On Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister announced that she would be calling for an early General Election to take place on the 8th of June. This came as quite a surprise to both MPs and the public, as Theresa May had stated repeatedly in the past that she had no intention of calling for an early election.
Parliamentary terms last five years, meaning that the next election was scheduled for 2020. The Prime Minister has claimed that this decision was due to too many divisions in Parliament, which were causing problems. With Brexit negotiations underway, the Prime Minister wants a larger majority in order to make it simpler to pass bills. With the state of the polls at the moment, it is seeming likely that the Conservatives may come away with a landslide majority which could potentially near triple figures. Her hope will be to completely weaken the opposition, who are in many ways seen as completely divided at the moment. Polls suggest that people are not seeing a viable alternative to the Conservative leadership, and there is nothing to suggest she won’t achieve an incredible majority.
‘there is nothing to suggest she won’t achieve an incredible majority.’
The Conservative Party will also hope that the general election allows for an easier process with passing bills in the House of Lords. In UK legislation, the Lords pass bills easily which are on the manifesto of the party in charge. As the Conservative manifesto at the last election was written under David Cameron, this provides Theresa May with the opportunity to produce a manifesto which will pass bills faster in the House of Lords.
Many people are questioning why Theresa May has decided not to participate in television debates for this election. The debates are organised for the public to scrutinise and address the policies and manifestos of party leaders. As May avoids these debates, this could lead the public to question how open she will be about her plans. She claims to be focusing on knocking on people’s doors and addressing their concerns directly. However, as she is set to win such a large majority, the ability of the public to question her plans is more important than ever.
‘The real race however will be for the opposition.’
Given the current state of the Labour Party, the election will really test their support. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has divided members and MPs, with many top MPs speaking openly about their dislike for the party leader. Corbyn stated ‘I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first’. He continued to say that ‘Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed’.
Corbyn has introduced controversial policies recently, including a plan to class everyone who makes over £70,000 a year as wealthy. This could eliminate a sector of the labour parties voters, and leaves many labour MPs planning to campaign without an image of Corbyn on their leaflet.
At general elections, many people often question whether they should be voting based on the leader of the party, who would be Prime Minister if they were to win, or if they should vote solely based on the MP. It is often challenging to not bring the party leader into consideration when deciding which party to support, especially as in the past TV debates have placed the leader’s policies under scrutiny, much more so than individual MPs.
Many people believe that Labour lost support in the last election due to worries they could form a coalition with the Scottish National Party. However, Corbyn has immediately ruled it out this time as he remarked ‘there will be no coalition deal with the SNP and a Labour government’. The SNP abstained from the vote in Parliament about the election, as they are set to lose many seats. Similarly, many are questioning the viability of UKIP. Former leader Nigel Farage has confirmed he will not be standing again, and with Brexit in place, it does not seem they have many relevant policies left.
Labour is not the only party being tested at this coming election. After the dramatic downfall of the Liberal Democrats at the 2015 election, the party stands to reclaim many of their seats. With a new leader, they are hoping their past mistakes will be behind them. Nick Clegg resigned as leader immediately after the last election, but has announced he will be standing again this year. With many people concerned about the labour leadership, it is likely that voters will look closer at the LibDems than before. With a strong leader, they may pose the best chance at forming an opposition government. However well they perform, it is almost impossible for them not to do well if their success is placed in terms of percentages. A gain of nine seats, would leave them celebrating a 100% increase in seats.
Theresa May does seem incredibly confident that she will achieve a large majority. Her government is strong and stable, and the increased majority will ease the process of negotiating with the EU. The race for opposition will be the hardest battle in this election.