THE election on June 8 will be the seventh time voters in Scotland have been marched to the polls in less than three years, if you start counting at the European election of 2014.
South of the border, it’s a mere six times, given the absence of an independence referendum. With back-to-back polls looming over the next 50 days, the risk of voter fatigue is obvious.
What almost guarantees it is the perception our politicians have nothing new to offer. If the exercise is seen as engineered to redistribute votes within the Commons, rather than inject fresh ideas into the political debate and ultimately improve people’s lives, voters are likely to turn away in frustration and disgust, let down again by that infamous Westminster elite.
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Labour, the LibDems and the SNP were all acting up, threatening to disrupt the process, she said. The House of Lords was another problem-in-waiting. In textbooks, this is known as how parliament works. Governments don’t get everything their own way, and nor should they. But in Mrs May’s book, it was apparently intolerable.
There was some welcome candour on this argument from Ruth Davidson. The Scottish Conservative leader acknowledged part of the Prime Minister’s calculation was to avoid being held to ransom by hardline “Brexiter bastards” inside her own party.
The honesty is appreciated, even if it points to a grim truth about the election – it is being driven by Tory party management, rather than the national interest, just as the EU referendum was.
There were other examples yesterday of British politics being stuck on a loop. Mrs May declared she would not take part in a TV leaders’ debate. The BBC and ITV then said they would proceed with debates regardless.
We went through this rigmarole in 2015, when David Cameron initially refused, then conceded when faced with the prospect of an empty chair and a room full of his rivals denouncing him to the nation as a coward. Mrs May will almost certainly do the same.
Later, after Nicola Sturgeon suggested the SNP could work with other parties at Westminster to keep the Tories out of power, Labour HQ ruled out a post-election coalition with the Nationalists – but then said there might be an informal coalition before finally abandoning even that.
That sort of wobbling crippled Ed Miliband two year ago, and helped the Tories win over English voters fearful of a Labour-SNP pact in any form whatsoever. Mr Miliband eventually ruled out a deal period, but only after weeks of damage.
Just as Mrs May seems to have learned nothing about TV debates, so Mr Corbyn seems to be none the wiser about presenting the Tories with an easy target.
Admittedly, it is only the very beginning of the campaign, but Mrs May, having called it, and Mr Corbyn, after insisting on leading Labour into it, need to sharpen their game. It will be the party which can bring something genuinely new to the contest which will catch the voters’ eye.