It’s no surprise that today’s letters all address the Snap GE on June 8th. The first letter is from our reader Septimus Octavius, looking at the LibDems:
There are two limbs to the LibDem Brexit policy which they propose to put to the UK electorate on 8 June.
The first is to keep the UK in the Single Market, and the second is to put any Article 50 agreement to the people of the UK in a referendum. The problem is that it is simply impossible, from a practical viewpoint, now for either of those things to happen, and raises the probability that no one in that little band of opportunists has actually read Article 50!
The end result of the Article 50 process is that the UK is “released from the Treaties”; that takes the UK out of the Single Market, and indeed every other element of the EU. Furthermore, there is a binary nature of the Article 50 process, that envisages just two possibilities: agreement before 29 March 2019, which will trigger the release from the Treaties at that moment, or an absence of agreement by that date, which will trigger the release as midnight strikes on 28 March 2019.
The UK Government has stated, entirely correctly, that it will put any negotiated deal to the UK Parliament on a “take it or leave it” basis. “Take it” will mean the “agreement” option will occur; “leave it” will result in the “absence of agreement” version. There is accordingly no “meaningful” issue that could be considered by Parliament, let alone raised in a referendum.
This fatal flaw in the Lib Dem position must be exposed soon and often!
Respectfully, Septimus Octavius
The second letter is from our Associate Editor Gary Conway, focussing on UKIP:
Without any discernible policies that give people a reason to vote UKIP rather than Lib/Lab/Con the May elections were always going to be a bloodbath compared to 2014 when UKIP were on the up. I think many in the party accepted that we would suffer losses in May, but that this might provide the impetus to get the party sorted and some proper policies in place in good time for the public to get to know about them before the next General Election. Now that that’s in June, I think we have to accept that that too will be a bloodbath, and start to think long term.
Best we can do for June is come up with a punchy, radical manifesto that cuts taxes, stands up for British values and goes big on cutting immigration and promoting integration. All of that would be popular, none of it would be offered by any other party. It needs to be simple but controversial, otherwise the media won’t cover it and nobody will hear about it (much like 2015, having the best, costed manifesto is useless if nobody reads it).
I fear what we will get is fairly meaningless and ineffective waffle about “holding the Tories’ feet to the fire”, calls to cut foreign aid (perfectly correct, but hardly a huge vote winner, and pointless if we then say the savings made will be thrown at an unreformed NHS) and a few scraps like no VAT on takeaways.
I don’t see Paul Nuttall continuing as leader after June 8th. He’s already damaged by the failed by-election, the Hillsborough smear, and will go into the General Election on the back of some poor local results. I hate to say it but there’s no way we’ll get anything like the 4 million votes we got last time. If our vote halves, which I think it could easily do, Nuttall can’t possibly stay on.
We need someone with a clear vision of what UKIP must be – a small government, radical, populist, patriotic, low tax party – who will pick up the remnants and rebuild over the next 4 or 5 years. Who that is, I don’t know. We were formed to oppose the EU, and although that battle is no longer electorally relevant, the philosophy behind it is still a big vote winner – we oppose the EU because it is interfering, incompetent, wasteful, over-regulates, undemocratic etc, all of that can be said about the UK government. The country is crying out for an anti-establishment party willing to take on the Lib/Lab/Con consensus on ever bigger, ever more expensive government.
Respectfully, Gary Conway
The final letter is from our contributor Gerry Robinson:
Theresa May has been very clever in her announcement of a Snap General Election.
Firstly, she is quite right to say that whilst the mood in the country is coalescing into a generally pro-Brexit stance (see latest polls showing that even previous Remainers want the government to ‘just get on with it’), Westminster remains at best hopelessly split and at worst committed to denying the wish of the electorate – especially the LibDems, SNP and the unelected Peers. Thus, she is more than entitled to go to the country and seek the electorate’s endorsement – strengthening her own hand politically in the process and for most people, that message will actually ring very true.
Secondly there’s a huge additional voter base out there to be grabbed. Look at the Conservatives recent results and measure them against the Referendum. In 2010 – 36.1% of the electorate voted Conservative yielding 307 seats, no clear majority and ultimately the infamous Cam-Clegg Coalition. In 2015 – 36.8% voted Conservative – 330 seats and a slim majority as a result. Fast forward a year to the 2016 Referendum and 51.9% voted LEAVE. That’s 17.5 million people all voting the same way as compared to 10.7 million who voted Conservative in 2010 and 11.3 million who did the same in 2015 . Which Party Leader would not want to try to convert a result like that into votes for their Party? And she can do that by ‘owning’ the ‘Firm Brexit’ mandate, snapping up a large portion of the nearly four million who voted UKIP in 2015 in the process. The Conservatives stand a good chance of even eclipsing their landslide victory, under Andrew Bonar Law in 1922 which left them with nearly 56% of the Westminster seats for only 38.5% of the vote.
Lastly, the timing could hardly be better in terms of the Opposition Parties positions. Labour is split from top to bottom and to a huge amount of people seen as frankly irrelevant. The LibDems are determined to go against the will of the people and demand second referendums and retained membership of the Single Market etc when clearly most people don’t actually want that. The only difference between them and Labour is that they’ve been irrelevant a lot longer! The SNP have proven themselves to be a single-issue party – incapable of actually doing the day-to-day business of running a country and so alienating their own voter base as the recent petition, ‘Another Scottish independence referendum should not be allowed to happen’ garnering nearly a quarter of million votes and most of those over the border highlighted. And UKIP? Oh dear, oh dear. This is the party that has successfully squandered all the political capital built up during the Farage years and leading up to the Referendum and in doing so has laid waste not only to its voter base but also to its membership base too. UKIP could, in fact should, have been entering this General Election as the Opposition Party-In-Waiting but instead will most likely get wiped out in terms of votes and, in my opinion, that will follow hot on the heels of a disastrous 4th May result for the party across England.
It’s a perfect hat-trick for Theresa May’s Conservatives whilst UKIP gets left on the bench…
Respectfully, Gerry Robinson