THERESA MAY has just loomed large on my laptop screen to announce a general election on June 8. That’s the general election she has promised many times she will not hold, but once again her words – as resolute as they sound – are written on the wind blowing out of the puncture in her party’s loony Brexit balloon.
Considering all those now-banished occasions on which she swore blindly that she would not call an election, instead serving a proper full term, this is a brazen bit of politicking – but ruthless too, as with a 20-point lead in the opinion polls, she is likely to win (although polls aren’t dependable, as we now know.
As ever with Mrs May, the phrasing is all. She has, she says with a brisk sigh, been forced into making this decision because the opposition parties in Parliament oppose her. In her version of events, the country is all for a hard Brexit, almost everyone is behind her, but those bothersome types on the opposing benches just won’t accept her sovereign right to do exactly as she wishes.
She even dredges up a complaint about the “unelected House of Lords” threatening to drag down the progress of her chosen form of Brexit. A Conservative prime minister complains about the obstructive ways of the Lords – gosh, she’ll be saying the Queen isn’t fully on side next.
Of course, Mrs May does not say that, but she does say plenty of other specious things, boasting about her strong leadership and saying that despite the Brexit doomsayers, everything in the country is going swimmingly, consumer confidence is high, rainbows will soon be appearing above every street – and we should all bend to kiss her shoes (or something like that)
Rumours that this speech was written by the editor of the Brexit-besotted Daily Express can be dismissed, not least because I just started that rumour. But it sure sounds that way.
If, as seems likely, Mrs May pushes through and wins, she will feel under no obligation to represent the 48% who opposed Brexit, and their voice will be lost amid the chanting chorus of tattered patriotism. Her claims to speak for all of us will be reduced to the rubble and dust they always were. We’ll all be trampled in the rush to embrace a proud new Britain – a hopeful amalgamation of all our yesterdays, with the bad pages torn out and discarded.
Hair lifting in the Downing Street breeze, Mrs May tells us that this is in the “national interest” and whenever you hear a politician call on those words, you should dip your fingers in the scepticism bowl, especially when it’s a Tory leader on the make.
Mrs May is doing what you expect a political leader to do by grabbing the advantage in a ruthless manner. But trying to pretend that it’s in the national interest is a monumental slab of cheek.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gets a mention in her list of those standing in her way, which seems odd as he doesn’t do much in the way of opposing. Indeed, instead of throwing her words back at her and recalling all the times she has said that calling a snap general election wasn’t in the national interest, Corbyn says he will place no obstacle to an early election.
In other words, he has seen the gangplank she has laid down for him and he is happy to walk along it, and never mind the shark-filled oblivion at the other end.
Oh, and you might have thought that the Fixed Term Parliament Act was brought in precisely to deal with opportunistic premiers calling snap elections – and that’s because it was – but Mrs May seems prepared to blow away that obstacle, much as she is having it put about that she won’t do anything so bothersome as to take part in election TV debates.
Heaven forbid that anyone should be allowed to ask her a difficult question, for she’s too busy cynically arranging an election the country doesn’t need – purely for her own purposes and while sanctimoniously claiming the higher moral ground.
Theresa May stops speaking and I press ‘escape’ to make her frozen image go small again. Never have I more wanted to hit that escape button.