A cursory glance through history tells us that many political movements and protests are exaggerated by the heat and humidity of summer. Indeed, both world wars were started during the summer months, and stifling heat can easily contribute to greater anger and even lead to violence as tempers flare. Very few protest marches are seen on the chill snowy streets of January in the UK, but the hot weather appears to bring out the crowds, as well as the worst in people.
This is not to suggest, of course, that those thousands of people lining the streets of the English capital have nothing to get upset about. On the contrary, much of the UK public feels a keen sense of injustice and betrayal by the political measures of austerity. Public sector pay caps, millions falling below the poverty line, dwindling benefits for those most in need – all of these things and more have left large swathes of the British people with a feeling that they have been left behind by a sneering political elite.
The result of June’s general election in which the Conservative Party failed to gain a majority has only served to make matters worse. A coalition of sorts with the Northern Irish DUP, while a practical solution, has left many opposition supporters up in arms. In exchange for a commitment to vote with the Tories on parliamentary matters, the DUP has secured at least £1 billion of funding for Northern Ireland. It’s one of the UK’s most impoverished regions and the deal is exactly what the public of Northern Ireland would expect from their leading party, but it has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many on ‘the mainland’ who have been feeling the squeeze for too many years now.
After the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 snap election much of the British public overwhelmingly feel that they have had quite enough of politics, than you very much. However, such has been the effect of the results of those two votes that there are many who now feel they have little option but to push political agendas even harder. Jeremy Corbyn and Labour supporters reaction to the recent election would be enough to convince the uninitiated that he had won and was en route to Downing Street as we speak. He may have earned Labour their biggest vote by numbers since 1945, but still fell short of the number of seats required to form a government.
The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had previously been entirely unconvinced of Corbyn’s ability to lead the party, but he has proven to be a shrewd operator and has positioned himself as a ‘man of the people’. Rarely in recent history has Labour veered so sharply towards the left wing, but it has become very easy to argue that Mr Corbyn, Jezza, J.C., if you will, has tapped into a great disparity that has been festering for some years.
They say a week is a long time in politics, so a whole summer of discontent may be too much for the system to bear. Theresa May threw away her credibility by calling, and essentially blowing, a general election and as my esteemed colleague here at SBO has pointed out – Mrs May could well be doomed.
By the time the autumn leaves begin to fall there is a strong feeling that the Conservative Party may have inaugurated a new leader, and yet another general election will be on the cards. The news that the Tories had been advertising for a new campaign manager might suggest they are laying ground preparations already. Equally, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters appear to be utterly determined to sweep their party to power by whatever means, and the only way to placate those vociferous masses may be to afford them the chance of another vote. A once-and-for-all decision perhaps?
As my friend and colleague suggests, it looks highly unlikely that Theresa May can hold on to her position at number 10. The only thing in her favour, perhaps, is that the Conservatives are running scared of a resurgent Labour party, and may feel the need to rally round Mrs May in order to avoid another election and a potential loss of power. They are clinging to government by their fingertips as it is.
Yet politics, much like football, is a ‘funny old game’. The opportunistic nature of our political game will ensure that various politicians within the Tory party will be assessing their chances of snatching power. My partner in crime has recommended a dutched bet on messrs Hammond and Davis for the next Tory leader, a punt which is hard to argue against for serious bettors. However, one would like to throw a +10000 outsider into the mix on the shape of the lesser known Johnson – Jo Johnson.
Younger brother of former London Mayor and now Foreign Secretary Boris, Jo has been a Conservative minister since 2010 representing the constituency of Orpington. He increased his majority on his patch in both 2015 and 2017 elections, returning a healthy 19,000 majority in June’s election. Jo Johnson has held various policy-making positions in David Cameron’s and Theresa May’s governments, and since 2015 has been Minister for Universities and Science.
While Bojo is clearly angling for another crack at the position he thought he had nailed after the 2016 referendum, one suspects he may be considered too much of a risk among his peers within the party. Jojo – looking like a younger and leaner version of Boris – could well be the ticket. Known as a rather left-leaning and EU-positive politician, he might be able to offer something to those members of the public which would prefer a strong relationship with the EU, but don’t wish to follow Jeremy Corbyn and Labour down the path towards a socialist Britain. Despite many Tory supporters hoping their party will lurch towards the right wing in response to Labour, it may be that a compromise is the order of the day when the inevitable leadership battle comes around.
Next UK general Election to be held in 2017
Next Conservative Party Leader to be Jo Johnson
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