Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Case for a June Election

Theresa May, when she was the party chairman, famously told the annual conference that for many the Tories were the nasty party. Maybe this is why she is so determined not to hold a general election. It would be altogether too nasty, too atavistic, too primal, too capitalist to hit Labour while it is at such a low ebb. That was the sort of thing Margaret Thatcher used to do after all. She used to look at the polls, look at the results of local elections and then call a general election, usually a full year before she really needed to, because she thought it was the best opportunity to win.

All of the talk about an early election has faded for now. We certainly won't be having one in May. But June? Well the speculation about that hasn't started yet. But it will.

This is particularly the case because the latest studies by the likes of John Curtice, psephologist and election guru extraordinaire, suggest that Labour are heading for meltdown in May's local elections. Disaster is coming in Scotland with the rest of the country not far behind. There will be a decent showing for the Lib Dems, particularly amongst the more rabid remainers out there presumably and the working class vote will continue to desert Labour. The Tories are set to actually increase their seats compared to last time these seats were contested.

And yet none of this will matter. Chauncey will cling on. The only thing that will finally kill him off is a general election, something that Labour is actively planning for as they still assume that, Mrs May being a Tory, she will have the killer instinct.

Well I would like to think that they are right. I fear however that Mrs May, though certainly not lacking in strength of will, is letting her innate caution get the better of her. Maybe she lacks faith in her own campaigning skills. Certainly she would not be a charismatic election performer. But, as we see at PMQs week in and week out, she doesn't need to be. She just needs to be moderately competent to secure a resounding win. Her lack of flash and quiet competence has impressed the public.

This blog has been calling for an election since last autumn and continues to do so now. The road to Brexit is going to be long and hard, the PM has a wafer thin majority and a parliament out to make trouble for her. If things get tough in the Brexit negotiations - and we are less than a week into the two years and already problems are piling up - then her current unassailable lead may look tenuous in the extreme.

It isn't just that a general election would deliver a much bigger working majority and free the PM from some of her own awkward squad enabling her to do a deal for all as she has promised, it is that she would have a mandate of her own and the perfect means to silence once and for all the moaning remainers. Her current poll rating is in the low to mid 40s. She would win a huge majority, kill off all further attempts to keep us in the EU, have a rock solid mandate to negotiate with the EU and five long years to do the deal and then demonstrate how much better off we are outside the EU. She would even have a mandate to prevent the SNP from having their second referendum because there is little chance that they would win as many MPs as in 2015. As an added bonus we might even get Ruth Davidson as an MP.

Please, Prime Minister, think again. Think of an excuse, any excuse to call an election in June. In truth though you don't really need one. You have several. We are leaving the EU, you are a new Prime Minister, people are out to make trouble for you and an election at the end of a fractious negotiation would be bad for everyone. Most of all though you would win and Labour would be annihilated. Chauncey should not be on the front bench. Let the electorate bring him and his party to their senses.

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