CLASH OF COMMENT: Should the UK hold another general election?

Image: UK Parliament

Yes – Nick Meadowcroft-Lunn

Theresa May’s “gamble” wasn’t even worthy of the title. With several weeks until a general election she had a 17-point average lead in the polls and an opponent who seemed more likely to be blown up by his alleged IRA connections than drop a bomb-shell on the 8th of June. It was cast-iron certainty that the Conservatives would be returned to parliament with a huge majority and a period of “strong and stable” government that was to be controversial but decisive; a government that would provide a hard, unforgiving Brexit. However, at 10:01 pm election night, the political winds seemed to have utterly put paid to that hypothesis.

My reaction, mirroring others around the country no doubt, was one of utter shock, followed by suspicion, followed by a sudden affinity for gallows humor. The result? A hung parliament where no block can form a majority of over ten, a choice selection of coalitions of chaos. As a Labour supporter, I make no bones about my happiness that Jeremy Corbyn’s party has gained seats; but as a person directly affected by Brexit negotiations, security concerns and numerous other social, legal and political concerns, even I can see that a Conservative majority of 100 would have at least got something done.

At this moment in time politics seems frozen, no one side able to do the things they must do to get the country out of this impasse. A shaky, nigh-on informal, alliance between the Conservatives and the DUP seems at best to stop-gap- at worst an allowance of 1950s morals in our 21st century world; something even most Tories have no truck with. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour isn’t in a much better position. Having managed to totally win and totally lose the same election, the mood in Labour Party HQ could probably be summed up best by “so near but so far”.

There is very little electoral calculus that gives the Labour Party even a working majority, and even if they could cobble together some form of government, defections from just two or three MPs could spark any number of constitutional crisis. This situation, every party losing in it’s own special way, seems farcical, like constitutional Kafka. It cannot be allowed to go on. The only way to even aim for a semblance of authority , a semblance of government, has to be another general election. Yes, the British people could laugh again at the commentators and return us to the same position we find ourselves in now. But surely the chance of getting somewhere, anywhere, is preferable to just sitting idly by while the Brexit doomsday clock ticks down to midnight; something that would be disastrous to Britain and its economy.

At the moment, what have we been left with? A smorgasbord of potential minority governments signal no leadership, a case of the socially blind leading the politically tone deaf. It can be simply stated: bad government is better than no government. We need another general election, if only to turn the ongoing party infighting outwards and get nearer to a political heavyweight champion of the world- some real strength and stability.

No – Chloe Kent

I sincerely hope that 2017 will always be remembered as the year Britain’s political climate went competently insane. In the blue corner, we have Theresa May, everyone’s favorite Margaret Thatcher reincarnation, who has just managed to lose an election by winning it. In the red corner we have Jeremy Corbyn, who looks like someone who could be on the casting shortlist for the 13th Doctor, and has just managed to win an election by losing it.

Theresa “Strong and Stable” May, with a party of only 317 seats, has propped up her majority with a backroom deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, who are outrageously homophobic and do not believe that climate change is a thing. Oh, and they want creationism to be taught in schools as a scientific fact. But even with the DUP on side, it’s an unofficial majority – if someone has the shits and can’t show up to parliament on voting day, nothing’s getting done. So it is safe to say that things are pretty messy at this point and they are going to be for a while. So why not call another election? May will step down, jettisoned into the history books as an absolute wreak of a Prime Minister, and a more capable Conservative leader can take her place. Whether they can contest with eh mobilized youth vote will, of course, be another thing entirely. Maybe old Corbs can just about swing it this time. #jezwecan. #jez4prez.

Except, even as your archetypal Corbynite. I think that’s a bloody waste of time. General elections cost millions in taxpayers money. And let’s be honest, we are pretty likely to get much the same result- a weak and wobbly Conservative minority government. It might even make the coalition official this time. After all, the DUP would probably push for a marriage over a cohabitation. Another election would be the parliamentary equivalent of  sending off a GCSE paper for a remark a third time over. As much as I would like to be an idealist and say that this time round surely it can happen for Labour, there is still a strong Conservative votership. They’re a lot quieter on social media, but they are out there.

It’s only worth calling another election if we introduce a PR system. First-past-the-post is defunct, and we need to put it down. In the parallel universe where this is the case -anyone fancy starting a Milliverse-type Twitter account with this concept? The Conservatives lead shrinks even more, from 317 to 276. Labour would have 260, and combined these two figures are a much more accurate reflection of the current division of electoral support between the two main parties. Meanwhile, the DUP would be reduced to 6- try making a coalition out of that- and UKIP and Green would have 12 and 10 respectively. Of course, there is absolutely no way we will be getting a PR system any time soon. There are bigger fish to fry. Big Brexit fish. A there’s the floundering, failing NHS. And the conundrum over whether schoolchildren should be fed or not. There is no time for another First-past-the-post election right now. It’s a waste of time and money, in an age where we’re uncertain about both of those things. For now, we may as well suck it up and stick with what we’ve got.

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