Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a snap election for 8 June 2017. But it took her only a few short hours to make her first major campaign gaffe. The Prime Minister has chosen not to participate in any TV debates during the campaign.
David Cameron faced ridicule after trying to avoid TV debates during the 2015 general election. This culminated in being chased around the country by a Mirror staffer dressed as a chicken. He finally capitulated.
May has failed to learn the lesson from history.
Asked for clarification on the decision, a Downing Street spokesperson told the media:
Our answer is no. The choice at this election is already clear.
This is an unsatisfactory response for several reasons. Prime among them being that May has repeatedly denied she would call a general election prior to 2020, and has reversed this decision without warning. Given this shock turn of events, it is unthinkable that she would refuse to take her policies to the country. And in a forum at which she can expect to be challenged.
No doubt we can expect some chickens to be turning up at her campaign events. And maybe the odd canary.
It didn’t take long for the decision to trigger reaction from her fellow politicians, the media and public alike. None of it positive.
If this #GeneralElection is about leadership, as Theresa May said this morning, she should not be dodging head-to-head TV debates.
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) April 18, 2017
— James Melville (@JamesMelville) April 18, 2017
Theresa May won't do any televised debates. She has no confidence in herself so why would any of the electorate? #GeneralElection
— Fitzy (@fitzy_blue) April 18, 2017
Some pointed out that, given May’s track record of U-turns, this will likely not be the last we hear on the matter.
— Hunter ? Phoenix (@hammaragi) April 18, 2017
Par for the course
This is the latest in a string of embarrassing missteps by May in recent weeks. She curtsied before US President Donald Trump like a choir girl, leaving German Chancellor Angela Merkel to lead the free world. The Prime Minister later courted head-chopping dictators in Saudi Arabia for a weapons deal just weeks after refusing to shelter the child refugees those weapons create.
Theresa May is also very quickly turning our departure from the EU into the breakup of the United Kingdom. She forgot to tell Scotland about her decision to trigger Article 50. We would expect that the commencement of the two-year countdown to leaving the EU would have been discussed in detail. But the Scottish First Minister and her colleagues in Holyrood found out as they watched BBC News.
— Michael Russell (@Feorlean) March 20, 2017
Then, during a UK tour which took in Scotland and Wales, May decided to snub Northern Ireland. The timing of the blunder could not have been worse. In its own recent snap election, Northern Ireland elected the greatest number of Republicans in its history. The existing power-sharing agreement was in tatters, and key Republican figure Martin McGuinness had just died. There were rumbles of discontent from all sides, about the real potential for an independence referendum and the renewal of hostilities. And the Prime Minister bypassed the nation entirely.
It’s time to choose
For the first time in a while, the election of 8 June presents voters with a stark choice. Austerity or not. Hard Brexit or not. A bankrupted, privatised NHS or not. It is the chance to vote for a new kind of politics, and a new kind of economics. It’s time to register, and time to vote.
– Register to vote. Do not sit in silence and allow others to decide the direction of our country.
Featured image via Screengrab