The absolute hysteria resulting from the Prime Minister’s decision to call an early general election has been quite astonishing.
Labour MP Dawn Butler described holding an election, at which the voice of the people can be heard, as “trying to rig democracy”!
Not to be outdone in hyperbole, a Sky News commentator described the PM as being a megalomaniac – but presumably a democratic megalomaniac.
If we cast our mind back to the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum, and the ‘coronation’ of Mrs May as PM, we will find that Tim Farron wrote that “the case for an early general election is overwhelming”, a view echoed at the time by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. In September, Jeremy Corbyn announced that he was “putting the Party on notice to prepare for an early general election in 2017”, and at the end of December he said that he “would support legislation that called for a snap election”.
Nicola Sturgeon had to get in on the act, and accused the Prime Minister of being “not yet elected by anyone”. Calling an early election should, therefore, finally resolve these “legitimate concerns”.
So why the faux outrage over the PM using the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act to call a snap election? After all, it was parliamentarians who drew up and approved the wording of this Act in the first place.
So the PM was perfectly within her rights to use the Act to further the best interests of her party. Which party leader in Mrs May’s shoes – especially given the state of the polls – would not have done the same?
Assuming the Conservatives win, and secure a healthy majority, this election should answer the PM’s critics, who argue that she is currently unelected and has no mandate.
It should also provide clarity on what direction the majority of the electorate wants the government to pursue over our Brexit negotiations. Moderate Labour MPs and supporters should welcome this election as being their best opportunity to rid themselves of Mr Corbyn’s damaging leadership.
For those in Scotland who are opposed to a second independence referendum, this election could send a strong message to the SNP, especially if the polls are accurate and they end up with fewer seats in Westminster.
However, Ms Sturgeon is already downplaying the potential loss of Westminster seats and is insisting that last year’s Holyrood election result still gives her a mandate to hold IndyRef2.
Whatever the outcome of the election, it is the right way forward for the entire country and it should bring us all some much needed political clarity and stability, especially for the overworked Scottish electorate. We will all deserve a welcome break from politics after 8 June.
John Maguire lives in Kelso. He is a retired UK diplomat.