March 20, 2017

Prepare for a snap election

Prepare for a snap election

Peter Bingle asks whether the concatenation of recent issues has helped manufacture the perfect rationale for the Prime Minister to call an early election?

We live in a time when all the old certainties in politics have been turned on their head. The momentous events of last week are testament to that.

The PM and her closest aides have been adamant for many months that there will not be an early election. The PM is determined to stay the course and go to the country in 2020. Perhaps the growing early election speculation is therefore nothing more than idle chatter among the residents of the Westminster village. Or perhaps a concatenation of issues has created the perfect rationale for the PM to go early…

I always suspected that the reality of the government’s small majority and the fickle nature of Tory MPs would in the end persuade the PM to go early. The Great Repeal Bill is the perfect vehicle to create a ‘constitutional crisis’ which would force a reluctant PM to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament. For what it’s worth, I do not believe that a majority of MPs – let alone Peers – will vote to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. That will cause the PM a massive problem.

More recently, other issues have come into play which strengthen the intellectual as well as the political argument for an early election:

The first concerns the Scottish First Minister’s call for a second independence referendum. Number 10 will have been stung by Nicola Sturgeon’s jibe that unlike the PM she has a mandate. What better response than to win a large overall majority in a general election and win in the process seats off the SNP in Scotland?

The second concerns the PM’s Cabinet: several senior ministers are not performing. Too many needless mistakes are being made. The PM needs a more able government much more in her image.

The third concerns the government’s policy agenda. Theresa May is a very different Tory to Dave & George. The 2015 manifesto is no longer the policy agenda the PM wishes to pursue. Grammar schools are just one example. The PM needs a policy agenda that encompasses and justifies her much more state interventionist form of Toryism.

The fourth concerns the nagging issue of general election expenses and the embarrassing fact that many MPs representing marginal seats are being interviewed by the police. This has the potential to go toxic for the PM and her Party Chairman. Far better to draw a line and have an early election.

Lastly, the PM won’t need to deal with the difficult issue of boundary changes. She will win a huge majority on the current boundaries and then have five years to reduce the number of MPs in the next Parliament.

There will be some, including many Tories, who will caution the PM against going early. They will point to the hapless Jeremy Corbyn and say that the longer things go on the worse it will get for him. May be but the government has just endured a terrible week and there will be many more in the months ahead. This is not currently the most competent of governments. Another very strong reason to go early and secure a massive majority.

A stunning election victory will also strengthen the PM’s Brexit negotiating position with the EU…

So will she go, or won’t she? I suspect that realpolitik will settle the matter. The irony is that the Labour Party has no choice but to agree to any request for an early election.

4.50 avg. rating (89% score) - 8 votes
Peter Bingle
Peter is the Founder of Terrapin Communications. With a career in politics and communications that has spanned almost four decades, he is one of the country's leading public affairs practitioners. His career has seen him advise many top companies, including McDonald’s, HSBC, L’Oreal, Permira, Motorola, Camelot, Rolls Royce & Kellogg's.
  • Andrew Briggs

    Sturgeon is not troubled by economic arguments – her motivation is being the star of Braveheart 2. (Remind me how the first one turned out for them ?)

  • Vindpust

    Braveheart was as much a fiction as Sturgeon’s view of Scotland’s interests.

  • PierrePendre

    Whether or not the Scots would be sensible to leave the union, Sturgeon has cleverly escaped the trap she was in over calling a referendum by suggesting a date in late 2018 or early 2019 and forcing May to refuse it. She now has the luxury of continuing to stoke nationalist grievances over the denial of a referendum without being in any danger of having to actually hold and probably lose one for the foreseeable future and it’s all May’s fault. If the SNP were as good at governing as they are at playing politics, they’d be unbeatable.

  • John Smith

    5 Years!
    Indy Ref 1 was on 18 September 2014
    Two and a half years ago

  • ratcatcher11

    The last referendum was based on fake economics produced by the SNP to justify their stance and of course all generated by oil revenues. The Scots were lucky they did not fall for it, because they would be needing a massive bail out by now as the revenues from oil dried up. American shale and tar sands are producing massive amounts of oil, gas and oil products, and the price of oil will never rise again above $50 a barrel. There is little that Scotland has to offer although they will get their fishing grounds back when we leave the EU. If Scotland wants separation under these conditions they will return to the failed State they were when they begged England to let them join the Union in the first place. In the meantime, the SNP have run up a £15 billion black hole in their accounts that they can’t fill. History it seems is repeating itself one again.

  • ratcatcher11

    As much a fiction as the SNP’s economic plans.

  • Kingstonian

    And if IndyRef2 is held in the spring of 2019 it will be almost 5 years since IndyRef1. Your question was what?

  • getahead

    Scottish independence is the SNP’s sole raison d’être. The consequences are of no importance.

  • Derek

    Here’s some discomforting data for the SNP
    Deficit around 10%. Scotland does not meet several of the key Maastricht criteria and has almost no chance of correcting this in time for a hypothetical Brexit.
    Very low economic growth – around 1/4 of the UK’s
    Future oil revenues largely will be spent on decommissioning leaving little tax revenue
    EU have reiterated Scotland will have to become an independent country first and then apply for membership.
    Biggest exports are to rUK which have grown by 70% since 2002
    Lowest exports are to the EU which have only increased about 10-% since 2002.
    However the political brain is truly stupendous at totally ignoring all discomforting data

  • Debs

    They have substantial Powers . They have their unique identity as Scots intact and clearly are a seperate country within the Union. The rest of the Union supports them financially.What more is there.

  • Calvin Graham

    Logic and common sense don’t apply to the SNPs viewpoint though. Absolutely everything is a reason for independence and anyone who says otherwise is part of the Murdoch press or an English traitor.

My cartoon take on it:

  • Forlorn Hope

    Give England a vote, it will guarantee Scottish independence.

  • Forlorn Hope

    Based on Anglophobia.

  • Eric Thacker

    Yep, let us English be in the referendum. Bye bye Jocks, bye bye SNP and bye bye the dreadful Sturgeon and Salmond.

  • disqus_54Dk4MKqmm

    I am sure that eventually another referendum will be granted, there cannot be any reasonable objection if Holyrood want it. However, unless Scotland’s economic position is transformed, the implications of independence will be stark. The Scots won’t vote for economic disaster. On the other hand, if the SNP don’t call another referendum, they will be shown up as no longer relevant. I will be getting the popcorn out.

  • Dragonfighter

    So, if Ms Sturgeon wants to be Wilma Wallace, I want to know who is Roberta Bruce?

  • Peter Parker

    ‘Yesterday, I was phoned to be asked onto the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning. They said they wanted me to answer questions about how the election would change the UK’s ability to negotiate a good new relationship with the EU.’

    Bit naive of you to believe them, no?

  • Landphil

    Whereas the shouty health crisis is confined to Westminster.

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