This morning Theresa May announced that she will seek a General Election for 8 June.
Don’t believe the hype. The narrative in the media will be that this is a move born out of May’s confidence and Labour’s weakness – and that’s what we’re meant to believe.
May talks a good game – as long as she’s not facing Jeremy Corbyn over the despatch box – and she sought to cast this move, as you’d expect, as one stemming from her confidence in the UK’s ‘economic recovery’ that has supposedly ‘surpassed all expectations’.
She was lying through her teeth – and couldn’t help giving herself away.
For May, a general election now is all about Brexit – and her fear of the disaster the negotiations are going to be.
May implied that Labour was looking to block Brexit like the LibDems, but Jeremy Corbyn’s intelligent handling of the Article 50 votes made that look claim look ridiculous. But in one sentence she gave the game away and revealed her fear – if the game was poker, this would be her ‘tell’:
If we do not hold a General Election now their political gameplaying will continue and the negotiations with the EU will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.
Corbyn’s response, by contrast, was both measured and belligerent – and rather than ‘what if’ rhetoric about Brexit, he highlighted the real, immediate and felt danger a Tory government presents to the people of this country, in terms that anyone can understand.
Theresa May knows the Brexit negotiations are likely to be disastrous for the Tory party. Her Brexit Secretary only last week claimed that he didn’t accept that EU administrative offices should relocate to the EU when Britain leaves the EU:
Davis has also shown a laughable level of ignorance on various key facts and matters, while EU nations have every reason to ‘play hardball’ and certainly won’t allow the UK all the advantages of membership in some special deal that allows it to escape the costs and obligations.
May fears the consequences for the Tories in a 2020 General Election of Britain’s weak negotiating position and Tory incompetence.
Corbyn, by contrast, appears excited by the prospects for a June election and more than up for the fight:
Brilliant 1 minute video of Jeremy Corbyn just now. He is clearly excited about putting Labour Policies to voters pic.twitter.com/GsJjDQnKYc
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) April 18, 2017
If Theresa May was as confident as she pretends about the Tories prospects for winning a snap election she’d have called one for May, the usual month, or even last year during her ‘honeymoon period’. Labour’s polling may appear to be terrible, but that’s by design and affected by the selection of respondents and the phrasing of questions – the precise methodology of which is almost never released.
May needs a two-thirds majority in the Commons to get a June election. She’ll get it, because the Labour leadership is unlikely to vote against the bill and let the Tories and their media pets cast it as them leaving the Conservatives in power for another 3 years.
That’s fine. It’s game on and Labour’s leadership showed its nous and intelligent reading of the situation by using the last few days to announce 11 policies that have received widespread public approval.
May has probably scored an own-goal by calling an election just after the local elections, when voter registration drives are already underway and parties are in campaign mode.
The ‘moderate’ trouble-causers in the PLP are also now in a quandary. They’ve spent months and months talking down Labour’s electoral chances in an attempt (again) to unseat their party leader – most no doubt assuming that they had a couple of years to budge him and then try to repair the damage to their own chances of staying on the gravy train.
Now, suddenly, they’re facing the very real prospect of being out on their ears in a couple of months. Do they decide to behave and get in line – or keep agitating and ‘take one for the team’ in the hope of actually losing the election when Corbyn will almost certainly not even consider stepping down unless and until the McDonnell Amendment passes this autumn’s party conference.
The huge pro-Corbyn majority of Labour members also now have a huge and unexpected opportunity. Labour rules make deselection of dire MPs possible only before an election – and now we have one. But time is short so moving fast is essential.
The procedure for deselecting a sitting MP is not simple and it’s not easy. But it can be done. Read this guide for how – and get organised.
Most Labour members and supporters would not have chosen right now for a General Election to be called. But as this morning’s speech made clear, we’re facing an opponent driven by fear and pretending confidence – and decisions made out of fear are often bad and have unintended consequences.
It’s a fight we can win – and must, because as May – a clear and present danger to the people of this country – said this morning,
Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger.
So it’s game on:
- deselect bad MPs where appropriate so your local electorate have someone worth voting for
- get your friends, family, neighbours to commit to vote and to make sure they’re registered to vote. If not, you/they can do so here.
Then jump in and fight like hell to show this country who the real danger is and where it lies, because it’s not in Corbyn or the Labour Party.
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