As if to underscore the way in which so many in the Press and Pundit Establishment exist in their own parallel universe, where politics is just a game and the collateral damage - poverty, poor wages, bad housing, homelessness, poor health and hopelessness - is someone else’s problem, alleged doyen of political editors Tim Shipman of the Murdoch Sunday Times has declared that the Tories are war-gaming a snap General Election.
Indeed, there it is on the paper’s front page today: “May’s team plot snap election to save Brexit … PM faces new cabinet battle over immigration”. Whistle those upmarket doggies! You readers want Brexit, don’t you? Well, the bloke who owns this paper wants it, despite not having the vote in the UK, so that’s good enough for his hacks. And immigration too - get rid of all those people who talk funny or who don’t look like us, eh?
So what kind of bull has Shippers been shipping this time? “Theresa May’s aides have secretly began contingency planning for a snap election in November to save the Brexit talks and her job after EU leaders rebuffed the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan … Two senior members of May’s Downing Street political operation responded to her summit humiliation in Salzburg last week by ‘war-gaming’ an Autumn vote to win public backing for a new plan.” And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.
One, it’s not much of a secret if it’s on the front page of the Sunday Times. And more significantly, Two, by November the Brexit talks, or what is left of them, should have been completed and an agreement - if there is to be one - reached.
There is, of course, a third problem for Theresa May and her merry band, and that is not only that many in her own party would be less than totally enthusiastic about going to the country yet again, but also that they would have to deal with something called the Labour Party. We know what happened last time she called a snap poll.
Moreover, there are two distinct problems for the PM to confront with Labour. One, during last year’s campaign, Labour began with a 16 point poll deficit and narrowed it to just two points by polling day. And Two, Jeremy Corbyn has just agreed to back a so-called “Peoples’ Vote” on the terms of whatever agreement Theresa May reaches with the EU.
With 86% of Labour members estimated to back that strategy, and strong support for the idea from the Lib Dems, the SNP, Greens and even some Tories, Corbyn has not only killed Brexit stone dead by his latest move - minor point, eh Shippers - he has effectively rallied all those opposed to the Brexit charade to his standard.
That would give Labour a significant advantage in what would undoubtedly be the most vicious, dirtiest and least honest Tory campaign in history. Smethwick in 1964? Sun Kinnock lightbulb front page in 1992? The abuse hurled at Michael Foot in 1983? What the Tories’ press pals will hurl at Jezza will be of a magnitude greater.
But for the man Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell characterised as “Jezbi-Wan Cornorbyn”, this time the force is truly with him. Labour has mass membership. It has the organisation. It has the New Media support. And it is talking the language of ordinary voters.
Corbyn has killed Brexit. A snap election, and he’ll kill off the Tories, too. Bring it on.
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