++++++Breaking: Theresa May announces General Election on June 8th

Theresa May’s announcement has just finished. There will be a vote in the House of Commons tomorrow – a two thirds majority is required to call a General Election. Labour have said they would back this, but they could perhaps thwart the timetable if they wished.

May’s theme seemed to be that the opposition parties and the Lords were getting in her way and weakened her ability to do the job, and to negotiate in Europe. Quite how a majority in the Commmons is not good enough, reflects more I think on her leadership. And, frankly, if this opposition is too much for her… I guess Turkey is an inspiration to her.

So the message for the country is if you want to fight Brexit, or even just to fight hard Brexit, you do need to return as many Liberal Democrats as possible on June 8th.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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123 Comments

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th Apr '17 - 11:11am

    Are 60% of MPs going to vote this through? Who?

  • Donald Smith 18th Apr '17 - 11:17am

    She cannot call an election on her own authority. She needs a vote in the Commons. The reporting by the BBC, Huffington Post and on here says she is calling an election. Surely, she is calling for a Commons resolution to hold an election. This s not splitting hairs. If she wants an election, she can only have one if Labour vote in favour.

  • We can expect a deluge of “Vote Lib Dem – Get Corbyn” messages from the Tories…..

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Apr '17 - 11:21am

    I’ll be voting Lib Dem but please remain polite when brexit bashing or it will offend a lot of people.

  • I can see it going through (can’t be seen as being scared of the electorate) but I imagine the opposition parties will want to mess with the timing. Could see a few Tories incumbents in certain areas getting a bit worries but a few PPCs in others rather happy (given the mess Labour are in). Not sure what the SNP will be feeling right now. they are defending a high watermark, but have a very destructive Tory approach to things to attack.

  • Great move by May – the Tories will get a massive win. Bad news for Labour as they won’t have time to ditch Corbyn. Good news for the Lib Dems they should get plenty of gains. Disaster for UKIP because there is just no reason for them any more. Scotland will be interesting.

  • Labour will, I suspect, vote it through.

  • Eddie

    I hope it will be “hard brexit” bashing as that is the position the Tories are pursuing and both remain and soft brexit supporters are a bigger block to appeal to.

  • The election will also be on the old boundaries which can only be good for us.

  • @ Nick Baird

    “We can expect a deluge of “Vote Lib Dem – Get Corbyn” messages from the Tories….”

    We need to be ready with “Vote Labour and get whatever May feels like doing this week” messages.

    And “Vote Tory for absolutely no idea what you’re going to get”

  • The sooner Labour takes a massive hammering, the sooner Corbyn goes. They might as well get it over with.

  • Donald Smith 18th Apr '17 - 11:27am

    So, if Labour agree, they will be committing political suicide, but we can mount a pro-remain campaign and rebuild our parliamentary strength. I can’t work out why the PM has not waiting until after the 4 May local elections as a test of actual voting strength (rather than believe flawed opinion polls), and until the new constituency boundaries are in place which would benefit the Tories most.

  • Phil Boothroyd 18th Apr '17 - 11:30am

    I ask this as a serious question not as a rhetorical dig – but have ‘Labour’ said they will support this, or has Corbyn said he will support it? There is of course a rather big difference between the two at the moment. I would have thought that the majority of non-Corbynista MPs would be terrified at the prospect of losing their seat due to his inadequacy and would vote against. If so, it may be harder than anticipated for May to push this through.

    Also, probably me being dumb, but I know the Tories wanted to push through boundary changes. Has that been done yet, and will it affect a snap election? My understanding is that it hasn’t been done, and was due to be done ahead of 2020 – but I’m not sure.

    As a random aside, as a Prime Minister with a majority (albeit a slim one) I’m not quite sure how she can blame the opposition for undermining her position. If she can’t get anything through it’s not because of the opposition (who are supposed to interrogate and challenge the party of the day) it’s because she can’t even get her own party behind her. A point that, should the election happen, needs to be hammered home.

    Finally, not overly happy at the prospect of this happening. It will probably be good for the Lib Dems, an easy opportunity to dramatically increase our number of MPs. It will probably also see the end of Corbyn – as much as he might be making it easier for us to recover, I can’t help but feel we all benefit from effective leadership of the Labour party. But on the downside I can’t see it doing anything other than dramatically increasing the Tory majority as well and the implications of that are not good (not just for Brexit, but also for education, health, and anything else they may want to mess up while in power).

  • Richard Hatton 18th Apr '17 - 11:35am

    If the party comes as a truly pro European party they have access to more voters than any other party.

    If they continue with the soft Brexit line many will not support them. It’s about shared culture and moving together in Europe. Tories have used Brexit as the catch all excuse for poor internal government.

    Time to be bold. Time to stop ruining the country on the back of lies intended to make the rich richer through removal of social protections.

    Let’s do it.

  • Right thing for the country. The situation has changed so much since 2015 that a fresh mandate really is needed. And probably ideal timing for the Lib Dems (apart from being tired after the locals.) with the old boundaries in place and Corbyn having to face a full general election campaign.

    Although my morning in Manchester Gorton yesterday seems less significant all of a sudden….

  • Is there really any point having a by election in May? Will it still go ahead?

  • Lib Dems need to push the remain message hard and also a save the NHS message. A few good debates and the Lib Dems could shock people and overtake Labour. Would be a shock but they need to make this an election about having a credibly opposition.

  • For remainers there is only one party to vote for !! The Labour position on Brexit is muddled, Corbie is probably a leaver ? Tories are now hard leavers and ukip are irrelevant (or should be, don’t underestimate the determination of bigotry).
    If pitched as, ‘If you voted remain, the only logical choice you have is Lib Dem’, there is a chance to make some big gains, especially in London !

  • Apparently, if parliament is dissolved on May 2nd, Gorton by-election cannot take place. But still useful campaigning for the seat at the full election.

  • Vote Tory- get hormone ridden chlorine washed American chicken.. according to the Mail

  • Lots of posts about ‘Good for LibDems’ nothing about ‘Good for the country’….

    If the election does happen May WILL win with an increased majority (hoping otherwise is just ‘whistling in the wind’)…’Hard Brexit’ will follow…

    I despise her complete hypocrisy in trying to avoid the ‘fixed term parliament’ which the Tories created to prevent just such a election for political gain……I trust Labour will vote against the motion and condemn for the ‘fiddle’ it is…

    The Crown Prosecution Service is due to make a decision about whether to charge Tories in relation to alleged over-spending at the general election in South Thanet and in other constituencies. An election now would eliminate the risk of prosecutions leading to byelections in these seats.

    May also wants to snatch a mandate when the public is as-yet unsure of the impact of Brexit and the negotiations have only just begun, because she knows it will soon turn sour for her in the polls. She knows Brexit is measuring out the noose for the Tories’ political hanging, and she’s trying to trick the country into putting its collective head into that noose.

  • This Election isnt certain yet & if May fails to get her 2/3rds majority she would presumably have to resign & everything would be in flux. Thats my preferred option but our MPs have to vote for, unfortunately.
    If The Election goes ahead I would expect something like :
    LDs 18% 25 Seats
    Lab 18% 60 Seats
    SNP/Greens 10% 60 Seats
    UKIP 10% 0 Seats
    Tories 44% 460 Seats

    ie an Elected Dictatorship till 2022 & God knows what state Britain will be in by then.

  • Sandy Leslie 18th Apr '17 - 11:52am

    My understanding is that at least 434 Members must support the call for an election.

  • The Tories will obviously win by a landslide. The Lib Dems will be doing well to get 20 seats. We will have an awful government pushing through an awful Brexit. All of those are straightforward to predict.

    The only question is what will happen to Labour after the drubbing? If the election had been in 2020 then the warfare in Labour would probably have died down with the PLP going quietly about their business. Most Labour members would have realised that the Corbyn project hadn’t worked and the party would have moved on with a new centre-left leader. With the election in six weeks, both sides will be blaming each other for the defeat and there will be a very hostile leadership campaign, albeit one in which a more serious contender can go up against Corbyn. The chances of this election ripping Labour apart and destroying their position as the second party is much higher than if we had continued to 2020.

  • “As a random aside, as a Prime Minister with a majority (albeit a slim one) I’m not quite sure how she can blame the opposition for undermining her position. If she can’t get anything through it’s not because of the opposition … it’s because she can’t even get her own party behind her.”

    I suspect Phil you are actually very close to the truth. The problem May has is keeping the Conservative party together and behind her. I suspect the actual form of Brexit depends on what happens: a clear majority then hard Brexit (hardliners in control), a small majority a softer Brexit (hardliners brought into line).

    So the best outcome is for May to not get the requisite 60% vote in the Commons and have to deal with her party’s internal conflicts, or do a David Cameron…

  • I wonder if Theresa May has been warned that several Conservatives could be facing charges for election expenses fraud very soon. Of course new General Election, no need for by-elections for fraud in previous elections.

    I think we need to be told.

  • Its ironic that the Brexiteers have called a second referendum

  • Labour will vote for the election….So another term of Tory Disability/Welfare cuts and probable loss of the NHS as we know it…

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th Apr '17 - 12:00pm

    Corbyn has apparently commted to vote this through.

  • If the Tories get a bigger majority – which they will – stand by for a Corbyn resignation in June and a “we don’t want to live under a Tory government for ever” referendum in Scotland called by Holyrood whatever Westminster says. Will the Tories win a couple of seats in Scotland ? Possibly in the Borders.

    Will Dan Jarvis emerge as the new sane Labour leader in September ?

    Lib Dem results – difficult to call. Win some, possibly lose some if there is a Tory swing ? Certainly avoiding the new boundaries will help.

  • Chris Bertram 18th Apr '17 - 12:07pm

    @Matt (Bristol): “Corbyn has apparently commted to vote this through.”

    Aye, but (1) has he told his MPs, and (2) will they take any notice of him?

  • Makes sense if your a Tory. Get back in, 18 months to deliver a hard Brexit, then three and a half years to try to get the electorate to forget what a disaster it was.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Apr '17 - 12:15pm

    The party currently has candidates in place in every constituency, who were chosen quickly in case there was a snap election. But it was stated that these selections were only temporary, until May 2017. Is it likely that the party will decide to extend these selections, so the candidates already in place will automatically be able to stand in June? Or will every constituency have to hold new selections immediately?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Apr '17 - 12:23pm

    Malc, the by-election in Manchester Gorton is definitely still going ahead on May 4th – legally it has to go ahead. An imminent general election makes a good result in Gorton all the more important.

  • This is BrexRef2 and we have learned a lot of lessons from BrexRef1. Including the motivations and dissatisfactions focused through it. It is time for some fast thinking. Getting the young vote out will be crucial and the turnout will critical. Above all it is time to be loud and proud to be LibDem, not shy apologists. Tuition fees and coalition is behind us.

  • Gorton: Parliament is ended on May 2nd. Constitutionally does that not mean there cannot be an election to a seat that does not exist on May 4th.

  • Presumably May will need to produce a manifesto that spells out exactly what sort of Brexit deal she wants (and if the manifesto is vague she can be challenged on it during the pre-election debates). She will then have a mandate for that, and only that, and can be held to account if she fails to deliver………..

  • Tories increase majority: May ‘has mandate for hard Brexit.’
    Tories lose: May can wash her hands of Brexit.
    Tories get smaller, non-workable majority…??

  • Glenn Andrews 18th Apr '17 - 12:56pm

    Let’s hope May the 4th gives the bar charters plenty to play with if the general election does happen.

  • Isn’t the whole point of the Opposition to be a shadow government-in-waiting, ready (and, indeed, eager) to take over running the country?

    Given that, how could any party vote against an election, and then continue to claim to be a credible Opposition?

    When the next election did happen, how would they be able to bat away the question, ‘So you voted against an election because you weren’t ready; what makes you so sure you’re ready this time?’

    Any party doing such a thing would fatally damage their credibility with the electorate.

  • Lynton Crosby is apparently taking the reins for the Tories again. The Guardian live blog includes this very interesting link to Crosby’s private polling that shows the Conservatives likely to lose all the seats they won of the Lib Dems in 2015 in South London, Devon and Cornwall.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/04/exclusive-conservative-poll-showed-party-would-lose-seats-liberal-democrats

    It seems that there is every reason for Lib Dems to welcome this early General Election.

  • I see the distinguished First War historian, Professor Gary Sheffield, has tweeted that although he is instinctively Labour, he will vote Lib Dem on account of the Brexit issue. Furthermore, a friend of his in Twickenham (!!!!) will do the same.

  • Paul Murray 18th Apr '17 - 1:01pm

    D’oh – “shows the Conservatives likely to lose all the seats they won off the Lib Dems in 2015 in South London, Devon and Cornwall.”

  • expats

    “Lots of posts about ‘Good for LibDems’ nothing about ‘Good for the country’….”

    Anyone assuming anything from the announcement is calling it too early.

    “If the election does happen May WILL win with an increased majority (hoping otherwise is just ‘whistling in the wind’)…’Hard Brexit’ will follow…”

    That is the most likely outcome but there are alternatives, for example the SNP are fairly useless in discussing this as their MPs are all under such tight control that they don’t do the best job of discussing why Brexit is bad for the UK not just Scotland. A few less SNP MPs and some more good LibDems would certainly help improve the quality of the debate.

    Also what qualifies as a “win” could be very subjective. Taking some Labour seats losing some to the LibDems could be perceived as a vote against Corbyn rather than for May, especially if the Tories focus their campaign on negativity of a Corbyn Government and not on what they hope to offer. They could come out the other side with less clarity about what they have a mandate for.

    Not that the uncertainty is good for the country, but a broader base of Hard Brexit critical MPs would be good for keeping the pressure on. Also don’t forget that the Tories may start to commit to things they don’t anticipate as the election go on, the “hardness” of their plans may get eroded as they are asked to defend their position, Brexiters promised all things to all people in the referendum with no need for consistency, the Tory party has to have one line on issues in a GE.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Apr '17 - 1:20pm

    Excellent commentary from Joe, good points as well , particularly, malc, expats, Catherine, and Eddie and psi who are correct on hard Brexit the issue , not , no Brexit !

    May is going to win big against Labour, we can improve significantly, but the Tories must be exposed on health , and inequality .

  • gremalkincat 18th Apr '17 - 1:21pm

    Could we not add an amendment to the GE Bill tomorrow, to change the date to, say, October (on the basis that the date is too soon after the local elections). This would mess up TMs timing and if she wants an election earlier she will have to no confidence herself?

  • gremalkincat 18th Apr '17 - 1:30pm

    Also if the Conservatives vote down the amendment they will have “chickened out” of putting the choice to the people, rather playing their hand back at them…

  • Glenn: “Let’s hope May the 4th gives the bar charters plenty to play with if the general election does happen”
    No Glenn. Let’s do more than just hope!
    Every single LD member/supporter who is reading this – if you have local elections in your area, get out and campaign. If not, go to Gorton. And if you can’t go there in person you can donate some money or help from your home. http://www.libdems.org.uk/byelections
    If you’re a new member and nervous about campaigning, PLEASE don’t be. Campaigning has never been so important – and it’s also good fun. But every pair of hands really makes a difference. So, go for it!

  • Don’t be so sure that Jeremy Corbyn will actually lead Labour into the General Election.
    Think about it: Imagine a truly terrible result in the locals and Gorton…. /”I have tried my best for the last two years but in light of these results I am now persuaded that the party stands a better chance under new leadership. I join my parliamentary colleagues in unanimously supporting Yvette Cooper/Clive Lewis/Dan Jarvis/Hilary Benn (delete or insert other names as applicable)….”/ Yes I know it would be a gamble to go into a GE with a brand new leader, but if May 4th is that bad, they might think ‘what have we got to lose?’
    Just a thought.

  • Psi 18th Apr ’17 – 1:04pm……………expats. Also don’t forget that the Tories may start to commit to things they don’t anticipate as the election go on, the “hardness” of their plans may get eroded as they are asked to defend their position, Brexiters promised all things to all people in the referendum with no need for consistency, the Tory party has to have one line on issues in a GE………

    Psi, The Tories (with Crosby running their campaign) WILL commit to anything/everything and will, without compunction, renege on it post election…May is already claiming that she has been forced into it by the opposition (what opposition/) and that she has united the country (apart from Syria or Korea one would be pushed to find a less united country)…

    This election will not be fought on policies; it will be about personalities…

  • One strategy that Lib Dems could adopt, and which could satisfy both Soft Brexiteers and Remainers, is to promise that if the party gets majority, it will negotiate a soft Brexit deal with EU, still remaining in the single market, but then arrange a new referendum between the reached deal and remaining. When the Brits would know what the deal contains, they could make an educated decision between the Brexit deal and remaining.

  • I think this is a blunder by May.

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Apr '17 - 2:10pm

    I think this election has to be about Brexit, so I think we should be saying we will negotiate staying in the EU if there is a majority in favour. I’m not keen on election pacts but I think we should be looking at working with pro Remain MPs and candidates of whatever party to stop the madness of Brexit. We won’t get enough seats to form a Government so we could say we won’t support Corbyn but are willing to go into Coalition with Remain Labour MPs who aren’t part of Corbyn’s existing shadow cabinet. Polls show that a majority of voters support Labour’s social policies so we may find plenty to agree about. Of course members need to be consulted about this, but I don’t think trying to appease the Leave vote by going for a soft rather than a hard Brexit will work. I think it must be all or nothing about Brexit and a promise of a rainbow Coalition to tackle problems of social deprivation.

  • @Sue Sutherland
    I have to agree with you on this one. A soft Brexit is a recipe for taking the rules and having no say on the formulation. If there was a time for the EU to do something on migratory flows, this is the time. It would also help in the French Presidential race.

  • Mark Goodrich 18th Apr '17 - 2:28pm

    Why are all the opposition parties letting themselves be bounced? Especially Labour. How can it possibly be a good idea for them to back it. Here is the speech Corbyn should be giving:

    “The Labour Party is not going to back the Tories attempts to wriggle out of the fixed-term parliaments which we overwhelmingly backed in the House of Commons. The days of a Prime Minister dissolving parliament on a whim have gone and we will exercise our veto to prevent this damaging instability.

    However, if Theresa May wishes to propose a vote of no confidence in her own government, we would back that wholeheartedly. We would then seek to develop a government of national unity dedicated to keeping the UK in the single market. We would invite all Labour, single-market supporting Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Greens and the parties of Northern Ireland to back us. Together, we can turn back the tide of hard bargain-basement Brexit which was not what people voted for in the referendum.”

  • Lib Dems should campaign on accepting Brexit but joining EFTA/EEA – could really work!

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Apr '17 - 2:33pm

    gremalkincat 18th Apr ’17 – 1:21pm

    “Could we not add an amendment to the GE Bill tomorrow, to change the date to, say, October…”

    Short answer: No.

    There’s not going to be a “GE Bill”, just a motion in the form “That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.” It has to be that, because that’s what’s specified in Section 2(2) of the FTPA. As to date, section 2(7) provides that in the event of an early election “the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister”; so there is no say for parliament at all in that.

  • Mark Goodrich 18th Apr '17 - 2:34pm

    I mean I know Corbyn’s policies are hopeless but I just don’t get why he is so bad at opposing. He has the power to force May to no confidence herself so why doesn’t he use it? (Behind the scenes, we should be encouraging him and other Labour MPs to do so – why give May the luxury of a smooth launch? The points above about changing the date are also well made.)

  • If the party comes as a truly pro European party they have access to more voters than any other party. Richard Hatton

    I think this is key to avoiding this being a simple rerun of the referendum, The LibDems should be pro-European and not simply pro-EU/Remain, given we’ve already triggered Article 50. By being pro-European, we start to build a (believable?) realistic alternative vision of the future, something the Leave campaign and the Conservatives (because of their internal infighting) are having difficulties with.

  • gremalkincat 18th Apr '17 - 2:43pm

    @Malcolm

    What a shame! But thanks for setting me right.

  • David Allen 18th Apr '17 - 2:46pm

    We should be opposing this election. Theresa May wants to cut and run. She knows that as hard Brexit moves forward, things can only get worse. So she wants to exploit Labour’s disarray and install a parliament dominated by Tory toadies who will back her however bad it gets.

    Yes, we’ll gain seats. We will then have five years to reflect that (say) 100 seats is no great result when there are 400 Tories ruling the roost and nobody needs to listen to a word anyone else says.

    We will need to campaign against the perils of hard Brexit, and that campaign will be the more effective if we have made it clear that the election was a cynical attempt to force through a dreadful policy.

  • William Ross 18th Apr '17 - 2:46pm

    Very big news indeed. From a Scottish angle this is good ( I think) for Nicola if the SNP win big again. This will be treated as a testing of the will of the Scottish people for Indyref2 but Nicola does not need to take the risk of direct action, such as Holyrood elections or an informal referendum. I hope May wins big in England, as I want Brexit delivered before Indyref2.

  • He has the power to force May to no confidence herself so why doesn’t he use it?

    He doesn’t have that power. If the dissolution motion fails, the Fixed term Parliaments Act will be repealed (and not before time, it doesn’ t make constitutional sense outside of the unique historical situation that was the coalition).

  • Alan Depauw 18th Apr '17 - 2:49pm

    The comments to the Financial Times’s article on this news story are interesting. By far and away the most popular (or ‘recommended’ in FT jargon) are these:
    “Everybody vote Lib Dem. Tell all your friends!”; “Great. After voting conservative for 25 years, i’m going for the Lib Dems” and the simplest message of all “VOTE LIB DEM”.

  • Has anyone considered the possibility that Corbyn might just be Putin’s most brilliant agent? If you wanted to ensure that Britain would drift into the maximum disaster with Brexit, wouldn’t you want someone like Corbyn “leading” the “opposition”?

  • Mark Goodrich 18th Apr '17 - 2:57pm

    @Dav – no, repealing the Fixed Term Parliament Act won’t work if you want a snap general election. That would allow the opposition parties to put down lots of amendments and hold everything up.

    I also disagree that the Fixed Term Parliament Act was only about the coalition government. It makes sense that the PM should not be able to call elections on a whim (and was long-standing Lib Dem policy).

    I have concluded that Corbyn is the worst opposition leader in the history of the world. (Cue Lib Dem history buffs to prove me wrong!).

  • paul barker 18th Apr '17 - 3:05pm

    Can anyone say when The Election after this comes, if June 8th goes ahead. Is it 2020 or 2022 ?
    It makes a huge difference, The UK wont survive another 5 Years of untramelled Tory rule.
    Steven Tall seems to be assuming 2020, if I read him right but does anyone know ?

  • no, repealing the Fixed Term Parliament Act won’t work if you want a snap general election. That would allow the opposition parties to put down lots of amendments and hold everything up.

    If the Article 50 bill could go through Parliament in a matter of weeks, why couldn’t an even simpler one to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act?

    I also disagree that the Fixed Term Parliament Act was only about the coalition government

    The Opposition is, constitutionally, supposed to be a government-in-waiting ready to take over at a moments’ notice. It therefore never makes sense for an opposition to vote against a general election — to do so would destroy their credibility with the electorate. Therefore assuming the normal situation of a single-party government which can be whipped to vote for dissolution, in practice that party plus the opposition will always have a two-thirds majority.

    So in practice the PM can still call an election whenever she likes, as no opposition could ever oppose one and then credibly ask an electorate, at a later date, to hand it the reigns of power.

    The FTPA is a constitutional nonsense. It had one function and one function only: to bind the coalition parties together for five years. Outside of that context it makes no sense.

  • Michael Cole 18th Apr '17 - 3:10pm

    It becomes increasingly visible that in the forthcoming GE campaign the prime issue will be about Europe – and effectively it will become a re-referendum on Brexit.

    But the very idea of another referendum, albeit on the ‘destination’ is dismissed out of hand.

    How does the Prime Minister square the circle ?

  • Michael Cole 18th Apr '17 - 3:16pm

    Amusing and perceptive contribution from Tony Lloyd at 11.26 am.

  • If there is an election it is most important that we do not get involved in coalition talk, make it clear, totally clear from the outset that we will not enter any coalition, instead preferring a minority government voting on each issue as it comes up.

  • nvelope2003 18th Apr '17 - 3:47pm

    Will this be like 1923 when Baldwin called an election on the issue of Protection in place of Free Trade and was defeated but the Free Trade Liberals got 159 seats or will it be like 1983 when an election occurred because it was time for one and Mrs Thatcher got 42.4 % and 397 seats but the Liberal/SDP Alliance got just 23 seats ?. It will be very hard for any third party to win many seats if Mrs May gets significantly over 40% of the votes. Baldwin got 38% (258 seats), Labour 30.7% (191seats) and the Liberals 29.7% in 1923.

    The difference with 1923 is that Labour were on the up then so we must hope that the position has now been reversed with regard to the Liberals.

  • I hope we campaign on the basis of seeking to halt Brexit.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Apr '17 - 4:06pm

    If Corbyn had even the slightest bit of political nous he and Labour would abstain (and us of course) on the vote tomorrow. Then the motuon would not get the required 2/3 of the House of Commons and St Theresa would appear weak and incompetent. She would then have to repeal the FTPA (which would look like gerrymandering) or engineer a vote of no confidence in herself (which would look plain daft).
    That would be the best way of stopping hard Brexit

  • If Corbyn had even the slightest bit of political nous he and Labour would abstain (and us of course) on the vote tomorrow

    And Labour would forfeit all credibility as a potential government. Not the most brilliant political move, that.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Apr '17 - 4:19pm

    No, abstaining on an opportunistic cut and run election would hardly lose political credibility!

  • Chris Bertram 18th Apr '17 - 4:23pm

    Dav: “And Labour would forfeit all credibility as a potential government. Not the most brilliant political move, that.”

    Jezza hasn’t let that influence his political thinking so far …

  • abstaining on an opportunistic cut and run election would hardly lose political credibility

    Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is supposed to be ready and willing — eager, indeed — to take over running the country at a moment’s notice.

    To say, ‘No, we’re not ready at the moment, could you keep at it for the next three years — you’re not doing so bad a job we have to take over — and check back in on us then’…

    Well, the only thing that would lose more credibility would be for the Leader of the Opposition to hesitate when asked, ‘Would you like to be Prime Minister?’

  • David Allen 18th Apr '17 - 4:32pm

    Blink and you’d miss it, but, Corbyn has actually had a relatively good last two weeks. Labour have at last come forward with some credible items for their manifesto. Now Theresa drops her bombshell, and Jeremy for once looks unfazed and responds quickly and confidently. Did a little bird tell them something, I wonder?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Apr '17 - 4:39pm

    Although I said, in a reply to Malc at 12.23, that the Gorton by-election was definitely going ahead, there now seems to be lot of confusion about whether this is the case. It seems to depend on whether Parliament will have dissolved by May 4th, which is not yet known.

  • This is an incomprehensible decision by someone whose judgement I already thought was pretty poor. The only way that it makes any sense is if May had been given a warning by the CPS that they were going to press charges in relation to the expenses cases from 2015. Otherwise it makes her an obvious liar – having denied repeatedly that there would be an early election – and has no discernable benefit for a country already apprehensive about the future and unenthusiastic about politicians anyway, something that seven weeks of political campaigning is hardly likely to rectify.

  • David Allen 18th Apr '17 - 5:09pm

    We do have a dilemma. Declaring for soft Brexit would demotivate some of our activists and voters who would think we had sold the pass. Declaring for Remain would ensure a storm of condemnation for attempting to “ignore the will of the people”, and would lose us a different group of voters. And of course, an ambiguous stance would look weak and indecisive.

    Whisper at 2.08 pm has some good ideas to handle the dilemma. Our primary campaign must be against a hard Brexit. We should promise to use all the strength we can muster in the next Parliament to prevent a hard Brexit, to insist on maintaining reasonable co-operation and trading links with Europe, and to seek to stay in the single market, if we have the parliamentary strength to achieve that goal.

    But we also recognise that Theresa May has now decided of her own free will to call a second vote on Brexit. She has asked the people to vote again. She has asked voters to back a hard Brexit. Very well. We accept that challenge. Every Lib Dem vote is a vote against hard Brexit, and a massive Lib Dem vote will show that Brexit is not clearly “the will of the people”. So, if the Lib Dems win a share of power, then they will use that power to insist on a meaningful vote on whether to proceed with the final negotiated Brexit offer, or instead decide to Remain.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Apr '17 - 5:23pm

    I think there’s a better and simpler option: a vote for Liberal Democrats is a vote to Remain. Simple as that.
    I’ve not been a fan of the party’s approach since the referendum, which I think has been dishonest and doomed to irrelevance. And I had no time for all those people going around parrotting “it’s only an advisory referendum” and demanding that the government simply turn round and reject the electorate’s “advice”, as if there were no difference between saying “there shouldn’t have been a referendum” and “we should ignore the result of the referendum that there undoubtedly was”.

    But: I did not expect there to be another general election before the ink was wet on the Article 50 letter. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying “We are a parliamentary democracy, and a government elected democratically has a mandate to do what it said it would do in the election campaign.” Obviously short of a miracle of Pauline proportions we can’t win: but let’s go all out trying, huh?

    A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stay in the EU: if that’s the position, I’ll support the party with a whole heart in this election.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Apr '17 - 5:24pm

    (Of course, all that assumes there really is an election: let’s not overlook the possibility that Corbyn’s position will have been reversed by tomorrow lunchtime and the Labour Party ends up abstaining on the motion, either deliberately to scupper it or because they don’t even realise that abstention would have that effect…)

  • All I’ll say as a Leave voter is I’ll not be voting on the EU. I’ll vote on domestic issues and I’ll vote to remove the Conservative party from office. What I hope is that the opposition parties turn their guns on the Tories rather than each other.

  • @Malcolm Todd
    I’m with you on this one. Worried that T.F is not being clear about our stance.
    Admit that reform is needed in the EU. It’s not just the UK that want it. Campaign on staying in but looking for reforms on freedom of movement.

  • David Evans 18th Apr '17 - 6:24pm

    This makes it absolutely vital we do well in the local elections on May 4th. Regaining Cornwall, Somerset and doing well in Gorton (if it is held) will make a real headline and put real pressure on the Conservatives.

    For example, Somerset Lib Dems need less than 2,000 extra votes in the right places to take control back from the Tories, but May’s decision will have been deliberately timed to made it harder. Everyone who can spare a day or four to help anywhere that is having County Council elections will do more to save our country than they have ever done before.

  • I wonder whether Tim will moderate his language and attitude to those, particularly those LibDem voters who voted leave, or whether in an attempt to gain as many as possible of the ardent remain voters of all political colours to vote LibDem, he might turbocharge the (in my opinion ) evangelical / hysterical he has been using in recent speeches. Also a bit of a shame the party has never quite got round to fleshing out some of the other party policies, such as how it will raise the cash for all the spending it proposes.
    I think there is quite wide opinion that the LibDems have become close to being a single issue / single policy party, which could work against you as much as for you, particularly so if the June election date stands.

  • should read hysterical approach etc

  • I agree with what some others have said.

    I do not understand why opposition parties are allowing Theresa May to get away with this opportunism.
    The whole point of Fixed term parliaments was supposed to prevent the Prime Minister from calling an election at the time of their choosing and advantage.

    I think opposition parties should abstain from this vote.

    I am in a right ol dilemma.

    On the one hand I am a firm Brexiter, but on the other hand, I do not wish to see the Tories get back into Government with a larger majority which will shift ever to the right and trash social policies, public services etc. further still.

    I do not wish to vote for Jeremy Corbyn because it is his weak leadership and opposition that has provided the tories with this gift horse, I do not want my vote for Labour to be considered as support for Corbyn, which is inevitable what his team will try to spin out of every vote for labour
    However, i will be voting Labour and supporting my local Labour MP Clive Lewis.
    I can only hope that after this election and the inevitable results, Corbyn is removed as leader and Labour finds itself a new leader that is not from the hard socialist left and becomes the strong opposition the country needs and deserves.

    I still hope that the labour party comes to it’s senses tonight and agree to abstain on tomorrows vote.

  • Alex Macfie 18th Apr '17 - 6:41pm

    ” Declaring for Remain would ensure a storm of condemnation for attempting to “ignore the will of the people”” By that logic, all opposition parties are by definition “ignoring the will of the people” by contesting the election. The way democracy works is that a mandate from the voters over-rides all previous mandates, and no vote can bind the terms of any future vote. This applies whether the vote or mandate come from an election or a referendum, Anyone who thinks that the referendum result means that the Remain/Leave argument is out of bounds doesn’t understand democracy, and should perhaps move to somewhere like Turkey, where their idea of democracy goes down well in government.

  • Vote May, get UK breakup…

  • Matt – the reason Corbyn is letting May get away with this opportunistic election is that he realises he will be too old by 2020 – this is his only chance.

  • Martin; have you seen / heard some of his recent performances?
    I have said many times on this site, if I thought that Tim and co would challenge the E.U. and campaign for meaningful reform then I could have been and still could be convinced to change my voting position. As someone I would have thought Tim needs to persuade to switch, he does not speak to me, or from my perspective, to others like me, that should be a concern if he wants to win the day.
    I agree there was hysteria on both sides, but I say again, if Tim wants to be able to attract people who may reconsider their vote, he needs to address tone and content, if he is only interested in the 48% then by all means he should crack on with his current approach. It is an interesting one, to say the least.

  • I have just scrolled through these comments and it remains unclear whether the Lib Dems are going to campaign to remain in the EU, ie. re-run the referendum, or accept the result and campaign for a Norway-style softer Brexit option.
    If the former, then I cannot vote for the Lib Dems, after all these years. I am with Matt, I’m afraid. My view is that the EU’s structure and operational procedures are the very opposite of liberal values as outlined in the Lib Dem principles. I would love to have stayed in a reformed EU, but that was not on offer, so I voted Leave on the basis that we should have full control at a national level on all our law-making. I have had several discussions on these pages about the Lib Dem view of the EU, and very courteous they have been, but at the end of the day we disagree on whether this organisation is good for Britain or not. In addition, now that the referendum has taken place, my view is that it would be wrong and undemocratic to seek to re-run it. The decision has been taken. I also think that in running a campaign to remain in the EU, the Lib Dems would be appealing to something less than 48%. Quite a large proportion of Remain voters I know say they would either now vote Leave or that we should at least respect the vote and go ahead with leaving.
    Or, if the Lib Dems decide to campaign on the basis of a Norway/EEA option, I would be very interested. I know many say we would still be subject to EU Regulations, and the ECJ, but that’s not what the Adam Smith Institute report says. We need a party to explain it all very clearly to us, so that we have that option. I expect many Leavers would be attracted to this, as well as a lot of former Remainers. And it would re-gain the Lib Dems a lot of respect lost through the constant denying of the referendum result.
    I fully expect to get my head bitten off here but as a long time Lib Dem voter, I am exactly the sort of person you need to persuade, so I am trying to help you.

  • David Evans 18th Apr '17 - 7:47pm

    Martin,

    Are you deliberately trying to alienate people who might just support us in the right circumstances? A swift one liner may make you feel better, but can I ask you what benefit do you think it will bring to the Liberal Democrats?

    I really suggest you read George’s “How to win people over to the Liberal Democrats.”

  • Nom de Plume 18th Apr '17 - 7:47pm

    It may just be simpler to state the Party’s policy as it is: The LibDems are for staying in the EU and against hard Brexit.

  • Annabel – which laws did you want to change?

  • Keith Browning 18th Apr '17 - 8:10pm

    The 48% are desperate for someone who they can vote for. Please – help us out. I joined the Lib Dems today, after years of being a follower, because I am passionate to Remain in the EU and continue to enjoy the huge benefits I have seen since we joined in 1973. I have rarely heard those benefits voiced in any sort of national media. I am old enough to remember a rather sad, dank country where eating was something of a chore, rather than something to enjoy, where our seas were filthy, our rivers dead and our air full of lead and cigarette smoke. In all these improvements our various governments had to be dragged into improving our environment…. and then there is the social legislation…. and…. and… and……

  • Dave Orbison 18th Apr '17 - 8:23pm

    Oh dear now even the election is Corbyn’s fault. It says much about the LibDems that much of their ire is aimed at Corbyn rather than this Govt and their dreadful policies.

    Theakes is right whatever you do Tim Farron don’t mention ‘a coalition’ to misquote Basil Fawlty, you did this once before and didn’t get away with it.

    Just like all the rubbish around 5yr Parliaments spouted by Clegg – how naive? As for vote Corbyn get Tory, do you think the LibDems will get 12, 16 MPs and do what precisely with them?

  • Annabel and Keith Browning,
    Problem for the party is that it is going to be hard to please both of you. As I live in an area which voted overwhelmingly to leave, political reality forces me to accept Brexit but emphasis the need to stay in the single market / EEA in order to safeguard standards of living. I think that’s an outcome most of us would accept given the hard Brexit which we are looking likely to get from May and her gang.

  • You cannot ignore brexit, but you can lay out an alternative, local and reguonal government reorganisation, more power to scotland…a true devomax , less centralisation and a coherant industrial policy with a pro european voice but a recognition that more europe is not yet in the countries interest. We are in a god position in scotland and the rest of the uk as being pro remain, target Boris and the other brexiters big time and make the tories constantly look over their shoulders. GO…go for it Libdems and give the tories and the snp a kicking

  • Two more reasons why I think that May’s action demonstrates incredibly poor judgement. I remember 15 general elections, and as someone with a deep belief in democracy and the institutions of democracy I feel that there is something almost sacred about the calling of an election. Not one of those fifteen elections was called for reasons as trivial as this one: May has a working majority which has not been eroded in the past two years; she leads an ostensibly united party; she faces no serious opposition to her policies. The other reason is that she has just gifted the SNP the chance to stand on a platform of a second referendum on “Independence in Europe”. The SNP may lose half a dozen seats at the election, but they will undoubtedly have an overwhelming mandate for whatever policies they put forward. So, thanks to the Conservative & Unionist Party we can bid farewell to the Union. I just listened to Robert Peston interviewing her: there’s a little catch in her voice as she begins each stream of platitudes and cliches where she betrays her lack of confidence in what she is saying. This is an action which she hopes will make her look strong and decisive, but history will judge it as her fatal mistake.

  • It seems far more logical and politically tactical for Liberal Democrats and Labour MP’s To vote against a new general election.
    The only real party that stands to gain politically is the conservatives. Sure the Liberal Democrats might pick up some seats, but not enough to make a difference to the opposition in Westminster.
    Theresa May will get an increased majority at the expense of Labours demise, therefore the Liberal Democrats have nothing to gain in the sense of wielding more power and being able to hold the Government to account.

    Now if there is any truth in the rumours that the CPS are about to announce in the next couple of weeks, up to 15 MP’s being caught up in election expenses fraud, which could result in 15 by elections.
    That is 15 extra seats that the Liberal Democrats would more than likely gain, with the the Tories losing their majority in Westminster.
    Surely that would give the Liberal Democrats a lot more influence in Parliament, more Liberal Democrat MP’s against a Tory Minority Government.

    I am a firm brexiter, but even I can see the sense for Liberal Democrats to play a more strategic game if they truly want to influence Brexit. A new General election is not the way

  • Denis Mollison 18th Apr '17 - 10:50pm

    @ Keith Browning, Malcolm Todd, ..

    Sitting on the fence would be just living up to our worst image as indecisive. We must be clear that we wish to stay in the EU. That can no longer be attacked as undemocratic: a General Election trumps a referendum.

    We should spell out the good aspects of the EU, especially the environmental and social benefits ignored in the referendum; and say what needs reforming: austerity, the CAP and fisheries, the powers of the EU Parliament rather than the `bureaucrats in Brussels’. [Funny though how so few seem to notice the role of our own bureaucrats in London.]

    And of course we should campaign on other major issues, reversing the privatisation of the NHS and schools, etc etc.

  • “Can anyone say when The Election after this comes, if June 8th goes ahead. Is it 2020 or 2022 ?” paul barker 18th Apr ’17 – 3:05pm
    & Chris 18th Apr ’17 – 3:39pm

    Whilst Chris is broadly right:

    FTPA Section 1(3):
    “The polling day for each subsequent parliamentary general election is to be the first Thursday in May in the fifth calendar year following that in which the polling day for the previous parliamentary general election fell.”

    This is in fact modified by FTPA Section 2(7):
    “If a parliamentary general election is to take place as provided for by subsection (1) or (3) [ie. an early parliamentary general election is to take place], the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (and, accordingly, the appointed day replaces the day which would otherwise have been the polling day for the next election determined under section 1).”

    Thus if the 8-Jun does go ahead, the next scheduled general election will be on 8-June-2022. [Aside: which is sobering, as my daughter will be able to vote!]

  • Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site. … I suggest that there a few regular posters who have ignored these rules many times, and have made the site increasingly toxic. But they are anti Brexit so this has been ignored 🙁

  • Libdem manifesto should focus on 4 main pillars: Single Market, economy, NHS and education, then followed by housing and defense policies.

    Following anti-Brexit, Libdem should have clear economic policies, since among domestic issues, although all are important, the economy is still above everything else. Let the voters see Liberal mandate of progressive taxation, land taxation, banking reforms, infrastructure development and embracing automation. Libdem must have an equivalent to the 1928 Liberal Yellow Book: Britain’s Industrial Future, which was joint written by the great John Maynard Keynes.

  • Tonyhill,
    The more I think about it, the more I agree. If it does happen, I only hope it backfires.
    May has a workable majority, parliament has backed Brexit, so she can’t claim things are being made difficult and there is no real public support for it. I can only think the electoral expenses scandal is playing a part and maybe for some reason the boundary changes are looking less attractive.

  • markfairclough 19th Apr '17 - 10:53am

    I live in Barnsley Central, who’s my Libdem candidate?

  • Alistair, you asked above which laws I would change. It’s not the content of any particular laws I have an issue with, it’s the mechanism by which they are made, by virtue of our EU membership. I am sure we’ve discussed this before and I don’t want to bore everyone but, in summary, our membership means some laws in the UK are not debated, scrutinized or voted on in Parliament by our own MPs, whom we can vote out – they are made at EU level and apply directly here. Of course, we get a say in those laws at the European Parliament (elected) and the Commission (unelected) and the EU is not a monster organisation, but the sad fact is that the EP has no real power and is, effectively, a fig-leaf for the Commission, which generates all the laws, has all the power, and cannot be voted out.
    Even if this could all be reformed, our say at the EP is a small one in relative terms and, crucially, we in the UK are bound by laws made at EU level even if our country voted against them. So we have laws operating within the UK that we do not want. Even more crucially, EU law has supremacy over UK law where they conflict. This is a significant compromise on any country’s autonomy by any measure and certainly one of the UK’s size. To put it into some sort of context, Canada would not dream of such an arrangement – they believe in self-determination. We reasonable Leavers only want what they’ve got.
    Many voted last June completely unaware of this set-up but many who were aware of it considered this compromise a price worth paying for all the other benefits of EU membership. I would include myself in that category until a few years ago, when the EU started to hit the buffers – on balance, membership has been generally positive for the UK in many ways but Maastricht and Lisbon took the compromise too far. Future membership is not in the UK’s interests, sadly, as the direction of travel is not what we want. I don’t agree with Keith Browning above that since the 1970s, all improvements in the UK have been down to the EEC/EU and the place would be a pitiful wreck without it – we are a large rich country of 65 million people and of course we can do well without EU membership, although it will take time to adjust. One only has to look at New Zealand or Switzerland to see that.

  • Daniel Walker 19th Apr '17 - 3:49pm

    @Annabel the EP can remove the Commission (and has, effectively, by forcing the resignation of the Santer commission and refusing to approve another) and you have missed the European Council, which is the other chamber. The Commission can do very little without the agreement of at least the Council, and usually both chambers. The Parliament, notably, had the final word on the Budget.

  • nvelope2003 19th Apr '17 - 6:09pm

    Life’s too short to wade through this. Brenda from Bristol summed up the view of most of the population about this unnecessary election and the Liberal Democrats would be well advised to take heed to her views. The Prime Minister has lost all trust with her repeated denials of any plans for an election until yesterday and the reasons she gave for holding one are so manifestly absurd and untrue she could well suffer the same fate as Edward Heath in 1974. If the issues were not so important a mass abstention would be best.

  • Durham Resident 20th Apr '17 - 11:53am

    Will Durham City have a LD candidate? Who will that be?

  • Simon Banks 20th Apr '17 - 5:31pm

    I’ve always argued that the five-year rule is weaker than it looks because the main opposition party will be very unlikely to oppose a call by the government for an early election since that would make them look weak and scared. Labour MPs who rebelled to oppose the election would almost certainly be deselected. Better not to break ranks. Lose your seat now and maybe get another before too long.

    The five year rule is worthwhile, though, as the same reasoning would not apply to a government trying to go to the people one year or less before it was due, when the economy looked briefly good or when the opposition was in temporary disarray.

    My feeling is that Theresa May has made a mistake, simply because electoral disaster for Labour now gives them a chance of finding a more credible leader for 2022. She could have faced Corbyn in 2020 and been in power till 2025.

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