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Discussion point: UK general election called for 8th June 2017

Ah, stop pretending to be above it all. If you are on the UK electoral roll, who will you vote for? If you are not, who would you vote for?

Who will win is scarcely worth discussing. But, as the post from politicalbetting.com I linked to says, there are a few questions to which the answer is not so certain:

Can she satisfy the fixed-term parliament act in the vote tomorrow?
Will Mrs May receive any backlash, like Gordon Brown, for going back on her word on holding an early election
If she loses the vote, what then?
If the SNP put in their manifesto Scotland should have Indyref2 next year, and they win a majority of votes or seats in Scotland, how can Mrs May refuse, Mrs May might have put the Union at risk. (It also damages her argument against holding an Indyref2?)
If Corbyn gets creamed at the general election, will he continue as Labour leader? This might be the easiest way for Labour rebels to get rid of Corbyn.

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61 comments to Discussion point: UK general election called for 8th June 2017

  • I shall vote for Screaming Lord Sutch and I fail to see why his demise should make the slightest difference, given that it makes him the most perfect of all possible politicians… one who does absolutely nothing. Lets hear it for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party!

  • I sneeze in threes

    Could a new government revoke article 50? If Labour stood with a single issue manifesto to revoke the article 50 request could the remainers get a majority?

  • Lee Moore

    I’m not on the electoral roll, but if I was I’d vote for the candidate most likely to follow through and deliver a proper non half hearted Brexit. That obviously incorporates as a main feature, a realistic chance of being elected. So in most constituencies, I’d vote for the Conservative. Happy to make exceptions for Carswell and a few genuinely Brexity Labour MPs.

    Faced with a worm-ridden careerist Tory, who in his heart (I use the term figuratively) is a Remainer but who is venal enough to play along with Brexit for his career’s sake, I’d hold my nose and stick with him against openly Remainist opponents. But a brazen remainer like Clarke K or Soubry A – I’d vote for anybody else. The cancer has to be excised.

    If no real Brexiter had a hope of winning the seat (and I’d be very generous in allowing long shots) then a mere signalling vote would go to the Conservative or UKIP, depending on whether the Conservative was a proper Brexiter and/or the kipper was a brownshirt. With the further exception that in such a no hope for a Brexit winner seat, where a LibDem had a chance of winning, I’d vote for whoever had the best chance of beating the LibDem. Even the Nats.

    I really don’t think anything else matters this time round than getting that stake into the heart of Ted Heath’s bloodsucking monster.

  • phil

    One simple request: Please can the Tory manifesto not be a red Tory / blue Labour abomination?

  • Can she satisfy the fixed-term parliament act in the vote tomorrow?

    From opposition comments, it would appear yes (understandably – who among the opposition dare say publicly: “we dare not face a vote right now”). Of course there are several procedural tricks she could have used to force it. But it seems we will be denied the comical sight of tory MPs voting they have no confidence in the government while natz and labour vote that they do. 🙂

    Will Mrs May receive any backlash, like Gordon Brown, for going back on her word on holding an early election.

    My guess is none save from the usual PC commentators who will have no effect. As a newish PM facing Brexit, she always had a case, and the very people who want Brexit stopped are rendered incredibly implausible if they claim not to want an election on it.

    If she loses the vote, what then?

    The short answer is “that would be bad”, but I think we were always going to have to survive an election to get Brexit completed and made safe. Given that we did not have Boris calling one in early October last year, is any later year obviously safer for May – or for Brexit. Would a small-majority-negotiated Brexit be more robust to a 2019/20 election than a large-majority-negotiated Brexit to the next election (in 2021/2).

    If the SNP put in their manifesto Scotland should have Indyref2 next year, and they win a majority of votes or seats in Scotland, how can Mrs May refuse?

    Very easily if (1) they get fewer seats than they have, which is likely, and (2) they get less than 50% votes, which is also likely. It is a risk, but arguably a better move than enduring the SNP supermajority at Westminster for another 3 years. Sturgeon’s pushing for a referendum now has hurt the natz. So.

    Mrs May might have put the Union at risk. (It also damages her argument against holding an Indyref2?)

    I think she may have reduced the risk – we’ll see. The bottom line is that Sturgeon would already be risking holding an illegal referendum if she thought she could get a majority of the Scots electorate to vote yes. That the natz absolutely ruled this out shows they are sure they cannot do so. While that is true, May can say “Nay chance” in perfect safety.

    If Corbyn gets creamed at the general election, will he continue as Labour leader? This might be the easiest way for Labour rebels to get rid of Corbyn?

    It gives Labour 5 years instead of 3 to sort (some of) its problems, and arguments with which to do so, but they might have solved some problems in 3 years, so again, I think May has reduced the risk to Brexit.

    Just my 0.02p FWIW. Lastly, a question of my own. One of the very few wholly unmitigated positives I have always granted May is the ability to keep her mouth shut. I will continue to grant that she can do that – unless anyone can truthfully comment that they were expecting this and are unsurprised. 🙂

  • Andrew Douglas

    NK is spot on.
    As to who to vote for, I mostly agree with Lee, although given the choice between a Corbyn Labour opposition and a Farron Libdem opposition, I think I’d prefer the latter. Maybe.

  • Please can the Tory manifesto not be a red Tory / blue Labour abomination?

    Um, good luck with that. This is Theresa May we are talking about, a sort of Frankenstein’s monster stitch up: one part Edward Heath, one part David Blunkett, whilst wearing Margaret Thatcher’s shoes in the hope people might mistake her for the Iron Lady.

  • unless anyone can truthfully comment that they were expecting this and are unsurprised. 🙂

    It has long been the ‘no-brainer’ thing for the Tories to do (I said as much on samizdata months ago), and sooner rather than later to capitalise on Labour’s shambolic state, which will not last forever.

    But as I have witnessed the Tory Party snatch defeat from the jaws of victory oh so many times, I am genuinely surprised to see them doing the smart thing for once.

  • As regards free speech at least, I would be most pleased but rather surprised if Perry de Havilland (London) (April 18, 2017 at 1:43 pm) is not proved more right than wrong, alas. I expect Brexit to improve the situation, but longer term, by giving us a more able-to-error-correct political culture, not by an immediate cessation of our rulers’ tendency to commit such errors.

  • Mr Ecks

    Dress-Up is now committed to Brexit–its her footprint in the Sands of Time: Fatcher 2 to do what Thatcher could not–ie get us out. For that reason I will be voting Tory.

    And that reason alone.

    She is still BluLabour and I imagine that she thinks her elite pals won’t mind Brexit too much if the Dindustan Express ultimately brings them final victory over old Albion a few years down the line. After she is safely dead with her place in History assured.

    She will do nothing to threaten that.

  • RRS

    Maybe a bit “off thread,” but maybe not (re: elections)has anyone delved into Douglas Carswell’s “Rebel” recently cited by Matt Ridley on his blog?

    In the U S it is currently only on Kindle.

    We might get some sense of the voters, if not of the vote.

  • Laird

    RRS, Amazon shows the book to be available in hardcover.

  • Mr Ed

    RRS, Mr Carswell’s book was published in the UK on 6th April 2017, the start of the new income tax year as it happens. Not sure if it is available in printed form overseas.

    FWIW, I live in a constituency where the Conservative MP may well get over 50% of the vote, and nothing that he does or does not do seems to make any difference to his prospects, even expenses issues. I shall probably vote UKIP just to bolster the overall UKIP vote as a reminder that the EU beast is not yet buried in quicklime.

    Unfortunately, the reduction to 600 seats has not taken effect, so the Labour gerrymandering in England and the pronounced over-representation of Scotland remains.

  • Um, good luck with that. This is Theresa May we are talking about, a sort of Frankenstein’s monster stitch up: one part Edward Heath, one part David Blunkett, whilst wearing Margaret Thatcher’s shoes in the hope people might mistake her for the Iron Lady.

    Perry, you owe me a new phone 😆

  • James g

    More fun. Last year we got to give the two finger salute to the EU. This year we get to give 1980s throwback socialism a good kicking. Look forward to the Labour manifesto for a chuckle, assuming they can write one in the time available.

  • Sam Duncan

    “If the SNP put in their manifesto Scotland should have Indyref2 next year, and they win a majority of votes or seats in Scotland, how can Mrs May refuse, Mrs May might have put the Union at risk. (It also damages her argument against holding an Indyref2?)”

    It’s a massive gamble in Scotland. My gut feeling is that, in the words of one unionist blogger, we’ve passed “peak SNP”: people, even their own supporters, are growing tired of their endless obsession with separation while failing to make any constructive use of the power they already have at Holyrood (of over 50 debates in that place since the last election, the number that have actually been about pending legislation can be counted on your fingers).

    But they’re also tired of voting. Over the last four years, we’ve had the Scottish referendum, the general election, Holyrood elections, the Brexit vote, and local elections next month. I’m beginning to get to know the inside of my local polliing station as well as the kids who go to school there. The Nats are organized, as an electoral machine if not as an administration. They’ll get their vote out. I worry that not only is the unionist vote split among three major parties (which is what allows the SNP to appear such a colossus in the first place), but it’s simply less likely to turn out. There is a strong, and growing, anyone-but-the-Nats vote, but is it strong enough?

    That said, 2015 was a spectacular high-point for the SNP. If they do lose any seats in June, it’ll take the shine off. They could explain it away given that 2015 was such an unexpected success, but it would suggest that their post-Brexit-referendum strategy hasn’t been as popular as they thought. If they lose any, even just one, to the Tories, it’ll be a real coup for May and Davidson and another good, solid blow to the current nationalist strategy. If they lose a lot, even while retaining a majority, unionists will smell blood. None of these is at all outside the realm of possibility right now. But I can’t honestly say that taking every single seat is either. And that would be disastrous for Britain.

  • Pat

    Let us not forget that the fourth earl of Harrow was the only politician to get his entire manifesto implemented.

  • mickc

    We know who will win….the Westminster bubble. May is a charlatan, seeking to implement a soft Brexit, and is entirely representative of the bubble.

  • Paul Marks

    I will vote (if I am spared) for my current Member of Parliament – Mr Philip Hollobone.

    Mr Hollobone is a member of the Kettering Constituency Conservative Association, of which I am also a member.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the independence of this country.

    Either European Union law (regulations) are valid in this land (on our internal affairs) or they are not.

    Talk of “hard” “Brexit” or “soft” “Brexit” is meaningless.

    The question is will E.U. regulations be law in our land – yes or no?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Would snap elections have been called to “strengthen” (read: find excuses to not follow through with the results of the referendum) the government in the event that Remain had won? To ask the question is to answer it.

    Brexit beat Remain. Why is an election required to follow through on the will of the people?

    That’s rhetorical and a trick question. Nobody in power gives a shit about the will of the people.

    Anything can happen between now and June 8. Anything.

    I don’t predict Brexit to not be followed through with but I wouldn’t be surprised if something “unfortunate” happens between now and June 8 that derails May’s ability to follow through on her oh-so-pure-hearted (purported) intention to withdraw the UK from the EU.

    Why anyone in favor of Brexit would react to this calling of snap elections with anything other than a mix of disgust and dismay makes no sense to me at all. The Conservatives have 330 seats. The Conservatives have the ability to deliver what a strong majority of self-identifying Conservative voters voted for in the referendum: Brexit. But apparently not the will to follow through on it without yet another election.

    Why anyone in favor of Brexit would call snap election like this boggles the mind. Of course, I don’t think that Theresa May in her heart of heart really wants the UK out of the EU at all.

    Something is amiss.

  • Lee Moore

    shlomo : Would snap elections have been called to “strengthen” (read: find excuses to not follow through with the results of the referendum) the government in the event that Remain had won?

    Obviously not. Because it would not have been necessary to get a large and very complex “Remain” Bill, or three, through Parliament in the teeth of guerrilla tactics by a strong Remain cadre in the Commons, and a vast Remain majority in the Lords.

    I applaud shlomo’s admirable suspicion of politicians, but I think it’s perfectly consistent with Mrs May intending to go through with Brexit, and making it easier for her to do so. if – still an if of course – she wins with an increased majority :

    1. The Remainers in the Commons will be diluted – new Tory MPs are more likely to be Brexiters.
    2. Remainers on the Tory backbenchers won’t have the argument that the people speak in general elections not referenda – cos they’ll have spoken in both
    3. The “narrow” Brexit” referendum win will – I presume – have been reinforced by a more comprehensive GE win
    4. The EU won’t be able to hold out any hopes of a British change of course
    5. The Lords will be faced with a government with a manifesto commitment and a mandate. And perhaps more important – five years to squish the Lords like bugs if they try to cut up rough. The House of Lords Act 1998 is not set in stone you know.
    6. The Remainer hope that something might turn up – economic problems, by-election defeats, etc – will be nixed. Mrs May will have 5 years to weather any storms.

    So I think it’s a good thing for Brexit. Assuming the Tories win with a healthy majority, of course.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    So many assumptions, guesses, and speculations in Lee’s reply.

    Facts:
    1. Conservatives voted overwhelmingly for Brexit.
    2. The Conservative Party has the mandate and power to deliver to Conservative voters what Conservative voters want.
    3. The Conservative Party by calling snap-elections is in the MOST OPTIMISTIC scenario putting at risk a once-in-a-generation opportunity to gain perhaps a bit more leverage/power to deliver Brexit. I suspect that this is an attempt to make an own-goal look like a valiant effort on the football/soccer pitch.

    Instead of doing her job, which is to deliver on Brexit, Theresa May is taking every opportunity to find excuses to avoid doing her job.

    Again, any supporter of Brexit with half a brain reacts to this bullshit with a combination of dismay and disgust. Period.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Shlomo, i think you are wrong. Plenty of think-tanks (Cap-x, the Adam Smith Institute, etc) say that this is the right thing to do for Britain, and Brexit. I think they have the minimum half-brain requirement.

  • Lee Moore

    Unsurprisingly, I don’t agree with Shlomo’s belief that the opinions of Conservative voters always and necessarily get faithfully translated into Conservative government policies.

    According to public declarations, Tory MPs voted about 60-40 to Remain. According to polls, Conservative voters voted roughly 60-40 to leave. Those figures show a considerable divergence between MPs and voters, but less of one than for much of the last twenty five years . EU sceptics have grown more numerous on the Tory benches over the years, but it has been a slow process. It has taken the generally EU sceptic Conservative associations a long time to replace EUrophiles with EUrosceptics, and even 25 years after Maastricht the process is still only half done. Meanwhile a large chunk of Conservative voters departed for UKIP. So if you’d done the measuring ten years ago, you’d probably have found Tory voters 80-20 sceptic, and Tory MPs 80-20 europhile.

    Which is all a very long way of saying that the leaders of the Conservative Party have found it quite easy to override their members’, and voters’, opinions on the EU for a very long time. And they would have continued to do so, if they had not stumbled into an unexpected pothole.

    They failed to keep control in 2016 by accident. Because of the close election in 2015, and pressure from UKIP, Cameron made his promise of a referendum just to shore up his votes on the right, never dreaming that he’d lose the referendum. He’d done exactly the same after the 2010 election. To get into No.10 he promised the LibDems a PR referendum. So what if it was a reckless gamble that could have prevented the Tories ever winning a majority again. It was what was necessary to get into No.10. And it had worked, and he’d won the referendum too. So it was worth doing again. If he hadn’t bet the EU referendum in a bid to hang on to No.10, there’d be no Brexit, and no prospect of it, notwithstanding the clear majority of Tory voters who want to leave.

  • Schrodingers's Dog

    Perry (April 18th, 12:05pm),

    Live voters voting for dead politicians? What a novel idea! It makes such a change from the converse, as frequently practiced in places like Chicago.

  • RRS

    Sheez Laird,

    Did you check, as I did?

    Hardcover in U K not in U S yet.

    But, what’s the point?

    I got it on Kindle.

  • Laird

    RRS, I don’t understand your question. Of course I checked; the link in my post is to the US Amazon site, and it shows a hardcover edition for $16.67. But since you got it on Kindle, I’d be interested in your opinion of the book.

  • bobby b

    When I go to delete a file on my computer, the OS always pops up after I’ve made my choice and asks “Are you SURE you want to delete this file?”

    I’m guessing her call for new elections is May’s version of this safeguard.

    If many minds have changed about Brexit, this is the time to find out. If a majority still wants it, this gives her some added leverage against Delayers – she can simply point to the new election results and push on, with fewer headaches.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    When I go to delete a file on my computer, the OS always pops up after I’ve made my choice and asks “Are you SURE you want to delete this file?”

    I’m guessing her call for new elections is May’s version of this safeguard.

    If many minds have changed about Brexit, this is the time to find out. If a majority still wants it, this gives her some added leverage against Delayers – she can simply point to the new election results and push on, with fewer headaches.

    Yes I think this is a reasonably fair interpretation of what’s going on. It’s win-win for May: either her hand is strengthened to actually follow through on Brexit, which protects her from Establishment forces out to cause trouble for anyone who follows through on Brexit, or she can no longer do Brexit as a result of the June 8 elections, which is what she really wants anyway.

    Of course, if her objective were not to politically protect herself but rather to withdraw the UK from the EU, then the wise course of action would be to not gamble a once in a generation to do what may never be politically feasible again for the mere chance of gaining a bit more leverage to follow through on Brexit. Instead, if her objective were to get the UK out of the EU she would get the job fucking done. Period.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Above, I meant to say:

    Of course, if her objective were not to politically protect herself but rather to withdraw the UK from the EU, then the wise course of action would be to not gamble a once in a generation opportunity to do what may never be politically feasible again for the mere chance of gaining a bit more leverage to follow through on Brexit. Instead, if her objective were to get the UK out of the EU she would get the job fucking done. Period.

    Unsurprisingly, I don’t agree with Shlomo’s belief that the opinions of Conservative voters always and necessarily get faithfully translated into Conservative government policies.

    Unsurprisingly, you have evidently completely misunderstood everything I have written in this comment thread. My whole point is that the will of Conservative voters may very well not be faithfully translated into Conservative government policies. In this case we are seeing this possibly play out in slow motion with regards to the potential withdrawal from the EU.

    You are the one who apparently trusts Conservative politicians to actually, ya know, do what their Conservative constituencies want. I admire your faith, though it’s misguided, misplaced, and mistaken.

  • Chester Draws

    It’s win-win for May: either her hand is strengthened to actually follow through on Brexit, which protects her from Establishment forces out to cause trouble for anyone who follows through on Brexit, or she can no longer do Brexit as a result of the June 8 elections, which is what she really wants anyway.

    If May really wanted what you say she wanted, she would have called the snap election before invoking Article 50. That she did it in the reverse order suggests your analysis is wrong.

    Brexit is not a “pot hole” for the Tories. Sure, they thought it was — then realised that they were going to get more voters that way, that it destroyed Labour internally and that it made the Lib-Dems a single issue party opposite UKIP. Brexit is a complete and total victory for the Conservative Party.

    The only fly in the ointment, and one they will beat with time, is that it strengthens the more demented of the porridge wogs.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    April 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    “One of the very few wholly unmitigated positives I have always granted May is the ability to keep her mouth shut.”

    She does do that well. More impressively to me, she must garner the sort of personal loyalty of her various staffs that keeps them from talking, too. That’s even rarer than a reticent leader.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I do hope people are already planning ‘spontaneous’ outbursts of joy for the 23rd of June, Brexit day! Perhaps this time Guy Fawkes can be depicted successfully blowing up the European Parliament?

  • Chester Draws (April 19, 2017 at 5:35 am) is correct. bobby b (April 19, 2017 at 4:28 am) speculated it was a “Do you really mean this?” election, but in that case it would have been called before, not after, issuing article 50. I think May probably credits recent polling indicating a clear gap between the majority of remainers, who believe the referendum result must be honoured or else democracy in Britain would lose all meaning, and the minority of remoaners, who always felt their votes should count for much more and are now so enraged that they make that feeling obvious to all, not just to us.

    Without (I hope 🙂 ) being absurdly credulous, I think it probable May is telling the simple truth. I see no reason for her to be so explicit so recently about not intending to call an election unless she did not intend to call an election. Article 50 was a binary choice, hard to fudge: with Labour partly scared of their voters and partly Corbinized, May knew she could get that through the house. By contrast, any deal with the EU is the perfect place for MPs to redefine Brexit out of meaningful existence. After getting article 50 through, she may have had time to think about the next stage, and about how the remoaners were recasting their strategy, and calculated she had too many “weak sisters” and too few MPs overall. She will remember John Major having to force through Maastricht on a vote of no confidence: maybe she feared being in the same situation in two years time. Such parliamentary logic is plausible to me.

    Obviously, the likely outcome will leave us in the hands of May to define the meaning of Brexit. One might have preferred Boris, Gove and Leadson, and a much more marked tilting of the Tories, but that’s past praying for now. The final outcome of the Maastricht rebels’ fight 25 years ago suggests to me that May-with-majority is less of a risk than hoping to finesse some deal through a remoaner-dominated parliament – or finesse the killing of a bad deal. Again, just my 0.02p FWIW.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    April 19, 2017 at 8:20 am

    ” . . . I think it probable May is telling the simple truth.”

    As do I. If my comment above wasn’t clear, I think she’s so far done the correct and honorable things.

    There’s a contradiction roaming throughout the comments about the proper role of an elected government official, which can be used to improperly denigrate an official’s actions. It’s the old “representative versus leader” issue.

    Some believe that an elected politician becomes a Representative – that we can’t fit an entire constituency into Congress or Parliament to vote on everything, and so we send a small but proportional number of us instead, and that person then casts votes based on what her constituency wants. A virtuous elected official, under this view, is one attuned to her constituency and willing to follow its lead.

    Others seek Leaders – they vote based on someone’s great and good character, and then send them with complete personal discretion to vote as they see fit, trusting that their good character will lead to “correct” voting. (This can work, but it depends on the success of the constituency in judging character, which can be a crapshoot.)

    May is being impugned variously by being said to be protecting her political future – which actually means discerning her constituency’s wishes and following them – and also for not following her constituency’s wishes (which are assumed by the speaker to be Brexit.)

    I think May has been an excellent Representative. In spite of being a Remainer, once the referendum was counted, she has worked effectively for Brexit, showing her deference to democratic rule in spite of her personal wishes.

    As to when she called for this vote – here, post-50 – again I believe she continues to serve her role as Representative. Just as my computer asks “are you sure . . .?”, she’s doing that. She’s doing it after the Article 50 furor has left her constituency more informed than ever before about what would and could happen, which I think is a great time to be asking for a constituency’s thoughts – more effective than it would have been to ask pre-50, without the benefit of many of the public discussions that have been had since then.

    I’m sure she also believes that she’s going to win this election, and thus benefit from the added power the election will give her, but so long as her voters still want Brexit, she’s still only serving their wishes in doing so.

    I don’t know nearly enough about Ms. May – some here communicate a strong dislike for her – but on a surface level, she seems so far to have conducted herself correctly and honorably in this matter.

  • bobby b

    And, a sentence that I left out, which could be fitted in anywhere:

    “Do you really mean this?” is always a valid and relevant question for an elected official to ask.

  • One might have preferred Boris, Gove and Leadson

    Davis. I would have vastly preferred Davis.

  • Mary Contrary

    Theresa May has made it abundantly, explicitly clear that she considers the “libertarian Right” (her words) behind her just as much her enemy as the socialist Left in front.

    With a 20 seat majority, the hard-core Eurosceptics have enough strength to defeat her if she tries to renege with a Brexit deal that leaves us subject to the EU. And whereas the Remoaners cannot possibly get their way by voting down May’s deal in Parliament, because she couldn’t go back to Brussels to ask for more, the Eurosceptics could: in both cases, the consequences of voting it down would be no deal, Brexit and WTO rules – but that is seen as acceptable only to the Eurosceptic wing of the Tories.

    With a 100 seat majority, whatever she demands Parliament will rubber-stamp.

    This election is therefore being called in the hope of defeating not Labour, but her own backbenchers. And, as a secondary but not incidental factor, it will also allow her to push through her brand of red-Tory domestic policies, without the backbench revolts that recently forced the government to withdraw its plans to penalise the self-employed through additional NICs.

    If you want a “hard” or “clean” Brexit, which means (as Paul Marks says above), if you want an actual Brexit rather than a non-Brexit lie, the Parliamentary configuration most likely to deliver it is what we’ve got now: a Tory majority large enough to avoid falling to accident, but smaller than the organised power of the dedicated Brexiteers on the Tory backbenches.

    Anything else is less likely to deliver a true Brexit. And for that reason, I am not happy at this development.

  • Lee Moore

    I don’t agree with Mary on the tactical considerations (though I agree Mrs May is not a libertarian.)

    I simply don’t believe there is any prospect of getting any kind of deal with the EU, whatever line the British government adopts. Hence it’ll be WTO rules anyway. A larger majority will – if it appears – and a majority lasting till 2022, assist Mrs May to ride out the turbulence that that kind of messy Brexit will deliver.

    There’s no secret plan to deliver half a Brexit by bodging up a deal with the Germans. There’s no conceivable Brexit deal that the EU could agree on among its own members, within 2 years, never mind one that they could agree with the Brits.

  • James g

    Interesting analysis, Mary Contrary.

    What are the areas May could fudge with a soft Brexit?

    Also, I’d bought into the idea that there is no such option as soft Brexit. Because either it wouldn’t be Brexit in that case, and so rejected, or because negotiation with the EU is practically impossible resulting in hard brexit.

  • Laird

    A question from a non-Brit: Why is the discussion here solely concerned with Brexit considerations? I’m sure some of that entered into May’s calculus when deciding to call a snap election (it is, after all, the single biggest issue facing your country today), but couldn’t a part (perhaps a large part) have been the ordinary political consideration of taking advantage of the circumstances to enlarge and solidify her party’s majority at a time when Labour is especially weak and fractured? Corbyn has created for her a golden opportunity; why not seize it, and ensure her party’s control (indeed, dominance) for the next 5 years? Are you all so focused on this one particular tree that you aren’t seeing the forest?

    Obviously I’m not closely attuned to UK politics so I’m genuinely curious about this.

  • Mary Contrary

    James g: I agree there is no such thing as a “soft Brexit”, there is only Brexit and a non-Brexit betrayal.

    But those who want the latter (mostly) don’t say so openly, they pretend (for example) that we could still be said to have left the EU while remaining members of the European Single Market (which would mean subject to EU laws, even for purely domestic matters or goods bound for export to China) and the EU Customs Union (and so bound to accept the Common External Tariff and forbidden to agree our own Trade Treaties, or to unilaterally abandon tariffs).

    I would regard this as “not Brexit”. But that doesn’t mean it’s an entirely impossible outcome, especially if dressed up as a temporary (but indefinite) transitional measure, pending a renegotiated trade deal that never gets agreed. And I don’t trust May to avoid it, unless her feet are held to the fire.

  • Mary Contrary

    Laird:
    Having been under the rule of a foreign power for 50 years, and having won the possibility of escape despite the universal opposition of our political class, it is hardly surprising that the number 1 priority for many people is to secure that victory from those in power who would thwart it given the slightest opportunity.

    Many do not trust – I myself certainly do not trust – May to deliver if she sees a politically achievable means of escape. So far, her self-interest has aligned with delivery, but since this runs against her instincts and her loyalty to the looter class, we need constant vigilance that she cannot change this.

    As for the possibility of five more years: well yes, of course that will have been a factor in her decision. On the other hand, now Corbyn has survived an attempt to removal him from the Labour leadership and twice been elected by the party membership with handsome majorities, Labour was resigned to keeping him until he lost the election previously scheduled for 2020. His loss is deemed inevitable, seemingly even by himself. So if she had waited May could have had the next three years, and then another five too. That she chose not to do this suggests other considerations at work, and I strongly suspect that with Labour deemed defeated already, she has done this motivated by a desire to defeat her internal opposition too.

  • Fair question, Laird (April 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm). Here are my thoughts.

    1) From a party-political point of view, May’s ruling out an election in turn-of-the-year discussions is perhaps harder to explain than her holding one now. One can offer a party-political analysis that some dangers seem less than they did three months ago. In England, May has article 50 under her belt to reassure some who might otherwise vote UKIP (who failed to win a possible-looking by-election in the interim). In Scotland, there’s a case to be made from the polls that Sturgeon’s 2nd-indyref efforts have unimpressed a majority of Scots. Converting this into explicit natz electoral downturn may or may not happen in next month’s local council election; even if it did, a diminution in Westminster would be more noticeable – and politically helpful to May if it happened. Meanwhile, waiting for Labour to become still weaker seems needless and could be counterproductive.

    2) From a UK point of view, Brexit is both the reason May herself gave and the immediate future issue. I think most here on this blog expect little from May as regards restoring free speech and similar. (On some issues, it is technically needful to leave the EU before such restorations could be done.) We hope for a manifesto and a future Tory government that is less of a disappointment than Cameron, but see Perry’s and my comments above for how we “manage our expectations” on that front. 🙂

  • Alex

    Earlier in the thread Lee Moore stated:

    1. The Remainers in the Commons will be diluted – new Tory MPs are more likely to be Brexiters.
    2. Remainers on the Tory backbenchers won’t have the argument that the people speak in general elections not referenda – cos they’ll have spoken in both
    3. The “narrow” Brexit” referendum win will – I presume – have been reinforced by a more comprehensive GE win

    With the exception of the last where he states this is a presumption, I am unsure why you, Lee, think these things will be so?

    I live in a constituency with a soft Remainer-Conservative MP. He will likely stand for re-election. Furthermore the only other Conservatives likely to become Parliamentary candidates in my constituency are also Remainers.

    Now perhaps my constituency is particularly odd. UKIP has been rather strong here historically though it has largely failed to translate that latent strength into election results. Perhaps all the Leave-Conservatives long ago defected to UKIP. However I don’t believe my constituency to be so odd. I find other local constituencies that have Conservative MPs are similar.

    For the second and third points you make, I think it is equally likely that election results can be spun to say that Brexit is no longer a priority and that with a new mandate the dubious May can do whatever she likes. Or if complacency (and election fatigue) set in and the Conservatives actually lose some seats this could be taken as a defeat and weaken the argument for Brexit.

    In all I agree with Shlomo and Mary, there’s no need to reinforce the referendum result and this GE is suspicious to say the least.

  • RRS

    Laird,

    I will get back on direct Email to you after I give “Rebel” some thought (in terms of Mosca, Pareto, Michels, etc.)There is, of course, the attribution to Tytler to consider and compare.

    So far (3 days) it’s not the best writing I have encountered, but at least it’s a try at a very salient issue.

    On Amazon, what I found was that the print ed. would not be available in U S until the end of the month.

  • Laird

    Mary and Niall, thanks for your thoughtful replies to my question. Mary’s suggestion that this was “motivated by a desire to defeat her internal opposition too” makes sense, but I’m not entirely sure just who that internal opposition is: is it the elements within her own party who oppose Brexit (which apparently describes May herself) or the opposite? Most commenters here seem to think that the election will strengthen the hand of those desiring a “hard” Brexit, and if May isn’t in that camp this election would seem to be a political mistake. Am I missing something?

    And Niall, I would suggest that simply because May gave Brexit as the explicit reason for her decision doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true, and I don’t give it much weight. Politicians frequently give a politically palatable reason for taking some action when their true motivations are entirely different. We’ll probably never know.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In principle, i disapprove of governments calling early elections out of political expediency: governments have too much power as it is. In this case, however, a case can be made that Parliament is clearly not representative, given that even a majority of Tory MPs were against Brexit.

    Whether that was May’s real motivation, as per Laird’s question, does not much concern me. A more important concern is, what sort of candidates are the Tories putting up for seats that they are likely to win? Mary commented above:

    With a 20 seat majority, the hard-core Eurosceptics have enough strength to defeat [May] if she tries to renege with a Brexit deal that leaves us subject to the EU. […]
    With a 100 seat majority, whatever she demands Parliament will rubber-stamp.

    That is not the case if the additional 80 seats are all taken by Tories who are firmly committed to Brexit. Unless such candidates are selected, it might be prudent to vote UKIP, at least where the latter put up decent candidates.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT the “representative vs leader” issue:
    That is not an issue in as far as there is effective separation of powers: the legislators are supposed to be representatives, while the executive should be headed by a leader (kept in check by the legislators, and the judiciary).

  • Quoth Alex:

    Now perhaps my constituency is particularly odd. UKIP has been rather strong here historically though it has largely failed to translate that latent strength into election results. Perhaps all the Leave-Conservatives long ago defected to UKIP. However I don’t believe my constituency to be so odd. I find other local constituencies that have Conservative MPs are similar (…) In all I agree with Shlomo and Mary, there’s no need to reinforce the referendum result and this GE is suspicious to say the least.

    We will know the answer to this question if May starts pressing local Conservative Associations to deselect MPs that have not been cutting their jib according to May’s wishes. And if she starts parachuting in new ones who are willing to follow orders, that will also be very revealing. If none of that happens, well it is really is just business as usual, but it does, then this is not just an election, it is a purge. It is May cleaning house to adjust to new realities because she believes the referendum does need to be reinforced from entrenched establishment forces who are not just going to mutter ‘vox populi, vox Dei’ and roll over.

    May does not need to use a scythe, she just needs to unseat a few to demonstrate she is serious and all but the hardcore remainers will fall into line.

    I suppose we will know in a day or two.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry’s mention of vox populi, vox Dei, reminds me of the recent debate here, with commenters that complained about the Turkish Constitution being changed by a simple majority in a referendum.

    Actually, that is not true in Turkey, since the change was previously approved in the Turkish Parliament (i suppose).

    Brexit, by contrast, appears to me to have the character of a constitutional change, and yet it was approved by referendum only, with a vote in Parliament as an afterthought — not that i complain!

    The reason i don’t complain is that i strongly believe that it should be constitutionally easier to reduce the power of the State than to increase it: changes such as Brexit should be easier than changes such as what is going on in Turkey.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri

    Brexit, by contrast, appears to me to have the character of a constitutional change, and yet it was approved by referendum only, with a vote in Parliament as an afterthought — not that i complain!

    Technically, the joining of the EEC in 1973 was the massive constitutional change, the UK Parliament subordinating itself, by its own Act, to an alien jurisdiction. This was, however, with the (perhaps prior to the Lisbon Treaty – theoretical) get out that the UK Parliament could at any time repeal the Act that subordinated it to the EEC/EC/EU. Given that the House of Lords as a court held that it could dis-apply an Act of the UK Parliament that was contrary to EU law. Were it not for the clear wording of Article 50, I reckon that our Supreme Court might well have ruled that to leave the EU was against EU law as taking away EU-dervied rights and not provided for under the Treaties, and therefore impermissible.

    Leaving the EU simply restores the constitutional position in the UK as of just before midnight on 17th October 1972 when the Act took effect, and this is what the Brexit stuff is about, messing up the law so that the status quo ante is not restored.

  • Mary Contrary

    Laird: The “internal opposition” to which I was referring are those who are committed to a genuine Brexit, even if that means no deal with the EU. People like Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nick Boles and John Redwood. While May is making noises to hint that she shares this view, I simply don’t believe her.

    Snorri: Indeed, if there are 80 new Tories firmly committed to a genuine Brexit, then my fears will be proven ill-founded. But I’m not sure how to tell the difference, in advance, between such people and people claiming to support Brexit but who actually yearn for the lying non-Brexit betrayal to which Mr Marks alluded.

    Perry: Did you know that the Tory party is disapplying the usual selection process for Parliamentary candidates, under which constituency parties would select candidates, on the pretext of the short timeframe? Instead, there will be “By-election rules”, which means that the Tory Central Office (HQ) provides each constituency with a shortlist of three candidates, from which the selection must be made.

    Of course, if this central control were used to pack Parliament with Brexit supporters, that wouldn’t be such a concern. But generally such things produce pure apparatchiks.

  • Lee Moore

    Alex asked why I thought new Tory MPs were more likely to be Brexiters.

    Simply because, as a general rule, the Conservative membership in local associations (most of whom had sons and grandsons who fought in WW2) is fairly Eurosceptic (more so than Conservative voters) and on average, when they get the chance, they tend to replace retiring MPs with more Eurosceptic types. But they don’t get the chance all that often, so it takes a very long time. And they don’t always take the chance when it offers. And the leadership – under Cameron – has tried quite hard to parachute in people more to their liking, and so on.

    So my point is simply that glaciers tend to flow downhill. But slowly.

    Just for the avoidance of doubt, many – perhaps the majority – of Tory MPs are neither Remainers nor Brexiters, but “Me me me ! I want a Ministerial Job!” ers. So once Brexit is a done deal, and the party leadership is unambigously “We’re Out and We’re Staying Out” then very few Tory MPS will harbour any “Let’s go back in” sympathies. And as Chester Draws said, the Tory leadership has more or less worked out that, rather to their surprise, Brexit is a jolly good thing for the Tory Party; so that’ll become the party orthodoxy before long. It’s just this little business of getting it done that needs to be got through.

    I do have some sympathy with the Snorri and Mary Contrary views that that these snakes are not to be trusted. So it’s simply a question of what’s best tactically to get it done. There are bound, IMHO, to be problems – serious problems. Economic jitters, even a recession. Political jitters when it becomes obvious that the EU is really really really going to try to make Brexit as uncomfortable for the UK as possible. Polls could turn against Brexit when the going gets tough. My fear is that with a very small majority, a hostile House of Lords, a hostile civil service, a hostile judiciary – problems could lead to Brexit being postponed, and then not happening. I think having an election now – which certainly has risks of not delivering a healthy Tory mahjority – reduces the risks of those later problems derailing Brexit. But that’s tactics.

    Where I think I disagree most with the Snorris and Marys of this world is on Mrs May herself. I don’t think she’s a giant intellect, and I don’t think she’s instinctively pro Brexit, and she’s certainly not a libertarian, but I don’t think she herself is a particularly devious snake tying to plot to keep us in. (If Boris had won the leadership, Id be worried about him u-turning.) I think she’s a fairly plodding girl, who has seen that her own political career is fundamentally dependent on following through with implementing Brexit. So I am content that her interests appear to be aligned with my wishes, at least so far as Brexit is concerned.

    (btw I do not mean to disparage plodding girls (or plodding boys.) The slow and steady tortoise types are often, even usually, a lot more useful than the speedy but unreliable hares.)

  • Chester Draws

    People like Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nick Boles and John Redwood.

    Mary: Do you think these men will lose their seats? How else is May going to get rid of them?

    I don’t generally make predictions of the future, but I would put big money on the fact that the Tory government post the election will be much more pro-Brexit, and much more prone to be hard Brexit. There will be every hard Brexitter currently in parliament left, and then a couple of dozen added.

    Article 50 has been invoked — the UK is leaving. Hard Brexit is the only alternative, despite what the wets might want. May has to have a strong backing in Parliament of hard-Brexitters to ride out the wets, not vice versa.

  • James g

    What thoughts on the idea that Corbyn would quite welcome losing lots of seats? On the basis that this reduces the denominator when the Labour hard left need to get a future leadership candidate nominated by at least 15% of MPs/MEPs?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Dear Chester, good idea. I will stick to predictions of the past as well.

  • bobby b

    Snorri Godhi
    April 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    “WRT the “representative vs leader” issue: That is not an issue in as far as there is effective separation of powers . . . “

    Agreed as to the basis for the system, but what I meant was that May’s actions lead me to believe that she sees her role as Representative of a constituency more than Leader of one. If she sees a leadership role for herself, it’s as the leader of MP’s. She acts as though she considers herself a Representative of the people.

  • Mr Ed

    Early statement from the Conservatives that the 0.7% of GDP in foreign aid mandated by law is to remain, but that the pledge against hiking income tax and National Insuance rates (i.e. payroll tax) is to be dropped tell younall you need to know.

    A far-Left Labour means that there is no one else to vote for without fear of far worse; in Mrs May’s mind, she has no check at all, whether by principle or prudence, on her statist ambitions.

  • Lee Moore

    I enjoyed this line from a fellow in the Graun :

    When voters are asked who is the better candidate for prime minister, the Tory leader is way out in front and the Labour leader does not even come second. He comes third behind Neither.