Could we be facing a November General Election?

The Sunday Times today has a report that Tory strategists are starting to think about a General Election in November. I would be very surprised if they were only just starting to think about it now.

The chances were always that there would have to be some recourse to the country if Theresa May couldn’t get whatever deal she managed to get through Parliament.

How on earth, though, could Anna Soubry and Jacob Rees-Mogg fight an election on the same manifesto? If, as is being suggested, the Tory manifesto goes for a hard Brexit basic Canada style trade deal, how could the likes of Sarah Wollaston, Nicky Morgan and Justine Greening back that? I mean the Chequers (Dis)agreement sells our predominantly service based economy down the river and the Canada deal is worse than that. We also have to remember that Canada is already part of a major free trade alliance in America. The EU deal provides them with new opportunities but they don’t need it to survive. In contrast, we would be isolated, forced to accept terms that would be injurious to us from the likes of Donald Trump and trading on a much worse basis with our closest neighbours than we are at the moment. There is no upside to this at all.

How on earth could David Lammy, Stella Creasy, Hilary Benn and the bulk of the Labour Parliamentary Party fight an election on a manifesto written by Corbyn’s team. We know he is a Brexiteer. We know that he put absolutely no effort into the Remain campaign during the referendum. There is no way he would run on a stop Brexit platform. We need the Labour leadership to go out there and win the arguments among its voters and, just like in the referendum, they won’t. And we know that in any snap election, the Tories will, to distract from their own divisions, go after Corbyn’s character and record  in a way they didn’t manage in 2017.

So we could be the only party across the UK going into this with a clear and coherent policy – Stop Brexit Chaos with the Lib Dems. And we would really have to articulate that message with clarity and purpose.

In Scotland, we would be the only party going into this with the eminently consistent position of supporting remaining in both the EU and the UK. That puts us on the side of most people in the country.

We have to recognise, though, that we would be fighting in a First Past the Post system. Conversations would, I think, have to be had with people of a similar mindset to us. There is no point in splitting the vote. We have to stand pretty much everywhere because that is critical for Short funding, but all of us of who want to stop Brexit across all parties would have to make some pragmatic decisions on an informal basis about how we campaign in individual seats.

All bets are off about how this could all unfold over the next few months. Pretty much anything could happen. If May comes back with a deal, getting it through her own party if it involves any sort of free movement, abiding by EU rules or a customs union would infuriate her right wing.

A snap election could be good for the Liberal Democrats if we play it cleverly. And if it is good for the Liberal Democrats and succeeds in putting an end to this Brexit nonsense, then it’s excellent for the country too.

We would need to present a very hopeful vision of what our liberal society would look like and show how those who are really struggling would be helped by our policies on housing, jobs, health, tax and public services.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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22 Comments

  • John Marriott 23rd Sep '18 - 9:26am

    Yes, Caron, very interesting – and a real chance for the Lib Dems to test out their ‘Remain’ theory. However, don’t expect the Anna Soubrays and Hilary Benns of this world to abandon ship. Both parties are very tribal.

    As you say, playing it “cleverly” would be the key if it does happen. My guess would be that May might just emerge from the October EU Summit with some sort of a deal, which she could then out to “the British people”. Much will also depend on how the Labour and Tory conferences go. If a General Election were to take place before Christmas it could easily end up as a ‘Referendum Election’ and who would win that is anybody’s guess.

    Talking to friends and family my personal view is that we have a hopelessly divided country, most of whose inhabitants, including probably Brenda of Bristol, are wishing that the damn thing was all over. One thing has got to be a priority for the Lib Dems, though, and that’s TARGETTING.

  • In Salzburg Theresa May discovered what a hostile environment is like when you are on the receiving end. Hopefully this is the end of her reign of nonsense. If she resigns will the Conservatives want a general election? Their members have the final say over who becomes PM, would they elect someone like Jeremy Hunt over Boris or ReesMogg? Remeber that the Tories can get a new PM without a General Election but only if they can win a vote in the house on their nominee. If the SNP abstain then the other parties could not stop a new PM, even if some Tories are rebelling against their own party.

  • This is terrible news, we should be arguing wherever we can get a hearing that another Election would solve nothing.
    This looks like a repeat of 2017, just when our recovery is starting to take off along comes an Election & we are back to square one.

  • Helen Dudden 23rd Sep '18 - 11:40am

    Helen, from Bristol is concerned too. I dread to think of possible alternatives to the present Government.
    This country, is divided by poverty and lack of enough housing up to the Housing Standards. Too many student homes being built, large hotels in Bath finishes the chances of the smaller B and B’s. The number of shops units empty.
    The real concern over anti Semitic issue’s.
    Yes, Helen from Bristol is very concerned too.

  • Ian Patterson 23rd Sep '18 - 11:42am

    Will the Nation thank anyone for a General Election on 8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th November when it is on the glide path towards Xmas?

  • Yeovil Yokel 23rd Sep '18 - 12:00pm

    I’m sure that senior Tories have already gleaned JC’s bulky MI5 file for gems to use against him in the next GE campaign.

  • Another General Election. This offers nothing for us, except between a possible 10 gains maximum or losing half our seats. Again it would come at totally wrong time for us, it seems we are bedevilled by this sort of misfortune.

  • Neil Sandison 23rd Sep '18 - 12:50pm

    First Mrs May will need to table something before the commons so that “a meaningful vote ” Can take place .That may or may not lead to a vote of no confidence .We might all find ourselves in a lobby sending the prime minister back to the EU asking for a better deal .My money is still on a spring /summer election along the Heath lines of back me or sack me .

  • William Fowler 23rd Sep '18 - 2:34pm

    Pointless having an election, even dangerous, on Brexit as whoever wins would then say the rest of their manifesto is valid as well when people have mostly voted on one subject. Could be disinformation to persuade Corbyn not to go for a people’s vote because if he does then probably a parliamentary majority for it, which means the EU would then play extra tough which then means choice between staying in or clean break.

  • The Conservatives would rather lose a referendum than risk a General Election. They will extend the chaos even to the point of staying in the EU rather than lose power. The only way a meaningful deal could be struck would be one that stretches her DUP support to breaking point.

  • Yeovil Yokel 23rd Sep '18 - 8:20pm

    A General Election in November? – poor Brenda from Bristol would have an exotic spresm.

  • Tony Greaves 23rd Sep '18 - 11:04pm

    Probably not.

  • The DUP might force the Conservatives into an autumn general election on the Ireland border issue. Presumably if we crash out of the eu, there must be some sort of border in or near Ireland. It will be interesting to see the detail of the Conservative manifesto on Ireland that is why they will only call one as a last resort.

  • Helen Dudden 24th Sep '18 - 11:52am

    Is there a large pot of money in Westminster, that is overflowing with cash to spend on elections? Just wondered.

  • She denied that she would have an early election many times before the 2017 election so any denials from her and her party however vehement are just as meaningless as all the other nonsense coming from her party. Who would have thought in an educated nation parliamentary democracy would have come to this ? The whole system has to change.

  • Daniel Walker 24th Sep '18 - 12:48pm

    @Helen Dudden According to the Cabinet Office, the 2010 General Election cost the public purse around £113 million, which of course is a great deal of money, but in context of overall government spending isn’t very much (e.g. Government debt interest is £39 billion per annum, so an election costs just over one day‘s worth)

    More of an issue is if the various parties can afford to campaign; probably only the Tories can easily. That is not taxpayers’ money though.

  • Adam Bernard 24th Sep '18 - 2:05pm

    John: This country (by a plurality) voted to elect the Tories. It’s not antidemocratic to say “if there is another vote we will encourage those people who disagreed with us to change their minds.” it’s what we do EVERY SINGLE ELECTION.

  • Neil Sandison 25th Sep '18 - 4:30pm

    John a small majority of those allowed to vote just pushed us into leave camp .Many were not allowed to vote because they did not appear on the old register,were excluded because they were European or ,unlike in Scotland excluded because they were under 18 years .There will be a very different constituency at any subsequent vote on the deal or general election on new boundaries and an up to date register . At he moment we do not know what if any deal will look like .or if we will crash out no deal and WTO with no option to choose EEA or EFTA as an alternative .

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