Tuesday, 21 March 2017

May a "safe pair of hands" and early election

To whom was Martin Kettle referring when using the first person plural in his article on the prime minister (We used to think May was a safe pair of hands, No longer 17/03/17)? Certainly not the majority of Guardian readers, and not even all Guardian writers. Alan Travis, last July, warned about about May`s approach to civil liberties that was "too cavalier", and reminded us both of her disgraceful "Go Home" vans which toured immigrant communities, and policies which split up "an estimated 33,000 families because they didn`t earn enough" (What does Theresa May`s record as Home Secretary tell us? 18/07/16).  How much of the present crisis in prisons is due to the illiberal approach adopted over her six years in charge? Travis wrote of how she "joked" that, whereas Ken Clarke wanted to "let them out", she preferred to "lock them up".
  A "safe pair of hands" avoids unnecessary risks, but long before her Scottish "gamble" May was making promises for which it would be difficult, in some cases impossible, to garner Tory party support. Since when have Tory MPs not been driven "by the interests of the privileged few", or cared about "burning injustice"? Two budgets have revealed how little this government is concerned about  the "just about managing", whilst May`s sudden support, both vocal and financial, for grammar schools, when state schools face "real-term cuts to funding by 2019-20", imperils party unity further. 

  A safe bet she certainly never was, but the low profile "Submarine May" deliberately kept during the referendum campaign revealed a political cunning, which might well have peaked too soon! 

Opposition parties need to be careful! Conservative MPs may be saying in public that a snap general election should be called "to capitalise on Labour`s woes", and to "secure a personal mandate" for the prime minister, but I suspect the real reason is more duplicitous (May`s MPs urge her to call snap general elction, 20/03/17). Even Lord Hague has admitted "trouble is coming"!
  With the election expenses` scandal likely to escalate, the grammar school issue to backfire, Scotland to continue to be problematic, and 27 EU members to be adamant the Brexit deal be unfavourable to the UK, Tory MPs must know an election now, rather in 2020, is their best bet on political survival. Going to the polls in 2020, after a hard Brexit, no access to the single market, and increasing inflation, interest rates and unemployment adding to woes caused by the Tories` deliberate underfunding of the NHS and state schools, does not appear an attractive prospect to most Tory MPs. The "just about managing" certainly won`t be voting for them, despite the rhetoric!
      Labour being on "an early-election footing" is requisite political posturing, but its leaders should be considering the likely pitfalls of an election now, and the obvious benefits of one later. McDonnell admits that Labour is "not getting a fair hearing with the media", so why give May the opportunity to increase her majority? By 2020 the polls might well be different!

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