Calm and collected Theresa May has sent Westminster into a frenzy by calling a snap General Election for 8th June. I’m reeling too. For the first time in 11 years of voting, I have no idea who to support.
The themes of this General Election are clear – Brexit, economic competence, stability. Jeremy Corbyn would like to add public investment into the mix too, but if the terms of engagement do not shift too drastically it is hard to see anything other than a very comfortable Conservative victory. Theresa May will return to Downing Street with a majority that could be up to 10 times bigger than it currently is.
On a personal level, I have recently been splitting my vote between Conservatives and Lib Dems. I would back whoever could beat Labour when Cameron, Osborne and Clegg were leading their parties. I was confident that by doing that liberalism would win out. Essentially I kept trying to vote for the 2010-2015 coalition! However, with new leadership in both parties, things have rather changed.
The major dividing line of this General Election is obviously Brexit. On one side you have a Prime Minister who apparently was a Remainer ploughing into Brexit with almost unfettered glee. She has made it clear that Britain will be leaving the single market, the customs union, the whole lot. Politically understandable, but not something I really agree with.
On the other side, you have the Liberal Democrats who were, in my opinion, on the right side of the Brexit debate but now just want to refight the referendum. They too are being political expedient, hoping to be the party of the 48 per cent. Again, politically understandable but I’m not comfortable with the idea of asking people a question again and again until you get the result you want.
As I wrote for CapX the week after the referendum:
[Remainers] can, and should, campaign for integration, for internationalist politics, for entry to the single market and the freedom of movement that entails. We should keep the pressure on our political leaders to get us the best possible terms of divorce as they negotiate our separation from the EU. But we cannot legitimately ask people “are you sure you made the right decision… no really, try again… have another go.
Voting for an explicitly Remain party may keep the pressure up on the eventual Prime Minister to get a deal I find mroe desirable. However, I do not actually believe there should be another referendum.
General Election campaign teething problems
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron spent the first 24 hours of the General Election campaign telling people he is not a homophobe. He even had to put it on the Parliamentary record that he does not think gay sex is a sin. That is not a good place to be. It is an especially bad place for a leader of a liberal party to be. If you have to answer the question, you’ve already got a problem. For me, a politicians stance on LGBT issues is very significant. Farron is currently leaving a lot to be desired.
Theresa May has also run into early problems. Known for her desire to be in control, she seems to be avoiding the media. Reporters have already been complaining about a lack of access to campaign stops. May originally said she would not take part in any General Election debates. She has subsequently agreed to a Question Time style programme after being accused of running scared. Again, not a good place to be early on in a campaign.
And what about Corbyn?
I’ve never voted for the Labour party, and would certainly never back this incarnation of it. By most accounts, Corbyn has put in decent opening performances. However, his lack of substance, particularly on Brexit, is staggering. Furthermore, reporters who ask him challenging questions are already being booed at his campaign events. Donald Trump would be proud.
So after all that I have no idea who I will back. Feel free to leave guidance in the comments!
My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound
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