Opening shots

It’s almost wall-to-wall elections at the moment, but at least the French did the right thing for once and rejected their far-right looney in favour of a more liberal, centrist candidate. Let us hope that this puts an end to Le Pen’s ambition to drag France to the right. I only hope that UK voters can do the same on 8th June.

A lot is riding on the outcome of this election. Whilst May’s government have committed us to leaving the EU, it is vital that they are not allowed to mess up our future by pressing for their so-called “hard Brexit”.

And it’s not just over Europe that the we need to watch the Conservatives. Their total disregard for the environment and the welfare of “ordinary” folk is well known, but under May, their traditional stance in favour of the rich and powerful looks set to become even more pronounced. But what about the opposition? Well, what are we to make of Jeremy Corbyn? So far he has hardly set the campaign trail alight. His stance on Brexit is somewhat ambiguous, and so far I haven’t heard anything that makes me think he is about to overturn May’s sitting majority.

Of course, as the last General Election showed us, you can’t really predict how things will go, especially when you have the kind of outdated and inefficient electoral system that is rigged to almost guarantee a Tory majority. If Labour are going to turn the tide against May and her cronies, they need to get their act together pretty sharpish and focus on the seats they can win. There is little point amassing majorities of 70-80% in the industrial heartlands or pouring resources into unwinnable seats when they should be targeting the tactical vote in marginal constituencies, and the sooner they realise this the better.

With Labour seemingly unable to get its act together you would think that now would be the moment for the LibDems to come through and take the mantle of opposition. But that isn’t going to happen. Their support virtually collapsed at the last General Election, and although they have recovered a lot locally, the County Council results show they are still not quite there yet. Of course, you can’t assume that the way people voted at the Counties will be reflected in the General, but it would be foolish to pin any hopes on the great LibDem revival. I only with we could.

But going back to Brexit, what worries me at the moment is how many people are still bleating on about how immigrants have ruined our country and how “getting control back” will make Britain better and stronger. I don’t doubt that over time we will build new relationships, but in the short term we will have to pay a heck of a price, both economically and internationally.

We need to be honest with ourselves about our position in the world order. We are no longer the heart of a great empire and our influence is not what it was. We are seen by many as the lapdog of the US which may have been OK the past, but considering the way America is going and the policies of the Trump administration, getting too close is bound to work against us.

It is likely that we are going to lose a lot of jobs as business relocate to other EU countries. Obviously, we won’t know how much an impact this will have until the terms of the divorce have been agreed, but I suspect that with the likes of May at the negotiating table, there won’t be too many concessions. So it is vital for our future that whatever the colours of our next government (I don’t rule out some form of power sharing, even if the LibDems have said they won’t work in a coalition again), we need to be sure we get a deal that serves not only ourselves but also the rest of Europe. Whatever the outcome, the EU will remain our biggest and closest trading partner and the last thing we need is to antagonise them with empty threats or grand posturing.

I look forward to seeing what the next few days will bring.

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