I feel for current Poplar And Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick. Until Teresa May’s snap general election announcement his future was clear.
Three more years on the back benches, a certain amount of pottering, local activism and, doubtless, pictures taken in front of banners supporting this charity or that before the balm of a cosy retirement .
That was a certainty delivered by David Cameron’s introduction of fixed term, five-year parliaments.
The measure was intended to promote stability, to preclude the possibility of instant electoral turmoil, to gloss people in power with at least the veneer of permanence.
For those like Jim it delivered a box set story arc – five years to get the plot out of the way before working towards a final episode. Everyone knew the ending that was coming, there might have been a parade.
Scotched by the white-hot glare of May’s political expediency, that dream melted.
He’s faced with an unexpected decision – up to another five years or the choice to write himself out of the plot altogether.
Comfort to confusion. To serve or to bow out?
That’s why the calling of the election has done the country a favour.
It’s a reminder inhabitants of Downing Street, those that aspire to be and those that surround them should be cats on hot tin roofs.
Under pressure, the breath of the electorate on their collars, not leading the cosseted life of No 10’s feline resident Larry .
Unexpected polls show the constant, relentless need for a functioning, coherent opposition better than plaintive cries.
May believes the government in waiting is waiting for 2020 to sort itself out.
Adrift in the polls, some say it’s crippled by its own Momentum.
Rightly or wrongly, the perception is the UK lacks a line of talented, united, competent women and men ready to step up and run things, should the status quo be cast aside. What a temptation for May.
While less convenient for all concerned, the threat of anytime elections puts pressure on the parties to prepare for the hot seats, to have answers to the big questions, to look electable. Its return should be welcomed.
The Tories appear far from perfect themselves but May thinks she’s caught her opponents napping.
And frankly they’ve had that luxury. A week’s a long time in politics, after all, so five years is plenty of time to plan for power or, retirement or maybe make some jam.
Watch what they do
May’s decision to go to the county also clearly exposes the divide between what politicians, a mostly self-interested group of individuals, say, and what they do to maintain their grip on the slippery pole of power.
She denied repeatedly she would either call an election or that she required a mandate for Brexit negotiations beyond that of the non-binding referendum. Now she cites the need for unity as cause.
Any pretence this poll is about anything so noble begs the question why she didn’t go to the country before the triggering of Article 50?
Were unity and division really present in such satisfying quantities a few weeks ago?
More likely she scented blood in the Commons, a chance to deal a near fatal blow to an ailing opposition. Timing is everything.
Should such cynical ends be served it’s vital to remember that instead of talking to their continental acquaintances, anyone significantly involved in the EU negotiations will have to spend seven precious weeks campaigning to keep their jobs as the two-year clock ticks down with leaden menace.
Either the Brexiteers are confident a deal will be done or they accept the deadline’s already been missed and a few extra weeks are immaterial.
Meanwhile London's firms and institutions ponder their futures . Will they wait while this latest sideshow plays out?
An uncertain future
Beware shortness of memory. To those predicting the outcome already, remember Brexit and Trump.
A lot can change in seven election-fuelled weeks. May has bet on the accuracy of polls and that’s a brave move.
These are fresh, unpredictable days. After experts failed to predict Cameron’s majority in 2015, upsets have come thick and fast. Who’s to say June 8 won’t hold more surprises?
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