Wednesday, 26 April 2017
The Prime Minister, having said she would not call an early general election, has done so. Never mind that her predecessor brought in a rule that Parliaments must run for the full five years in order to prevent precisely this kind of cynical opportunism. There is a provision that early elections can be called with the consent of two thirds of MPs. Since politicians are always interested in gaining power, this was no impediment.
This lust for power also means that a pro-EU coalition is unlikely. Since the referendum, I've been of the opinion that the vote should be confirmed by an election in which the two main parties can present their distinctively different (sic) plans for leaving the Union while minority parties who insist that the UK must remain could agree not to compete against each other. Instead, Remainiacs will vote Lib Dem in England and Scots Nat in Hibernia.
Ms May cited Brexit (I dislike that term, but whatever) as her reason for going to the country. She bangs on about strength & stability, but who really believes her? Not Peter Hitchens, the reactionary commentator for whom I nurture a perverse regard. 'Why a snap election? Ask the 30 tories facing criminal charges...' read the headline of his opinion piece in The Daily Mail (I despise that newspaper, but still).
Following a diligent investigation by Channel 4 News of the Conservatives' election expenses, it looks like charges will be brought against enough Tory MPs to significantly erode their Parliamentary majority. By calling an election now, while the Labour opposition under Jeremy Corbyn is apparently in disarray and her party is ahead in opinion polls, May hopes not only to consolidate her power, but to destroy the opposition. But she is deluded.
As Hitchens observed a decade ago, polls are no longer devices for measuring public opinion, but for influencing it. Much like the BBC, polls were perceived as 'impartial oracles of the truth by most people who read them.' No doubt many still pay attention to opinion polls and the BBC, but not me
The final straw came last year, when BBC Political Editor, Laura Keunssberg, ignored the passage of the Housing and Planning Act - effectively ending Council Housing - in favour of more tiresome sniping at Jeremy Corbyn. I complained, but the Beeb had so many similar complaints that they ignored the specifics of mine. So I threw out the telly and obtained a rebate on my license fee.
Whatever opinion polls and the BBC say, Labour under Corbyn can win this election and I hope they do. However, I am unlikely to vote. I plan to be away from home on polling day and getting a postal vote seems like too much effort, just to waste it. Usually, I opt for one of the 'other' candidates. In 2015, I was one of 72 who voted for Lucy Hall, whose big idea was to more directly represent her constituents by polling us electronically before every vote in the House.
One time when I did vote for the eventual winner in my constituency was in 2010. I was persuaded by Nick Clegg that his Liberal Democrats would abolish Trident and introduce proportional representation to make votes matter. Ahem. I feel especially cheated by Sir Simon Hughes because, a year before that election, he said to my face that the Labour Party were Tories in disguise. Then, his party got into bed with actual Tories and enabled their frightful agenda.
Hughes lost in 2015 to Neil Coyle, the ex-Southwark Council Labour candidate who is heavily implicated in the social cleansing of my neighbourhood. An unreformed Blairite, Disloyal Coyle is one of the red Tories to whom Hughes referred and one of Jeremy Corbyn's most vocal critics. I cannot support Corbyn by voting for the odious Coyle, but I've found another way to express my support for Jezza: at the bookies.
Paddy Power gave me odds of 17/2 on Jeremy Corbyn being the next Prime Minister (at the time of writing, he's come in to 8/1). I opened an online account with a £10 bet and was rewarded with £30 in free bets, all of which I've placed on the same proposition. I stand to win £340 on June 9th and will be laughing all the way to the Job Centre.