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The Motivations of May

What are the true motivations behind Theresa May's decision to hold a snap election?

Mary Holyoak 

Naked Politics Blogger

I don’t know if I was being naïve, but this hit me out of nowhere. I found her speech hugely interesting, more so for what it didn’t explicitly say. Whether you believe that it was the right thing to do for the country at this moment or not, it was clear that May had seen the opinion polls and seen her potential gains. I was surprised by how much she mentioned Brexit. I was perplexed by her persistence at calling out ‘political games’ and most especially I was concerned by the assumptions she made about her electorate. She is calling this election because Parliament, her opposition, is fighting against her. Ironically of course, she cannot achieve this general election without that opposition voting with her.

‘Political game-playing’. That’s what she called the actions of Lib Dem’s and the Labour Party, fighting against her every move, trying to overturn ‘the will of the nation’. I am not going to deny that I am not always comfortable with the language used by the Labour party or the Lib Dems regarding Brexit, including the example given by May about the Lib Dems saying they wanted to ‘grind the business of Government to a standstill’. But to say Theresa May wishes to end this game playing is ironic given she could be said to be playing the biggest game of all. In September last year to Andrew Marr she said ‘I’m not going to be calling a snap election. I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020’. On March 30, her spokesperson said “There isn’t going to be one. It isn’t going to happen. There is not going to be a general election,”. Yet now she has said that ‘with reluctance’ she had decided to call a snap election.  Now I am not suggesting she cannot change her mind, but can it be considered anything to do with the fact that Corbyn’s most recent opinion polls put him at a massive disadvantage? A recent Opinium survey said given a two way between Corbyn and May, only 14% would pick Corbyn. May clearly saw her chance and took it, for when you combine that with the fact that no real implications of Brexit have made themselves apparent, the Conservative Party know a snap election now can probably result in nothing other than a landslide victory for them.

A friend of mine raised an interesting and maybe far-fetched conspiracy that is nonetheless worth considering. We are all aware the date of the 8th of June will have been picked after much deliberation. Now my friend put this to me. Who are the Lib Dem’s main support? Students and young people. What do young people do in the months of May and June? Sit their exams. Will that affect Lib Dem canvassing turnout? Perhaps not but it is interesting to consider.

My other major issue with her speech was the amount of assumptions made. Not only did make it seem as though it will definitely get through Parliament, but she spoke like a leader who was already planning for her substantial victory. The country needs ‘strong and stable leadership’ and it came across that she believed that power is already in her hands. I would remind her of what happened to Neil Kinnock in 1992. He looked set to displace John Major. Until he didn’t. And that has largely been put down to the rally he held in Sheffield a week before the election, considered a pre-emptive victory rally. He said himself ‘I guess that it looked triumphalist’ and perhaps people turned around and said ‘well then, you assume I’m going to vote for you? I won’t!’ Perhaps that won’t happen to Mrs May, perhaps her lead is so big that she can’t lose it. Given her most recent announcement that she won’t be taking part in any TV debates, she should tread carefully.

Finally, I’m sure we all felt like the woman from Bristol when she said, on hearing of the snap election, ‘You’re joking! Not another one!’. I felt that sense of dread too. I was surprised by how much the speech was about Brexit and I worry that the whole election may just become another referendum; nasty, split down the middle and potentially full of lies. Yes, Brexit is a major issue, but it is not the only one. I feel May has forgotten that we are real people with real, every day problems. I didn’t feel the personal in her speech. I felt Brexit and only Brexit.

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