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Response to ZeroSomeBrains (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 06:29 PM

10. If you're finding it hard to follow in the US, it's not much easier for us in the UK!

Last edited Wed Dec 5, 2018, 07:25 PM - Edit history (1)

I'll try to address your points without getting too long-winded (wish me luck!).

On how general elections are triggered, that changed when the Tories and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government (there was no such thing as a fixed term of government before then), and this explains it better than I probably could:

Who decides to call a general election?

Under provisions in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Parliament is dissolved automatically after 5 years. Prior to the Act, dissolution was a personal prerogative of the Queen. The Act has replaced the prerogative and now Parliament is dissolved automatically 25 working days before a general election.

The Act provides that parliamentary general elections take place every five years on the first Thursday in May. It also provides for early general elections if either the House of Commons votes for an early general election or following the failure of the House to agree a vote of confidence in a new government within 14 days of a vote of no confidence in the government holding office.


So there'll be too little time before Parliament's Christmas recess (20 December 2018-7 January 2019) for that schedule to play out this year.

A Tory leadership contest would be similarly long-winded. If May didn't resign but there were moves to depose her:

A no confidence vote is triggered if 15% of Tory MPs write a letter to the chairman of the party's so-called "1922 committee".

The Conservatives currently have 315 valid MPs so 48 of them would need to write such letters to challenge Mrs May.

Once that threshold has been reached, the chairman will announce a no confidence vote is being held probably in the next day.


If that vote went against her, she'd be forced to resign.

In either case (resignation of deposition), if only one candidate to replace her comes forward, then he or she would be elected by the party without a lot more rigmarole, but:

If several names are put forward to lead the party, then a vote is held among Conservative MPs to whittle the field down to two.

Votes are held among MPs each Tuesday and Thursday, and each time the candidate with the least support is eliminated.


Once there are two candidates, they are both put to the Tory membership - around 100,000 or so people - to choose the new leader.


The last time the Tories had a leadership election (when May was voted leader) was after David Cameron resigned. He did so on June 23, 2016 (when the Brexit referendum results were known), but remained in post till his successor was elected. There were multiple candidates, so the ballot process was initially planned to take from July 5 to September 9. Because of her strong showing in the first ballot and the rapid implosion of her rivals, May was elected party leader and therefore PM on July 11 - very quickly for such a contest - without party members having a vote, which could have taken a lot longer.

So if we're looking at a new Tory PM, it won't be till the New Year, even if one candidate emerges unopposed and it goes as quickly as last time.

There's a lot of noise from some politicians about a general election, but I'm not clear how much of that is bluff (nor whether it would get us a better government in terms of Brexit or anything else). Current opinion polls generally consistently put Labour at around 5% behind the Tories. In normal times (these aren't normal times), the way our electoral college works, Labour needs to be around 8-9% ahead to gain an overall majority of seats. Polls also show a very poor performance by Corbyn himself even against May.

For a general election to be held, there's that 14 days' wait after a vote of no confidence to see if another government can be cobbled together (there's talk of a cross-party alliance at the moment, but I can't see that happening), and if not, Parliament must be dissolved. Then the parties have to hold hustings to decide on each constituency's candidate, the campaign has to take place etc. etc. This usually takes around six weeks. Despite the shortness of time before Brexit happens in March 2019, shortening that by much would risk yet another set of uninformed decisions by the electorate. It would also be very rare to have an election in January-February at the best of times (these aren't the best of times), because of the weather apart from anything else.

As for Corbyn and Labour, probably best not to get me started (I'm in Scotland and in a general election I'd vote for the SNP, which has been entirely sane and adult about the whole Brexit issue right from the day of the referendum), but I'll try to restrain myself. Corbyn called for Article 50 to be triggered on the very morning of the result, and Labour's stance ever since can charitably be described as "confused/confusing". It's tried to have it all ways. It's run scared of UKIP "stealing" votes from it in seats which were once its heartland, but taken for granted those of its constituencies that voted Remain. Its membership (swelled, ironically, by the Corbyn wave, though that's dwindling somewhat) is overwhelmingly in favour of Remain. Labour shadow cabinet members contradict each other, sometimes on the same day, and I'd be hard put, even as someone who tries to pay attention to politics, to explain to you what their position is at any one time.

Here's Ken McCluskey (the main power behind Labour's throne) in today's Guardian:

Unite leader warns Labour against backing second EU referendum

The Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs the party should have severe reservations about backing a fresh Brexit referendum, saying voters could see it as a betrayal.

The deep scepticism from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest and most powerful supporters is likely to unnerve MPs and campaigners hoping the party is warming to the idea of a fresh Brexit vote.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, hit back at McCluskey’s warning, laying bare the tensions in the party.

“To suggest it represents a ‘betrayal’ grossly distorts Labour’s position and is deeply unhelpful to those seeking a solution to an an issue that is reaching crisis proportions,” he told the Guardian.


So plenty of coherence among the opposition there ...

The fear of "the right-wing" is something that pisses me right off.

What are they afraid of? You don't win elections by saying that your opponents are right, so don't vote for them. You set out clear, principled positions and you stick to them (as the SNP have done). There's enough confusion and enough votes up for grabs right now that a clear anti-Brexit stance (however it has to be dressed up to make it palatable - May's current deal is unpalatable enough that they might even be able to attract some former Leavers) would quite possibly be a vote-winner. Certainly, if the polls are to be believed, Labour's current stance isn't working.

If they're afraid of civil unrest, well, that didn't seem to be a decisive factor during the miners' strike or any other struggle that's taken to the streets, and I'd expect any violence to be dealt with swiftly and firmly. Or do people like me in the Remain camp have to threaten violence before the 48% of us and counting have our wishes taken seriously?

I know the idea of a Labour government seems attractive to a number of people in the USA, but I'm afraid I can't muster much enthusiasm for the sort of doctrinaire and terminally muddled or downright incompetent government it looks like Corbyn might form even if Labour won.

Sorry this was so long, You were warned. Thanks and commiserations if you made it this far!

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ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 OP
YessirAtsaFact Dec 2018 #1
Denzil_DC Dec 2018 #2
ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 #4
LineLineLineReply If you're finding it hard to follow in the US, it's not much easier for us in the UK!
Denzil_DC Dec 2018 #10
ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 #14
Denzil_DC Dec 2018 #16
ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 #19
Denzil_DC Dec 2018 #20
BannonsLiver Dec 2018 #15
Denzil_DC Dec 2018 #18
TreasonousBastard Dec 2018 #3
ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 #6
TreasonousBastard Dec 2018 #22
grantcart Dec 2018 #5
malaise Dec 2018 #7
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2018 #8
ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 #9
OnDoutside Dec 2018 #13
ZeroSomeBrains Dec 2018 #17
Denzil_DC Dec 2018 #12
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brooklynite Dec 2018 #21
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