It seems that there is to be a snap general election for
Westminster, Theresa May
has pulled the plug and the country is going to the polls. In Scotland,
people are a bit election and referendum weary.
Firstly, hats off to Prime Minister Theresa May for playing a blinder, the opposition is in a bit of a state at present, especially the Labour Party who has a huge mountain to climb, 21 points behind in the polls. The Lib Dems are making noises about a revival which is frankly ludicrous, they have 8 MPs, and in
they have a single MP.
There are good reasons to go now:
1/ To get a clear mandate, always handy
2/ To strengthen the
UK position at the Brexit talks
3/ To outflank the SNP who made noises about dissolving Holyrood then backed away
4/ To use this election to see if the Scottish Conservatives can take Holyrood
Obviously there are probably other reasons, such as not wanting to get distracted near the end of Brexit talks with an opposition threatening mischief.
So, is Theresa May as some people suggest taken her biggest gamble?
There are still unhappy remainers but the direction of travel for the
Kingdom is towards Brexit, politically since
the Labour Party is in a bad place, there is talk of huge losses for them, a
figure of 140 seats was being banded about the place. Elections however are
funny things, and snap elections are in a way a little like by-elections, they
are specials because you don’t get the normal run in time of year. After Westminster folds its
tents on May 3rd, we get what is called a ‘short campaign’, this means the
election is called and running. Ideally, short campaigns favour mainstream
parties who have the resources and personnel to mount a proper campaign as we
traditionally know it.
To stand for
requires a good few thousand pounds, if you want to do a decent campaign and
you have go full time. Quite simply the logistics is staggering especially if
you are unclear what support if you can expect in terms of money, people and
resources, which I call the ‘political economy’. If you take a constituency of
60,000 voters, call it 30,000 homes, divided by the number of activists, let’s
say 10 for an example. That means an activist has to deliver 3,000 leaflets,
roughly 200 a night which takes some people 2 hours; that works out to 15 work
days, multiple that by 3 leaflets, this rolls out at 45 workdays. This is based
on them doing every day, not doing canvassing and street stalls, that is more
As well as the Westminster in Scotland, there are the council elections, that is an additional huge drain on resources, money and people, running two campaigns at the same time is possible but not easy, somewhere the time factor kicks in. Everyone party needs to prep for
Westminster, not just in
the office but also in the CLPs or branches and they have to do it now. Running
a campaign on the hoof isn’t easy, especially when no one else has a bloody
clue what anyone else is doing in the same campaign.
Planning is still critical and so being flexible because the best campaign plan can fail if you can’t execute it, so you have to be creative. When other people are looking to you, you need to have a clear idea that everyone can get onboard with. The last thing you want is people feeling left out because they don’t feel part of the team. This why short campaigns are high pressure, so much done over the course of a year is literally crammed into 6 weeks.
If you have done a bit of campaigning, you know what a good campaign is, a good campaign is the person in charge putting everyone before themselves; this is leadership. It is important that the activists are treated with respect and you understand they are going the extra mile for you, so you go further for them. Winning is better than losing, but having a badly run campaign has a ripple effect in your CLP, people don’t feel they want to get involved in future events if treated in an offhand manner.
This election is being dubbed “the Brexit election”, with Theresa May saying:
“I trust the British people.”
A point which will no doubt come up is that this election will also be billed as an election to show national unity to
despite many differences, the country must present a united front, obviously
leaving out Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP who have no interest in doing so.
Theresa May said:
“In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals
membership of the European Union and unelected members of the House of Lords
have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe that because
the Government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that
they can force us to change course. They are wrong. They underestimate our determination
to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of
millions of working people across the country.”
“If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. Division in
will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging
uncertainty and instability to the country. 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.”
I was surprised that Theresa May has called a snap election after ruling this out earlier, but we are where we are as General Mike Jackson used to say, so we have to get on with it. The Conservatives have a 21 point lead which is huge, and if things pan out, they stand to increase their majority. In
things aren’t so rosy, the Scottish Conservatives face a few problems, although
they can find the money for the campaigns, will be able to access resources,
they don’t have enough personnel on the ground, and certainly not enough prep
time to mount the kind of challenge that they would wish for to gain seats.
Yesterday I was saying that the Scottish Conservatives would like Ruth Davidson to have a crack at being First Minister in 2021, so luckily for her this election gives the Scottish Conservatives a rough idea if that is viable. Let’s face it if you are considering ploughing a massive amount of cash into a future election, you don’t want to wet your finger and stick it in the air, you want something a bit more robust in terms of empirical evidence.
Finally, I wonder how many of the SNP MPs are feeling a bit uncomfortable about their continued employment prospects at Westminster?
The Campaign for Human Rights at