On Tuesday the 19th April, Theresa May announced that she and her cabinet intended to hold a general election. It is due to happen on the 8th of June.
Obviously, Theresa May saw that the Labour Party was 20 points behind in the polls and could not resist. Knowing that the only possible outcome, unless she somehow suffers the same fate as Francois Fillon, is that the Tories will gain a very large majority at the expense of Labour, she has everything to win and nothing to loose; a larger majority will give her a freer hand, should any group within her party oppose her on anything. Given how badly Labour performed at the last election, despite its more favorable position in the polls then, one can only guess how many seats the party will loose this time round, particularly when Corbyn's position on Brexit seems to have pleased neither its heartland supporters who voted Leave in the Referendum (and particular its policies and rhetoric on immigration) nor its staunch remain-supporting voters. At least it no longer has to worry about loosing many Scottish incumbent MPs.
As for the Lib-Dems, the future is bright. I have read articles which suggest that they may well win 30 seats, largely from the Tories, but I see no reason why they may not also take seats from Remain supporting Labour voters who don't support Corbyn. What I would say is this though, many of the seats which the Lib Dems lost to the Tories, such as those in Cornwall, are seats which voted to leave in the referendum. Will the Lib-Dems manage to regain many of its traditional 'remote rural' seats or will it become much more of an urban party given the centrality of pro-Europeanism to the party, particularly now. This election has been described as a de-facto referendum on Brexit after all.
The trouble with this election being a 'de-facto referendum' is that those who support Brexit and the new status quo have only one option to vote for, the Tories (UKIP being irrelevant now, let's face it, and excluding the Ulster Unionists) while those who support remain/don't like Theresa May have a multitude of different parties to vote for - Labour, Lib-dems, Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein... have I missed any out? Either way, the Pro-Brexit vote is now as unified as ever while the anti-Brexit vote is divided, and under the First Past the Post system, this can only be bad news. I agree that Theresa May has called this general election to be essentially a referendum on the Brexit process, and tried to make it a referendum in which the choice is either yes or yes. The fact that she has refused to attend any televised debates shows that she does not view it as a normal election.
So what about Plaid Cymru and the SNP? If the SNP manages to hold on to all its seats won at the last election, that will be a clear green light from the people of Scotland to Nicola's Sturgeon's plans for a second referendum. It is interesting that Theresa May has said that now is not the time for such an independence referendum but feels that it is the time to have a general election. So what about Plaid Cymru? The fact that the party nearly won Anglesey and came 229 votes short of kicking out Labour there should be hopeful, let's hope that any leave voters who have traditionally voted Plaid Cymru will not hold a grudge against the party and instead recognize that Wales sure does need a voice right now. What will be equally interesting is whether or not Plaid Cymru can repeat the progress that it made in the Welsh Assembly elections, particularly in the valleys, where not only did Leanne Wood win in the Rhondda but large vote increases happened elsewhere, such as in Blaenau Gwent.
Another aspect to this election is the talk of a 'progressive alliance' between the left of center parties, an idea which can count Caroline Lucas as one of its keen advocates. This certainly seems like a good idea in which the parties involved can choose to not run against each other in seats where it looks like a split in the anti-Brexit or left of center vote could lead to the Tories getting in. Unfortunately, it seems that Labour, in its arrogance, is not so keen on the idea. Although I feel that they deserve all the extra disaster that comes with that decision, it is actually highly understandable that they should decline such an offer - they are used to their age old place in a two party system, and where they were able to win elections without any other parties' help, and it can only be hard for them to accept that such a position is now over for them.
This election my not be a foregone conclusion but whether or not the Tories are gonna win it, does seem to be one. What will be interesting is 1) what progress the Lib-Dems are going to make and the extent to which they will be the flag-bearers for the 48%, 2)Whether or not the SNP are going to keep their seats, and 3) at least for me, whether or not Plaid Cymru makes any noteworthy gains in Wales.