General election – the right course of action for the country, but I have my suspicions as to the motives

Having a general election in June is absolutely the right course of action, for the good of the country.

We need it to clear the air and clarify the public’s view on Brexit.

The 23rd June 2016 referendum result was narrow, one dimensional and controversial.

We need a full general election to have a debate which clarifies the Brexit mandate.

In particular, we need a sensible discussion on membership of the single market and the customs union.

So I agree with Theresa May’s call for a general election.

However, I am very suspicious of her motives for calling for one at this stage, especially as she has repeatedly ruled on out.

Could it be that her timing is not unassociated with the news that the Crown Prosecution Service is considering charges against more than 30 individuals in connection with election expenses for the 2015 general election?

Could it be that she feels this is the best time for an election, before the public discovers how dire the Brexit options are, given the corner which the Tory party has painted us into?

After all, if she had waited a bit, the Tory prospects would have been improved by boundary changes. Tory PMs only ever make decisions based on their own survival. So why now? Could it be entirely unlinked to the second poll in several days giving the Tories a 17 point lead over Labour?

Does, perhaps, Mrs May feel this is the best chance she will have for years to secure a decent majority?

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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22 Comments

  • The Lib Dems are clearly gaining momentum. So why not go to the country before they go too far for comfort – even at the very high risk of losing Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, who could have been a valuable asset for some years yet?

  • It won’t clear the air at all. It will thicken it. Brexit is a separate issue from to who forms a government. There are a lot of people, me included, who will not vote Conservative even they support leaving the EU. On the flip side there will be people who will vote Conservative even though they support remaining in the EU. The referendum was about membership of the EU not the internal power struggles within the Conservative party even if the Conservative party instigated the vote to settle those internal struggles.

  • I agree there must be a good reason why she is passing up the benefit of the boundary changes, and also the opportunity for a traditional pre-election giveaway budget. Maybe it is Labour’s dire polling, although she must know Tory seats in places like the south west are vulnerable too. I suspect it is more likely she has advance warning of bad news coming down the road e.g. prosecutions relating to dodgy 2015 election expenses, or possibly something Brexit related.

  • paul barker 18th Apr '17 - 9:44pm

    The question is whether we should give May what she wants ? I say not, we should vote against tomorrow.

  • “We need a full general election to have a debate which clarifies the Brexit mandate. In particular, we need a sensible discussion”

    As the rest of your post raises doubts over motive I believe I may know the answer, however do you believe that we are likely to get a full debate or sensible discussion? First move after GE is called is to dismiss the idea of televised debates on the basis of “May good, Corbyn bad…blah, blah, blah”. Have we learnt our lessons from the each vote of recent times where the Tories attack all other choices based on image and feeling, refuse to explain their ideas and use empty buzzwords to attract votes? We might not see any bus this time I fear not.

    May has likely played a blinder in order to secure a greater Tory majority and each progressive party will quickly need to know how they’re answering those feeling left behind, those feeling progressive parties cannot be trusted with finance and those who feel May will (and can) woo middle England to control the UK again in order to (critically) change the direction of the UK.

  • I have been told that Conservative Campaign Headquarters aka Conservative Central Office had barred all leave well before Theresa May made her announcement.

    I wonder if Jeremy Corbyn realises that if he rolls over and votes for a dissolution of parliament, he is just handing the Conservatives yet another electoral advantage over the other parties, including his own.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Apr '17 - 10:26pm

    Paul barker,

    We do not need to vote against. Abstaining has the same effect. St Theresa needs 434 MPs to vote yes. Whether anyone votes no is irrelevant. If she only gets 433 the motion fails.
    Labour MPs are currently meeting with Corbyn, with many on record today saying he should not have gone along with May. Lots of MPs will still be away, it being the school holidays… Getting 434 is far from certain. If Corbyn had any sense he would say “We want a General Election but this is a panic measure by the PM to avoid Tory MPs having to fight a series of by-elections. It is entirely the wrong time for peace in Northern Ireland. We will not support this motion. Let Tory votes do this dirty work”

    If she does not get the vote she has three options
    1) give up on the election (looking weak and error-prone)
    2) repeal the FPTA (looking like Erdogan, moving the goalposts for political advantage)
    3) Call a vote of no confidence against herself (plain daft, and Corbyn probably gets to set the election date! With a delay of two weeks while others try to form a government)

  • It’s the economy, stupid! The recent “hard brexit budget” described what’s coming, and the need to hold such reserves despite the pressing needs of the NHS, care, and housing crises to name just a few, and it’s avoidable. I just couldn’t believe May wouldn’t cut & run before now. The media have already termed this a kind of “Brexit confirmation election” but the the big elephant in the room is the economy. So make our play 1. the economy, 2. single market acess to aid the former and 3. NHS with the benefits or, if labour are going to flog that, then Education “attainment not elitism”. Keep it clear, aim at their weak spot with our strong points and give people a real choice not a preordained zombie polling experience. And please don’t make the same mistake as 2010 – don’t just make it about Tim as it was then about Nick which left marginal voters worried about our depth & breadth – instead show a cabinet in waiting; be ambitious!

  • Paul Waller….The right course of action for the country?????

    I DONT GET IT!!!!!
    She has a mandate – so it’s not like she requires any affirmation either as PM or for Brexit.
    No real opposition in parliament – so what the hell is she talking about ‘the country coming together but Westminster is divided’ – it the opposite
    ‘Unelected House of Lords’ – well I don’t disagree but this is a Tory prime minister complaining
    ‘Brexit and beyond’ – so now she is channeling Buzz Lightyear…

    As for your, “We need it to clear the air and clarify the public’s view on Brexit.”?????……….
    If she wins ‘big’, as seems likely, will that be a reflection that the UK ‘wants out’ or a reflection on how weak Corbyn’s party is?
    Again, if she wins ‘big’ then what is the point of LibDem opposition to ‘Brexit’? The ‘people’ will have spoken!

  • For the life of me I do not know why we are simply falling in line. The Parliament Act was designed to stop this sort of thing. The opposition parties shouls simply abstain and save the country all this nonsense, including 7 weeks of media hell.
    My better half and I have agreed to turn the sound off when the news is on about the election.

  • Its the Crown Prosecution Service…

  • Andy Coleby 19th Apr '17 - 7:49am

    Simple choice at the General Election:
    If you are pro-Europe: Vote Liberal Democrat.
    If you are anti-Europe: Vote Tory (howls of protest!!!)
    If you are pro-Europe and anti-Europe too(!!!!!): Vote Labour.

  • And of course it’s perfectly possible that after their Annus Horribilis General Election in June, the Labour Party may have elected a vigorous new Leader (Dan Jarvis ?) who is revitalising the party by this time next year and that Corbyn J. will become last year’s chip paper.

  • Oh dear, Tim just blew it again on the homosexuality / sin question not a great start to the campaign…

    As a Christian myself I certainly don’t think that any sexuality is a sin anymore than I believe it is a choice. We are what we are in all our glorious diversity.

    Surely the point he should have made is that a Liberal would not wish to stop someone living their life according to their own moral stance so long as others are not harmed (obvious exceptions accepted). There are plenty of things I believe are morally “iffy” that I believe people should be free to do according to their own morals.

    Please, please, please get out in front of this one Tim, I need a party to vote for and the Lib Dems really are the last potential option for me. Sadly if you really do believe homosexuality is a sin I may as turn off the TV for the next few weeks as the last option would probably be gone for me.

  • I agree with those saying that we should abstain today as it would make Theresa May look very weak. Possible grounds being that it would undermine the important council elections going on? Asking for an election because the opposition are opposing is a hopeless excuse. ( Because she’s worried the expenses scandal will blow up or Corbyn would quit are much more plausible.)

    But Paul is right when he says that it’s right for the country. The 2015 mandate has been stretched past breaking point by events and we do need a Government who have the confidence of the British people – the Tories say they do but the evidence isn’t there.

  • paul barker 19th Apr '17 - 1:00pm

    The Tories motives are pretty plain – to avoid Criminal Prosecution. We should have abstained/voted against today.
    Obviously its too late to change tack now
    we just have to Pray.

  • Theakes and Paul Barker,
    I agree.
    This will be the first election I have no enthusiasm for whatsoever. Obviously. I’ll vote, but I’ll feel like I’m pandering to the Tories desire to create a one party state by participating. I just hope something goes pair shaped for them.

  • Think Farron at last made it clear in Parliament, direct question got a direct answer, plus a good bit more. Take that line and it will probably soon go away.

  • Simon Banks 20th Apr '17 - 5:40pm

    Well, I have always assumed in the past that a Prime Minister called an early general election because (s)he thought it was the best chance of winning. I could be wrong.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Apr '17 - 11:48am

    @ Paul,
    I’m sorry Paul, but I think it is absolutely the wrong course of action for the country. It is the right course of action for the Conservative party.

    I am shocked that so many MPs have rolled over and fallen in to line behind Mrs May.

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