I have to say that this is the most interesting election for a long time. Why?
I was talking with my brother last night about PM May and, inevitably, we had our differing opinions on her. Students of politics often cite Brown’s failure to call an election. Will they now cite PM May’s acute sense of strategy to triumph over the political field? It is extremely interesting that there are voices in Europe that hope for this outcome.
I have three things to say.
Opinion polls on May’s leadership and her lead over Corbyn do not exactly correlate and translate to a landslide in what she quite rightly noted is a, ‘Brexit election.’ The UK is divided North/South and East/West. I fully understand her reluctance to embark on this path. This decision may tell us a lot more about PM May’s sense of where she sees herself in History, her legacy, but this may still prove to be a careless deviation from the reality of a divided UK that has fumbled towards this historic junction, led by ego driven visions of those who saw their names light up in History, long before the commentaries were written. A dangerous game to play? The polls flatter to deceive, as they always do. Opinion polls often massage the ego and Brown’s caution may yet prove to be pertinent.
Secondly, this is a real opportunity for parties who are against the the ‘Tory’ vision of a top down version of Brexit. Democracy exists to allow society to frame the political discourse. It has never existed to empower the few to manufacture visions that fracture and impoverish the nation, visions that leave the disenfranchised powerless and destitute. What the UK public should never accept is a political framework, Brexit or not, that fails to deal with the poverty and the disenchantment that exists within our society, where the youth feel disempowered and directionless and where the vulnerable, the elderly and the sick feel abandoned. There is an alternative direction that envisages a renewed society and the voting public are free to choose this alternative vision in this election. Every election is about transforming and motivating our political representatives to enact changes that benefit society as a whole. This election is not just about Brexit!
Lastly. Northern Ireland really doesn’t need another election. Northern Ireland needs political leadership and those who believe in truth, reconciliation and progress. This election creates yet another opportunity to slideshow what division looks like. A sideshow that diverts, once again, form the decisions that could transform and heal.
However, in the UK and Northern Ireland context, this is an opportunity for progressive voices to reintroduce alternative possibilities and new directions.