Illustration by Hannah Robinson
It’s official. After weeks of commentator speculation, we are having a general election. Parliament has approved the Prime Minister’s demands for one, meaning we can expect that Parliament will be dissolved at midnight on Wednesday November 6. Five weeks from then, on December 12, we will be having a general election. If Ed Miliband and the Labour party had won the 2015 general election then he would be seeking his re-election in Spring 2020. Brexit would never even have happened…
Back to reality, I do not think that a general election is the right decision for our country just now, but I accept that we are having one and I welcome the opportunity to exercise my right to vote. However, I’ll admit that I am not particularly enthused. We are amidst some of the most divided times in recent history. Parliament, political parties and the public find themselves divided on everything and especially on Brexit.
In the case of general elections, political parties shape their campaigns to fit both their own agendas and what they perceive to be voter preferences. Brexit has dominated political discourse for the past three years and it is likely that all parties will try and bring other issues into the debate. Their manifestos will contain a wide array of issues in order to try and appeal to as many voters as possible.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss other issues that require urgent attention. However, I am certain that, after the general election, Brexit will continue to tyrannise parliamentary and governmental agenda. Because of this, whomever walks through the door of 10 Downing Street on Friday the December 13, will manipulate the election result to their advantage.
As Brexit will continue to dominate, the new Government will need a mandate for their plans for Brexit regardless of the issues that their campaign was fought on. As I indicated in my article last week, a form of ‘sovereignty of the people’ now exists and the Government will use the election result to claim that they are carrying out the people’s wishes.
In reality, a general election will not solve the issues that we have. The First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system currently in place is not suited to the multipolarity of the nature of the Brexit debate. Though the format of a general election can bring other issues to the forefront of debate, in reality Brexit will continue to dominate discourse.
I firmly believe that, by Christmas, we will be in the same position of division that we find ourselves in now. More than ever, I think that this election will highlight the inadequacy of FPTP as the breadth of debate across the country cannot be represented by a two-party system.
I can only hope that the election creates a Parliament that can support another referendum on Brexit, so that the people can have their say on the future of the UK in a clear single-issue vote.