A local politician believes Theresa May’s call for a snap general election is a chance for the UK to finally get the Tories out of government.
Doctor Craig R Martin, who stood as Labour’s Falkirk East candidate at last year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections, said the prime minister’s announcement on Tuesday should be viewed as a real opportunity.
He added: “We always had a feeling Theresa May would go for something like this and we’re delighted because we will now have a chance to take out this Tory government and we are up for the fight.
“Over the next few days the local Labour Party will draw up a list of our candidates for Linlithgow and East Falkirk and for Falkirk. I would say this – the only way to get rid of the Tories is to vote Labour.”
Having come a distant second to Angus MacDonald in last year’s MSP race with 8408 votes to the victor’s 16,720, Doctor Martin announced earlier this year he would not be standing for re-election to Falkirk Council at the May 4 Scottish local elections.
However, the father-of-two, who holds a PhD in chemistry, did not rule himself out of the mix of Labour candidate possibilities to fight the June 8 general election.
SNP MPs John McNally and Martyn Day, meanwhile, confirmed their intention to stand again as candidates if they are selected by their party to fight for their seats – which in all likelihood they will be.
Mr Day said: “Both John and I are in the same boat and it is our intention to seek re-election, but we have to wait for the word from our party on that before it is official.
“The last 23 months have flown past. I certainly didn’t expect an election coming round so soon – especially as only two weeks ago the prime minister was saying ‘now is not the time’ and that the General Election would be held in May 2020.”
The current Linlithgow and East Falkirk MP defeated long standing Labour MP Michael Connarty in the 2015 general elections by 32,055 votes to 19,121 and grabbed a 52 per cent share of the vote.
In Falkirk, Mr McNally defeated Labour candidate Karen Whitefield by 34,831 votes to 15,130 and claimed a 57.7 per cent share of the total vote. So he, like Mr Day, must be confident he will retain his seat after June 8.
Nationally, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the prime minister had called this election for “selfish, narrow, party political interests”.
And down in Westminster, as The Falkirk Herald went to press, a vote approved the prime minister’s election plan – she required two thirds of MPs in the House of Commons to vote in favour of hold the election three years early and she got the result she wanted 522 votes to 13.
She said a 2017 election was the “only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was looking forward to the election, which he and his party were now campaigning for, adding it would “give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”.
You wait years on an election then two come along at once...
Theresa May’s announcement – quite appropriately for the Conservatives – may have seemingly come out of the blue but she was well within her rights to do what she did.
British prime ministers used to be free to hold a general election whenever they felt like it, but new laws passed by former PM David Cameron changed that.
Now, under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to take place every five years on the first Thursday in May – since the most recent general election was in 2015, the next one was scheduled for May 2020.
However, under the new legislation, an election can be called ahead of schedule for two reasons – if there is a vote of no confidence in the current government or if MPs vote for an early election by a two thirds majority.
Having chosen the second option Theresa May now requires MPs from her own party and also some MPs from opposition party Labour to vote in favour of having the election earlier than that – in this particular case just less than three years early on June 8, 2017.
Political experts say it was quite an unusual move on Theresa May’s part – you have to go back to when England won the World Cup for the last time a snap election was called less than four years after the previous election.
On that occasion in 1966 Harold Wilson called an early election because he wanted to increase the number of Labour MPs in Parliament.
As The Falkirk Herald went to press yesterday (Wednesday) MPs in the House of Commons voted 522 to 13 to approve the election plan.
The UK Parliament is now expected to break up on May 3 when a month’s worth of campaigning will begin in earnest.