As of this writing (5:00am BST, June 9, 2017) election results for the UK General Election are beginning to trickle-in and pundits are lining up to lambaste Prime Minister Theresa May for calling a snap election while in majority government, and then losing the majority just as the UK is poised to head into Brexit negotiations.
‘Oh yes. She fumbled it. Absolutely.’ Said every headline.
And on the surface, that’s what it looks like.
Surely, any majority government that calls an election they don’t need, becoming a minority government in the process, are losers. What else could it be?
But what if Theresa May is smarter than pundits realize?
Short-term pain, for long-term gain?
Maybe. She’s a shrewd operator. Although she can seem cold, standoffish, and even awkward in certain situations, it also seems she’s a patriot who was willing to ‘take a hit for the team’ in order to realize her dream of ‘Building a Better Britain’.
What if everything she’s done has been done with great purpose and resolve, balancing huge risk to her standing as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and to her party fortunes in order to accomplish some great goal that will eventually result in a better Britain?
What if Theresa May has been playing chess whilst everyone else has been playing checkers?
Viewing the UK through a Prime Minister’s lens
Holding a snap election vs. not holding a snap election.
What would be the point of staging a successful getaway from the European Union, and then with the SNP still powerful because it was holding 56 seats, the SNP decided to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom via (post-Brexit) Indyref after Indyref?
Wouldn’t it follow that either Northern Ireland or Wales might then consider staging their own independence referendums and possibly leave the United Kingdom?
What if both devolved territories followed Scotland out of the United Kingdom?
Suddenly, there would be no more ‘United’ in the name United Kingdom, only England remaining.
At that point, the European Union would probably prevail upon the newly independent territories to join the EU — and if successful at that, the EU would become emboldened to invite London into the EU family by promoting London referendum after London referendum.
Had Theresa May not called a snap election, she might have left the SNP in a powerful position, with Scotland leaving the UK (post-Brexit) and the SNP inviting both Northern Ireland and Wales to leave the UK with Scotland.
Such are the matters that keep Prime Ministers awake at night.
Trading a majority, for a Kingdom that remains United
It appears that Theresa May knew what she was doing all along — she chanced losing a majority in the House of Commons for a chance to stick it to the SNP.
Yes, it cost her. But because of the 2017 election results the SNP is now a weaker force, with much less momentum than it had pre-election. Momentum that could have been used in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe to break up the United Kingdom.
Such is the nature of strategy; In order to safeguard the ‘United’ part of the name ‘United Kingdom’ Theresa May used her tactical assets to accomplish those goals.
And that’s the difference between strategists and tacticians. Master strategists like Winston Churchill won WWII, but were forced to expend many of their tactical assets to do so.
(Read about the Battle of Britain to fully understand how this played out in WWII. Many times it may have looked like Britain was losing the war, or at least taking a severe beating, when in fact Winston was setting the Nazis up for later defeat. And he did it in broad daylight, right under everyone’s noses, including his own staff)
Is Theresa May that good? In broad daylight, quite under everyone’s noses, did May just save us from a SNP-led break up of the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit period?
Let the facts speak for themselves
Prime Minister Theresa May spent some of her chips in order to take down the SNP — the same SNP that represented the number one threat to the UK remaining united in a post-Brexit Europe.
Now that the SNP has lost a significant number of seats to Labour and Conservatives alike, the SNP is no longer the threat to UK continuity, harmony, and stability it once was.
In baseball parlance, this is known as a ‘force play‘ when the base runner is in a position to score a point and is forced by the playmaker to run towards home plate knowing full well they’ll be ‘tagged out’ in the process.
If that’s what Theresa May is up to, she’s playing the game of politics at a level far above the understanding of her critics, and it also means she’s a true British patriot, a citizen par excellence, of a permanently United Kingdom.
Having weakened the greatest potential threat to UK unity in decades, the noble Theresa May can now proceed with a safe Brexit — a Brexit where the United Kingdom doesn’t risk losing Scotland, or Northern Ireland, or Wales, in the process.
Well done, Theresa! Right… under… their… noses!
An interesting concept! I don’t think so, though it might have been in the minds of May’s two most trusted advisers, but fell short as they did not expect Corbyn to do well for Labour. He won a personal victory which will entail a good, strong opposition in Parliament – so both sides will be heard and there will be good debates.
I personally think she has done a fantastic job considering that she was just left to pick up the pieces after the Brexit vote when no other member of her party wanted to take up arms. She has made incredible sacrifices for her Country. It became clear that she is better at getting on with the job behind her desk and had no real help with an electoral campaign, showing all her cards before the vote, mentioning all the unpopular items such as The Dementia Tax, cuts for pensioners, a re-vote on fox-hunting et al. She wins my utmost admiration however standing up to those same Tories who did not ‘take up arms’ who now want to stab her in the back and take over. We now know that she is seeking the Queen’s permission to form a Minority Government with the help of Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland – who themselves are in disarray, but want to keep Pensioners happy and although Eurosceptics want ease across the border with the EU. The vote also confirmed that UKIP is no longer wanted nor needed. Minority governments (if the Commons agree) never usually last long, but hopefully will last as long as the Brexit negotiations take place.
And thank you for your detailed and thoughtful comment. A pleasure to hear from you, always!
Whether Theresa May meant to do all the things I wrote about in my piece, or not, she should still get the credit, IMHO.
After all, a good deed accomplished is a good deed accomplished — whether it was intended to be all of that, or not. 😉
The fact is, Theresa May’s election call and the results have broken the back of the SNP. I consider SNP members to be only a half-step away from being traitors to the United Kingdom, to all the citizens of the UK including Scots, and to all that the UK stands for in the world.
And all of it has cost Theresa dearly, whether she intended that actual result or not.
She has so far, been a great PM, and seemed to get stronger and better with each passing month.
I think that the Conservative policy of reverting to ‘double-lock’ instead of ‘triple-lock’ for seniors was a big mistake.
Each senior is related to at least (I would say) FIVE family members on average, so when the Conservatives decided to switch to ‘double-lock’ instead of ‘triple-lock’ not only did they anger every senior in the country, they angered five-times that number. Almost every senior in the UK has younger family members… so that amounts to a very large number of voters indeed.
Big mistake by the Conservatives.
Fortunately, the DUP platform will work to correct the mistakes — not only on the ‘triple-lock’ question but on other Conservative policy errors that concern seniors.
I would prefer to see a coalition government with the DUP; It strikes me as more stable than a ‘supply and confidence agreement’ between the DUP and Conservative parties.
Your points about the Conservatives ‘not taking up arms’ and fighting with enthusiasm for their leader and the Conservative platform are spot-on!
It’s almost like they wanted Theresa to (somewhat) fail so there could be a leadership contest (which, at this late date on the Brexit calendar would be a travesty) so that they all could get better positions. If true, that is TOXIC party politics!
Your points about Theresa doing a fantastic job are welcome here. She’s been brilliant for the most part, and that, with seemingly lukewarm support in her own party. She deserves better.
I also agree about the need for a strong opposition. Corbyn has surprised, and it appears he has more value than his own party would acknowledge.
Let’s hope that the Theresa May government continues, with help from the DUP, and that Brexit is finalized within the 2-year mark. Some time well after all of that takes place seems appropriate for an election — but not before.
That election will be a report card on Theresa May and on the Brexit deal she got for the UK.
I hope that Brexit is a wild success and that Theresa wins a 100-seat majority, at that time.
It’s in nobody’s best interest to be playing ‘musical chairs’ with the Prime Minister position during Brexit negotiations.
Thanks again for your great comment!