Another general election; another attempted power grab
Clive Lewis explains why he was one of only thirteen MPs to vote against holding a U.K. general election on 8th June, in a powerful article for today's Guardian. It is worth quoting at length:
"The difference now is the sheer scale and scope of the attack on our democracy by the Tories in government. Take their plans to create sweeping temporary powers for ministers, via the “great repeal bill”, to change legislation without Parliament’s approval. Or its decision to limit Ofcom’s investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s Sky bid to the woefully inadequate 40 days."
"Wherever you look, from full-spectrum dominance of the UK media, abuses of 2015 election spending, to the ever encroaching power of unaccountable private providers in public services – the shift of power to the wealthy and already powerful is proceeding at an unprecedented pace."
Breaking the spirit of the Fixed Term Parliament Act is simply another act of democratic sabotage. Lewis asserts that it is part of a pattern:
"Conservatives used to be committed to protecting the constitution. But since taking power, they have used every trick in the book to make sure they can keep it, including rewriting the rules.
They have already cracked down on trade unions and charities, undermined the BBC in favour of rival broadcasters, attempted to reduce our rights in areas such as judicial review and freedom of information, stacked the House of Lords while trying to rig the Commons and disenfranchising swaths of the electorate, and choked off funding for opposition parties while politicising the civil service and protecting the millions they get from big business."
I like Clive Lewis. Like me, he was an enthusiastic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, sticking with him when the going got tough, yet ultimately abandoning him, like me, when the Labour leader acquiesced over giving Theresa May the authority to trigger Article 50. Now, once more, Labour appear to have given the prime minister everything she wants.
You can understand the reasons. It doesn't look good for the opposition to say no to an election lest they be seen to be running scared. And indeed, Corbyn is probably of the view that holding an election is a public good, capturing the very essence of democracy. Yet one should not confuse quantity of democracy, such as two general elections in theee years plus a Brexit plebiscite, with quality.
And nor should one blindly accept a roadmap towards a one party state. As Lewis concludes,
"May... does not look like someone intending to lead a one-nation party so much as a one-party nation."