My sources in Westminster say that it was the chance to be elected for a “full five more years” that was the deciding factor for calling the election, along with there being a “window” for a summer election before the European Union agrees its negotiating position and the German elections later this year.
Add Theresa May’s runaway lead in the opinion polls (some putting her at 50 per cent), and a hopeless and divided Labour opposition, and you have as close to a winning hand as any PM could ever hope for. Oh, and expect the Conservative manifesto to include a specific election mandate not to hold another referendum (any time soon) on Scottish independence.
But there are some more expedient reasons for the election that will come as no surprise to seasoned Westminster owls. May, a vicar’s daughter who has risen through the political ranks by her own skill and character, rather than being anointed by some Boden-wearing political clique, wants her own moral mandate.
It is completely right for her to want this in order to build a country in her own image, with “equal opportunity” for all, based on hard work and merit – and not just for the “privileged few”, as she has said. This was, of course, a barely veiled reference to the “chumocracy” of David Cameron and his Notting Hill gang who turned political entitlement into a social art form. May is right to throw the cashmere and Cornwall brigade into the tumble dryer and forge a new party image that is not a “chillaxed” extension of the Bullingdon Club. Few in Westminster were sorry to see George Osborne step down as MP for Tatton.
But with so many other MPs standing down, and Labour MPs deserting the sinking ship, there are increased rumblings from the grassroots of the Conservative Party that May’s political generals in Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ, formerly known as Central Office) are not being entirely consistent, or transparent, in the selection of Tory candidates for June 8.
While May is determined to have an egalitarian and meritocratic ambition for the new post-Brexit Britain she wants, some Tory constituency associations have been complaining that Central Office has been sending them shortlists of candidates (“Westminster cronies”, according to the Telegraph) whom they have never heard of and are not known locally.
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