You know, I sometimes wonder if there might be something wrong with me, beyond all the obvious things that are very definitely wrong with me. Last night, when every journalist, activist and politico in Britain seemed united in despair at the idea of a December election, I found my spirits rising. An election! At Christmas! The two most wonderful times of the year, together at last! What could possibly be more exciting than that?
Almost literally anything, I can feel you aching to respond. It’ll be cold and dark and wet in exactly the way you don’t want it to be when you’re trying to get activists to go out and campaign for you. It’ll get in the way of Christmas parties, Christmas shopping and all the other things we’re meant to be busy with in mid-December. And worst of all, the result might well be a total disaster. Probably will be, if the entire last decade of political history is anything to go by.
Well: you people are Grinches. This is going to be brilliant. Here are 11 reasons to be excited about the best Christmas present Westminster’s ever had.
1. We can’t go on like this. All year this country has been stuck, because the current Parliament has proved entirely incapable of voting for any plausible way forward on Brexit. (Yes, a majority just, sort of, voted for a Brexit deal; no, that doesn’t count if the government then pulls the deal because it doesn’t think it’ll pass if it gives MPs enough time to scrutinise it.)
And while it’s been not dealing with Brexit, it’s not been dealing with the housing crisis, the social care crisis, the climate crisis, or any one of a dozen other crises either. This country’s in a mess, and if this Parliament can’t clean it up then we need a new one.
2. Even if we get the exact same result as 2017, it could still break the log jam. Because one of the things that’s fuelled the inaction (do you fuel inaction? Oh well, send tweet) is a wide-spread feeling among MPs that rolling the dice on an election would deliver a Parliament more amenable to their own personal Brexit preference.
If we have an election and it doesn’t do that, then that could finally force our leaders to come up with another plan.
3. The Tories might be in trouble. This Twitter thread from Oxford Brookes’ Glen O’Hara brought me more joy than a thousand heartwarming Christmas movies with talking animals in them. Some highlights. Corbyn re-energised! Labour “don’t knows” return home! Votes against austerity!
“I have to say,” he concludes, “I don’t give the Tories more than a 30-40 per cent chance of holding on.” God bless us, every one.
4. An election probably means more LibDem MPs. Okay, we’re all very angry with everything they did in coalition. But at a time when authoritarianism is on the rise and we’re looking down the barrel of a very hard Brexit, I quite want there to be more socially liberal pro-Europeans in the Commons. So sue me.
5. There’s at least a chance that a winter election ends up being about the NHS crisis or the rise in rough sleeping. The public realm and public services are in a terrible state and we aren’t spending enough time talking about it, let alone pressuring our leaders to fix it. An election campaign might be exactly what we need to fix that.
6. There’s a quite serious chance Iain Duncan Smith will lose his seat. A lot of young, lefty Londoners have ended up in Chingford & Woodford Green recently, because they can’t afford Hackney or Walthamstow any more.
I am just about old enough to remember Portillo losing his seat in 1997. Seeing the intellectual giant that gave us the disastrous Universal Credit policy get thrown out on his arse would be much, much sweeter.
7. It’s at least possible Boris Johnson will lose his seat. This is less likely, admittedly – but outer London has been getting redder, and Labour think they’re in with a chance.
And just imagine the joy of watching a Tory Prime Minister literally lose his seat. Imagine how good that would feel. Am I mad or is it getting hot in here?
While we’re at it:
8. If he loses, Boris Johnson will go down in history as the shortest lived Prime Minister except for the ones who literally died in office. And we will never, ever stop laughing.
9. There’s so much to learn! What does a December election mean for turnout? Who will it benefit or hurt the most? How will a four-way split in the vote play out in a first past the post system? Will literally anyone, at all, vote for Change UK? The increase in human knowledge alone makes this worth doing.
10. Elections are just really fun. The sense of watching history in the making! The polls! The scandals! The random members of the public who briefly become the most popular meme in Britain! If you can’t get excited about that then what on earth are you doing reading the New Statesman?
11. We might be free of this terrible government. Okay, we might not. The Tories might win. They might win big.
But… there is a decent chance that after nearly 10 years, the worst, cruellest, most incompetent government in decades might finally be about to lose power.
And isn’t that worth getting excited about?