When expressing her preference initially not to have another general election, Theresa May was not to know that the Lords would vow to obstruct her, that the Lib-Dems would seek to rewrite the EU referendum result and that the SNP would form an alliance with Labour.
She reacted as any savvy politician would do in such circumstances, and I hope the electorate supports her incisiveness. It will be needed if we are to get a fair deal from the EU.
Theresa May’s snap election is partly a bid to avoid being pushed by the Tories’ Right wing towards a “cliff-edge” Brexit, reverting to World Trade Organisation trade rules with no transitional period. Nick Clegg gave three reasons why her plan may fail, though he missed a fourth.
As Momentum demonstrates for Labour, grassroots party members keen enough to get involved in selecting prospective parliamentary candidates can often hold the strongest ideological views.
Given that Tory candidates will be selected from local constituency associations, what is to prevent an influx of new hard-Right Brexiteer MPs who could pressurise May towards an even harder Brexit?
As an electoral reformer, I welcome all attempts to improve our democracy. However, I am cynical whenever the Conservative Party indulges in reform, because there is transparent self-interest when it does.
All the arguments postulated by the Conservatives for fixed-term parliaments were invalidated this week when Theresa May saw an opportunity to give herself a more comfortable ride in Parliament. The Prime Minister is hoping for an enlarged majority so that her agenda will largely be unopposed.
However, while I decry her U-turn, I think the challenge that is the impending general election gives Labour a real opportunity to sell a vision of Britain where Brexit is managed to give working people the best deal possible.
Labour parliamentary candidate for Southend West (2015)
Conventional wisdom says low turnout favours the Conservatives but more recent evidence suggests otherwise [“Labour’s love’s lost, now where will voters go?”, Comment, April 20].
In 1997, Labour won a huge majority on a lower turnout than any other during the Thatcher years. Four years later it trounced William Hague’s Conservatives with the lowest post-war turnout.
The polls may point to a comfortable Conservative majority but voter fatigue and disillusionment could lead to something less predictable.
Macron is the only hope for France
The French elections have been marred by candidates I hold in low regard. Extremism, whether Left or Right, is undesirable for us all.
I had expected Britain to be able to rest easier today knowing neither JeanLuc Mélenchon nor Marine Le Pen had a place in our neighbour’s politics — but sadly that’s not the case. I hope Emmanuel Macron has a decisive win in the second round.
France offers excellent, free education (and therefore a qualified workforce) and high productivity but it has long needed a rapid overhaul — it has high taxes, a bloated public sector, poor and complex labour laws and is a country many companies are reluctant to invest in. In addition to this, reforming the trade unions has not been tackled. A fitter, leaner, more practical France under Macron would make for an all-round better neighbour and business ally for the UK.
So is there a downside to a Macron victory? Might there be an exodus of the thousands of French people based here in the UK if he lowers taxes and engenders growth, especially in a post-Brexit Britain? Any steps to address the stifling bureaucracy that sits atop French business is a positive and long overdue — and with Le Pen and her desire to take France back to the dark ages through an inconsistent and protectionist agenda as the alternative, Brits should be pretty clear about what they want.
Racism and anti-Semitism must be given no place in modern French history.
Emma Sinclair, co-founder, EnterpriseJungle
The Gherkin was originally erotic
In response to Robert Bevan’s article [“In thrall to the designers of instant icons”, April 20], the reason 30 St Mary Axe doesn’t look much like a gherkin is because that nickname — actually, the erotic gherkin — was coined by English Heritage to describe Norman Foster’s first scheme on the site.
Formally known as the Millennium Tower, it would have been taller than The Shard and the fourth-tallest tower in the world but it was abandoned after protests.
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At last, proof that the bike is the best
If further proof were needed of the health benefits of cycling, then we now have it. The biggest independent study into the benefits of commuting to school or work on a bike showed dramatic reductions in the chances of getting both cancer and heart disease.
According to the British Medical Journal, the impact of different forms of daily commuting on participants’ health concluded that “initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions” by up to 50 per cent.
Supporters of cycle superhighway 11 (CS11) have long been extolling the virtues of regular exercise over driving polluting cars in busy urban areas.
It beggars belief that people who claim to have the best interests of children at heart persist in saying CS11 will have a detrimental impact on residents’ health. One would hope they would support the broader societal change needed to encourage healthy lifestyles and make our streets safer.
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Levy knows every player has a price
I was surprised by Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino’s comments regarding other clubs’ interest in defender Toby Alderweireld. Pochettino joked that any club that wanted to sign him should “go to the training ground and speak to Daniel Levy” [April 20], implying that Levy wouldn’t sell at any price.
Yet in 2012, Spurs sold Luka Modric to Real Madrid for £33 million. The next summer, the chairman reluctantly allowed Gareth Bale to join the same club for £85 million. Levy, while known as a tough negotiator and perhaps less popular than others in the industry because of this, certainly has his price.
Of course I do not believe he would sell Dele Alli or Harry Kane, two of England’s brightest prospects. But in the modern era of football, if a player wants to go, how can they be stopped?
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