+++Tim Farron calls for general election as Theresa May is set to become Prime Minister

Yet another dramatic turn of events. Theresa May is a drive up the Mall away from being Prime Minister as Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the Tory leadership race.

Tim Farron commented:

Just 13 months after the last election the Conservatives have plunged the UK into chaos. It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned prime minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country.

There must be an election. The Conservatives must not be allowed to ignore the electorate, their mandate is shattered and lies in ruins.

Britain deserves better than this Tory stitch up.

May has not set out an agenda, and has no right to govern. She has not won an election and the public must have their say.

From her time as home secretary we know she is divisive, illiberal and calculating.

The Liberal Democrats will set out an optimistic, positive plan for Britain. We will stabilise the economy, improve education, deliver a new deal for our NHS, restore the green agenda and secure Britain’s place at the heart of Europe.

Alastair Campbell made an interesting observation:


* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Paul Walter

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  • So fixed term Parliaments are a terrible idea, afterall.

  • Christina Baron 11th Jul '16 - 1:40pm

    You do realise that the double plus, ++, is the abbreviation for an archbishop.

  • paul barker 11th Jul '16 - 1:45pm

    Tims call is right, we have no choice really, the problem is Labour. A snap Election could find them in the middle of a pointless Leadership vote, effectively 2 or 3 Parties in one body, the divisions completely open & unresolved. Perhaps The Centrists/PLP majority have a Plan B, if so they need to put it in place asap, within days not weeks.
    If Labour Centrists turn out to have no idea what to do then we should call, loudly for Labour MPs & members to come to us.
    The coming Election, if there is one, could be a worse disaster than The Referendum or it could save Our Country.

  • Theresa May could well push through boundary changes and then call an election, on a this is my briexit platform, hoover up the UKIP vote and be set for 5 years of nasty party rule.

    You’re forgetting something else – there were 700,000 LIberal Leavers many of whom are estranged by the party and may be attracted by May. That’s a potential of 900 more votes for the Tories in each constituency.

  • John Barrett 11th Jul '16 - 2:14pm

    If there is a General Election soon, it would be a unique event; as we would not only not know what the Government was planning to stand for, we would not know what the main opposition party stood for and, while we might know what we stand for, unless we get some more candidates in place quickly we will not be able to let people know what it is – or to vote for us.

    How many candidates do we already have in place?

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Jul '16 - 2:15pm

    Theresa May has as much (I would say more) of a mandate than the House of Lords. I don’t see the point in another general election now. Labour clearly aren’t ready and there is precedent for the new PM continuing the term under John Major and Gordon Brown.

    It won’t be seen as fair if an election is called when Labour is in such a mess. I’ve no idea what Jon Trickett of Labour is doing supporting the idea.

    Many constituencies won’t even have candidates in place.

  • We don’t vote for Prime Ministers. We never have done. We vote for local representatives, and then whichever MP has the most supporters runs them.

    If we want to start electing Prime Ministers then we should be pushing for that as a change in the electoral system, and I don’t remember hearing any suggestions for that.

  • paul barker 11th Jul '16 - 2:40pm

    The first thing we want to know from PM May is what she is going to ask for in The Brexit negotiations. Its essentially a binary choice, Free Movement & membership of the Single Market or no Free Movement & Tarriffs, Norway or Canada, if you like.
    No one talked much about The Referendum during the 2015 Campaign, it wasnt a big issue because few people thought that Leave would win. Parliament has to decide on the basis for negotiation & this Parliament has no mandate on that. First we need Labour & The Tories to adopt a policy about what The UK will be asking for & then we need an Election.
    Right now May says she doesnt want an Election but she could easily change her mind. Of course it needs a vote in The HoC & Labour could vote against, on the reasonable grounds that they are too busy fighting each other but that wouldnt impress The Public would it ?
    God knows what Labour Centrists do now, whatever it is lets hope they do it quickly.

  • Rightsaidfredfan 11th Jul '16 - 2:44pm

    Fixed term parliaments are a good idea. Think long term. Is it really worth going back to a system where the PM can call an election whenever they like for a bit of short term gain?

    Not that I think the liberals would gain. The latest opinion poll put the lib dems on 6% of the vote. An election now would likely see the lib dems lose a few seats and come 6th behind the DUP and UKIP.

    UKIP and tories could pick up seats from labour. The Tories would have a bigger majority than they do now.

    I just cannot work this party out sometimes. They want to effectively overturn a good bit of legislation that they helped create to give the Tories a bigger majority and give UKIP more seats than they have in order to have a new government in place to lead the Brexit negotiations?

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Jul '16 - 2:46pm

    It’s not a binary choice out of single market access or some more restrictions on free movement. The potential next French president has refused to put it in these stark terms and other senior EU politicians have said free movement is negotiatable.

    We are the 5th or 6th biggest economy in the world and there is no logical reason why single market access MUST include total free movement.

  • Paul Walter
    “So, the options need to be sorted out in a general election”

    That’s impossible though. In a general election people will vote on a whole host of different issues. In fact most voters tell pollsters they don’t even see Europe as a major issue (including no less than 91% of Lib Dem voters according to a Guardian poll in March), so the idea that a General Election will allow people to approve or disapprove of Thersa May’s exit approach just doesn’t stack up.

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Jul '16 - 2:55pm

    Niggling constitutional issues are stacking up this year:
    – what is the role of ‘advisory’ referenda and could their usage be more clearly defined?
    – does parliament need to formally elect the PM? How? When?
    – What is the legitimacy / mandate of a new leader taking over the ruling party in mid-term, in what is now a fixed-term system?
    … er, I’m sure there’s more…

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Jul '16 - 2:57pm

    Tim is hoping the Tories are too scared of UKIP.
    I can’t see a GE now doing much good, however much I wish Theresa May didn’t have the real possibility of 4 years to settle in as PM…

  • Theresa May doesn’t seem popular amongst Lib Dems. A legacy of the tawdry ‘go home’ logo? I do think she’s too authoritarian at times but from what I can tell she’s an old school Tory rather than a Thatcherite or a ‘moderniser’. As someone who grew up under John Major they weren’t exactly the worst of times. We’ve dodged a bullet.

  • The Professor 11th Jul '16 - 3:07pm

    The UK changes Prime Ministers every so often without the need for a new General Election. The reason for this is that voters return a MP to Parliament not vote for a Prime Minister.

    History is a useful guide since 1945 :

    Apr 1955 Churchill to Eden (next GE 26 May 1955)
    Jan 1957 Eden to Macmillan (next GE Oct 1959)
    Oct 1963 Macmillan to Douglas-Home (next GE Oct 1964)
    Apr 1976 Wilson to Callaghan (next GE May 1979)
    Nov 1990 Thatcher to Major (next GE Apr 1992)
    Jun 2007 Blair to Brown (next GE May 2010)
    Jul 2016 Cameron to May (next GE in ?)

    So the last time a new PM sought a mandate was 1955!

  • This is the first time such a change has taken place within a fixed-term parliament, however.

    A directly-elected Prime Minister would not be such a bad thing, but the nature of the office would have to change considerably; she or he would have to be more ‘presidential’ (in the French sense), capable of working with a parliament, and possibly even a government, of a different political character. If PM elections were held concurrently with the general elections, this would limit but not remove the risk. Presumably a parliament hostile to the elected PM would claim a veto over appointments. It would take some time before new conventions for forming a government were evolved.

  • Tony Dawson 11th Jul '16 - 3:29pm

    I am intrigued as to how any people taking part in this discussion thinking Theresa May’s choice about an election will be in the least bit influenced by what Tim Farron says on the subject.

    As an objective, I would not mind it too much if the relative votes across Britain of the two parties in the next election come out in the same proportions as in North West Durham in the 1992 General Election:

    General Election 1992: North West Durham

    Conservative Theresa May 12,747
    Liberal Democrat Tim Farron 6,728

    Yes, I have omitted Hilary Armstrong’s somewhat larger vote for clarity. 🙂

  • In 2010, Cameron promised that a Conservative government would pass legislation that would ensure a general election within six months of a new Prime Minister being appointed in any method other than general election.

    I wonder what happened to that bill.

  • James Hicklin 11th Jul '16 - 3:38pm

    Not only is Tim Farron wrong tactically in calling for an election he is also wrong in claiming the Conservatives have no mandate. In their 2015 manifesto they pledged to legislate for a referendum to be held before the end of 2017. They also undertook to honour the result whatever the outcome. Mrs May has said Brexit means Brexit so if she undertakes to implement the referendum result and can command a majority in the Commons while she does so, she has both a mandate and the constitutional right to act as Prime Minister. Contrary to Tim Farron she does not need to win an election, the people had their say in an election in May 2015 and also on 23rd June 2016 in the EU referendum. How much more “say” does he think the people need just now?

  • Christopher Haigh 11th Jul '16 - 5:01pm

    Theresa May needs to kick this referendum result into the long grass and forget about it.

  • I don’t think Theresa May will be calling a general election. She was part of Remain and the wound is still fresh.

  • I seem to be in the minority here but I 100% agree with Tim! Our 8 MP’s have very little sway in repealing this (2/3 majority needed no?) so we might as well seem ready – at worst it just makes us seem a bit more relevant and (has the added bonus) of showing we could offer a more effective opposition than the ‘Game of Thrones reenacted by the Teletubbies’ (hat-tip to Marina Hyde) going on in the Labour party!

  • A general election would be bad for the country – the Tories with 400+ seats – but good for the Lib Dems because they would surely gain some seats from Labour. A little opportunistic by Farron, but he is a politician and it would get the Lib Dems a few more MP’s.

  • paul barker 11th Jul '16 - 5:21pm

    The Tories did include a pledge to hold a Referendum in their Manifesto but they never expected Leave to win & did not discuss what Leave might mean in practice or what their Negotiating stance would be. May can repeat that ” Brexit means Brexit” as often as she likes but it doesnt clarify what Brexit means in real terms.
    What we need is for Parliament to develop a sense of what “We” want from Brexit & individual Parties to decide their attitude. Then we can have a proper debate during an Election Campaign. Once The Voters see the real damage all this is doing to The Economy then they will come to see that “Europe” is important.
    Under the terms of the Fixed Parliament Act, calling an Election “Now” means September at the earliest.
    From the point of view of Our Party, it would have been much better if all this had happened in 2018 or 2019 but we are here now. We just have to do our best.

  • Don’t forget Margaret Thatcher was the best man the Liberals ever had.

  • we elect MPs on a manifesto not a prime minister, so shouldnt need another general election … but someone on radio 4 just said that Theresa May’s going to bring in her own agenda – which was not was voted for at the last election (by only 37% of the voters) so maybe there should be another general election. But I dont think the MPs would vote for one to risk their next 4 years vote, 2/3 would be needed, and Labour are a bit busy at the moment … hmmmm… Progressive Alliance and PR please…

  • oops typo – can you fix it and delete this please?

    But I dont think the MPs would vote for one to risk their next 4 years of a secure job, 2/3 would be needed, and Labour are a bit busy at the moment … hmmmm… Progressive Alliance and PR please…

  • I don’t know why anyone should think there is an automatic constitutional need for a General Election on a change of Prime Minister, and I would certainly urge caution on Tim Farron………reflect on turkeys and Christmas at this stage of the Lib Dem ‘Fight Back’ and that shouts in a cave come bouncing back.

    Back to Victorian times it has only happened once – with Anthony Eden in 1955.

    It didn’t happen with : Gordon Brown 2007 John Major 1990 Jim Callaghan 1976 Alec Douglas Hume 1963 Harold Macmillan 1957 Neville Chamberlain 1937 ……..not immediately with Baldwin in 1923. It certainly didn’t happen with Liberals, David Lloyd George, 1916 and Herbert Henry Asquith 1908.

    Having said all that, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the GE did come in October given the current state of Labour……. an interesting vote if the fixed term Act is to be overturned. Maybe I’ll be getting a ratcheting up of the emails I get asking for a donation.

  • @ Simon Rigelsford “we should have a directly elected head of state with real power as opposed to a constitutional monarchy”.

    I’d go for that…………… and scrap knighthoods and peerages whilst I was at it. IMHO the dishing out of K’s and Baronies etc., was all part of the brain softening and knife blunting that undermined the Liberal Party’s cutting edge in the seventies.

  • David Allen 11th Jul '16 - 5:57pm

    Tim called for an election. He didn’t mean a breakneck election. If May tries to call a snap election while Labour is halfway through a leadership contest, she will get crucified for foul play. May should be challenged to set out specific plans for Brexit which don’t fall apart during the campaign when the EU make it clear she won’t get what she wants. Tough call for May. Late autumn would be fine, and if we are scared we won’t improve on 8 MPs, we might as well pack it in!

  • James Hicklin 11th Jul '16 - 7:38pm

    @David Allen
    Actually David, I think he did mean a breakneck election. He’s challenging Teresa May’s democratic legitimacy as PM which implies an immediate election. He’s wrong of course for many reasons and in the circumstances shows poor judgment. Surely, now that Brexit can begin in earnest under a new PM, the Lib Dem Leader ought to be working on a programme of parliamentary opposition, especially as Labour is otherwise engaged.

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Jul '16 - 8:48pm

    Well, I doubt if Tim expects a General Election given how hard it is to call one now and given that May absolutely ruled it out recently..

    However at least he got on the news calling for it which is a big improvement on usual!

  • Stevan Rose 11th Jul '16 - 8:50pm

    The country needs some stability and time to work out the options and start some negotiations. The last thing the country and this party needs right now is a general election, particularly when at least two of our remaining MPs sit in Leave constituencies. Simon Shaw’s assessment is right, Tory landslide especially since May seems to be on her best centrist behaviour right now and she’s the Remain candidate implementing Brexit. We’d be lucky to retain what we’ve got. Give May some time and her mask will slip.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Jul '16 - 9:23pm

    The Professor 11th Jul ’16 – 3:07pm The Duke of Wellington abolished votes for women, clearly a precedent, but morally wrong. If the leader calls for a general election local parties should respond by choosing candidates and regions should train and choose Returning Officers.

  • To call the office of Prime Minister a poisoned chalice at this moment in our history is something of an understatement.

    Theresa May knows perfectly well that none of the “options” that Oliver Letwin is likely to serve up, apart from the status quo, is going to do anything other than grave harm to this country and our fragile continent. That is what wealthy Tory members are telling her (the ones with the big houses who fill the party’s coffers), and it is what the City, big business and the Americans are telling her. However, she needs to stop hard right voters drifting towards UKIP, and she has to find some way of preventing rebellion breaking out within her own ranks, and on top of that she will have to cope with the aggro she is guaranteed to receive on a daily basis from Murdoch and Dacre if she steps one inch out of line.

    The eventual outcome of the Brexit “negotiations” is likely to be the status quo plus a few concessions. How is Mrs May going to sell this as Brexit? That will not be possible. Her future will depend on how quickly and how radically the public mood changes.

    I suspect that Mrs May will not call a general election any time soon, however deep the Labour Party’s troubles, because she would have to state a clear and meaningful position on Brexit that would satisfy both wings of her party, and that she simply cannot do.

  • Finnish liberal 11th Jul '16 - 11:17pm

    When we are discussing about fixed term of, only in few countries, like Norway, legislation forbids dissolution of parliament altogether. In most Western countries dissolution dissolution is possible, but political culture moderates the use of it, plus the legislation might pose some conditions for it.

    In Finland the president has traditionally the power to dissolve the parliament. That power has been used during the 98 years of independence seven times, last in 1975.

    Nowadays in Finland the president can decide to dissolve the parliament only after an initiative of the prime minister, after hearing all the parliamentary groups.

  • Something that I don’t think has yet been mentioned is what the Queen is likely to say to her new Prime Minister. I know that the monarch has no formal authority with respect to what the government does, but I cannot imagine that she is going to be less than forthright to Theresa May about the danger posed to the integrity of the United Kingdom by the Brexit vote, and I would therefore assume that she will be urging her Prime Minister that her most urgent priority is to find a solution that will avoid the break up of our country.

  • PHIL THOMAS 12th Jul '16 - 1:29am

    I thought Tim was part of the Party that insisted on Fixed term Parliaments ? Next he’ll pledge to cut student tuition fee’s ?

  • Conor McGovern 12th Jul '16 - 3:18am

    Once the options are on the table, we should either get on with it or have a multi-option referendum, not a general election based on many different issues.

  • Yellow Submarine 12th Jul '16 - 6:20am

    There is no constitutional need for a fresh election and tactically a much increased Tory majority is the likely outcome at the moment. Tim is being very silly calling for one.

  • Fixed term parliaments were and remain a good idea!

  • Is anyone advising Tim Farron?
    Are his views representative of the Liberal Party?

    There has been no mention on LDV of his appearance on the Sunday Politics programme (10 July) …..

    Andrew Neil asked Farron
    “Will the Liberal Democrats campaign to rejoin the European Union at the next general election?”

    Farron made his views very clear when he said he believes the UK is “better off at the heart of Europe”. He argued that the British public should have a further vote on the “terms of departure” before Article 50 is invoked. Pressing for another referendum or a snap general election is no way forward.

    I particularly disliked Farron’s remarks about people regretting their decision to vote leave when they wake up to the reality of their decision ie having “less money for holidays and lower returns on their savings”. Some people can’t afford holidays abroad. They struggle to pay their bills never mind worrying about the interest rate on savings they don’t have.

  • I have some sympathy with Tim Farron in calling for a general election, so that the coronation of Teresa May could be further validated. Or not. Be careful, Tim, what you wish for and are committed to. A snap general election, even as late as May 2017, might or might not be in our interest or that of the country. There is a big job to be done by Mrs May and others to sort out Brexit. If and when that is done – then, perhaps, we have a general election, perhaps with a bolted-on question: ‘Do you support the post-Brexit settlement or not? Meanwhile, let us cherish our new members and build ourselves up.

  • Christopher Haigh 12th Jul '16 - 11:23am

    @ian Sanderson, I would suggest that Theresa’s first task should be to set up a royal commission to investigate and report in any possible brexit, and that this commission like Chilcott should sit for at least 7 years, possibly longer. I agree with all your other suggestions however !

  • Barney Duncan 12th Jul '16 - 11:31am

    An election that was based on lies, deceptions and media manipulation should be declared null and void by an electoral auditing commission. The referendum has confirmed that we are a banana republic, heading towards Little Britain and further splitting into England and Wales.
    Tim, Sturgeon and Lucas are the only leaders committing to Europe at the the next General Election (GE), offering hope to those of us 48% who voted REMAIN.
    If Parliament runs to term, REMAIN won’t be an option, it will then be REJOIN which will not happen !
    Tim is correct, this is the one and only time to call a GE and seize the initiative.
    The Tory grass roots are livid at what they describe as “the biggest stitch up since Michael Howard was crowned”.
    As priorities he needs to:
    get the party on an election footing (candidates in place, campaign strategies organised etc)
    engage with all voted REMAIN
    engage with all those people who have been tricked into jeopardising the very existence of the UK, which is surely even more important than membership of the EU
    However he also needs to understand that people do want to see
    1 use of the immigration controls that do already exist
    2 government assistance for areas where large scale immigration has put enormous strain on health & education facilities
    3 a more sharing, caring, fair and honest society in Britain opposed to the greed-oriented one put in place in the 80’s

  • David Allen: If there was an early election it would be the Liberal Democrats who would get crucified, not Mrs May who would probably get a bigger majority.
    Jeremy Corbyn may not be popular with the right wing press and those who are influenced by their views but in actual elections he seems to do quite well and he has several times more party members to help him than the Liberal Democrats do.
    Labour might lose a few votes to UKIP in their safest seats in the North but would regain votes from those who deserted the party because it did not seem much different from the other parties and either abstained or voted Green or SNP.
    Where will the Liberal Democrats get any extra votes from ? There are almost no Labour votes left to squeeze in places like the South West and the Conservatives now have such huge majorities there that they are unlikely to lose any but one or two seats, if that.

    The party needs another year or two at least to rebuild its support if previous experience is anything to go on but I guess Tim is rightly worried that support for REMAIN will gradually diminish unless there is some financial disaster of which there is no obvious sign yet and if there was the Conservatives would be the party most likely to benefit.

    The country has voted to leave the EU and the Government will have to implement that decision or utterly destroy any faith in elections and our democratic system. If it turns out to be a disaster then the party or people which most clearly advocated REMAIN will reap their reward.

  • Mrs May was chosen by the democratically elected representatives of the people, the Members of Parliament. Why does she need to be endorsed by a group of self selected party members who have obtained that right merely by paying a subscription.

    The way opposition parties choose their leader is up to them but the Prime Minister has to be chosen by elected Members of Parliament. An opposition leader will need the endorsement of the voters before they can become Prime Minister, except in the most unlikely circumstances such as 100 Conservative members going over to Labour.

  • Matt (Bristol) 12th Jul '16 - 1:00pm

    Nvelope – I would rather say that Theresa May has been chosen as the leader of the current-largest group of MPs, who have together signed-up to a set of rules which allocate a role in the selection process to their supporters and subscribers in the country as a whole.

    (There is – arguably – no naturally evident reason why the rules followed by one group of MPs should have to resemble those of another.)

    It is understood – and therefore it does not need in our system to be formally demonstrated before taking office – that the leader of the largest group, where that group has a majority of seats, will be invited by the monarch to be the leader of the national government.

    So our system has only evolved to deal with loss of confidence – the monarch invites a PM, and parliament says ‘no’ if the PM tries to enact law it cannot accept.

    However, I don’t see why a Prime Minister shouldn’t be selected by a process that actively includes the whole body of MPs, rather than assuming their acquiescence.

    It would be interesting, say, if every time a PM needed to be reappointed, nominations were required from a certain number of MPs to stand, and then all the candidates were put to all the MPs to vote on, by AV. The one gaining over 50% support would be the person nominated to head-up the government.

    Of course, such a system could – potentially – weaken the power of political parties. And we couldn’t have that, could we?

  • keith sharp 12th Jul '16 - 1:13pm

    The time for a General Election is not now, but when PM May’s efforts to negotiate the UK’s departure from the EU and the terms of it are known; and when the economic and social effects of leaving become sadly clear. We have to be patient, be vocal about the negative effects of leaving the EU and our positive vision of liberal Britain; and insist on a General Election (or less favourably perhaps another referendum) on those known terms and conditions of leaving. That’s likely to be some 2-3 years time, but is the right step and our best opportunity.

  • NO!!! We nee a referendum on the negotiated Brexit versus the status quo! Let us as Lib Dems embrace that! We will not win a General Election! I was about to leave the :Lib Dems, the disastrous referendum made me reconsider – but going for a meaningless general election WILL make me reconsider again. Second referendum YES, general electioin NO!!

  • David Allen 12th Jul '16 - 4:14pm

    To demand an election in two years time is to demand nothing. In two years time that demand will be utterly forgotten.

    To put the words “breakneck election” into Farron’s mouth, and then to condemn Farron for the words that have been put into his mouth, is totally unreasonable.

    To demand that it must be a referendum not an election, or to demand that it must be an election not a referendum, is to build a procedural lobster pot and crawl inside it, never again to emerge.

    To take fright at the risk of not improving on 8 seats is to invite ridicule.

    To argue that a newly crowned Tory leader who lost a national vote of confidence now has a mandate for a 180° policy U-turn based on a plan that does not yet exist – is perverse.

    Tim Farron is right.

  • “Theresa May needs to kick this referendum result into the long grass and forget about it.”

    Whilst I sympathise with the sentiments in this comment, I think the opportunity to start sidelining the result was missed when David Cameron resigned rather than simply thank the electorate for expressing their opinion and that Parliament would take it into consideration.

    Not what is more damaging and does need to be kicked into the long grass is the idea that the government will formally start the exit process anytime soon. ie. within the next year and potentially not until after the 2020 general election.

    As until then we are still full members of the EU and hence able to fully participate in the discussions and drafting of the next round of reforms, due to be completed prior to 2020, which may well include a better two-tier solution than the current arrangements (EU or EFTA/EEA). Remember there is currently no way for the EU to expel the UK…

  • I agree with The Tory/Lib Dem’s Fixed Term Parliament Act…ae early election is very unlikely.

    It is normal for people who become Prime Minister NOT to call an election. Besides an election now would just mean a landslide Tory government.

  • Jonathan Brown 12th Jul '16 - 10:09pm

    I think Tim Farron is right to call for an early election for reasons of principle and tactical advantage.

    Firstly: if May / the Tories calculate it is in their interests to hold a general election, they will do so. If they think the opportunity to grind Labour into pulp is too good a chance to pass up, despite what an election may do to market confidence and/or the Brexit negotiations, they’ll take it. So there is nothing to lose by demanding an early election.

    Secondly: making this call is bold and brave – and newsworthy. (Perhaps less so next to the implosion of Labour and the antics of the Conservatives, but it’s not a bad way of getting a little publicity and rallying the troops.)

    Thirdly: we are no starry-eyed lovers of the mess that is the UK constitution. That there is no legal requirement for a Prime Minister chosen by default by a party, without having put a manifesto to her party, let alone the country, doesn’t mean we should think this is okay. The fixed term parliament act includes a mechanism for calling an early election, so it’s not a contradiction to use the law as it was written.

    The point of the act was to enable minority parties to form coalitions, NOT to allow single parties to change governments without the consent of the electorate, and especially not after we’ve just had a referendum that was in part on the issue of sovereignty and ‘taking power back’. The Tories might win a landslide electoral victory, but that’s no reason for a democrat to oppose holding elections to determine who rules us.

    Finally, May will be damned if she calls an early election and damned if she doesn’t. She has to choose between illegitimacy and further market and political chaos. These choices were not of our making and we should feel no shame in demanding that those who brought us to this situation are not let off the hook for the impossible choices we have. Tim is right to be twisting the knife.

    Tim was right to respond to the referendum result by taking a firm and idealistic pro-EU stand, and is right to be pushing the Tories hard now.

  • “Besides an election now would just mean a landslide Tory government.”

    Wouldn’t be so sure, given how everyone misread 2015 and the Referendum, I think there is actually a real risk of UKIP receiving substantial support, as they are the only party with a clear position on Brexit and could easily reuse their Referendum campaign materials. However, this time those in the traditional Westminster camp would, just as they did in 2015, campaign against each other…

  • Jonathan Brown 13th Jul '16 - 12:03am

    @Simon Shaw, they call an early election by demanding that parliament calls an early election. Even if every single opposition MP had kept entirely silent on the subject to this point, they would find it very hard not to agree as to do otherwise would be to endorse the government.

    If the Tories called for an early election ‘because it is right to put our case to the country’ and were blocked by opposition parties ‘too scared to face the country’ then the ‘opposition’ parties would be a laughing stock.

  • Simon Shaw, you’re half right. A two-thirds majority, which means it must include Labour, have to vote for a GE, under the ridiculous FTPA Act we saddled ourselves with. Labour could quite easily argue that now is not the time for a GE, with their leadership election in train and with no plan yet defined for Brexit. Both of these rationales would look quite reasonable to the public, so Labour would not lose face (not any more than they are doing anyway!)

    However – The other way to achieve a GE is to lose a vote of confidence, and then for nobody else to win one within 14 days. Losing the vote is easy – just make all Tories abstain (or if necessary, vote no confidence!), and wait for any one of the opposition parties to vote no confidence. Then, refuse to vote confidence in anyone else who asks. Simple. If the Tories really wanted a GE, they could very easily get one.

  • A party in government demanding that its own members vote it down would smack of desperation, especially when that party has a sufficient majority to afford no excuse for such a manœuvre. It could also hand the reins over to another party, as the PM would effectively have sacked herself, and would have to recommend another leader to take over, who would then have 14 days to form a government. If it were someone in her own party, what would stop him or her from simply doing that, rather than going along with the charade? If it were the Leader of the Opposition, then he or she would become Prime Minister for at least two weeks.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jul '16 - 9:09am

    Labour’s Angela Eagle said on Newsnight on 12/7/16 that she expects a general election in the spring (which is at least a risk to put it mildly). This also fits in with her arguments that Labour must act urgently and that Labour have never had a woman leader. Margaret Beckett was Labour leader briefly, having been deputy to the late John Smith, but decided to call a leadership election in which she was defeated by Tony Blair.
    Harriett Harman was elected as Labour’s deputy leader from a field of six candidates using STV (while Gordon Brown was unopposed). If STV is still Labour’s system and there are three or more candidates, second (and subsequent) preference votes will come into play.
    Candidates who were not in the Commons at the time of the Iraq war may have an advantage, although less experienced.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jul '16 - 9:16am

    Finnish liberal: Germany has a constitution (unlike the UK which believes in flexibility). They called a vote of confidence in parliament and abstained en masse.

  • nvelope2003 13th Jul '16 - 9:21am

    David Allen: The only sane person calling for an immediate election would be someone who thinks they will gain from it. There is little evidence that Tim Farron’s party would gain much if anything so one can only assume that his call for an election is rhetorical. Be careful what you wish for. An election when the terms for leaving the EU are known would be a different matter but based on a study of past performance the Liberal Democrats would be well advised to wait until 2020 if they want to improve their position unless some unexpected event should occur. There have been some gains in votes and seats at local elections but little evidence of any improvement in Parliamentary by elections and no evidence at all of disillusioned Labour supporters switching to the Liberal Democrats, except in a few places where they hoped the LD would beat the Tory or UKIP, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged unpopularity. In some cases they switched to the Greens if their candidate had a better chance.

    Simon Shaw: The Labour Party had a net loss of 23 council seats out of thousands this May, in wards where large gains (534) had been made 4 years ago.

  • nvelope2003 – Yes, an election should be called when the Tories are ready to declare and defend the terms on which they plan to achieve Brexit. That could be by late autumn, so the time to demand such an election is now.

    If Theresa May were to go to the country prematurely, with the hard choice between two incompatible demands (i.e. both EEA access and and end to free movement) still fudged, she would risk being shown up as incompetent and deceitful. UKIP would campaign for immigration control, we would campaign for EEA/EU access, all the pundits would agree that you can’t have both. So, May will seek to avoid an election, which would probably be very dangerous for her, even with Labour in its present weakened state. All the more reason to press for one.

  • David-1

    “A party in government demanding that its own members vote it down would smack of desperation”

    Not if it was a purely procedural manoevre which enabled the governing party to meet the national demand for an election.

    “The PM would effectively have sacked herself, and would have to recommend another leader to take over, who would then have 14 days to form a government. If it were someone in her own party, what would stop him or her from simply doing that, rather than going along with the charade?”

    The fact that even by recent Tory standards (!), that would be an outrageous piece of back-stabbing, which would never succeed. Besides, May wouldn’t have to nominate a Boris or a Gove. She would nominate a nice compliant stooge like Greening, who would dutifully spend the 14 days failing to form a government, so that the planned GE could then be called.

  • Frank Little: You may be right although it is too early to put the Brexit terms to the voters but since this is Liberal Democrat Voice I was expressing my opinion that it would not be in their interest to have an election now as apart from winning one local by election there does not seem to be any uplift in the opinion polls though maybe that does not mean much now.

  • nvelope2003 13th Jul '16 - 1:02pm

    I suspect you and others may be hoping an immediate General Election could reverse the Referendum Result but I think the electorate might consider that to be sharp practice.
    Elections are fought on many issues, even referenda are used by the disaffected for purposes other than those intended. We have had the referendum but maybe we should not use that method for deciding other issues except possibly to accept or reject the terms for leaving the EU.

  • “under the ridiculous FTPA Act we saddled ourselves with.”

    Is this an indication of how LibDem members will respond when events don’t go as they want when we have: PR elections for MP’s, an elected HoL etc.?

  • David Allen: What evidence have you got that there is a national demand for a general election ? The only people asking for one are political obsessives, most ordinary people are sick of the whole business as I discovered when I politely asked someone if they had voted in the referendum, just to start a conversation. There was a silence then someone said we do not want to talk about politics. Maybe LDV is the last refuge of the political obsessive.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '16 - 4:31pm

    Rachel Sadler has been selected as the parliamentary candidate for Tunbridge Wells in the event that a snap election occurs between now and May, 2017.

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