Thursday, April 20, 2017

Election Fatigue

I suppose I should acknowledge that an election has been called.  Why, when there are still three years of this parliament to go and a government with a working majority, this should be considered necessary is a perplexing question.  Ostensibly, it is so that May can say that she has a democratic mandate for her policies, most specifically Brexit, rather than feeling bound by the manifesto promises made by a different Tory leader in the 2015 election, (which made no mention of Brexit).  Which might seem highly laudable, but it still doesn't justify calling an election early - manifesto promises aren't legally binding, so she could safely ignore them and all she needs to govern legitimately and pursue her own agenda, is a parliamentary majority.  Which she already has.  The real reasons are rather more cynical, I fear.  For one thing, calling a general election now rather pre-empts any charges against Tory candidates which come out of the Electoral Commission's investigations into alleged expenses fraud at the 2015 election.  If May stuck to the schedule and waited until 2020 to go to the polls, then she would have risked three years of criminal charges and trials involving Tory politicians and all the potential political damage that could have wreaked.  This way, presupposing she wins, all of that will have been safely out of the way by the time the next election rolls around circa 2022.

The other obvious reason for going to the polls now is the Tories. current commanding poll lead over Labour.  Of course, one of the reasons for the introduction of fixed term parliaments in 2010 (by a government of which May was a member) was supposedly to prevent opportunistic prime ministers from putting party before country and calling snap elections to try and maintain themselves in power. This piece of legislation also meant that the opposition could have denied May the opportunity to hold this election, as it requires a two thirds majority in the Commons for parliament to be dissolved.  They would have been justified in doing so: the Tories made these rules and should be forced to stick to them.  May shouldn't be allowed to go to the polls until after Brexit, when its consequences will begin to be felt.  From a purely tactical perspective, the opposition parties should have opposed her cal for an election simply because, right now, they are in no fit state to fight one.  Yet Corbyn, a man with no political nous whatsoever, happily voted with the government, gleefully leading Labour toward potential oblivion at the polls.  He really is unfit to lead anything, let alone what used to be one the UK' major political parties.  I know that he and his cronies see winning elections as some kind of irrelevance, but the fact is that without political power, you can achive nothing.  You certainly can't help the people you claim to represent.  By embracing an election now, Corbyn is risking Labour losing even more seats and putting them further away from power and being to help the less well off than before.  Indeed, he is pretty much guaranteeing Tory hegemony for the foreseeable future.

As you can gather, I'm less than enthusiastic about this election.  Not only do I fear that it is going to be an electoral disaster for Labour but, to be frank, I'm suffering election fatigue.  It was barely two years ago that we fought the previous election, then last year there was the bruising EU referendum. I just don't have the appetite or energy to go through all of that again so soon.  I know that a lot of other people, on both sides of the political divide, feel the same way.  I suspect that the Tories are relying on this, hoping for a high degree of political apathy which tends to favour the status quo.  The aggressive language already being used by the right wing press in their coverage is also depressing.  Already we have talk of 'crushing Labour' and pro-EU supporters being described as 'saboteurs' - this doesn't augur well for the election being fought on the basis of rational, well informed, debate.  I'm really not looking forward to the next few weeks. 

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