setting a very dangerous precedence. We were told when the fix term parliament act came in that fixed terms are important for stability. However they now seem to be saying bolix to all of that, we only brought that in to control the lib dems. So instead the stability of the country will be sacrificed for the short term internal politics of the Tory party. Much as the brexit vote was held not because it was a good idea, but to resolve an internal dispute within the Tory party. And brexit is being negotiated not on terms that are favourable to the UK, but on terms that will be acceptable to the different factions within the Tory party. And of course the miners strike under Thatcher, the decision to join and then leave the ERM under Major were all made, not in the best interest of the country, but to deal with short term issues within the Tory party.

So the pattern here is that the UK national interest comes secondary to the internal politics of the Tory party. Which ever way you vote in this election won’t really matter. We’d be better off circumventing the process and all of us just joining the Tory party…although to sign up you’ll need a quart of blood from a baby and a handful of soil from your own grave! So it might not be for everyone.

Aside from this short term thinking, there is a more fundamental problem here. The Tories are going back on what they said with regard to fixed term parliaments. There is a convention of government that succeeding parliaments do not repeal bills passed by prior administrations without good reason or cause. Otherwise, the end result is political ping pong. e.g. Tony Blair or Brown repeals all of Thatcher’s privatisation policies, then Cameron spends much of his parliament bringing them back in. Nothing ends up changing. Arguably if a party campaigns on an issue at a previous election, then that’s grounds for repealing stuff. But I see nothing about repealing fixed term parliaments in the last Tory manifesto (nor do I see anything about a hard brexit either!).

So while I doubt the Tories will be stopped, its clear this election is being held for the most cynical of reasons at a time the country can least afford it.

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4 thoughts on “An election nobody wants

  1. Why do you hate Corbyn so much? My impression from the other side of the pond may be wrong, but it is that Blair and his ilk are pretty-faced austerity-liberals who led the country nowhere and followed Bush into a war of aggression, while Corbyn might offer the left-wing populism that’s really needed- the true antidote to right-wing pseudo-populism. And I can’t help but wonder what Corbyn’s position would be like if his own party wasn’t working so hard to undermine him.

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    • I outline my criticisms in a prior post but quite simply put he’s a pro-brexit politician in charge of a party that’s overwhelmingly pro-remain. He claims he’s doing because we have to “respect the vote”, even thought technically only about 37% of the electorate actually backed brexit. Furthermore the leave vote was was made up of Tories & UKIP’ers (who voted 70-90% leave) and a relatively small number of labour supporters (about 10-30% depending on who we count as “labour supporter”), many of whom are mild-leavers who were trying to send a message and will probably suffer the most when the implications of brexit become clear. Corbyn’s pro-leave stance is not going to convenience any Tories to vote for him, but’s going to certainly ensure that a lot of labour voters don’t vote for him. His policy here is electoral suicide.

      Furthermore, his caving in to the Tories on brexit means there is now effectively no opposition in the UK. The instant he let slip that he’d back brexit no matter what, even going against his own party if necessary, he may as well have gone home. In politics the other side has to believe you’re prepared to push the nuclear button and vote against them (or try to filibuster), otherwise they’ll take you for a ride.

      Finally, its not labour MP’s or his own party who are problem, its the public. Labour MP’s are simply picking up on what they hear from their constituents. And the fact is neither his pro-brexit stance nor his hard left politics are particularly appealing to many. I know plenty of labour supporters and I can count on one hand the number who will be voting labour. So while I might agree with some of the things he says (and I voted labour last election), that doesn’t matter because there’s no way he’s going to win. In opposition, he’s just going to go along with anything the Tories say, so I’d be throwing away my vote. I may as well vote SNP, lib dems or greens, which is what I probably will do.

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  2. Interesting. Based largely on the writings of Steve Keen and other non-neoclassical economists, I do wonder if Brexit is a blessing in (a very racist) disguise and that the EU might collapse under the weight of its own built-in Thatcherism. But…clearly not my country.

    For instance, I didn’t even know about the SNP. What exactly is their deal, besides being Scottish?

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