The most surprising thing about the UK election result is that the outcome appears to be shock, when, in fact, it was entirely predictable. In hindsight the decision to hold the election at all is being described as a gamble, and perhaps it was, for there were many reasons why it should never have been held.
The most obvious are:
- There was no legal requirement to hold an election for another two and a half years. This is not withstanding the fact that Theresa May was not the leader of the governing party at the time of the last election. It is standard political posturing by opposition parties to demand an election on the grounds that this means the Prime Minister was “never elected”, but this is political semantics. There is no legal requirement for an election when a governing party replaces their leader and, hence, installs a new Prime Minister. Precedents are also rare or non-existent.
- With Brexit underway, and the historic nation-defining issues to be negotiated with the remaining EU countries, government already had its hands full.
- The country did not need (or want) the distraction of an election. Following the recent referendum, most people are feel political fatigue.
- At a time of economic constraint the costs of an election were unnecessary.
- Theresa May herself said that there was no need for an election. (According to reports she reiterated this on no fewer than seven occasions!)
All of which beg the question, “Why did Ms May change her mind and decide to hold the election after all?” With the best will in the world, it is impossible to believe the reasons she gave. Perception is everything and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it was simply to entrench her power. With all and sundry bemoaning the lack of an effective opposition and the polls showing her having a 20 point lead over the opposition, the opportunity to do so proved to be irresistible. It is a clear indication of how our elected politicians become self-serving and fail to govern “for the people.”
This political hubris was demonstrated further in the manner in which Ms May ran her campaign. For example:
- She seemed to completely forget the fact that the shock results of the last UK election. The Conservatives winning an overall majority had been a complete surprise after having been forced to govern in a coalition after the preceding election and 13 years in the wilderness prior to that.
- Despite being in the commanding position of calling the election and taking her political opponents by surprise, the Conservatives were one of the last parties to launch their manifesto. (And when they did launch, they botched it to the extent of having to clarify matters where there seemed to be confusion and inconsistency.)
- Even then the manifesto was ambiguous and failed to deal with many of the major challenges the country is facing – not least the crises in Healthcare, Education, and Security.
- She fell victim her own conviction and hype that the election was all about Brexit. As a result she seemed to treat the campaign more like a referendum campaign than an election campaign and focussed her efforts on presenting herself as the best person to negotiate on the UK’s behalf.
- Compounding this, and lulled into a false sense of security by the reported weakness of the opposition, she made the campaign personal and presidential, pitching it as a choice between her and a weak nonentity.
Thus, instead of living up to her campaign slogan of “Strong and Stable” she ended up looking “Weak and Wobbly” and enabled her primary opponent to take the moral high-ground, look good and establish the credibility that he had previously lacked. This role reversal has destroyed her credibility, left her in a position that is virtually untenable (so much so that there is talk of another election later this year!) and, worst of all, the country a laughing stock with looming negotiations and no clear sense of direction or purpose. Truly a disaster for everyone except Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May’s much-derided opponent.
Please get hold of my book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped, read my ideas as to how we could change our economic systems and promote discussion and debate around them so that we can restore democracy and safeguard a better future for future generations.