Sunday, 23 April 2017

A general election quite like no other

"So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin." claimed Theresa May on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street as she sought to justify the ripping up of the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

General Elections always have key themes: It's the economy, stupid. Things can only get better. The pound. The coalition of instability. Yet, the central theme is always in the name. General.

The economy, NHS, schools, pensions, immigration, international development, you name it. Anything and everything is to be debated and decided upon prior to a general election. Indeed, the sheer variety of options on offer to the electorates often render a final decision incapable of being positive agreement. More, a considered 'least worst case option.' And that's not even considering the fact that public personalities always skew results to be more than just about principles.

But so it is that we approach the 2017 election, with such views being even more obscured than usual on account of the impending Brexit negotiations. To be frank, how can anyone choose whether to support a high or low tax agenda or an interventionist or laissez faire state approach when the underlying state of the economy is so murky. For those who attach themselves to such principles, Brexit may be no more a decider than an outcome. However, the number of people who hold such iron clad views is little more than a statistical anomaly in comparison to the electorate as a whole.

Yet, we are to believe that this election will, above all else, provide a 'mandate for Brexit'. A mandate for Brexit which apparently was not sufficiently delivered by a 51.9% support in June 2015. Despite this result being viewed as 'THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE'. Despite this result being nearly universally supported by a newspaper media frothing at its mouth over the outcome. Despite this mandate being wholeheartedly supported by 80% of the House of Commons, in contrast to the 51.9% support for Brexit per se.

This is my major difficulty with the 2017 election. It is being called, ostensibly, to provide support for a cause which has already been supported when this cause will not be entirely reflective in the final outcome, unlike the previous referendum. Of course in reality, the election has been called to exploit the current difficulties experienced by the official opposition whose leadership has sought only to alienate the vast majority of the constituents it looks to represent whilst the anti Brexit party continues to be hamstrung by its U turn on tuition fees (even if the current government's U turns are both more heavily numerous and significant).

More so, I do not believe that the electorate will cast their vote solely on account of Brexit, no matter the pre agenda coverage. Whilst Brexit is indeed the number one topic in the political classes, it is not necessarily so amongst the general public. Especially when we have not yet left the EU so are unable to confirm just how things will change. The general public may well have their primary concerns which are Brexit topics, but they may equally be influenced by a recent incident at a hospital, or their child's school. Perhaps they may be most concerned by who will most keep the nation safe in view of the global terrorism threat.  Their latest energy bill could push them to the direction of a party which promises to regulate these. They may even vote on account of how they view their local MP or the performance of the political parties as a whole.

So this election will, in all probability, produce a result which explicitly supports the course of action the Government plans to take. It will certainly be used as such. Yet, whilst the Prime Minster may claim that this result will bring Westminster together as the country is coming together, specific Brexit polls which show steadfast 45% opposition in together with the c. 5 - 10% of the country who are diametrically opposed to Brexit will continue to feel alienated. Only, this election looks to further quieten those who continue to believe in the 48.1% of the country who disagreed with this policy decision.

A decision which looks likely to succeed in the short term but which may only increase the volume at a later date. Although by then the noise could well be cancelled out by something else.

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