What A Choice
Posted on April 19th, 2017
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Theresa May has shown, once again, that you can’t really believe anything she says. As recently as the Easter weekend, her stated position was that Now is not the time for divisive referendums because the country is uniting to make the best of Brexit. Then, all of a sudden, now is the time for a divisive General Election which will no doubt be used as a proxy for re-runs of the EU and Scottish Independence referendums because, you know, the country isn’t united enough and May feels the need to confirm her mandate.
The problem we all face is that, if the Pols are to be believed, the Tories are likely to gain a much larger majority this time round despite their harmful policies.
You have to wonder at the mentality of voters who keep electing a Government which is determined to take away their Health Service, reduce Pensions, remove Human Rights and constantly cut public services, but perhaps it is the lack of an alternative which keeps the Tories in power.
But are there any alternatives? What are the choices facing us in this snap General Election which definitely wasn’t going to be called until it was?
In Scotland, it’s pretty clear. The choice is essentially a two-way fight between the SNP and the Tories. Labour might trot out the old mantra about needing to vote Labour to defeat the Tories but there are two excellent reasons why people shouldn’t heed this warning. The first is that, as the last GE demonstrated, even if Labour had won every Scottish seat, they still wouldn’t have had a majority in Westminster because England voted Tory. The second reason is Jeremy Corbyn who lacks any real leadership talent and has no chance of winning an election anyway. Besides, for all their loudly proclaimed Socialist policies, Labour remain a Unionist Party and are also pro-Brexit. Why vote for them when they are essentially copying the Tories on the two most important issues facing us?
It’s probably fair to say that the SNP didn’t want this election. The three non-SNP seats all hang by slim majorities, so there’s a chance they could be taken. However, the chances of the SNP retaining all the seats they took in 2015 are slim, mostly because a lot of former Labour voters are going to vote Tory simply in order to preserve the Union. Unionist media commentators are already trying to say that any reduction in the number of seats will be a defeat. It’s patent nonsense, of course, since a majority remains a majority, but that’s not how it will be portrayed. It will be interesting to see how Theresa May (if she is still PM after the election) responds to the next call to grant another IndieRef. She’s stalled the section 30 request by calling this snap General Election, but she can’t put it off forever.
Some people are urging the SNP to make the General Election all about independence and saying they should simply declare Indy if they gain a majority of seats. It’s not impossible that they will adopt this approach but the SNP tend to be cautious and it seems more likely that they will simply use a majority to press for another IndieRef, saving the drastic action for later if May continues to be intransigent.
But what about England? For voters there, the choice is rather more difficult. If you are pro-EU, then the Tories and Labour shouldn’t get your vote. Which leaves the Greens or the Lib Dems.
It would be great to see the Greens do something significant but the reality is that, especially under the unfair First Past The Post voting system, they are unlikely to win more than a handful of seats at best. That’s a shame, but English voters seem to regard the Greens as outliers and too far from the mainstream to attract much support.
As for the Lib Dems, their only real saving grace is that they are pro-EU. This might see them pick up a lot of seats if voters decide May’s Brexit is going to be as bad as we all fear. The problem is that voters will need to hold their noses as they vote. The Lib Dems are proven liars, and you can’t help thinking they would probably have no qualms about entering into another coalition with the Tories if the election result brought about a hung Parliament. And then there is Tim Farron, as imperialist in outlook as any Unionist. This won’t do him any harm in England, but he’s also very reluctant to speak out in support of gay rights. Again, many voters may not care about this, but if you are a socially progressive, pro-EU voter, the Lib Dems wouldn’t be your ideal choice.
It’s all a bit of a mess, isn’t it? Is there anything positive that can be said about UK politics just now? Well, no, not really. Northern Ireland is in political limbo, Scotland’s request for the right to choose its future has been put on hold, Wales is largely ignored, the Brexit negotiations are going to be delayed, nobody knows what the outcome of the GE will be. Isn’t it funny that the Tories have suddenly stopped talking about Uncertainty? But everything is uncertain, and it seems that, not only are we driving at full speed towards that cliff edge, everybody has let go of the steering wheel.