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“GennyLex”: A New Word for General Election in the UK?

Forming a coalition is one option, as happened in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats.

3 mins read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

No one expected an early election, a “GennyLex,” not even the Tory MPs. The announcement of a snap election, delivered in the pouring rain outside No.10 Downing Street without even a spare umbrella to protect Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, could only happen in Britain.

A quirk in Britain is that the majority white population often relies on non-whites to do the “impossible” jobs for them. Strangely, any non-white individual feels weak, if not vulnerable, if they don’t “deliver the impossible” as proof of something termed a “superiority complex.” The result is a foregone conclusion: the blame game.

Everything has changed in Britain since P.M. Rishi Sunak’s announcement of “GennyLex,” while everything remains the same in every other aspect. We Sri Lankans cannot fathom this conundrum.

Electioneering is flooding the news everywhere, like a house on fire. News channels have all gone barmy with non-stop commentaries, adding to the media hype. All news is secondary to assigning reasons for Sunak’s action.

Voters are worried, and housewives are starting to stockpile canned food and bottles of water. This is not due to possible water pollution or anticipated shortages, as with toilet rolls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hardly a scenario: a fear backdrop in advance of a Labour Government taking office or after 14 years of lazy serenity and sanity under a known Tory administration. It appears the electorate is in jitters, having to give up what was taken for granted under Tory rule. People are acting differently at the announcement.

Election season has been ushered in other parts of the world, in India, the EU, and the USA, where elections are treated as “tamashas.” Here, the Brits treat elections seriously, an opportunity to throw cudgels at every breath on opponents.

Perhaps Sunak was guided by Hindu astrology or according to a Nostradamus prediction that something radical may happen later in 2024? Was Sunak not wanting to be caught unprepared in this eventuality? We will never know.

Besides, in Britain, there were other omens. The UK Pound was holding firm. Inflation was under control. Sterling was up 0.25% on the day at $1.274, unchanged from levels even before Sunak started speaking last afternoon.

The question of a campaign ruining Christmas was never contemplated, although an Autumn Budget was enticing. Was the Conservative Party in disarray or dismayed?

The Conservatives are thought to be best at poker, putting the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, on the back foot with this sudden general election announcement when most Labour supporters, among others, were away on their annual holidays.

All in all, the electorate, the nation, was rushed with this proclamation.

For Labour, there was only one word that summed up their frustration: “Change,” spelled out on their placards and carried this morning by their supporters.

For the Conservatives, there remain 150 constituencies where no Conservative candidate has been selected. The electorate was told that no Rwanda migrant flights would take place until July at the earliest.

Nadine Dorries, a former MP and Minister in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, pinpointed the real reason as she hit out at Sunak for the early election. Her argument was that under his leadership, the Conservative party is lagging behind.

Like Nadine, there are a lot of Conservative disgruntled diehards who think that Sunak should have been replaced long ago. It is okay to assign the blame to a non-native to do their dirty chores when the country was under stress and strain during and after COVID-19 and discard him in contempt when the going gets tough.

What happens if the election result produces a hung Parliament?

As 650 seats are up for grabs in the House of Commons, one party must win at least 326 seats to have a working majority. With over 50 current serving Conservative MPs deciding not to recontest in the June 4th General Election and Labour maintaining a 20% poll lead, there is much speculation that any constituency without a 20,000 majority lead for a Conservative Party candidate will find it difficult to claim the seat. In the event of a hung Parliament, it would be impossible to pass any legislation.

Forming a coalition is one option, as happened in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats.

A second option is a Minority Government formed with or by one other party. This is incredibly unlikely to work in favour of the Conservatives. The question of power sharing is least contemplated.

A third option, according to Prof. Curtis, is an informal “Supply and Confidence” arrangement, where a smaller party commits to support a Minority Government. This arrangement was tried out by P.M. Theresa May with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionists (DUP) in 2017.

It is a well-known fact that Rishi Sunak was chosen as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party to save the Brits from internal rivalry.

Perhaps he can use his power to unite the Conservatives once again and command the impossible: a working majority. Who knows?

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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