I am sure the Prime Minister has a plan in calling a General Election. She is a religious woman (if the Church of England can these days be characterised as a religious organisation) and no doubt her God knows what that plan is. I do not. The only rational theory I can come up with is that she has taken an enormous bribe from a Liberal Democrat.
I would normally welcome an election. Not, you understand, because I expect any good outcome. Rather I see the process itself as a welcome distraction for our political and bureaucratic oppressors from the evil business of "government". The state's occasional paralysis while its hangers-on pretend to give a damn what we think is a noble thing. The main real purpose of the British (or any) state is to give power to the very last people who should have it, so that they can employ the otherwise unemployable to do things for which there is so little demand that no-one could otherwise be bothered to pay for them.
Any interference with that programme is usually to be desired.
Unusually however for such a self-serving and parasitical institution, the British government is currently in the middle of an arguably important task. The issues around Britain's exit from the European Union will not be clarified by an election. The confirmation biases of the entrenched "Leave" and "Remain" sides will govern their analysis of the election result. Nor will it advance the negotiations triggered with our EU neighbours. So this is surely no time to down tools?
Fortunately, irritating though it may be, I doubt the election will make any difference in this respect. The Brexit negotiations are anyway pointless. Any useful outcome will almost certainly be a "mixed agreement" in EU terms covering matters reserved to member states. This means it will have to be signed off by 27 other countries as well as the European Council. One of them – probably some nation usually of no global significance – is bound to go for its Andy Warhol moment.
There will therefore be a "hard Brexit" (i.e. no agreements to improve upon the World Trade Organisation default terms of trade) regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. We are only performing the Article 50 ritual dance for diplomatic purposes because Britain likes to present itself as a responsible member of the "international community". The truth is that (as there are no mechanisms to enforce it) "International Law " is a myth. To be more polite, it's more a diplomatic than a jurisprudential concept. So any delay to the negotiations caused by the election doesn't matter.
If Mrs May's intention is nakedly party political; to exploit the Labour Party's disorganisation in order to achieve a massively increased majority, I fear she will be disappointed. I would be delighted to see the Labour Party leave the political stage forever but there is no obvious understudy in the wings and a good 40% of the population is so tribal that it would not vote Conservative to save its own life. Besides, we British love an underdog and the bullying arrogance of Mrs May's action, multiplied by the media's universal assumption that she will win big, will - I hereby predict - annoy us into subversion.
The Conservatives were safely in power with a majority adequate to deliver on their programme – including their manifesto promise to implement the people's decision on Brexit. They have called this election for their own benefit, not ours, and many of us will be working out how to make them pay for that.
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