After months of labouring the point that she will not call a snap election, Theresa May has now decided that what this country needs right now is a snap election. Standing on the steps of Downing Street on Tuesday, she seemed recklessly confident that she would win with ease. The operative word there – of course – is ‘recklessly’.
The simple fact is that Theresa May cannot be trusted, and the biggest reason is her apparently poor memory.
Yesterday she derided the idea of a Labour government ‘propped up’ by the Liberal Democrats. This is exceptionally strange considering that it was a government that she was part of who entered Coalition with the Lib Dems for five years. Ironically, her denouncement echoes that of Dennis Skinner who, in 2011, condemned Cameron’s ‘lousy rotten Tory government, propped up by these pathetic Liberals.’
Mrs May’s poor memory does not stop there. In 2015, she campaigned on a manifesto that promised to not increase the rate of National Insurance for the self-employed. As we all know by now, her chancellor attempted to break this promise in his first Budget, and had to take it back days later.
The Liberal Democrats – the only unashamedly pro-European Party in the country – are believed to be the Party to make the most gains. With Labour in ‘disarray’, the pundits claim that the Lib Dems will step into the breach.
But the electorate has a long memory even if Theresa May does not. They will not forget the way that the Liberal Democrats promised not to increase tuition fees for university students, and promptly got comfortable with Cameron, and oversaw a 200% increase.
The minor parties around Westminster do not really stand a chance at winning big in this forthcoming election, and this leaves us with Labour. That’s the Labour Party who try to oust their leader at every opportunity, and are so low in the polls that more people appear to believe in aliens than Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. Yet, I do dare say, Labour stand a chance at winning this general election.
One benefit is that no party will be able to use past Labour government as a stick with which to beat Corbyn. Even the least politically engaged amongst the electorate will recognise that he is going to pursue a radically different programme to that of Tony Blair.
For the 1%, this programme of radical reform will send pangs of anxiety across their chests. But for others – those who are just about managing, as Theresa May might say – this can be seen as their chance.
The Conservatives, along with the Liberal Democrats, will try to make this election solely about Brexit. To win, Labour need to focus on the other issues. A simple fact of the matter is that, come 2019, Theresa May will have all but finished Brexit negotiations, and she can crack on with her plans for Britain. Plans which Harry Leslie Smith warn could make his past our future.
Labour need to bring sharp focus to these issues, and drive home the point about schools, the NHS, and welfare. They must not allow the 2017 General Election to go down in history as the election that meant so much but focussed on so little.
The Parliamentary Labour Party, I cannot deny, does not exactly inject optimism into the electorate. With the smears against Corbyn reaching fever pitch, Labour MPs are prone to jumping at one another’s throats. This image is going to be hard to shake off, but Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has somehow managed to hover above the most vicious of controversies. The charm and intellect of McDonnell, combined with strong policies, could help swing it for Labour.
There is a strong case that Labour, if they play their cards right, could win this election.
It would not be easy but it is not impossible. It will undoubtedly shock the polls, but it can hardly be said that they’ve been particularly trustworthy recently. So, to those who say, ‘What about Labour’s place in the polls?’ I say this: A Huffington Post poll had the chances of Hillary Clinton winning at 98%. How did that work out?