At 11:15am on this cold, Tuesday morning, surprise and shock spread across the recruitment office I work in, as the news started to seep through. Yes, we had just found out that Harry Redknapp had been made manager of Birmingham City. But just before we could recover from the news that one man was going to make Deadline Day great again, we find out that Theresa May had called a new election. At this point, on my desk, group chats meant my phone was vibrating so much it could be used in adult films, twitter exploded which a mixture of attempts of wittiness and annoyance, and people at work stopped working (well only for 5 minutes, as even in the days like this you can always count on an office to produce political apathy).
One of my friends questioned where the logic of an election at this point was. Indeed, it is true that Mrs May could crush Labour more if Corbyn is still leader in 2020, and this is damage limitation, and that a sudden election when the Tory election machine wasn’t prepared for it could backfire. However, from where I see it, Mrs May has timed this decision perfectly.
Firstly, as unfortunately everything is at the minute, Brexit has a huge reason for throwing this election. Firstly, by 2020, The Conservatives, particularly with the incompetence of the hardcore Brexiteers, may have made a dogs meal of the negotiations and could leave the Conservatives vulnerable to a loss, even if Corbyn is still leader of Labour. May also wants a mandate to govern, which would hopefully allow her to put forward a more moderate position on Brexit and weaken the likes of Liam Fox and David Davis, who are currently dragging Britain into a downright silly position of denial that there is any danger within the next 2 years. Currently the extreme Brexiteers are getting away with this due to the Conservative’s tiny majority and that if May was to question them, due to the fact she voted Remain, they could easily turn on her quickly, or become as John Major would put it, “the Bastards” who will stab her in the back. The news that those individuals power could be weakened has already led to the pound to climb since the announcement of a new General Election.
The current political climate also suits May’s party. With Labour and UKIP both competing on who are the most incompetent, the Conservatives can in theory clear up many of the votes from those two parties and grow its majorities, which, as mentioned earlier, would limit the amount of disruption on policy. Since 2015 this government have been the most incompetent in my lifetime, and more MP’s would help them actually to be able to do anything which is not to do with Brexit. On the same note, May needs a new manifesto to create a mandate to put her own agenda through. Currently, with in particular Grammar Schools and the u-turn on NIC’s, when the May administration wants to do something different to Cameron which could upset some in her own party, a back bencher yell “you’re breaking a manifesto pledge” and she drops it faster than Red Bull dropped Danil Kvyat last season. If she had her own manifesto, she could then put forward her own policies, rather than spending another 3 years treading water and failing to get anything done. I have seen some share the Vice article titled “look at all the awful things the government has done since Brexit”, but if you look down at it, compared what a government with an opposition in disarray should have achieved, the list of things they have done can be only described as a disappointment.
As noted, Labour will suffer, knowing they are literally losing votes left right and centre, and I predict if the Election goes ahead they will lose in the region of 50 seats. UKIP will also fail to get elected, and the hilarity of their situation will be the one ray of light in the gloomy outlook of British politics. One thing that May has not taken into account is the rise of my party, the Liberal Democrats, who since Brexit have seen their membership grow by over 20,000, and a further 1000 in one hour after this election was announced. The Lib Dems have already showed that our pro-EU strategy has paid dividends in Local Elections and in particular by-elections, and are already predicted to get 200 extra Local council seats in May As well as taking 400,000 Labour votes since the last election, 40% of those who have joined the Lib Dems voted for the Conservatives last time out. Knowing that over 20 of the seats the Lib Dems lost in 2015 went to the Tories, and with the view of what happened in Richmond Park, Lynton Crosby, the Tory election strategists, has warned May that the Lib Dems could take up to 30 Conservative seats. Just if Labour had Keir Stammer or Clive Lewis, there could be an opportunity to beat the Tories right now with the Progressive Alliance with that level of Liberal Democrat threat.
Instead of Stammer or Lewis, Labour has Corbyn, so expect the Tories to end up with close to 400 seats, with Labour on around 150, the Lib Dems on around 45, the SNP to still dominate Scotland, and the rest of the minnows to stick in their own status quo. Of course, legally there shouldn’t be an election until 2020 so this conversation could and should simply be academic, funny how opportunity always seems to trump principle in Politics.
Coming up on Rudrum Ramblings:
Inevitable criticism of the incoming Conservative manifesto
The Comedy section (UKIP)
Probably a last minute plead to vote for Progressive Parties
The obligatory angry post following the election result