An Early General Election

All the runners in the Conservative Leadership steeplechase may be denying that they would seek a General Election before 2020, but I suggest that you should examine their track record in terms of broken promises.   If the Labour Party is still suicidal, and if the dishonest Brexit commitments are beginning to unravel with devastating effect on people’s expectations, what Prime Minister could resist the temptation to go to the country?

In any case, there will be a strong reaction to the imposition of a new PM and Government on the whim of a 130,000 electorate.  Where is our much vaunted“Sovereign Parliament”, and the demand that our democracy must “take back control”, in that process?  When Cameron was elected there were 253,689 eligible members of the Tory Party, down from 328,000 when they selected Iain Duncan Smith.

In such circumstances, the new Leader could justifiably claim a moral duty to seek a new mandate from the whole country.

I have challenged Ministers to confirm that an early General Election – this year or next – would be contested in the current constituencies, with no boundary changes or reduction in the number of MPs.  Not for the first time, they seem clueless – you can see our exchanges here:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2016-06-30/debates/16063032000571/ConstituencyBoundaryRevisions

If November 2016 or May 2017 does prove to be the date, there is an unexpected and unrepeatable opportunity for Liberal Democrats.  With a distinct, united position on the EU – in sharp contrast to the Conservative and Labour Parties – and the addition of thousands of new members, many of them fired up with youthful anger and enthusiasm, contesting in many parts of the country the very constituencies our excellent team of 2010-15 MPs served so well, we could surprise ourselves.

Meanwhile, the integrity of the Electoral Register – on which my colleague Chris Rennard and I have worked for so long – remains a critical element in the health of our democratic system.  As you will also know from our various efforts in recent months the Conservative Government will stop at nothing to skew the odds in their favour, if they can get away with it …….. whoever is their Leader.

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