5 key ways the snap General Election will impact Scotland and the UK

Theresa May wants to frame the June General Election around support for hard Brexit and UK national unity

PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has called for a snap election on 8 June.

Her sudden announcement from 10 Downing street focused on Brexit and what she claimed were opposition parties attempts to undermine a country united behind her plans for a hard exit from the EU.

CommonSpace looks at five key motivations and strategies behind the shock move.

1. The Tories want to consolidate their political dominance

The conservatives have pulled far ahead of opposition parties in consecutive polls.

Theresa May targeted Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party and members of the House of Lords during her announcement, lumping them together as the anti-Brexit parties.

May wants to establish a fundamental political cleavage in British society between pro and anti-Brexit forces.

“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,” she complained.

She also wants to consolidate the political right behind her leadership, as UKIP will struggle against a vote for Tory hard Brexit, and rightwing Tory backbenchers will be compelled to respect  May’s leadership if she delivers an election victory.

2. An election victory could be used to de-legitimise a Scottish Independence referendum

The Scottish Parliament’s vote to request a the power from Westminster to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence in the wake of hard Brexit created an stalemate over the Scottish national question. May remained intransigent, saying it would not grant a referendum, Sturgeon applied for one in any case and promised to pursue a strategy to acquire one.

The SNP will be under pressure to maintain its historic support from the 2015 election, which saw the party win 56 out of a possible 59 seats. A slip in the party’s support may be used by the Conservatives to argue a public reaction against calls for an independence referendum, and to continue to impose its hard-right domestic agenda.

This is a gamble. If the SNP’s position holds up on a manifesto claiming the right to a referendum this could be seen as a mandate for the SNP to push ahead.

3. The government wants to ‘seal in’ Tory hard Brexit

May said in her announcement that support for the Conservatives would strengthen her position against the political leaderships of the 27 EU countries, and it is likely that her claims to be fighting for British interests in Europe will become a cornerstone of her campaign.

The Tories will also want to use an election victory to claim public assent for hard Brexit, possibly eliminating calls for a vote on the final UK-EU deal, and removing it as an issue in any future General Election. An increased majority would strengthen May’s position in difficult talks ahead.

4. The SNP and Scotland will be used as a stick to beat Labour

May claimed the only opposition to a Tory government was a Labour government backed by the SNP and the liberal democrats.

This echo’s the pitch by then Prime Minister David Cameron in the 2015 General Election, who campaigned on the message that the SNP would be in a position to control Ed Miliband and forward Scottish interests at the expense of England.

During her speech she attacked the SNP for refusing to support Brexit, and warned of a future government propped up by Sturgeon. This will likely become a significant campaigning message.

5. Scottish Westminster parties will face internal chaos in candidate selection

Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives have only one MP each, an unprecedented situation for the three once major Westminster parties going into a general election.

In all the parties there will be friction over the rapid organisation of 58 new candidates (fewer if new boundary changes apply for the election) for Scottish constituencies.

This should be less of a hazard for the Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who are more united. However, Scottish Labour are in the middle of an internal struggle between Corbyn supporters and opponents and this could bleed into fights over the selection of constituency candidates.

The SNP is also more unified behind the party leadership, but all the party machines will be stretched by an election called at such short notice.

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Comments

MxMagpie

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 21:14

Regards 1 id say that’s stating the obvious, regards 3 id say thats admitting they need that extra strength to get through the tough negotiations ahead.
Regards 2, id say that is indeed a big gamble, and one she is forced to make, unless she thinks she can defeat INDY2, which clearly she doesn’t.
Regards 4, that stick worked last time, in combo with carrot of a Brexit referendum, but that’s another big gamble to think that it’s going to work again.
Regards 5, I can’t see the SNP being thrown into chaos by this, all they need to do is pick 3 new candidates. Labour, yes, but as far as im concerned anything in Scotland is a bonus for labour. I don’t care about the Lib Dems, and I cant see the Tories making headway. What exactly have they done for Scotland since the last election? Other than austerity I mean. Hold a Brexit and then tell Scotland they don’t count? Champion the rights of people not to have a referendum on something they voted overwhelmingly against? (I.e. the UKs decision to Brexit.)

rosspriory

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:06

"Its the economy , stupid"

Dear SNP, to fight the battles ahead can I please have an Industrial Policy, a Fiscal policy, a Monetary policy with a non GERS statement of accounts. Then and only then will we win the war.

Its the Economy Stupid

Alisdair McKay

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 23:27

In any eventuality it is most likely that the Conservatives will hold the majority in Westminster post election, and will have a free hand to do what they like, SNP or no SNP, has or will make any difference, the thorn in their side has not been the Labour party who have rolled over and obliged the Conservatives in Westminster. The thorn in their sides are those bloody Scots. SO, ignore their continued 'game playing' calls for a referendum. With a renewed mandate UK wide (England) announce that post Brexit power over agriculture and fisheries will reside at Westminster. Then, stating that devolution to Holyrood has been a failed experiment, disruptively exacerbating constitutional matters across the UK, rather than quashing the demands for independence, castrate it, ensuring that it ceases to raise any problems in the future. With no significant voice to speak for Scotland asset strip it to make sure it really is a lame duck with no prospects of contemplating independence ever again. I will be interested to hear why anyone thinks that Holyrood will be left to function without being seriously diminished, let alone able to argue for another referendum, following the forthcoming general election and Brexit process? Why will a Conservative government in Westminster who's very foundations are seriously being threatened by it, who's standing with those who elect it and those who support it in Scotland, would be hugely enhanced by doing so, not simple steam roll Holyrood and Scotland's aspirations, leaving the SNP MPs at Westminster to bleat from the sidelines. Because of this prospect I think that it is suicidal for Scotland to have SNP candidates standing on anything other than a mandate to simply return to Westminster to negotiate withdrawal. The general election will be our last chance to assert our withdrawal in a way that is binding on all parties and recognisable internationally without question. Whilst Holyrood is subordinate to Westminster and needs permissions, Scotland and it's MPs as elected representatives are not and do not need permission any more than the UK needed the permission of the EU for the EU referendum. A nation which is not capable of taking it's own freedom when it can is not ready to run it's own affairs.

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