The main reason for calling this general election hinges around the Brexit negotiations, Theresa May having a big enough majority to ensure that she has sufficient room for manoeuvre when striking a deal with the EU without being constrained by a minority within her own party much given to back seat driving be they Leavers or Remainers.
But it is also something else too, an opportunity to ditch the 2015 Conservative manifesto which laid far too many constraints on a ‘new’ Tory Government and as a side issue, it also has the effect of shooting the foxes of a few other people in the process. This may not be considered very “sporting” in some circles but, it is rather effective.
An EU Moan
Amusingly today in an article in the Observer Guy Verhofstadt who is the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator, bitches and moans a lot about this general election which of itself is a good sign that Theresa May is doing something right : https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/22/dont-believe-theresa-may-election-wont-change-brexit
The most interesting thing about his comments are his apparent inability to connect the dots or even see beyond the inside of his own eyelids. He is quite right when he says that the PM having a larger majority in the Commons won’t change what the EU may be inclined to offer the UK but he is wrong not to understand the realpolitik that applies. His views are that:
“As with the referendum, which many European leaders saw as a Tory cat fight that got out of control, I have little doubt many on the continent see this election as again motivated by the internal machinations of the Tory party.”
Perhaps the problem is that in most European countries, they are run by coalitions and partnerships of often, many parties therefore their experiences of party politics is that there is a common view of things within any one, if not someone just forms another party to add to the others. In comparison in what is really two party politics as applies in the UK and USA, both of the main parties are a very “broad tent” that include people of very divergent views on various topics of which the EU is certainly one. Whilst Mrs May has a bunch of MPs on the right wing of her party who are very anti EU, she also has a majority of members who would support continuing EU membership.
The point is that of the “ruling elite” which is probably how the majority of the inhabitants of the Palace of Westminster and both Houses see themselves, the vast majority of all parties, personally supported continuing membership of the EU. They were totally caught out by the EU Referendum result which for them as for their counterparts in the EU, came as a bolt from the blue but and here the rub, the people had spoken and loudly. With hindsight to have such a referendum on a simple majority basis rather than a qualified majority such as 60-70% was a mistake but also a sign of the total arrogance of “those in power”.
What Mr Verhofstadt needs to come to terms with is that this wasn’t a “Tory cat fight” it was much bigger than that, it was a revolt against all those in power who regardless of political party, had become disengaged from the electorate. It wasn’t necessarily even anti EU, the EU has never been considered that important by ordinary people in the UK, it has certainly never been an election winner but the referendum presented an opportunity to send a very loud message to THEM, whether in they were in Westminster, Brussels or Wall St.
Which Brings Us to Today
Theresa May is probably one of a handful of politicians to have grasped what happened and she did so very quickly, cometh the hour, cometh the woman. She has seized the moment calling this election has little to do with further grinding Jeremy Corbyn into the ground, he needs little assistance in achieving that goal which he will all by himself. This election though will clear the ground, not just with regard to the Brexit negotiations but also for positioning the country going forward beyond that.
If all the doom and gloom put out by the Remain camp prior to the vote had come to pass as they had predicted, right now this election would be a good chance for lots of “buyers regret” over the result and bold “Remainers” would sweep into power but there is not even a slight hint of that possibility. Even that massively pro EU muppet Tony Blair can only bleat “Don’t give May a blank cheque” rather than issuing a rallying cry to overturn the Referendum result and encouraging the Remoaners to come out of the shadows.
The truth is that even many of those who voted Remain have now reached the point where they accept it and think, why not ? In a broader sense the EU or rather leaving the EU has a sense of adventure and renewal about it and the real reason that no politician (LibDems don’t qualify as politicians), is mounting any kind of challenge to the referendum result is that they are too scared to.
For Theresa May, she needs a far bigger majority in Parliament so that she can negotiate more freely and make concessions to the EU if required in return for ‘benefits’ for the UK that hard liners in her own party wouldn’t accept. However it also goes beyond that because David Cameron and George Osborn with their no tax increases promises in the 2015 manifesto, totally boxed in their government and left them hoping for growth as the only engine available to them, it was a poor and rather desperate strategy. Governments have few tools to manage the economy but the main ones are Borrowing, Spending, Taxation and finally Growth that sees government revenue increasing via higher tax receipts. By dumping these commitments, she can give herself greater freedom to manage the economy whilst still keeping taxes as low as possible and free of hostages to fortune.
The other key to having a bigger majority is that she can use it to shape broader policy so that her tenure in No.10 is not only focused on on thing, Brexit which would have been the case if she hadn’t taken this bold step of calling an election.
Although not the main target, just as giving UK voters in effect the chance to change their minds over Brexit by having this election, she is also giving Scottish voters the opportunity to send a very clear signal to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP about whether they really want to go through the trauma of indyref2 at any time in the foreseeable future. If the SNP were to lose significant numbers of their Westminster seats, it would be a very clear signal that there is little appetite for another independence referendum.
Finally there have been many public people who protest and continue to protest about the referendum result complaining that Leave only won by a 4% margin. This is fair enough in respect of it being an important decision but it is also rather dumb too because it seeks to ignore that the result should have been in the 60/40 or even 70/30 for Remain so that the swing to +4 was hugely significant on a high poll. Therefore this election gives these people the chance to see if they can overturn the result and if they cannot, then hopefully they will shut the .uck up and get on with it.
The big benefit of course being that the Country can move forward together, unity largely restored and the running sore that was the EU and its predecessors, finally put to an end.
For the EU, it is simply put: Clearly it isn’t wonderful for all members so will you now finally fix it and make it work for your citizens ? Also, this wasn’t just the case of the UK electorate having a hissy fit at a given moment in time, they meant it because they got a second bite of the cherry and the result was the same. Also there still seem to be some within the EU that see this as some kind of personal insult, it is not, it is just the culmination of the inevitable, the resolution of an internal a specifically British issue. We are leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe.