What is the must have accessory for any politician worth their salt in Brexit Britain (besides a pair of leather trousers or a peaked cap)?
I will give you some clues:
Nicola Sturgeon has got two. Jeremy Corbyn apparently has the biggest in Europe. And Theresa May wants a new one.
It’s the mandate stupid and as the political merry-go-round shows no sign of slowing down, our politicians are clinging onto theirs for dear life. But beware, a mandate isn’t always what it seems.
Take Nicola Strugeon. A referendum on Scottish independence is a ‘once in a generation’ chance. Unless of course you have a mandate that says otherwise. Luckily the First Minster has two; a manifesto promise to hold a new referendum if Scotland was taken out of the EU, and a subsequent Scottish Parliament vote in favour of said second referendum. It’s too bad then that Theresa May, simply kicked the issue into long grass by imperiously stating ‘now is not the time’. A fat lot of good that double mandate did.
And how about Jeremy Corbyn? The twice-elected Labour leader, is often credited for growing the party’s membership to become the largest of its kind in Western Europe. Except, in smaller European countries there are left-wing parties proportionally as big as Labour. Likewise in France, two million took part in the second round Socialist Party primary to elect their presidential candidate. This makes the half-a-million who voted in the 2015 Labour leadership election look like small fry in comparison. But regardless, these alternative facts don’t stop Corbyn’s mandate being used as a stick to stop dissent within the party. If a Blairite had a pound for every time they were reminded of Jeremy’s mandate, they would have enough cash to lure the man himself away from the lucrative speaking circuit and back into the Labour fold.
Just a week ago, the Prime Minster called a snap general election to provide her with a second mandate to deliver Brexit. Whilst her commitment to the seventeen million who voted to leave the EU is perhaps commendable, the rhetoric used to defend her decision was less so. Not one to be outdone, May has started a game of ‘my mandate is bigger than yours’, justifying the election on grounds that it would make it harder for the opposition ‘who want to stop me from getting the job done’. In Turkey, just two days earlier, twenty-five million people voted to hand Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers, of which many fear will take the country one step closer to a dictatorship. A big mandate then, isn’t always a good thing and if Theresa May does win on June 8, can we expect her to wield hers to quell the dissenting opposition, as she has so ominously threatened?