Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Time for an Election?
It was around this time last year that I and this blog finally ran out of patience with and turned against David Cameron. His rank dishonesty about Europe and his 'deal' was the final straw in a romance that had always been a marriage of convenience as far as I was concerned. He never felt like a proper Tory and certainly not like my kind of Tory. Those last few months just confirmed this.
It's hard to know at this stage what kind of PM Theresa May will ultimately be and how history will judge her. But so far she is playing a blinder. I always assumed that she was in reality a Brexiteer like me, even if pragmatism meant that she was obliged to back remain. Since becoming PM she has sounded for all the world like a Brexiteer anyway. She is pursuing our exit with great determination and patience. Maybe we will be as unimpressed by the deal she finally does as we were with Dave's. Somehow I doubt it.
On one issue I do respectfully disagree with our redoubtable PM however. And that is the issue of an early general election. Now it is possible that she is merely keeping her options open and not making the mistake that Gordon Brown made in 2007 when he allowed speculation to run riot about an early election before his own natural caution got the better of him. Margaret Thatcher never used to talk about elections before she finally called them. She let others do the speculating but made no mention of the issue herself. It is the best idea. And so Mrs May could well be adopting a similar approach. But she must be tempted.
At the very least, as William Hague wrote in The Telegraph yesterday and Tom Harris wrote in the same paper later the same day, she should begin the process of repealing the Fixed Term Parliament Act imposed on us by the Lib Dems. Such legislation has no place in a parliamentary democracy. The ability to call an election as and when they are needed is a necessary prerequisite of making our system work. The FTPA was self serving on the part of the Lib Dems anyway. It was there to protect them and not for any reason of high minded democratic principle. Its notable that they were perfectly prepared to sacrifice their principles on student tuition fees but demanded and were given the FTPA to gerrymander the system in their favour and make coalitions more likely. That does not aid democracy. It makes behind the scenes deals a necessity rather than going to the country and asking the people to elect a new parliament.
Of course one of the reasons that I would like the PM to call an election is that it is highly likely that the Tories would win and would win by a decisive landslide margin. That would have the effect of entrenching Tory rule for a decade or more and would make Brexit mean Brexit with no possibility of backsliding. It would also put an end to the grandstanding and anti-democratic chicanery currently going on in the House of Lords.
It would also lead to Chauncey finally admitting defeat and standing down as leader of the Labour Party. Probably. Although given his Trumpian levels of delusion and that of his supporters you never know. Labour would then be able to put the last couple of years behind them and become a fully functioning if much diminished opposition again, always supposing that they could find a half competent leader to replace the silly old sod. This may be asking a lot.
And it would also help to settle the matter of Scotland and the Union. The SNP are threatening another referendum again on the entirely spurious and irrelevant grounds that they are being taken out of the EU against their will. As this blog has pointed out more than once: the Scottish people voted by a wide margin less than three years ago to stay in the Union. Thus they accepted that the will of the British people as a whole would decide out fate in the EU in the then anticipated EU referendum. So the SNP are planning on ignoring the results of two referendums because it happens to suit them. The excellent Ruth Davidson is quite right when she avers that they would lose another referendum that Scotland does not want by an even wider margin. But a general election result that saw them lose seats might concentrate their minds too.
All in all then, prime minister, an early general election seems a good idea. Maybe one this May or June might be convenient. Perhaps events may contrive and conspire to present an excuse to call one. Either way it might be an idea to set the wheels in motion of repealing the hated FTPA so that calling an election as and when we need one becomes a simple matter of going to see the Queen once again. Given what lies ahead and given that we are bringing powers back to our own parliament from Europe in the coming years, a means of ensuring that parliament meets with the approval of the electorate on a regular basis would seems sensible and pragmatic.