Theresa May’s surprise announcement of a snap general election on the 8th June could be well played for the Prime Minister. The theory goes like this, constitutional issues in Scotland and Northern Ireland combined with Labour’s abysmal polling means the Tories are in a prime position to establish a greater majority to push Brexit through Parliament.
We can expect the conservatives to inch their way into Labour constituencies and have cannibalised UKIP. We should get a whiff of this from the local council elections beforehand. However, despite the rosy polling numbers showing the Conservatives with a 10-20 points lead, there are potential troubles in paradise.
Although it is difficult to believe, the Liberal Democrats are in a position of recovery soon after their 2015 wipeout. Look at their approval ratings hover at 10% and you’d be justified in chuckling whenever someone tweets #libdemfightback. But think about their overturning of the Conservative’s 23,000 majority in the Richmond Park by-election and suddenly the “fightback” isn’t funny anymore. They could be somewhat successful in this election if they can offer an achievable and desired alternative to Brexit.
Moving onto Brexit, could there be a second referendum? That would be epic for those who didn’t like the first result – but seriously? Having voted in the 2015 general election, 2016 council and regional elections, the EU referendum, 2017 council elections and the 2017 general election, it may just be the case that the UK electorate might have had a massive democracy overload. However, if the Lib Dems take enough seats from the Tories and Labour to hold sway in who forms the government, they have the chance to get an awful lot more than a “miserable little compromise”, they might get their own referendum.
Scotland is unique in that it won’t be arguing over Brexit, but rather, independence from the rest of the UK. The SNP won 56 of the 59 seats riding the wave of pro-independence opinion in 2015. Despite this strong showing, they dropped their vote and majority in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, boosting the Conservatives to second place and leaving Labour to third. The unionist parties have a lot to gain in this election, but the likelihood is that the First Past the Post voting system will favour the SNP. There may be a small reshuffling of seats, but this will be very unlikely to change much. What happens after that is for a whole other word count!
Finally, we come to the Labour Party. You think Ed Miliband’s character assassination was bad, that will be peanuts compared to the media deluge that will fall on Jeremy Corbyn in the coming months. So, business as usual in that regard. Labour’s difficulties lie on the image of Corbyn rather than specific criticism of his policies. So, candidates should focus upon promoting what a Labour government would do. In the meantime, Jeremy Corbyn needs to be a Prime Minister in waiting; someone who can command the respect of the EU and get a good deal out of Brexit for Britain and implement a realistic governmental programme. If this happens, they will keep losses to a minimum – if not, then there will be a pro-Brexit majority in government.
Theresa May’s decision to call an election is surprising because of how much she could lose. The undercurrent of Brexit and the impact this has had on Scotland and Northern Ireland means that the election is a David Cameron-style gamble. Despite this, the Lib Dems, SNP, and Labour all have issues of their own. Therefore, this election will be closer than we think and will rely upon the skill of the parties’ leaders and messages more than any other. You can come to your own predictions on that front!