What does Theresa May see when she looks out the windows of No.10 Downing Street? What does the world look like to her? I’m pretty sure it’s not the world most of us behold.
Let’s assume that May is not so detached from reality as to have forgotten the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – a measure introduced by the Tories precisely to prevent what May is doing. Let’s assume she has considered the matter and thinks she has the two-thirds majority needed to repeal the legislation in the bag. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and suppose that she didn’t announce a UK General Election on June 8 imagining she has the absolute power to do so.
Having got this less than trivial issue out of the way, let us now try to put ourselves behind May’s eyes and see if, taking her words and actions as our guide, we can discern the political environment as she sees it.
She obviously sees a situation in which she is assured of some kind of advantage by calling a snap election. One could well imagine she might hope to lose, and dump the whole Brexit/constitutional mess in Jeremy Corbyn’s hapless lap. But that doesn’t seem to accord with her character. So what does she expect to gain from an election at this time? How does this all play out in the world she inhabits?
She surely can’t be hoping for electoral gains. In our world, that looks like being as close to an impossibility as makes no difference. At UK level, we have something akin to ‘peak Tory’ at present, with little indication of any serious challenge to their supremacy. British Labour is all but reduced to its safest seats. As are the LibDems. If anything, the Tories might just lose the odd seat to the LibDems as people register a protest vote against Brexit.
But Theresa may cannot see things this way. If she did, she would never have called an election. In the world as she sees it, there must be the promise of some kind of electoral surge in favour of the Tories. In her world, the Tories are so respected in the country, and May herself enjoys such personal popularity, that the people flock to them and Labour suffers a complete wipe-out.
The gain that May envisages is power. Executive power. The power to command the House of Commons completely. The power to marginalise the House of Lords.
The power to finally slap down those pestilential Scots.
May envisages a world in which she reigns supreme at the head of a Tory party whose increasing tendency to right wing extremism and rabid British nationalism she thinks she can control; ramping it up or down as circumstances require.
In this world of hers, May strides into Brussels flexing new muscle and demanding all manner of concessions. In this world of hers, the EU caves in before the power of her personality and the might of her popular mandate.
In this world of hers, society is reshaped in the mould of neo-liberal economic rigour and British nationalist ideology.
In this world of hers, there is no protest. All dissent is suppressed by a combination of repressive legislation and abysmal apathy.
In this world of hers, Scotland’s independence movement is crushed under the weight of an avalanche of ‘One Nation’ fervour. In this world of hers, the SNP collapse; Nicola Sturgeon is humiliated; and the Scottish parliament is returned to the ‘safe hands’ of the British parties.
In this world of hers, the Union Flag flies from every building. In this world of hers, she is loved by ‘her’ people as a great leader and admired as an international stateswoman.
The world that Theresa May sees as she gazes out the windows of No. 10 doesn’t exist. I desperately hope it never does.Views: 3029
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