THERESA May sees a poll showing a 20 per cent lead on Labour and so tears up the Fixed-term Parliaments Act and plans a General Election based solely on the Conservative Party’s opportunistic plan to crush Labour and push them to the brink of extinction. Desperate for a justification that doesn’t solely reek of Machiavellian political manoeuvring she claims opposition parties are hampering Brexit. But that is only happening as the EU referendum was part of the Conservative Party’s plan to the crush Ukip and claim back their lost voters.
The political agenda of the UK has been hijacked by the selfish internal political needs of the Conservative and Unionist Party with scant regard for what is best for the country. Westminster is not fit for purpose, the Unionist parties are ideologically bankrupt, have turned in on themselves and their leaders possess no alternative vision. The resultant policy vacuum is being filled by low-rent British nationalism.
Jeremy Corbyn will lose, but by how much? He may have inherited a poison chalice but he was never the man for the job. Two years ago in this column I wrote: “If Corbyn wins the Labour leadership race on an almost identical manifesto (to Michael Foot) against a background where voters in England have moved significantly to the right in the last 30 years, then Labour’s next manifesto will be more of an obituary than suicide note, and civil war will ensue within the Labour ranks”. Theresa May is simply twisting the knife that Labour stuck in itself.
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The general consensus is that Labour had no choice but to support a General Election as an opposition that refuses to go to the people doesn’t believe in itself. There was a potentially wining alternative path but it would have taken a better and braver man than Corbyn to choose it. He could have said: “Now is not the time, we need to offer certainty and we have passed a law that fixes the terms of parliaments. Fair enough, we are down in the polls right now but you only want an election because you know our policies will gain ground and don’t have a clue how to progress Brexit”.
That would be hard to start with but in months to come the election fraud scandal would take a toll on Tory support. The Brexit negotiations will undermine Tory delusions and when Labour’s poll figures pull back to within 10 points of the Tories, Corbyn could say “Now the nation has seen you have failed — bring it on”. That slim chance, Labour’s only chance, was missed and if anyone bothers to write a biography of Corbyn it will probably be called “the Turkey that voted for Christmas”.
However the Prime Minister may not have everything her own way in June’s plebiscite. For a start 15 of her MPs are under investigation for election fraud due to overspending and the CPS will decide if it’s going to bring charges before June 8. Those candidates will be allowed to stand even though they may well be arrested during the campaign. Of course they can stand, they appear to have been ordered to overspend by Conservative HQ and would probably say so if dropped as candidates. A corruption scandal erupting during a campaign might dent the Tory domination plans.
The Tories may also lose votes to the LibDems in Tory/LibDem marginals in England as Remain voters protest against a hard Brexit (that won’t show up yet in polls). In Scotland the SNP is the champion of the anti-Brexit position so the LibDem ploy won’t work here.
Labour can’t oppose Brexit as so many core Labour areas voted Leave, but that might have a beneficial effect on Labour’s fortunes. The mass Labour defections to Ukip in 2015 that delivered Cameron’s majority may reverse as Ukip looks like a party without a purpose now. The threat of a huge Tory majority may result in Ukip tactical switching in marginals back to Labour, and although this won’t lead to a Labour comeback it might dent the Tory charge.
Labour’s policies in the UK contrast to the Tories and are actually hugely popular. It is Jeremy Corbyn, his leadership style, the constant internal Labour warfare and the press characterisation of him that is driving rUK Labour down in the polls. A strong rUK Labour manifesto with progressive alternative policies may give Corbyn the platform to increase his appeal and if May won’t do a TV debate she loses the opportunity to challenge those policies.
In Scotland the polls have the SNP so far in the lead over the second place Tories, that a similar result to 2015 can be expected. The SNP on a bad day will return 50 MPs give or take a few and if everything goes perfectly for them (it rarely does) then they have a shot at 56 again and more.
Labour are a spent force in Scotland and the expected Tory majority may lead to Labour and LibDem EU Remain voters (who are not committed Unionists) to switch to the SNP in Tory/SNP marginals.
In other words this General Election looks like an enhanced Tory majority with no big change in the seat numbers for the SNP. If there is a newsworthy result in Scotland it could be that Labour return no MPs or that the SNP take out Mundell but lose in the Borders to a couple of different Tories due to Labour Unionist switchers. Corbyn could be terrible and blow it, or scandal might dent Tory ambitions, so you can never be sure. Either way an SNP majority with a manifesto commitment to hold ScotRef before Brexit would destroy any claims about the SNP not having a mandate for a second Section 30 referendum. We are still on course for September 2018 or now more likely May 2019 ScotRef.