Why has May called a General Election? Probably the 2015 Election Fraud
April 19, 2017
by Martin Odoni
Yesterday was a shock, eh?
Perhaps it should have been otherwise. The polls for the Labour Party have been dire since last year’s ‘Chicken Coup‘, while Theresa May is still very much in her ‘Honeymoon period’ as Prime Minister, when everything that goes wrong is blamed on the previous incumbent at Number 10. The Liberal Democrats under Tim Farron remain a pale, error-prone shadow of what they were in the days of the late Charles Kennedy. The Green Party’s support is too thinly distributed to pick up more than a couple of seats at best. The UK Independence Party is tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, and in any event it has exhausted its purpose-of-being, while also suffering the same problem of a thinly scattered support base. The Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Ulster parties are too narrowly focused on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively to pick up anywhere near enough seats at the UK level.
Furthermore, the real pain of leaving the European Union is not yet being felt, but will be before 2020, at which point it could seriously injure the Conservative Party’s re-election hopes.
Perhaps the most significant reason though, one that is not getting much mention in our ever-Tory-friendly media, is the Tory Election Fraud scandal. You know, the one Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC insists was just a few ‘mistakes’; –
May must be keenly aware of the slightness of the Parliamentary majority she inherited from David Cameron. It currently stands at just seventeen seats, and it puts her at the mercy of the lunatic fringe on the hard-right of the Conservative Party. She must also be aware of how serious the legal difficulty her party is in, and how results in all the seats disputed over the fraud could potentially be reversed. It is perhaps an extreme scenario, but if that were to happen in all cases, it could lead to a Hung Parliament, for the second time in less than ten years. The political fall-out would again be very damaging to the Tories in the medium term. This makes it a prime reason to get the next General Election out of the way now, while the going is still less bumpy; any reversed results will be meaningless, as the 2015 result will be superseded before mid-June.
All these reasons are far likelier explanations than May’s barely-defined talk of giving the country strong leadership during the ‘Brexit’ process. Given the election will take two months of precious negotiation time away from that process, her claim is laughable. It also took little time for the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act of 2011 to be undermined.
An increased majority for the Tories is likely. That will be unpleasant of course, but it would still be better than what we have now, as it would free May from the will of the lunatic fringe. It is a ludicrous reflection on the current shape of the British political landscape that a party that has already been slapped with the biggest fine for fraud in electoral history, and is under continuing investigation for further corruption, is in such unbeatable shape. Part of the reason for that is the media turning a blind eye to the fraud, or playing it down. (Certainly, there has been nothing like the clamour over this as there has been over the – largely-fictitious – antisemitism-in-Labour furore.)
But also, the Labour Party has made a complete pig’s-ear of the last eighteen months, wasting an enormous membership groundswell that arrived with Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, and has repeatedly fallen into infighting when the opportunity to attack the Tories has been available. Corbyn has taken almost all of the blame for that; and to be fair, he does deserve some criticism for not being ruthless enough with those who have undermined him, and for not taking the initiative or being vocal enough within party circles when focused strategising was required. But the reality is that it is the backstabbers in the Parliamentary Party who have done most of the damage by far, as much with their (perhaps deliberate) poor timing as with their disloyalty. Labour should have controlled the narrative from the start of July last year, with the Tories leaderless and torn apart by the EU Referendum. It was the perfect opportunity to attack them and make their transition to a new Prime Minister an absolute torment.
Instead, at that exact moment, the PLP turned on their own leader and forced a new leadership election that they were bound to lose, and let the Conservative Party off the hook completely. By the time Corbyn had hammered Owen Smith to kingdom-come, the Tories had regrouped and had a new leader of their own in place. Also, with the February by-elections in Copeland and Stoke-On-Trent, the timing would have been a lot smarter – or less insidious – if Labour had not contrived to hold them just two weeks after the Brexit vote in the House of Commons; it was a vote in which Corbyn was in a no-win situation. Support the Bill to allow May to activate Article-50 and he looks obsequious; oppose it and he looks anti-democratic. That was bound to have knock-on bad effects on by-elections held so soon afterwards.
Now, the PLP across-the-board has failed to make anything of the Tory Election Fraud.
It is almost as if Labour MPs are more terrified of winning with a (relatively) left-wing leader than they are of being supposedly ‘unelectable’ with one. Whatever one might think of Corbyn, and regardless of whether the repeated bad timing is stupidity or cynicism, the Parliamentary Labour Party, quite simply, does not deserve to win a General Election. It is either too stupid collectively, or too dishonest collectively.
It is Labour as a whole, far more than Corbyn, that is unelectable. That is why May calling a snap election now should have been entirely predictable and even obvious.