Why there won’t be a general election before Christmas

The DUP has power. Far greater power than they have had in almost every single Parliament since the party’s creation. The strong odds are that a new general election will produce a result that reduces the DUP’s power. It isn’t in the DUP’s interest to force an early general election.

Nor can the Conservatives force an election on their own by no-confidencing themselves and then others (as they could have in 2017, forcing Labour in effect to go along with a contest anyway given the rules).  Which means that an early general election can only happen if the Conservatives want one and they can persuade at least one opposition party also to back one.

But if things are looking good for the Conservatives, then why would the opposition support one? And if things are looking bad for the Conservatives, why would the Conservatives want one?

A Conservative party plunged into chaos, unable to agree with itself let alone agree with other European countries over Brexit doesn’t make an election a good choice for the party. The country, perhaps, but since when did politicians decide to call elections in the expectation of defeat because it would be good for the country?

What’s notably lacking from stories about early general elections is the step between “CHAOS!” (or as the Express would report it, “ANOTHER TRIUMPH FOR MAY!”) and an election.

Which is why, caveats about predictions acknowledged, I’m willing to stick my neck out and say there won’t be a general election before Christmas.

That said, I stuck my neck out similarly in early 2017, pointing out how there wouldn’t be an early election then because it would be far too risky a move for the Conservatives. I was only half right… so excuse me whilst I dust off my list of things I wrote after the last general election about what I would want to do differently next time.


6 responses to “Why there won’t be a general election before Christmas”

  1. General Election CA also be triggered by two No Confidence votes in the Commons. You don’t give your assessment of that possibility.

  2. It doesn’t actually need two no-confidence votes. Just one no-confidence, which will trigger an election if no positive motion of confidence is passed within three weeks. If they wanted to, the Tories could easily ensure a no-confidence motion passed (they need only abstain – the opposition could hardly do other than vote in favour!), and there’s no way a majority could be built in the Commons to back any other government that the Tories chose to vote down.
    But in any case, if they really want an election, they’ll do what they did last time: announce it, put a motion before the Commons and dare Labour and the Lib Dems (both of whom are, ridiculously, claiming that an election is what the country needs right now) not to vote for it after all.
    I’ll be surprised if they actually do it – there are all sorts of reasons why the Maybot won’t want an election now, including, oddly enough, the national interest – but if they want to, they definitely can arrange it.

  3. The flaw in the logic of your third paragraph is that both sides will almost always have an inflated idea of their own prospects – as the Labour Party is currently demonstrating. It’s perfectly possible for both sides to think things are going well for them at the same time.

  4. You assume the Tories are a single force. They clearly aren’t right now. One or the other wing could side with Labour to defeat the government. They might even side with opposition parties in a vote of no confidence, believing their views on Brexit would triumph in an election.

    What happens if the government loses a key vote – on the Brexit deal, or condemning it for failing to achieve a deal – and resigns? Not just May, but the government as a whole?

    I’m not saying these things are likely, but they look distinctly possible.

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