Tuesday, 18 April 2017

May calls a snap election

I’m not sure whether I believe it or not, but the legacy media is fizzing about May’s decision to call for a general election for 08 June 2017.

Parliament will debate its early dissolution tomorrow, presumably in accordance with the Fixed Terms Parliament Act 2011.

The surprise was enough to get me to post a blog entry.  My last blog entry was on 05Feb2017.  The UKGov’s Article 50 letter of 29Mar2017 was such a pointless waste of time - it told nobody anything useful beyond the perfunctory “We’re leaving, mate” - that it wasn’t worth reading, let alone blogging.

And so, in addition to the legacy media’s infantile “fake news” speculation about the Brexit negotiations, we now have a temporary interlude during which the legacy media can speculate some more “fake news” about which party is going to “win” the election.

The Torygraph usefully transcribed May’s speech - something useful from the legacy media! - immediately underneath of which was a poll “How do you plan to vote in the general election of June 8?”  Unsurprisingly, of the 10,052 votes as at 18Apr2017 22:12, 54% voted for Conservative.

I’d guess at two potential reasons for calling a snap election:
  • Crude economics
  • A belated realisation of Brexit’s consequences between 2019-2020.

Crude economics is the more traditional, non-Brexit, possibility.  Inflation has risen, the public sector debt is still largely insurmountable, the tax burden is set to rise, zero percent interest rates still enzombie us all, the hunt for yield continues.  Even without Brexit, perhaps now might have been the last possibility for the Tories to win an election.

But with Brexit, does the Conservative arithmetic add up?  I’m not so confident about that!

It must have by now occurred to some in the Conservative Party that non-tariff barriers are fundamental, because they are intended to exterminate comparative advantage of trade (i.e. protectionism!).  In a “no deal” outcome by 29Mar2019, the UK cannot easily export to the EU.  As a consequence, EU suppliers will be reluctant to sell to UK (how would UK importers lawfully pay for its imports?).  The next fixed term election was scheduled to happen in May 2020.  Who fancies the prospect of campaigning for election while supermarket shelves are half-empty of formerly-imported foods?

May’s speech is all about Brexit.  At face value, May is basically calling a bluff on the opposition parties, challenging them to propose useful policy choices instead of being cynically critical.  That much is good.  But is she also calling the bluff of her own party?

On balance, probably yes.  Having conflated the European Union with the European Economic Area, then further conflating the European Economic Area with uncontrollable tsunami waves of immigrants, UKGov has opted for the “zero-plan-crash-out” policy.  UKGov has given itself mission impossible.

So May needs either some more pliant Tories to drown out the zombie-Brexiteers on the far right of the Conservative Party, or Tim Wossisface (the leader of the LibDems, apparently) to become Prime Minister and revoke the Article 50 letter.

Reckless?  My hunch is that May is gambling blind.  Take the Parliamentary constituency of St Albans as one small example.  It’s voted Labour in the past, changed its mind to become Conservative and ended up with Leaver Anne Main.  Yet, in the referendum, the St Albans counting area returned a weltering vote to remain.  Would St Albans be likely to return Anne Main?  Or a Labour candidate working for Jeremy Corbyn?  Or a LibDem Remainiac?

If UKGov had adopted the Flexcit plan, then May’s political chances in an election would have been much simpler, at the cost of more turmoil from the stupid wing of the Conservative Party.  But May chose otherwise.  To accommodate the stupid wing, she has allowed her government to opt for crashing out of the European Economic Area at the earliest opportunity.  Most voters won’t understand the technicalities that will cause empty supermarket shelves on 29 May 2019 (unless they read eureferendum.com, of course), but they’ll have enough wit to realise that the European Economic Area is worth staying in at the same time as leaving the Soviet European Union of Socialist Republics.

So how does a semi-intelligent voter choose in this forthcoming election?  Well, it’s early days, but my initial guess is that the general election’s major battleground will be in London and the South East.  The frontlines are likely to be dominated by the Brexit issue - above and beyond even the NHS - and fall between the Conservatives (ostensibly the Brexit party, but can we trust them?) versus the Liberal Democrats (openly, publicly, gratuitously the have-as-many-referenda-as-it-takes-to-vote-to-join-the-Eurozone party; under no circumstances can anybody trust them).

Conservative seats in Remain areas are likely to have a low turnout of disaffected Tory voters (they would abstain rather than vote for a Brexit they didn’t want), leaving a largely unchallenged field to opposition parties.  In the southern Home Counties, the only anti-Brexit party left is the Liberal Democrats.  So the big question is how many seats will the Tories lose in England’s south-east to the LibDems?

The same is likely to be true for Labour seats in Remain areas in the north of England.  Labour’s Parliamentary Party was overwhelmingly in favour of remain, but its leader Jeremy Corbyn was, at best, lukewarm about the European Union (and in the past has been the classic Eurosceptic).  So in the Labour heartlands, otherwise loyal Labour voters might also abstain than vote for a leader whose open mindedness to Brexit they find deeply, Toryishly offensive).  How many seats will Labour lose in England’s north to the LibDems?

In other words, the general election of 08Jun2017 is likely to become the “second referendum” that only Remainiacs want.

Must remember to read what Nadeem Walayat thinks of it all when he’s had a chance to crunch his numbers.  At the moment, he reckons probability points towards a Conservative win - his theory is based primarily on wealth, a proxy for which is house prices - but I do wonder whether his numbers are capable of accounting for the clear strength of feeling that generated such a large turnout in the referendum of 23Jun2016.