Merryn's Blog

A snap general election makes sense for everyone

Theresa May’s snap general election makes sense for her, for the Conservative party, and for the country, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

170418-theresa-may-b

I thought I had election fatigue. I thought I couldn't cope with anymore political rows or referendums. I was wrong. It turns out that while I am bored to tears and mildly irritated by the idea of a Scottish indyref2* (hence the feeling of fatigue), I'm pretty pleased by the idea of a snap general election.

Read Theresa May's statement from this morning and you can see why the whole thing makes sense, not just for her and her party, but for all of us. She might not have wanted to fight an election when she has a few things on already, but she clearly does want to deliver a good Brexit("Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back") as well as to move on with some of her domestic agenda. And she isn't going to get a better chance to get the backing to do that than she has right now.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

A good result in the election will give new momentum to her Brexit negotiations. There will be no more mutterings about how her very existence contradicts the Brexit vote (it was for more democratic accountability and she has not won an election for her party). She will have shown herself to be an excellent PM candidate as well as PM (even calling the election is an impressive act of leadership) and can claim a mandate to deliver Brexit in any form she fancies. The EU will know she has thatfirm mandate and that she has a good chance of delivering what she promises at the negotiating table.

As she notes, "the country is coming together but Westminster is not." A good majority in her pocket will change that impression and allow her to take a much tougher stance with the EUthan otherwise. Having an election now also means that she won't have to run an election campaign under the fixed term rules just as the negotiations are either winding up (they are bound to over run) or at a tricky stage (it would be in EU negotiator interests for her to have an election in 2020 but not in ours).

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

It will also mean that she can write her own manifesto. It should be clear to pretty much everyone by now that Theresa May is no David Cameron (at this point I think we should see that as a good thing). So why should she be working from his manifesto? She's got a lot on her mind apart from Brexit.

Will she dump the triple lock on pensions (it is far too expensive)? Dump the promise not to raise income taxes (so she can equalise the tax on the employed and the self employed)? Make pension auto enrolment compulsory? Offer a firm industrial policy and limits on executive pay? A new deal between shareholders and boards? It's all going to be interesting.

The final thing to note on this snap election (or what Labour's PR team appear to want to call a "cut and run" election) is that it might actually get rid of Jeremy Corbyn and give Ruth Davidson a chance to grab a seat or two from the SNP in Scotland (polls show a clear majority just don't want indyref2). These two things might be a by-product of the election for May at the moment, but they are hugely important for the rest of us.

Democracy relies on there being effective and powerful oppositions. Without them, governments aren't forced to examine their own policies with the rigour electorates deserve (hence the ridiculous "named persons" legislation in Scotland, for example). If this election helps bring them back in Westminster and Edinburgh all the better. Exciting isn't it?

*We have had referendum on independence in Scotland already and received a clear answer from it another is a pointless exercise in the aggressive creation of division.

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/519858/how-long-can-the-good-times-roll
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Visit/516758/beyond-the-brexit-talk-the-british-economy-isnt-doing-too-badly
Economy

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Visit/economy/600667/money-minute-wednesday-22-january-uk-public-borrowing
Economy

Money Minute Wednesday 22 January: UK public borrowing

Today's Money Minute looks ahead to the latest on of the UK's public finances, with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts for borrowing thi…
22 Jan 2020
Visit/economy/600666/money-minute-tuesday-21-january-uk-labour-market-data
Economy

Money Minute Tuesday 21 January: UK labour market data

In today's Money Minute we get the latest unemployment figures for the UK, plus wage growth data and a host of company updates.
21 Jan 2020

Most Popular

Visit/currencies/600665/currency-corner-new-zealand-dollar-kiwi-vs-us-dollar
Currencies

Currency Corner: how is the New Zealand dollar doing against its US counterpart?

The New Zealand dollar has been doing well against the US dollar in recent months, but has started to wobble a little. Is it still a buy? Dominic Fris…
20 Jan 2020
Visit/investments/stocks-and-shares/share-tips/600653/indias-small-and-mid-cap-stocks-are-set-for-big
Share tips

India’s small and mid-cap stocks are set for big gains – here are three to buy now

Each week, a professional investor tells us where he’d put his money. This week: David Cornell of the India Capital Growth Fund highlights three favou…
20 Jan 2020
Visit/investments/stocks-and-shares/share-tips/600636/class-acts-going-cheap-buy-into-europes-best
Share tips

Class acts going cheap: buy into Europe’s best bargains

Value investing appears to be making a comeback, while shares on this side of the Atlantic are more appealing on metrics such as price/earnings ratios…
16 Jan 2020
Visit/investments/stocks-and-shares/share-tips/600641/share-tips-of-the-week
Share tips

Share tips of the week

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.
17 Jan 2020