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By Morakinyo Babajide-Alabi
The campaigns for the June 8 election called by Prime Minister Theresa May has kicked off. The various political parties’ leaders are not wasting any time to establish themselves in the hearts of the electorates. As expected and typical of election periods, they have been criss-crossing the length and breath of the country, knocking on doors and handing out flyers.
For the Conservatives, the goal is to extend Theresa’s term in office – the main reason why the election was called. No one can fault the PM and her advisers on the timing of this election. They have the cards on the table and it is their choice to pick and choose.
For the Labour Party, the end goal in this election will be to change the leadership of the party. There is no doubt that Labour is struggling for relevance in the UK polity right now. Within the short leadership tenure of Jeremy Corbyn, there have been attempts to shove him off his seat. He has been labelled as a misfit to lead the party to electoral victory by many who should be supporting his dream. And on many occasions, Corbyn has been accused of being a left-wing radical, which is against what the party stands for.
So in this election, Labour, definitely, is not attempting to take over the reins of power from Theresa. To observers, Corbyn’s campaigns should be to shore up support for his leadership. To the die-hard Labour members who think Corbyn is a mistake, the election also offers another opportunity “to try and shove” him down the drain. To be fair, there would be no further excuse for Corbyn to hang on to the leadership of the party if he loses the election. This is a clever way to do away with him.
I have been cautioned on a few occasions in recent pasts that I should not discountenance the power of the far-left electorates. The opinion is that with recent events in world politics, such as BREXIT, the Trump victory, and the rise of far-left, nationalists’ parties in Europe; we cannot afford to write Corbyn off. I quite agree, based on the fact that polls are gradually becoming obsolete in forecasting the results of elections. Going by the exit polls for the UK 2015 elections, the Tories were not expected to have a majority win. We are all living witnesses to how Hillary Clinton was touted as the 45th President of the United States of America, based on false exit polls.
Enough said about Corbyn. Let’s turn our attention to the alternative party – the Liberal Democrats. I “love” this party, led by Tim Farron. There is no pretence about Farron or the members of his party. They know their capabilities and are not deceived into thinking they can change this overnight. When they have opportunities, they do celebrate their political gains and make no effort to hide their failures. Anyone remember Nick Clegg again? He was the “hatchet man” that led the party to the Coalition government of 2010. The party had never had it so good up until then, in recent times.
Unfortunately, all the gains prior to the unholy marriage with the Tories were lost before and during the 2015 General Elections. The fortunes of the party dipped tragically. But they were not the types to sulk for long. The members have picked themselves up and working assiduously now to reclaim some of the lost fortunes.
This election provides another opportunity to re-establish themselves. Farron realises this and he is not giving it away easily. He has set his target and that is to be a credible opposition to the Conservative Party. He is fully grounded in reality. He realises that the Labour Party is in disarray and the electorates are disillusioned and disappointed by the quality of opposition offered by Corbyn and his team. Hear him during one of the campaigns: “The country really needs a strong opposition alternative to the Tories. With Labour being the state they are in, we are more than prepared to provide that role. We are gaining seats in places that were ‘Remain’, but we are gaining more seats in places that voted ‘Leave’.”
Kicking Corbyn, while still down, Farron described him as “the most ineffective, poor quality opposition leader probably in the history of British politics”.
What about Green Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) you may ask. The Green Party is still green in the political terrain. How much impact it will have on this election is yet to be determined.
For UKIP, it seems the exit of Nigel Farage has sounded the death knell for it. No credible observer is giving the party any chance at the June elections. This is understandable going by recent events within the party. However, the leaders are still expected to huff and puff in order to attract their seriously diminishing crowd during these campaigns, so as to impress their sponsors.
Going by the dramas playing out in these parties, one cannot but raise a hat to Theresa May for being a good student of politics and realising when to play her cards. She has confirmed her deftness at dealing these political cards. And there is no doubting the fact that she is coasting to being elected for a full term as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She also has the honour (or dishonour) of taking the country out of the European Union.
Who is envious of her? Nobody should.