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No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition

If you want a doctorate, Howie, you should get one. I have one. They’re great.

There’s a theory that one can mark one’s increasing age by the speed at which certain important events come round again – Christmas, birthdays, school holidays and, er, General Elections.

If it seems as though I was writing about this very subject only 24 short months ago, it’s because I was. And much of what I wrote then could be written now.   But not everything. We are clearly, so very, very clearly, not going to be in a position where a hung Parliament is on the cards, with the Lib Dems holding the balance of power.  

I think I can understand why Mrs May called the election. In terms of sorting out our exit from the EU, she really wants to be able to go to the negotiating table say that she has the majority of the country behind her. From the EU’s pint of view, they want the same thing. The last thing Donald Tusk needs is to agree something with the UK, only to have us turn round and ask for changes because not everyone back here is happy with the deal.

Of course there’s always the possibility that Mrs May has been so irritated by Nicola Sturgeon’s Westminster-playground taunts of ‘I’ve got a mandate. You haven’t’ that she threw down the gauntlet/her toys out of the pram.

I do feel a wee bit sorry for some of the legions of MPs who are getting to grips with the business of serving their constituencies and , in some cases, important Ministerial jobs, who now have to stop all that and get on with campaigning. Not all of them will still have their jobs on June 9 and that, of course, also goes for anyone who works for them.  Plus, of course, while we are in ‘election purdah’, all sorts of important other stuff isn’t being decided – the implementation of the Clean Air Act for one thing – and may simply end up being hidden in a manifesto and rushed through on the QT – the decimation of spending on schools, for example.

So far, Labour’s ideas seem to be fixed on pouring money into everything that will take it, raising it from anyone who earns over £70,000 a year, of and four more bank holidays. Yup, both of those ideas will really, really help UK productivity and competitiveness in the global marketplace. Not.

Nor do I think that UKIP is going to hold anything like the same sway that it did two years ago. After all, the Brexit ball is rolling, the party has, presumably achieved what it was set up to do, so what’s the point in it now? Something that Douglas Carswell  – the only successful UKIP candidate ever – himself asked when he announced he would not be standing for re-election

We have six weeks left of all this, but in the meantime, the burning question seems to me to be: Given that UKIP is probably a spent force, what the HELL is Nigel Farage still doing on my TV screen?

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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