#GE2017: So why did Theresa May go for an election now?

Chris Deerin writing for CapEx on what this election will mean in GB for the Conservatives (if they win)…

There is, of course, base political calculation at the heart of Mrs May’s proposal – she is confronted with the fierce urgency of now. The 20-point polling gap between her Conservatives and Labour is staggering, sustained and a lit runway to a landslide majority.

Her government is as yet largely unbruised by the Brexit process, but will not stay that way for long.

Over the next few years the Prime Minister will need the bodies that this election walkover will provide. She has to know that she can win the parliamentary votes on Brexit and everything else without the need for sweaty backroom deals that erode her political capital.

She must be able to face down the crackpot wing of the Brexit movement without fear. And she must shake off the lingering feeling that her accidental government, born amid crisis and emergency, isn’t really legit.

But aside from Mrs May’s personal fortunes, this is right for Britain too. The country will now get one half of what it genuinely needs – a stable and robust Conservative administration properly licensed to negotiate Brexit.

We will continue to lack an opposition worthy of the name, which is unfortunate, but even here there is a silver lining – the quicker we can show the hard Left our contempt at the ballot box, the quicker the serious business of figuring out the nature of a future, sane, credible centrist party can begin. I hope Mr Blair, Mr Clegg and, perhaps, Mr Osborne, have their thinking caps on.

Let’s return to that point of democratic hygiene. This is not the Cameron government under new leadership. Mrs May has junked large parts of the manifesto that secured her predecessor an overall majority and which we have a constitutional right to expect to be delivered.

In tone, temperament and action, she has gone about her business as if she has already won a general election rather than lucked into the top job.

On the economy and public spending, industry and education, immigration and more, she has taken a markedly different line to her predecessor. At times, it has felt a bit like a coup, and deeply unBritish.

That’s an impression confirmed by Janan Ganesh’s Op-Ed for today’s FT (and therefore written before today’s news):

The British political system is so centralised that a government is often just the magnification of the prime minister’s instincts, and May’s are unmistakable. The implications go beyond the precise terms of the exit deal she will sign, to the policies that will shape the country once it gains that mercurial prize called independence.

At its best, May’s Britain will be vigilant to terror and give industrial strategy a chance to amount to more than it has in the past. At its worst, spirit-draining bureaucracy will set in and Britain will spurn able migrants with the zeal that other countries put into the worldwide competition for them.

Either way, it will be her doing, not that of her MPs, the media or even the electorate. To see this government’s work as the sum of outside pressures is to patronise and exonerate May all at once. It is worse than you think. She believes in it.

And finally, this from Belfast lad in London, Steve Moore:

What has been most striking about May’s premiership is how her boldness relating to Brexit has contrasted with the feebleness of her domestic policy.

For the all the promises of heeding the wider lessons of Brexit she has been clearly shackled by the 2015 manifesto commitments on taxation and spending.

I would expect the Tory manifesto to have significant costed commitments on mental health, infrastructure, social care and industrial strategy (on skills in particular)

Why now?

Lynton Crosby has been on manoeuvres for months laying the ground and donors have been mobilised. Crucially intelligence from the local elections, consecutive 21 point polling leads and a little noticed but significant win a Middlesborough council ward seat last Thursday all led to this outcome.

Of course, it is not just Labour but UKIP who are in disarray demise adding at least 4% to the 2015 Tory vote and they have zero funds to fight this election.

The Tories remain vulnerable to Lib Dems in West Country (but so are Labour in London and in university towns) but they can expect to squeeze UKIP everywhere.

Labour will now pay a dear price for not dealing with Corbyn, how could May really resist? Tories by 65–75 seats for me

  • Korhomme

    Another consideration, perhaps. Channel 4 has been reporting about possible election misuse of funds for some time, and report today that 30 people may be charged, including sitting Tory MPs.

    https://www.channel4.com/news/exclusive-cps-considering-charges-against-over-30-people-including-tory-mps-over-expenses

  • Jag

    Winning a bigger majority and consigning to the dustbin any prospect of her being dependent on the DUPers; Maastricht is still a vivid memory for the Tories.

  • Ryan

    Her only ambition is to get a massive mandate and then she can do exactly as she pleases in respect of a hard or soft Brexit, leading to more austerity and the further marginalisation of the poor and disadvantaged. Obviously all being done whilst the supremacy of the south east of England is further reinforced.

  • Korhomme

    A possibility; the PM may have agreed with the sentiment that come 2019 when whatever form Brexit takes ought to be clear, she may realise that there will be an election in 2020 and that the EU people will then try to drive bargains that she might feel obliged to accept if she wants to win that election.

  • Jeremy Cooke
  • ted hagan

    It’s going to be even bigger than the slaughter inflicted on John Major by Tony Blair. It will be so soul-destroying it will hurt. It’s a gift for the Tories. I blame Corbyn and his cronies for this. They are a disgrace to the Labour movement.

  • ted hagan

    Let’s face it, does anyone really care that much about election funding?

  • hgreen

    So you blame them for what exactly? What has Corbyn done other than get elected leader? You’ve obviously sucked up so much neo liberal b.s. that you think there’s no other way.

    The only people to blame, as ever, for this mess and ultimately the disintegration of the UK are the Tories.

  • hgreen

    No mention of the Tory electoral fraud in 2015 and potential for 30 bye elections.

  • hgreen

    Does anyone seriously believe the EU will give a monkeys whether May has a majority of 12 or 112? We’ll file this latest lie with the 300m a week for the NHS one.

  • hgreen

    What people care about or not isn’t relevant.

  • hgreen

    “We continue to lack an opposition worthy of the name” yet the leader of the Tories is too frightened to publicly debate the leader of the opposition.

    While Labour are in transition it is worth remembering that the Tories have been in full power for only 2 years and just look at the clusterf*ck they’ve managed to cause.

  • mickfealty

    Morally, yes. But surely we know from local experience that morality and politics make a very poor mix?

  • Abucs

    I think for many passionate supporters in the Labour Party the pressing political issue of the day is Brexit and many will want to somehow use the election to garner support against it. This election could cause even deeper splits in the Labour party with many passionately wanting to go in different directions from each other.

  • Korhomme

    If you mean election expenses, what each candidate pays out in order to try to win the vote, probably not so much (except for overt bribery, perhaps).

    If you mean where the party and candidates get their money from, then people ought to be concerned. Is it appropriate that the very rich can effectively buy an election (or a referendum)? Is it appropriate that sources of funding, and extent, can be kept secret?

  • Jeremy Cooke

    Well it would seem that Hilary Clinton playing games with Goldman Sachs did her harm so yes.

    We’ve seen how money and lobbyists corrupt the democratic process in more countries than this and has dragged politics down to such a low regard that people are flocking to strongmen who threaten the “drain the swamp”.

    Someday they will be so enraged and revolted that they will elect a person who will follow through on those promises and then everything changes c.f. Erdogan.

  • Jag

    UK economy growing by 2% per annum, even after Brexit? Following through with the commitment to give the people a democratic say on future EU membership? A relatively minor security incident? What cluster are you referring to?

    The Scottish yearning for independence was there anyway, and will continue to be there, probably until independence is achieved. The shambles here can hardly be laid at the door of the Tories, RHI, Irish Language, SIF, legacy (maybe a bit), NAMA, reductions in public sector budgets (a bit also, but there is huge waste in NI especially), Red Sky, the republican-linked killing and criminality.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Tories are a nasty party primarily servicing the elite with the hope there are trickle-down crumbs for the masses, but Brexit is down to them giving people a democratic choice.

  • Jeremy Cooke

    Surely you need to be talking about the gap between “passionate supporters” and traditional voters for whom revisiting Brexit isn’t quite such an issue?

  • Abucs

    Yes I think the gap may well cause further division during this election within the Labour ranks.

  • hgreen

    The Tories aren’t even considering what 48% of the population voted for. There was no mention of hard Brexit or leaving the common market on the referendum ballot paper. As far as I can see May is just dancing to the tune of the right wing nut jobs over at the daily mail.

    Economic growth is irrelevant because we don’t know what growth would have been had we voted remain. On the ground meanwhile the NHS, the care system and education struggles.

  • ted hagan

    I blame Corbyn for being an inept and useless leader who should do the decent thing and resign quickly for his party’s sake. I would support a strong left-wing anti-Blairite, and anti– New Labour candidate with fresh ideas and who can inspire. Corbyn ain’t that person, and most, within Labour, now understand this at long last Look at its membership figures – plummeting. Last but not least? Corbyn’s performance on the EU referendum was so embarrassing I could have wept.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Aye. Thats the real reason for this election.

  • ted hagan

    Whereas in the real world the EU immediately welcomed May’s decision to call an election.
    “We have some hope that this will lead to a strong leader in London that can negotiate with us with strong backing by the electorate,” an EU official said after Tuesday’s surprise move.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The break-up of the UK is not a cause for blame. Celebration, rather.

  • hgreen

    2000 new members yesterday. Stop parroting what you’ve read elsewhere.

    I’d also support a similar candidate and hope Corbyn steps aside when one comes along. There isn’t one yet so you take what you’ve got and vote for the least worst option.

  • hgreen

    Didn’t say it was.

  • ted hagan

    2000 new members yesterday? So who are you parroting?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    But with the tory election fraud it’s a case of illegality, not just morality. They may have broken the law, therefore, as with any other law, consequences will arise. These consequences might have led to May losing her majority – therefore – new election.

  • Zorin001

    “As far as I can see May is just dancing to the tune of the right wing nut jobs over at the daily mail.”

    After todays headline I don’t think we are too far away from the Mail calling for liquidation of “Enemies of the State and Remoaners”.

    Nice to see whatever (thin) pretence they had of being a serious newspaper has been swept away.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I do though.

  • hgreen

    You can’t even wipe your arse with it because the shite goes in the wrong direction.

  • hgreen

    Well I think it’s a mix of things of which this is probably one.

  • hgreen

    Labour Party figures. You have a strange definition of plummeting.

  • ted hagan

    ‘Labour has lost nearly 26,000 members since last summer, according to leaked data.
    The apparent shedding of card-carrying supporters has led one former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to warn the “tide is turning”.
    More than three-quarters of those to leave the party last year had joined after the 2015 general election, a period that saw membership grow rapidly under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.’

    From the Independent newspaper in London, March 3, 2017;
    As I said. Plummeting.

  • hgreen

    Honestly I reckon if I told you tomorrow was Christmas Day you’d hang up your stocking.

    Do you seriously think the EU would have stated “well this decision by May is worrying because we were hoping for a weak leader”.

  • Granni Trixie

    Spot on. “The shambles here” is why some parties embrace Brexit as the key issue of the WE in NI. And yes, it is supposed to be about Brexit but since when did we stick to a Westminster led agenda? Unless they aim to deflect from Ni governance as an issue.

  • ted hagan

    People may ‘ought to be concerned’, of course, but do you ever hear anyone discussing it? I doubt it.

  • ted hagan

    Ain’t going to happen.

  • hgreen

    As of last September Labour had the largest number of members of any political party in western Europe, with 551,000, up from 388,407 on 10 January 2016. If your figures are correct 26k represents less than 5%. Now the membership appears to be on the rise again.

    As I said you have a strange definition of plummeting.

  • ted hagan

    You should really look for more detail rather than spouting top of the head drivel. The EU believes a strong performance by May will weaken the hand of the Brexiteers within her party and allow for a softer negotiating stance that may ease the way to an agreement. Understand? I doubt it, or do you just want to toss more insults?

  • ted hagan

    26,000 members leaving? Are you kidding?

  • hgreen

    It was you that introduced the figure of 26k. You aren’t very good at this are you?

  • ted hagan

    Yea, and it’s a substantial amount, and 75pc of those were members who joined after the last election in the Corbyn ‘false dawn’.

  • ted hagan

    ‘Labour in transition’.
    Euphemism for complete meltdown.

  • lizmcneill

    Plus we haven’t actually left yet.

  • hgreen

    May is being led and propped up by the Daily Heil. They aren’t interested in a soft Brexit not that they’ll get one anyway.

  • hgreen

    Stop with the stupid maths, you are running out of fingers.

  • Jimmyz

    File posts a death threat and Mick is fine with it ! – not even a slap on the wrist !, quote

    “Some of my best friends are dead Protestants, Care to join
    them?”

    Don’t bother yourself Mick, I have taken it up with Disqus themselves.

    No wonder so few unionists give this site respectability by participating.

    Shame on you Mick !

  • lizmcneill

    Oh for the days when they were merely known as the Daily Fail…

  • lizmcneill

    If the alternatives are Corbyn or a neolib Tory-lite old boy…blargh

  • Barneyt

    I trust there’ll be no fresh manifesto to unshackle her? Perhaps she feels it’s sufficient to launch it without any leadership challenge. Interesting to see how the “empty seat” approach will work….. if the BBC and itv have the nuts for it.

  • ted hagan

    Forget alternatives. Corbyn is a lost cause. That’s the shame of it all.

  • ted hagan

    Don’t like the figures? You are in denial.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yvette “Mrs Ed ‘Mr Yvette Cooper’ Balls” Copper is on the money here;

    https://twitter.com/YvetteCooperMP/status/854676713648902144

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    What “ain’t going to happen”?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    What “ain’t going to happen”? The election? The pending prosecutions for election fraud? I can assure you that they are both going to happen. The police have already forwarded at least a dozen or so cases to the authorities.