Forgive me for once again adapting a line from Tolkien’s ring-verse, but it does so naturally follow on from the post where I first used it. Then (before Theresa May announced her election) I noted that by March 2017 many more people had accepted that they would be worse off because of Brexit than immediately after the vote. However the proportions of people who say we were wrong to leave the EU has stayed pretty stable. (In the latest poll yesterday, there was, for the first time, the smallest majority possible believing it was wrong to leave.)
“Here is a possible reason for this paradox. Voters feel that once a democratic decision has been made, it should be respected, even if they personally now feel less comfortable with the reasons behind the decision. It is important to respect the ‘will of the people’ for its own sake, just as it is important to keep to a contract even though you may now regret signing it.”
That was why I called that post ‘one vote to bind them all’.
These thoughts were, as I said at the time, largely speculation, but the extraordinary poll bounce May has received since she announced another vote makes me think I was right. When announcing the election, she talked about the country uniting behind Brexit. She also said
“Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union.”
The second sentence is just nonsense, while the first is ominous for any democrat. But as both polls and focus groups suggest, the spin that she needs ‘a strong mandate to get the best Brexit for Britain’ chimes with many voters. It is a vote to 'bring them all' into the darkness of an endeavour the aims of which remain hidden by platitudes.
In this rather odd sense, there are similarities with what the Falklands did for Thatcher. The negotiations have been portrayed in the UK media as a battle between the UK and the EU. It is only natural for this to inspire nationalism among many voters: May needs strong backing (a large vote) so she can get the best deal for Britain in her battle with the EU. (And, of course, anyone arguing for the EU is therefore a ‘saboteur’.) May’s election announcement bounce therefore has similarities to Thatcher’s Falklands poll bounce.
As ever, reality is very different. What happens in the negotiations is largely down to the EU, with the occasional choice for the UK. These choices should be made by democratic means, and not by one person who has the interests of her party to worry about. My impression is that as far as the media outside the UK is concerned they just cannot understand why we have embarked on this crazy path.
If May and her team realised this when they called an election they were clever. There are plenty of other reasons why she called an election: potential prosecutions associated with election expenses, as Bill Keegan’s notes the negative impact of brexit is about to become visible, and of course the unpopularity of JC.  The latter was, I’m afraid, inevitable from the moment he was re-elected, and the responsibility for that vote lies as much with the PLP as with Corbyn and Labour party members.
It is almost as if May’s line is ‘who do you want to lead us into battle, me or JC’? With the referendum still regarded as the most important issue in UK politics, it is a line that could make the UK into virtually a one party state.  Of course many die-hard Remainers (like me) will never vote for her, but they comprise at best only around half of the 48%. Labour’s core support will remain loyal. But even if you could form some kind of ‘progressive anti-May alliance’ (which will not happen), Chaminda Jayanetti is right that there just are not enough progressives around to defeat the Conservatives, particularly if the UKIP vote collapses.
So is a Conservative landslide which decimates Labour assured? Heroic talk of defeating May and trying to shift the debate on to something else besides Brexit will not work. This is not because the Tories are not vulnerable. Quite the opposite in fact: I have never known a government that has such a poor record on health, education (this, and grammar schools for pity’s sake) and even prisons. The ‘we now have a strong economy’ line is a lie just waiting to be busted. All that means the Conservatives will focus relentlessly on Brexit and leadership. In 2015 the broadcast media followed the press in focusing on the issues where the Conservatives were strong, and they will do so again with (unlike 2015) justification from the polls.
Perhaps predictably, the wisest words I’ve seen written on this have come from Tony Blair. He suggests the slogan ‘no blank cheque’. It concedes defeat, which is realistic and has the advantage of shifting attention away from JC’s leadership qualities. It encourages voters not to ask who would be best battling for Britain against the EU27, and instead to think about choices to be made which may not be in the country’s interests but instead are in Conservative party’s interests. I do not think the leadership will ever adopt this line, because it requires them to admit they are going to lose and I do not think they are brave enough to do that. But on the doorstep it might help.
 When I tweeted Bill’s column with this point about Corbyn, someone replied that I couldn’t help making a dig at Corbyn when the price was a Tory Brexit. This is the other side of those on the right who accuse me of being politically biased when I’m critical of the government. Both misunderstand what I do and don’t do. I don’t do propaganda as defined here.
 The culture war analogy that Chakrabortty uses is interesting, as is the comparison with Nixon. But in many ways it is the spin doctors, well versed in what happened in the US, who are calling the shots, and May just has to agree to what they advise.