Electoral democracies can make even the most orchestrated political gambles look like empty chutzpah. The results of Britain’s snap polls illustrate this point. And Prime Minister Theresa May will possibly be remembered along with David Cameron, for their fine art of political miscalculations.
May’s gamble of trying to expand the thin Conservative Party majority by calling an unexpected election, has completely backfired, resulting in a hung House of Commons. Her intention was to pitch her style of “strong and stable” leadership against the weak Labour Party leadership under Jeremy Corbyn. But May’s business-like leadership style with apparent lack of charisma and empathy did not go down well with the British electorate.
May had hoped to gain a thumping majority and a strong domestic mandate before Britain goes into Brexit negotiations in September.
Her campaign was not only lacklustre but full of glaring political blunders — starting from the social care fiasco to a party manifesto that turned away from the long-held Thatcherite consensus. It was reported that most Conservative Party ministers were not even consulted in formulating the manifesto, while a coterie of four around May dominated the process.
For an election called by May to boost her mandate for Brexit negotiations, her manifesto was completely devoid of a serious roadmap for negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. Rather, she used Brexit as a stick against Corbyn. Whenever she found her poll numbers dipping, she would incite fears about the possibility of Britain negotiating its exit under the weak leadership of Corbyn.