With Theresa May announcing a snap election today, whilst enjoying a double-digit lead in the polls, the future of both the Labour party and British politics appears rather bleak.
The “Shy Tory” effect is a long-standing assumption of British politics that I find – like most things – is best summed up by a Simpsons quote: “Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic [Labour], but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican [Conservative] to lower taxes, brutalise criminals, and rule you like a king!”
In previous years, voting Tory in certain circles was seen to be rather uncouth, which seems quite unreasonable in the abstract, until you remember the underfed local population, the utter lack of self-awareness the party displays and the general amount of putrid hatred they throw out at the idea of change. With Theresa May having announced a snap election today whilst enjoying a double-digit lead in the polls in spite of the “shy Tory” effect, it seems that come June 8th, the Labour party will see their Parliamentary seat share decimated in a landslide defeat not seen since, well, Tony Blair two decades ago.
Even in our post-truth, post-poll, post-common sense, meme-driven world, the outcome of the election seems pretty set in stone. Regardless of how bad May performs in the televised debates we will be forced to endure – and she will perform badly, given she has the charisma of a plank of wood – the Tories will pull through with an increased majority. Despite having spent her entire tenure saying nothing of any substance, value or meaning, the British people will undoubtedly re-elect a Conservative government, with our very own Demon Headmistress at the helm and May will finally be able to rush into Brexit with the tact of a Kelvin MacKenzie article about Merseyside.
Despite her very obvious limitations, May has come out of this entire tumultuous period smelling like roses to most – or at least being the one least smeared by shit. Corbyn continues to turn off most who aren’t in his base and Tim Farron continues to be as memorable as a paper plate. May just has to continue her tactic of standing around, looking stern and doing very little of substance – much like her time in the Home Office, which was marked by perennial failure caused by overzealous targets and impossible ambitions, but lauded as a success because it vaguely seemed like she took some control. The UKIP threat has been all but scuppered, with Farage off screaming loudly at anybody who will listen to him to please listen to him, and Paul Nuttall being too busy lying about his life’s achievements to effectively run a political party.
The danger for Labour here isn’t one-time decimation: it runs much deeper than that. If the anti-Corbyn PLP loses a high number of their seats – as is likely to happen – then the only forces within the Labour party left to remove Jeremy are the ardently pro-Corbyn membership and the fairly pro-Corbyn unions. It seems unreasonable that Corbyn would stay even after a crushing electoral defeat. But, then again, you’d think that a leader who had lost the confidence of over 80% of his MP’s standing down was also a foregone conclusion, and look how that turned out. If there’s one thing to be said about Jeremy’s leadership, it’s never been predictable (barring the predictably low polling, the predictable incompetence and the predictable talk of nationalising or re-nationalising things). The only thing worse than a general election annihilation is another one in five years after five year of navel-gazing.
The only real hope for Labour comes from people like me: “shy-Corbynites”. I don’t necessarily think that Jeremy Corbyn will be a good Prime Minister. In fact, I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t. I am also a fairly harsh critic of Jeremy, and I am aware a lot of what he says and does is – for lack of a better word – stupid. My major reason for voting for Labour in this election will not be a breathless admiration of the current state of the party, but merely a repudiation of the last seven years of governance.
When it comes down to it, I’d rather incompetence with its heart in the right place than the current state of malicious incompetence and face-saving cover-ups driven by the backwards hard-right that has been dominating May since she ascended to her throne. If you don’t think May is incompetent, then I’d suggest taking a look at who she chose to be our Foreign Secretary and International Trade secretary. I’d also suggest having a peruse over her time in the Home Office, the most enduring legacy of her time being the current Spice epidemic that has taken the life out of Manchester City Centre.
With that all being said, a larger majority for May could mean that she is less beholden to the right wing of her party as she will have more room to manoeuvre. Sadly, given her startling lack of ability and decisiveness (much like Cameron, she is well practised in the art of sounding decisive whilst being anything but), she is unlikely to set out her own stall. Instead, she’s more likely to do what she’s always done: listen to whatever authority figure she is doting on at the moment. Once upon a time it was her God, and now it’s the 1922 committee. In a time where Britain needs to be thinking of innovative and unique ways to progress, we will be in the hands of one of our most regressive leaders in recent times, and that cannot be a good thing.
Featured image credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire