So, we have another general election, eh? Nothing like keeping the political journalists in business.
For those of you outside of the UK who are totally confused about the whole thing, the short version is something like this: a party with a very small majority is calling an election in which it hopes to gain a massive majority, even though its policies are hugely unpopular. It will achieve this partly because there is no effective opposition, and partly because it has almost all of the media on its side.
I’m sympathetic to the view that Mrs. May has called the election primarily because with a much bigger majority she won’t be beholden to the lunatic fringe of her own party, and can therefore negotiate with the EU in a sensible manner rather than by trying to pretend that she has a worldwide empire at her command. This may result in a somewhat softer Brexit than we might otherwise have got, but it may also result in the privatization of everything that’s left to be sold and a bonfire of civil rights legislation. In other words, the results will be disastrous for the majority of the population, rather than for everyone.
It so happened that my membership of the Women’s Equality Party was due for renewal, so I have renewed it. I don’t expect us to have many candidates because we can’t afford it. Also it would be irresponsible of us to further split the vote in some key marginals, so WE won’t do it. But I very much hope that WE’ll field a candidate against the obnoxious Philip Davies. That could end up being very entertaining.
More broadly I expect us to support the candidates who will do the most for equality. That probably means whoever has the best chance of beating the Tories in each particular constituency. There are some good Tory MPs around. I very much hope that Maria Miller keeps her seat because she’s been a far better opposition to the government than the Labour leadership for the past few years. Ben Howlett has done some good work for trans people as well, but his Bath constituency is very vulnerable to a swing towards the LibDems, and Bath is fairly strongly anti-Brexit, so I think he may go. But at least he’ll last longer than Thangam Debbonaire whom I expect to be purged by Labour in advance of the election. Last time around Bristol West was a very tight race between Thangam, the incumbent Stephen Williams (LibDem), and the Greens. I’ve seen a suggestion that Molly Scott-Cato, our local MEP, might be the Green candidate this time around, and I think she has a very good chance if she does go for it.
Elsewhere around the region I’ll be keeping a close eye on Chippenham where Helen Belcher is the LibDem candidate. It is a seat that the Tories took from the LibDems last time, so Helen has a real chance of getting it back. If she does she’ll be the first trans person to be elected to the UK Parliament. (There may well be other trans candidates, but I don’t think any of them stand as good a chance as Helen.)
It is hard not be utterly depressed by the whole thing. Thus far the most interesting contests appear to be Labour v LibDems, Labour v itself, and the Greens v the BBC. None of this will do any good for the country. WE might be a very small and very new party, but at least WE are trying to do our best for the country. Here’s hoping WE can have some effect. If nothing else WE intend to get women’s issues talked about during the election, and that will be a major change to how politics is done here.