The weeks of posturing, polls, predictions and promises that mark the run-up to an election have passed me by. I’ve been very busy with work and I didn’t know about the UK general election until a friend in New York asked me what I thought of it. A quick trip to the BBC News app explained which election he was referring to.
Over the last few days, I’ve surfaced enough to take the pulse of the campaigning and rhetoric and I’ve been underwhelmed with what I’ve heard, seen and read. More specifically, here are my thoughts.
1 I sense that Theresa May has lost her way. She doesn’t seem as capable as she did before the election was called. I’ve heard snippets of the flip-flop on social care costs, which has the hallmarks of a last-minute idea that shouldn’t have made it anywhere near a manifesto.
2 Apart from the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, appearing in a televised debate last week, Tory cabinet members seem to have been conspicuous by absence. I don’t know whether that’s because they’ve absented themselves or they’ve been told to stay on the bench, but I’m confident that we’ll hear a lot from them if the Tories don’t hit a landslide at the polls.
3 I sense that old allegiances on party lines have been muddied by Brexit. For many people, Brexit is the defining issue and they see neither Theresa May/the Conservative party nor Jeremy Corbyn/the Labour party offering anything that appeals to them on that crucial topic. I wonder whether we’re heading for a political realignment that takes greater account of Brexit and who has a say in the form and terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. Just a thought.
4 Labour’s campaign message – For the Many Not the Few – struck me as being more likely to resonate with voters and hats off to whoever came up with it. Not so convinced by what seems to be Theresa May’s slogan, rather than the Tory party’s campaign message: Strong and Stable. From where I’m sitting, it only seems credible if the alternative is having Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.
5 That said, with the television on mute, Jeremy Corbyn appeared more Prime Ministerial than Theresa May last week. He looked purposeful and confident. His head was held high. He exuded authority. But the television was on mute.
6 Personally, I’d like to see a hung Parliament and a coalition government. I don’t have confidence in either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservative party or the Labour party, to run the country or negotiate our exit from the EU. It would be ironic if a coalition required a deal with the Scottish National Party, which would no doubt want a further referendum on Scottish independence and might also seek to re-visit Brexit before forming a coalition government.
7 What I really wouldn’t want is another general election in short order, as happened in 1974. We had a general election in 2015 and we have another one this year. Last year, we had the EU referendum and we had vicarious participation in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 and the US presidential election throughout the whole of 2016. Even though I’m a staunch advocate of democracy and I’ve missed most of the campaigning this time round, I have a severe case of election fatigue.