Here we go. It used to be that elections came along every few years and now it seems unusual if we go a year without some vote or other. Which drives some people crazy but is great for certain special interest groups like journalists, bloggers and primary school kids desperate for yet another unscheduled day off.
And of course it is the journalists who are making hay right now. They do not need to sit in editorial meetings pitching stories when the stories come to them so easily and even when there is a paucity of actual facts (‘what’ is the announcement? Soon became ‘why?’) then they can all stand around guessing at the motives of Mrs May.
And what guesses we got.
Theresa was either cunning or brave or ruthless or astute or… all manner of things, mostly said with either respect or a grudging admission that it made sense for her and her party. The common factor in all of this being that the decision was, at least, decisive.
But it isn’t.
I don’t normally recommend reading below the line but if you bob your head into the sheep dip that lies beneath a Daily Mail article (or on their twitter feed) you soon find orgasmic haters delighted at the ‘strong leadership’ being shown. They see May as a person driving the agenda – outfoxing her opponents before they have even thought of their move.
But she isn’t.
She sees the points in the story where things will fall one way or the other, for good or ill. (Not our good or our ill; her good)
And then she chooses. The problem with Theresa is that she always makes the same choice and it’s never the right one.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Mr Frost spoke of deliberately taking the unpopular route; of choosing a path that others would not have chosen. Theresa May is the exact opposite.
Look at the issues raised.
Theresa was a remainer. Not a strong remainer because she doesn’t actually have strong opinions about anything (National Insurance included, thankfully).
By simply agreeing with everyone she became leader of her party and Prime Minister. It was easier to concede to the EurOgres in her party than do anything else. Pretending that her hands were tied by the ‘Will of the people’.
Moving on from that she has carefully decided not to reveal her Brexit strategy. An easier choice to make when there is no strategy to reveal. You only have to see David Davis admit that they haven’t even costed out a ‘no-deal’ scenario to realise they don’t know what they are doing.
When Theresa May realises that there is no good option she makes no decision at all. David Cameron famously ‘checked his socks’ every time he came out of a meeting with Alex Salmond and (never thought I would be saying this) you have to give him credit for even trying.
Theresa doesn’t engage with Nicola Sturgeon because she knows she’s on a hiding. Now is not the time? Really? When Theresa thinks she is going to lose, she just doesn’t show.
With the CPS looking at 30 individuals in the Conservative apparatus this was the most pressing reason to take another path. There would have been by-elections and they would not have gone well for the tories.
This was going to be the scandal of her time in office. Perhaps as many as a dozen seats up for grabs with Tory politicians walking in and out of court as police personnel look on.
Can’t have that. So, a poll appears showing Theresa is well liked, her party are ahead and Labour have been in the doldrums for so long that they seem to have forgotten where the ship was headed in the first place.
It is a big decision, but an easy one to make in the end. Election!
And now we come to the most telling example…
This is about Brexit, she said. This is about having strong and stable leadership, she said.
But we don’t get to see her be a leader. We have to give her the authority to argue the case against 27 other states (represented by highly educated and capable politicians) and we have to trust in her ability to manage that process when she is unwilling to go up against Paul Nuttall.
Theresa must know she is going to get hammered for this. I am already writing about it and the press, for all their faults, are asking questions about it.
Why would she let herself in for that kind of abuse?
Because it is the easier road. For both Labour and the Conservatives this election is impossible to fight in soundbites. They can’t have one message because they managed to split the country in half with that stupid Brexit nonsense. Whatever position the Prime Minister takes on the podium there will be someone on either side of her who can attack anything she might say. Put aside for the moment that Brexit is an act of irreparable self-harm, put aside that she doesn’t really believe in anything she might say. Theresa May would need to enter that debate with answers – and she doesn’t have any.
Brexit is already tumbling off the cliff.
Not having a debate attracts uncomfortable questions, but not as many as a debate would.
And Theresa doesn’t show up when she is going to get beat.
Theresa has taken the easy option again and she will continue to do so. This election will be fought with platitudes on the TV and location-specific lies on the ground. In areas where Remain was strong the tories will state that a mandate would allow her to soften the blow. That she would have the base to create a soft-brexit. Where Leave held sway they will be on the ground telling voters that they need a strong leader to show the Europeans we mean business.
Theresa May did not call the election because she is a strong leader. A strong leader does not need 100 extra bodies. No, she called it because she is a weak leader in need of back up.
When this is finished she will still be inherently weak and she will always, always take the path of least resistance, More austerity, more tax breaks for the corporations, more cuts and less humanity.