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News Analysis: PM Calls Snap General Election
Going against expectations, and her own previously-stated intentions, Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap General Election on Tuesday morning to take place on the 8th June
According to the ‘Fixed-term Parliaments Act’, the House of Commons will have to vote by a ⅔ majority in order for the election to go ahead. Nevertheless, as all political parties have welcomed the call for an early General Election, the Prime Minister’s motion for a snap election is expected to be overwhelmingly supported tomorrow in the House of Commons.
“The government is currently enjoying a 21-point lead over the Labour opposition
If the election goes ahead, polls say that the most likely outcome is that the Conservatives will win a landslide victory, with Electoral Calculus predicting them an increased majority of 112, based on polls from March. The government is currently enjoying a 21-point lead over the Labour opposition. Such a lead has only been seen twice before in this century: by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2001 and by David Cameron’s Conservative opposition in 2009.
However, Conservative MPs in remain-voting constituencies may not feel terribly secure. The Prime Minister’s statement made it clear she was appealing to voters to vote Conservative out of support of their ‘right approach’ towards Brexit. Many Remain voters, though, are likely to take the opportunity to attempt to install a government who will pursue a ‘soft’ Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats have arguably the clearest vision of Brexit at the moment and leader Tim Farron welcomed the snap election as a chance ‘to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit.’ The party has done well in several by-elections since the referendum result last June but still lags in the polls at about 11%, according to ComRes’ polling for the Independent.
“1,000 new members joined the Liberal Democrats in the first hour after the announcement
There is still certainly space for the Liberal Democrats to win back some seats, however. Private polling for the Conservatives reportedly stated that most of the seats they had gained from the Liberal Democrats in 2015 would be under threat in an early election. The party also reported a surge in membership after May’s announcement of the election this morning, with 1,000 new members joining in the first hour after the announcement.
Meanwhile, moderate Labour politicians, who tried unsuccessfully to remove Corbyn as leader in 2016, may well now be regretting not splitting from the party after Corbyn was re-elected in September. The snap election will disrupt their rumoured strategy of waiting for Corbyn’s own failings to bring him down before the next election. Nevertheless, though it may rid Labour of opportunities to get into power until 2022, if Labour loses the snap election (as looks almost certain) it could mean Corbyn will stand down earlier than they had previously hoped.
It seems unlikely that UKIP will return to Parliament. Though some polls are putting them at the same level, proportionately, as the Liberal Democrats, their less geographically concentrated support base is likely to mean this will not translate into seats to the same extent. Furthermore, the party has been mired by fights, power-struggles, and a new less-recognisable leader. Coupled with the fact that, now Britain is leaving the EU, it is not clear what the party has to offer, it would be a surprise for UKIP to do well in the election.
“There can be little doubt over why the Prime Minister has called a snap election
The Green Party lag behind both the Liberal Democrats and UKIP in the polls. With some pundits considering this election a foregone conclusion, however, there is a possibility that the Greens might attract some voters who are sympathetic to the party but usually engage in tactical voting. Nevertheless, there is little to suggest that either UKIP or the Green Party will be one of the main players in this election.
There can be little doubt over why the Prime Minister has called a snap election despite repeatedly stating she would not. May enjoys very high approval ratings. Now the weakness of her opposition gives May the opportunity to secure two more years in power, along with an increased majority, and a less ambiguous mandate. Clearly, for a politician like May, that is worth going back on your word for.