From top: Theresa May; Jeremy Corbyn; Shane Heneghan
Further to the announcement of a UK General Election on June 8…
Shane Heneghan writes:
On paper, Theresa May’s decision to seek a general election makes sense. Her party enjoys an historic lead in the polls ahead of Labour and the given wisdom is that the Conservatives will make very strong gains.
Received wisdom is not doing all that well these days, however and a few potential pitfalls seem to leap off the page.
The most predictable of these is perhaps Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon remains one of the most popular women in the British isles and continues to campaign for a second independence referendum with great gusto.
If the SNP do as well as they did last time (and we have no reason to think they won’t) then their demand for another referendum can hardly be ignored. Theresa May’s increased majority could come at the cost of the very existence of the United Kingdom.
Perhaps even more obvious is the threat of political fatigue.
This will be the fourth national poll in the UK in three years. This will depress turnout. That does not necessarily make it difficult for the Tories, (unless the fact that May promised there would be no early election becomes an issue) but it will make things a little more unpredictable.
And then there’s Corbyn. The man they said was doomed from day one. Both figures and pundits put his chances at getting to Downing Street at slim to none.
In such unpredictable times we can never completely rule him out, of course, but let’s consider a Labour wipe out where they lose up to 100 seats. This leaves the far left of the Labour party discredited for a generation and allows for a more centrist and ultimately more electable leader to emerge.
If, on the other hand, Labour under Corbyn make modest gains, then the left of the party holds on to some credibility and causes some Tory blushes even if the leader has to stand a side.
With such great expectations, the real risk is that the gamble falls flat. Imagine if Theresa May comes form a majority of 12 to just 20.
Tory backbenches would not be best pleased at having just fought a seven week campaign for next to nothing. She’d look weak and any potential opponents within the party she has would be bolstered.
Today, the media is full of a sense of palpable inevitability. Remember what happened the last time there was such a feeling around a female candidate?
Montage: Daily Telegraph