Stronger mandate: Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street after Parliament was dissolved ahead of the general election, in London on May 3 (Reuters)
by KULVEER RANGER
OVER the last 15 years I’ve been involved in a number of local, mayoral and general elections, from standing as a candidate in the 2005 General Election, to being part of the core team that won the London mayoral elections in 2008 and 2012.
I have also led teams of volunteer activists in 2015 as the battle for every vote was taken street to street, door to door. Elections are momentous operations of strategy and planning that require vast numbers of people, time and, yes, money, to organise and ultimately – if you want to win – skill and a dash of luck.
So prime minister Theresa May’s announcement for a second general election in three years was a huge surprise to me, probably most of you, definitely to all the other political parties, and yes, even to the majority of the Conservative Party.
I know this because in the subsequent weeks I have seen and heard the machinations within the Tory Party as it has tried to spring into gear, years earlier than expected – a nationwide campaign machine!
Normally, election policies, manifestos and even slogans are drawn up over months of intense discussion and deliberation, using reams of statistical data and input from numerous people and policy groups. Ideas are rigorously tested by think tanks, financial analysts and even with focus groups.
This is not the case for this election. There has not been the time to fully understand and compile a collection of coherent policies. Instead Brexit will dominate this election, with the prime minister stating that for her to have a strong negotiating position she must have a personal mandate behind her.
There will be a few core areas to cover; the NHS and its funding, the need to protect the safety and security of the nation, fairness of the tax system and maybe a focus on energy pricing.
So, what will we hear about over the next few weeks? Well, Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit. It cannot be helped. We are already in the two-year period of negotiation and it is the dominating political decision for a generation. But do take a look at what else the political parties will offer.
The manifestos may not be a long as in previous years, but this may be all the more a reason to pick up, or download a copy. I shall be looking for more on the future of our industrial strategy particularly in the technology sector, an area that the UK plc is well placed to lead on the global stage.
But after the policies are debated, the gaffs on the campaign trail are made and the media have shown us poll, after poll, after poll – fundamentally, the question that we will all be asking ourselves over the coming weeks is who do we want as our prime minister or should I say, our negotiator in chief?
I just so happened to be heading to No 10 Downing Street the day the election was announced. Yes, as luck would have it the prime minister chose the same day to celebrate Vaisakhi and make her surprise announcement. So a few hours after she had stood in front of the world famous black door, there was I wearing my best suit and turban and walking through the same door. As they say, timing is everything.
Kulveer Ranger FRSA is a former vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and mayor of London adviser. He is also the director and co-founder of Modern Britain.