When I heard that Theresa May had called an election for June 12, I thought, “Well, that’s one way of avoiding all the mess of Brexit. Get voted out!” However, all the news stories I’ve read seem to suggest that she’s expected to win. It’s a strategy to give herself a mandate for Brexit, they said. The Labour vote is down, they said. Some even suggested that it was a clever move.
Well, I don’t know much about British politics, but if I want to succeed as a hard-hitting opinion piece writer, I can’t let total ignorance stop me from commenting. After all, if only the well-informed commented then the whole standard of political discourse would be improved and then there’d be no room for Barnaby Joyce. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents worth… Or should that be tuppence, giving I’m writing about Britain?
In spite of Brexit and the election of Trump, most commentators seem to be behaving as though these things are entirely predictable. And, if we have a good hard look at what May is arguing, we discover that – even though they had a vote about leaving the EU – the British PM feels that she needs another election in order to give her a mandate. Of course, they’ve already passed the legislation and put the wheels in motion and triggered Article 50 and announced that there’s no going back. However, she just needs a bit of reassurance. No, they’ll still go ahead, no matter what, but she doesn’t feel that her seventeen seat majority is enough and she’d like it extended so that she can say how much everyone is behind Brexit.
Except that a lot of people aren’t. Even some of those who voted against it were doing so as a protest, but when they won, it all became a bit real for them. And now that UKIP, Boris Johnson, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all have demonstrated that while they campaigned with all the passion of a dog chasing a car, once the car pulled over, they didn’t seem to have any ideas about what to do, apart from continuing to bark until someone put them back in their kennel.
And given that there’s a strong expectation that May will win, the danger of yet another protest vote leading to a surprise result remains a real possibility. It seems that there are only three possibilities: 1. May loses the election badly and the whole process is in chaos while Labour works out exactly what they’ll do; 2. May needs the support of other parties to form government, meaning that she has less authority to make decisions; 3. May is returned with a working majority, which even if she increases the number of seats, she’s effectively in the same position she’s in now, except she can say that she has a mandate to do what she’s already done!
It’s always worth remembering that while ninety percent of everything is predictable, that’s what lulls us into a false sense of security and causes us to miss the fact that the other ten percent is unpredictable and therefore always likely to catch us by surprise.
Now take Tony Abbott, for example. Various Liberals are making the same suggestion that was made to that shepherd whose sheep were making too much noise: “Why don’t you shut the flock up!” However, I don’t see Tony as doing much damage at all. Every time he opens his mouth, we’re reminded of exactly how out of touch with reality he actually is. True, Turnbull may be two-faced, duplicitous, arrogant, out-of-touch, manipulative and prepared to do anything in order to stay PM, but at least he gives the impression that he has some grip on reality. Comparatively speaking, that is.
And, of course, Abbott’s five point plan for fixing up the government made Turnbull’s announcement on 457 visas look impressive by comparison. Turnbull managed to get through the whole thing without blaming Labor for not changing it sooner… Possibly because then the question of why it’s taken them four years before they’ve actually got around to taking off such things as Cinema Manager, Park Ranger or Amusement Centre Manager from the list. Ok, I know that many of the changes are largely cosmetic and that there’s still a heap of jobs on the list where we don’t actually need overseas workers, but could you imagine, Tony ever making an announcement without telling us why it was someone else’s fault?
Tony’s five point plan, for those of you who missed it, consisted of attacking renewables (they shouldn’t get subsidies – only fossil fuels provide jobs), cutting spending so that our grandkids don’t have debt (mind you, they’ll have a bucketload of delayed infrastructure they’ll have to pay for), reforming the Senate (ok, we just did it, but we need to keep doing it until only Liberals can be elected), cutting immigration (we don’t want people like his parents coming here) and getting rid of the Human Rights Commission (because it’s part of the “nanny” state and Tony obviously hated his grandmother!)
So after Tony’s little outburst, I see a bump in the polls for Malcolm. Of course, I could be wrong. There’s always the possibility that Malcolm may actually make the mistake of showing us one of those excruciating moments where he tries to look all human and relaxed by having a beer. That never plays well. And, of course, his version of “All the way with LBJ” where he goes “I’m a chump for Donald Trump” may get him into trouble.
Whatever, it’s all very predictable. Apart from the bits that aren’t. And if I could work them out, I’d have it made!