Mrs May’s Rabbit Out the Hat
Well, I think I can safely say nobody was quite expecting THAT. Theresa May pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat with her announcement of a snap General Election – to be held on June 8th this year.
A couple of things need to be said. The conversion of Mrs May to the cause of an early election does seem awfully convenient in some regards; up to 24 Conservative MPs are in very hot water over their expenses from the previous sortie in 2015. The prosecution of these 24 would, of course, potentially wipe out the Conservative majority of 16 and indeed would explain Mrs May “reluctantly” accepting the need for an election that she had previously seen as unnecessary. It would certainly make the “division” of Westminster extremely more problematic for May and tie her hands considerably when it comes to negotiating with the EU. UKIP really should have a) picked up on this and b) made more of this in their response – coupled with suitably sharp comments on how it proves the need to drain the Westminster Swamp.
This is going to be an election which will decide the fortunes of many; it will almost certainly set the seal on the terminal decline of the Labour Party, install potentially the Liberal Democrats as the ‘voice of the 48%’ opposition to the Conservative government, an outcome that would actually be extremely beneficial for Mrs May and it will decide, potentially, if UKIP sinks or swims. The key is strategy. With the right strategy, UKIP could find itself handily placed for a forward march, the wrong strategy could blow it to pieces and scatter them to the proverbial four corners of the globe.
A paucity of resources imposes a discipline on a Party to box clever as opposed to swinging forcefully but wildly. If the theme of this election is Brexit then lets think Brexit. Challenging hard-line Conservative Brexiteers is clearly nonsensical. They can be left untouched and UKIP can claim some easy moral high-ground brownie points by pointing to them putting country before Party. Challenging Liberal Democrats is nonsensical because the few remaining seats they have are all rock-solid territory for them and a waste of resource. High value Remain Conservative targets should be a priority, especially, if like in the case of George Osborne’s former seat, they can allow UKIP to work a ‘Drain the Swamp’ angle. Labour seats where the incumbents are clear Remainers and where there was a big increase in the UKIP vote in 2015 should also be on top of the target list, (both the Luton seats spring to mind), especially if there are local working class communities drowning in a sea of unfettered immigration.
Get the targeting, the messages right and the on the ground strategy operation right (UKIP need to remember that FPTP elections are as much about depressing/nicking/squeezing your opponents votes as winning your own) and this election could present UKIP with a real opportunity – get it wrong however and the consequences could be catastrophic.