Generally snap elections are called by the incumbent at an advantageous time when they believe the political climate is in their favour. And usually to capitalise on such a favourable opportunity to increase their majority to decide any pressing issues. For Theresa May, the current most pressing issue, of course, is BREXIT. On the one hand she is faced with the internal rift within her party. The far-right MPs who are pro-hard BREXIT want to sever links with Europe and to ensure the implementation of a strict immigration and refugee policy.
Ms May seems to have caved into the ultra-right threats. Also the investigation of twenty MPs from her party over the last elections’ expenses is very serious and if the allegations against them are proved, they could be disqualified. In view of these difficulties and the current thin majority of only ten of her party in the parliament, she believes it may not be possible for her government to carry on effectively and even be faced with a no vote of confidence. Hence, she has taken a calculated risk of going for a snap-election.
A glimpse of what is likely to dominate the election is mirrored in the daily headlines of our national newspapers. The flagship for Tories is BREXIT. Therefore, their strategy is to keep voters mainly occupied with this issue and create the impression that Theresa May will be a strong and unassailable leader to successfully conclude the negotiations for BREXIT. This sort of tactic may divert the attention of voters from the irreparable damage and influence the UKIP supporters to vote for the Tories. Interestingly very little emphasis is placed on social and economic problems facing the country.
The Labour Party has presented the voters with its ten point’s plan that embraces mainly its policy on social, economic and health, housing and education. It also aims to raise the minimum wage, the tax on wealthy and re-nationalisation of railways. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a target for the media and Tory Party from the first day of his successful bid for leadership. He has been consistently smeared, vilified and at worse described as a security risk for the country. He has been tainted as incapable of leading the party. His enemies within the Labour Party have refused to accept him as their leader and yet despite all such odds, he has not only survived but steadily increased his popularity.
The former Labour Prime Minster and Leader of the Party, Tony Blair has publicly said that even Labour voters should consider seriously to support the Liberal Democrat and Tory candidates who are against hard –BREXIT. His statement is another thin end of the wedge into already fragile unity of the party.
One of the most critical aspects of Labour policies is its defence and the controversial future of Trident. The Labour Party have to be transparent and unambiguous on the policy to allay suspicions and confusion. However, the position on BREXIT is gradually being clarified and explained to the public.
Seven years of Tory rule and its policy of austerity has broken the back of the poor and lower middle class families. The National Health Service has been forced to its near collapse. Massive cuts in public services have crippled the ability of local councils to provide essential services.
The education of our children is in disarray. The disabled citizens are facing extreme hardship. Homelessness in recent years has rapidly increased. Even begging has become more visible in the centres of our cities. Such are the dire side effects of austerity on the lives of poor and unemployed people. The systematic tendency for social and economic inequality, in Britain, that is rooted in its institutional structures has been reinforced in the last seven years of Tory reign. Such structures of systematic inequality and increased poverty are counter-posed to the very idea of the social justice.
What else can we expect from this flawed and lopsided paradigm? Ms May, under the irresistible pressure from the far-right is refusing to accept refugees from Syria for whose plight to flee their country, we have share of our responsibility too.
The Liberal Democrat Party is hoping to capture the Remain vote as its main election focus is on Remain. Since the party is free from the shackles of coalition with the Tories, it expects to lure the Remain voters across the board. This could prove to be a false hope. However, they may increase their seats in their heartlands.
It is difficult to make any predictions about the outcome of snap-elections and particularly the election on June 8 is exceptional. The major focus of all mainstream parties is on BREXIT. During referendum and even now, the country is divided right in the middle. About 52 per cent of electorate who then supported BREXIT were from all major political parties of the land.
It is assumed that of this number, a good percentage may no longer be willing to support BREXIT. These apologists now may switch their allegiance to pro-soft or pro-Remain parties. If this hypothesis comes true, the Tories might lose a significant segment of these voters which could be a gain for the Lib Dems. It is envisaged that Labour’s support in large cities of the Midlands and North may remain undisturbed. But most importantly, both Labour and the Tories have to reclaim their share of votes in Scotland. The failure to achieve this target will have a decisive impact on the overall results of the election. A greater proportion of young and ethnic voters are traditional supporters of Labour whereas the older population may continue to be loyal to the Tories. However, one must not ignore to recognise that there is a strand of strong anti-government sentiments deriving from the shoddy treatment of the disabled and slow bleeding demise the National Health Service and massive cuts in public services which may tilt the scale in favour of Labour.
One should not rely on daily results of opinion polls. They have proved to be wrong in the recent past, both during the referendum in our country and elections in America. The current election is different to past general elections in Britain. It is not only about the national issues. The main plank used by the Tories is BREXIT.
Snap elections are always fraught with uncertainties and risks. The last such election was called by Edward Heath in 1974 in order to get a mandate to face down the miners’ strike. It resulted in a hung Parliament in which Labour won more seats by a narrow margin. Heath resigned and was replaced by Harold Wilson. It would not be a miracle if history repeats itself!
Editors note: This article was written before the publication of the parties manifesto