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May’s Win To Lead To Britain’s Long-Term Loss

Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election surprised people with its timing. The logic of it is impeccable though. She is an accidental Prime Minister and faces a challenging few years ahead. It’s assumed she’ll win a landslide against a weak and divided Labour Party. This is probably the case. For Labour, it’s looking like a massacre. Yet Jeremy Corbyn might stay on. There’s mixed fortunes for the other parties. One issue should dominate; Brexit. But it may be the usual bread and butter issues that come to the fore, as well as trust in the leadership of May and Corbyn.

This should be plain sailing for the Conservatives. They are an average of 15 points ahead of Labour in the polls. Even allowing for massive slippage between now and Election Day, they’re still in target to get at least a comfortable 50 seat majority, with the possibility of a plurality of 100 seats or more. She’s up against a Labour Party that seems unable to gain any traction with the electorate. Her core issue of competency is a sure fire winner. Nobody thinks Jeremy Corbyn is likely to be walking into Downing Street. The real works begins with the new majority. She’s got the twin headaches of Europe and Scotland which will take up most of her time as Prime Minister. When she turns around with a deal that disappoints the Brexiteers – as it surely will – then her problems are bigger than party management and political ones. They are existential issues for the future of the British state.

Labour are in big trouble. It’s hard to see any good coming out of their performance. They could lose heavily and still have an ineffective leader at the end of it all. This is the election that could break the party. If the losses are sufficiently catastrophic, the non-Corbynites might decide that Brexit can only be challenged by forming a new party. The structures currently in place make it almost impossible to depose Corbyn. Only a candidate with his blessing can succeed him. Twenty years after the 1997 Labour landslide, Labour are in dire straits.

This should be a comeback election for Tim Farron. They are coming back from their disastrous performance in 2015. They will be targeting Tory and Labour ‘Remain’ voters. The potential is there for big gains. Farron has already ruled out any coalition post-election and this positions him as well able to capitalise on small ‘L’ liberals disillusioned and still angry about the turn of events since last year’s referendum. In some ways, Farron is this year’s Ed Miliband; unexciting, solid, and trustworthy (if not quite seen as Prime Ministerial material). More of London and the South should be turning Liberal Democrat yellow. If they don’t get at least 20 seats plus, it will be a hugely disappointing outcome for Tim Farron.

North of the border, this is Nicola Sturgeon’s second general election. Independence is back on the agenda now. One of the unthought-of out consequences of Brexit is the resurgence of the Scottish Problem, one entirely self-inflicted by the Brexiteers. Sturgeon is coming from such a strong position that, for the Scottish National Party, the only way is down. They are, however, expected to hold their own. Despite the Scottish Tories in resurgence, the SNP are in a powerful pole position. Brexit is not popular in Scotland, to put it mildly.

UKIP really doesn’t need to exist anymore. Arguably, they’re the most successful one-issue political party in the last 200 years. Yet they’re staying one. The system is against them. They are the true inheritors of the collapsed Far Right vote. It will be extremely difficult for UKIP to get even one seat in the First Past the Post electoral system. While this is grotesquely unfair, it’s no harm that a Hard Right Nationalist party fails to make a political breakthrough. They’ve got what they’ve wanted. Their legacy is indisputable. They’ve also poisoned the political ground and been shown to be utterly irresponsible about their country’s and their voters’ long term interests. If they fade away, they will be doing the democratic process a service.

The 2017 will see no TV debates between the two big party leaders, few surprises, and a grim reaping for the Labour Party members who refuse to accept the reality that Corbyn is leading them into political oblivion. The Liberal Democrats will go hard in Brexit and it’s right and proper that they should do so. Bigger issues are at stake than the size of Theresa May’s majority. Britain is definitely leaving Europe. The European Union will miss them. But Britain should be under no illusions about how difficult the road ahead will be for them. Theresa May’s problems are just about to begin.

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