Superceded by the death of Queen Elizabeth, these were some thoughts on the possibility of a snap election
The temptation for Liz Truss to call a General Election soon after becoming Tory leader might be too much to resist. A shiny new leader might enable them to win. But I’m wondering about the other side: might they be planning to lose? In an ideal world they’d have done that before Boris Johnson’s position became completely untenable, but there’s a narrow window in which Truss might be able to lead per party to defeat and survive as leader by blaming her predecessor.
We need to think about this because it would inform our campaign and shape some difficult decisions afterwards.
The problem with the present Tory leadership contest is that it looks worryingly like a presidential campaign. We’ve seen televised debates among the contenders, news of them, their campaigns, promises and policies. It sounds as if the winner will have a mandate to take the country in a new direction, though the voters are just the 0.3% of the population who happen to be members of the Conservative Party. Where is the public outcry?
This is part of a general trend to move power from Parliament to No.10 which has accelerated since the referendum. It includes the illegal prorogation of parliament in 2019, the use of “Henry VIII” powers to sideline parliament in the massive task of replacing EU-derived legislation and Johnson’s repeated bendings of the ministerial code.
These things have consequences:
It risks increasing alienation from politics. “First past the post” means there are many parts of the country where people feel their vote doesn’t matter. The Tories have found a way to make this much worse. Brexit might already be a consequence of this because of the people who voted Leave out of frustration at being ignored.
It pushes things to the extremes. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss need to appeal only to their own party rather than connecting with the rest of the country. That’s particularly serious as there’s now more support for Brexit in the Conservative party than there in the country. EU-bashing and Brexit might help one of them get elected, but they are not in the national interest.