If you were to believe our media (established and social) you’d be mistaken for thinking the Labour party won last week’s General Election. Since when did second become the new first? On that basis I must congratulate Spurs on winning the Premier League title this season and offer belated congratulations to Arsenal for winning the League last season. Let us also congratulate FA Cup runners up Chelsea on actually being the real winners, rather than Arsenal, a few short weeks ago! It’s utter nonsense. As in sport so in politics. Results are what matters and whether you win 5-1 or 2-1, a win is a win, is a win. Brexit means Brexit.
The first thing people should do is congratulate Theresa May and the Conservative party on being victorious once again against an, as far as they and the media anticipated, unexpectedly strong opponent. In a fair contest she increased the Tory percentage of votes and beat nearest rival Labour by a clear 52 votes. The British public turned out in record numbers to vote and the Conservative party won fair and square. Yes with less of a majority than last time, but that happens. They entered the election with “only” a majority of 12 so it was hardly an enormous majority to hold onto or lose. You can’t expect to win 4-1 every time and anyone who does expect that is living in cloud cuckoo land. It’s funny, but the media are now banging the drums trying to convince the electorate that Theresa May has had her day. Well I’m sorry but why should we listen to them? Did they call this election right? No. Did they call the EU Referendum correctly? No. Did they call the 2015 general election correctly? No. Perhaps all the political Journalists and editors should collectively resign too? Three strikes and you’re out.
Let us be very clear the Prime Minister on her own did not decide this election will happen. Under the fixed term parliamentary process there wasn’t one due until 2020. She asked Parliament to vote on it. Her party, the Labour party, along with most MP’s voted pretty unanimously for it. 522 MPs voted for, just 13 against. A thumping 98% majority for an election. Labour could have blocked this election happening, just as Tory MP’s could have. Therefore the Tories must accept collective responsibility for not achieving the thumping, increased majority they sought and let’s be honest, they had the intent to wipe out Labour and they missed that goal by a country mile.
It was a gamble and it backfired. Labour are a major, major political party and they were seriously underestimated. It reminds me of how Arsenal were so written off as massive underdogs in last month’s FA Cup final. This is Arsenal we’re talking about (who’d won the FA Cup twice in the past 3 years) with their long, proud, trophy winning history. Yet they were dismissed as if they were a no-hoper and look how that turned out.
I accept that mistakes were made in the campaign and arguably the PM does have to take a degree of responsibility. Moreso if, as reported, she was drafting and launching new policies and a manifesto without consulting and getting the agreement of her cabinet, then clearly the buck stops with her, but this doesn’t absolve the cabinet of all responsibility. It’s their job to know what is going on and when they first became aware of May operating in such a manner to challenge her. Seemingly they didn’t. May knows how cabinet responsibility works and should have operated under the principles of shared cabinet responsibility and decision making.
Nonetheless, for a number of reasons I do not think May deserves to be forced out or feel any need whatsoever to resign this year or for the foreseeable future. Firstly and most importantly she won the election.
Secondly, it could have been a lot worse. A lot, lot worse. Imagine. The Conservatives could have actually lost.
Thirdly, as mentioned above, if she has to go, then surely the media and pollsters should resign too for not calling this outcome correctly? I can tell you that won’t happen.
Fourthly, if it was an error to call an election and not at least retain a Commons majority, then the Tory cabinet and MP’s of both main parties who all voted for an election and campaigned hard to win should resign for agreeing to an election that the victorious are having described by media pundits as a defeat and the other seen as a victory, which it factually is not. That neither party won by a clear majority is a collective failure of the leader’s of both parties, their manifesto’s and their MP’s. So either they all resign or none do.
What would May resigning actually achieve except to create the very same instability the country doesn’t want or need right now or in the next 2 years as we seek to negotiate our way out of the EU. If May goes, we’d have another leadership campaign which would distract from the business of running the country and Brexiting the EU; potentially the calling of yet another General Election if any new leader wants the public’s mandate to be PM. That would create the potential for Labour to get in power which, if it happened, would equate to the most spectacular own goal of all. Why give Labour yet another unexpected election opportunity when they’re only meant to get the chance every 5 years?
There is no law or rule of any sort that says a victorious PM, even with a smaller winning margin, has to resign. I think the media and politicians should stop treating politics like a game where there constantly has to be threats of elections, calls for resignations and talk of potential leadership battles all the time. 8th June 2017 was not the latest opinion poll or exit poll. It was the actual, final result of the biggest political, public consultation you can have. The public has spoken and decisively voted in the Conservative party. That party should proceed to carry on running the country for five more years. If the public wanted another outcome they would have voted for that. It’s akin to the Brexit vote. Many said 52:48 in favour of Brexit was too close to call and called for another referendum. Remainers said the Brexit vote wasn’t really decisive enough for such an important matter, but the Brexiters held firm and said ‘a win is a win, is a win’ and the country has accepted that. So too must we over the vote last Thursday.
We could always consider the novel approach of leaving May with the opportunity to learn the lessons from this result and work on any areas of weakness identified, just as any readers would expect if they had not quite achieved in all aspects of their job, especially if relatively new into post, as of course, May is. From July 2016 until April 2017 May was widely perceived to have been a good Prime Minister, a steady, safe pair of hands. You cannot seriously allow a mere seven week election campaign to derail that opinion and her capability to fulfil her role. This are just a select few annoyed MP’s, allied to media, seeking to make trouble and create a new agenda and storyline now that the election has happened. It suits them to talk up the drama and paint the outcome as a Tory defeat, Labour victory.
If the Tory party can form a workable and sustainable deal with the DUP they do not have to call another election for 5 years. If the DUP don’t sign up to the proposed ‘”confidence and supply” ‘non coalition’ arrangement this could of course trigger a general election if not now, at any time in the future if there is a vote of no confidence in the Government.
Even if we had another general election in the next 6-12 months who’s to say that lessons won’t have been learnt by May and the Government and they return to power with a clearer and bigger majority than they have now? There are no certainties with any option.
How could things have turned out very differently?
With both main parties aligned when it comes to Brexit this meant the PM’s stated intention to make this a Brexit election never materialised. The public decided there were many other issues that concerned them, from the NHS, security, pensions, elder care and the financing of it etc… It would have been much more interesting if a major party campaigned on a ticket of overturning Brexit. Surely with 48% in favour of remaining we’d have had a real point of difference and a legitimate opportunity to reverse last June’s referendum outcome. As it was we never had that, so the Brexit v Remain debate failed to materialise.
Similarly it would have been good if one of the parties campaigned for a completely different approach to tackling Islamic extremism and terrorism, particularly after the Manchester Arena and London Bridge/Borough Market terrorist attacks. The current approach taken means many can see no end in sight to what is going on. Logically that should point to adopting a different means of resolving the problem. It’s not going to go away just by increasing Police numbers or arming them all. You could double their numbers but in itself that won’t prevent another attack.
Credit to Jeremy Corbyn
Credit where credit’s due to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. From being 20 points behind on 18th April 2017 when May called the surprise General Election, Labour closed the gap to 8% with the Tory’s achieving 318 MPs (48% of 650 MPs) to Labour’s 262 MPs (40%). That’s hugely impressive and to his and his party’s credit. It shows the power of sticking to your beliefs, trusting in yourself and your values. The victory over his critics internally and externally has been total, decisive and must be personally immensely satisfying for Corbyn.
He has silenced his critics and had them eating humble power. Ergo Arsene Wenger facing a season long, longer actually, campaign to oust him from Arsenal, but he toughs it out and for the 3rd time in 4 seasons wins the second most important trophy in English football, the FA Cup. Not bad for a leader seen as unfit to run his club. If these guys can tough it out through the brickbats for so long, so too can May survive the alleged, media driven let’s be clear, turmoil swirling around her position and authority to carry on.
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