A General Election has been given to the British people once again, the second time in two years. Now, is this Theresa May being genuine and giving the electorate a proper say in the direction they want the country to be taken, or for her own personal political gain? And is this election a chance for all politicians to show themselves off or are some going to be genuine and show off their policies, not just their personalities? I would argue that only some of our politicians are going to be showing off their egos and that some, thankfully, are going to be genuine.
Let’s start with why the election is even happening. In June 2016, the UK (sort of) voted to leave the European Union in a nationwide referendum. Consequently, the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, resigned. He was then replaced by Theresa May. She then initiated, with Parliamentary approval Article 50, which notified the EU of the UK’s intention to leave the union and set a timetable of 2 years to do so.
Despite the vote from the people to leave the EU there was much disagreement about what the nature of the UK’s relationship with the EU will be after the UK has left. There was disagreement between MPs and Peers, between the UK Government and the devolved administrations and disagreements even within the Conservative party itself. Theresa May was unable to control all of this bickering and has thus called for an election in the hope that by winning it she has the democratic mandate from the people to progress in the way that she wants.
The General Election as a means for the to electorate get a chance to give their consent to the direction as set forth in a party’s manifesto comes across as sound democratic workings. It’s possible to argue that any extra/additional votes given to the electorate outside of the arbitrary electoral timetables that most western democracies have in place is something to be endorsed. The very act of having a General Election will spark people to take part in the political and democratic process. It will also mean that MPs will have to fully engage with their constituents in order to gain their vote and candidates from other parties will have to do the same in order to get elected.
This engagement on behalf of MPs and other candidates is key to the democratic process. A stark contrast between democracy and authoritarian regimes is that in a representative democracy you get to see and engage with your representatives and the candidates who are trying to become your representative. After all, a vote is a vote and having as many as possible can only enhance a nation’s democracy, right?
Within some political systems, it is possible for the politicians to manipulate the political mechanics of their nation to either further their own political interests or to change the political dynamic to further their interests, or both. This 2017 General Election was called because Theresa May told us that there was no unity in Westminster in relation to the direction and method of Brexit and that by having this election (In the hope she wins) she can have a democratic mandate to go about Brexit as she wants and no-one can argue against it. Theresa May during the campaign has banged on about “Giving me the strongest hand possible in Brexit negotiations”, now is this democratic?
Is focusing your campaign on the premise that your vote will make Theresa May more powerful as a politician democratic? It all has a whiff of authoritarianism about it if you ask me.
Furthermore, Theresa May’s and the Conservative’s campaign on the mantra of they are the party of being ‘strong and stable’ doesn’t exactly exude democratic principles. Yet, it makes you think that if they were the party of strength and stability how come there was so much division within Westminster about the method and direction of Brexit and why couldn’t they manage it? Why is an election needed to cement their position if they are so strong and stable? We can view this entire election as a complete farce, at least how the Tories are presenting themselves and how they go about conducting themselves and how they campaign.
However, fear not, there is light at the end of the tunnel, I give you Labour. Now in total contrast to the Conservatives, Labour have taken this election campaign as an opportunity to totally lay out their policy positions on a wide range of areas. There have been policy announcements about tax, education, health, defence, the list goes on. While the Conservatives’ election catchphrase is ‘strong and stable’, Labour have gone for ‘for the many, not the few’. Labour have taken a populist approach to this election and while the Tories’ ‘strong and stable’ slogan doesn’t explicitly express it, by comparison the Conservatives have gone for an elitist approach in that their policies and positions appear to be of benefit to a small group of people.
Yet lurking behind all these differences is the true cause for why the election is happening at all. Not long into Theresa May’s premiership she made it very clear to the British people that another election was not on the table and she was focused on getting the best deal for all of the UK in Brexit negotiations. But now a couple of weeks ago, she comes out and tells us very clearly that a General Election is the best thing for the British people.
This is so that she can get a majority Government which will give her the strongest mandate to go and get the best possible deal for the UK after leaving the EU. That may seem confusing to read and that’s because it is hard to fathom where Theresa May actually stands. Let’s not forget the fact that during the EU referendum she campaign for Remain, but now she’s totally devoted to having the strongest form of withdrawal from the EU.
It really is difficult to not look at this election and not think of it as a massive ego trip. Until now it was not known that Theresa May could act like this, in fact a nickname given to her by Tory colleagues was ‘the submarine’ due to the fact that she barely made an appearance and kept herself to herself in sticky times. But now, she’s everywhere. Granted she’s the PM and she needs to be but the extent in how she’s presenting herself in this campaign is nothing that has been seen in British politics since Margaret Thatcher, maybe it’s a woman thing… The extent to which her ego has inflated does explain why she was so cosy with that other egotistical goliath, Donald Trump.
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