The entries for the latest competition were notable for their quality. Despite being few in number, I had difficulty selecting a winner. The choice was between a speech that was effectively usable on future occasions – the sort of thing a Leader of the Opposition could keep to hand, just in case – and those that were specific to the current election. In terms of what a Leader of the Opposition could have said last month, Croft offered a brilliant contribution based on boundary changes (or absence thereof) as did seanjm72 based on the supremacy of Westminster. It is possible certain politicians may look at their contributions and think ‘Hmmm, if only…’.
However, I decided to opt for the entry by Gary Weatherhead on the grounds that he offered a more generic speech that could be modified by a Leader of the Opposition whenever a Prime Minister decides to call for an early election:
Of course, it goes without saying that the Labour party welcomes the opportunity to put its case to the British people and give them the chance to get rid of this wretched Tory government. Bring it on is our view. However, I’m afraid that we will not be able to support the motion today for the following reasons. The timing of an election should no longer be purely on the whim of a PM, with as little time as possible given to the opposition and the smaller parties to prepare our campaigns. If the government want to return to the ways that were in place before the FTPA was introduced, we are happy to work together with them to explore how we can repeal this anathema to our constitution. But as things stand, we will not give the Government a free and helping hand to gain party political advantage by supporting an instant and self serving dash to the polls. We have no issue with supporting a general election later in the year. There are several acceptable dates in September or October that would give all parties a fair and decent chance to start the election campaign on an equal footing. If this is not acceptable to the PM and her party, she is free to declare that she and her Ministers have no confidence in themselves and can thus force an election that way. If the PM is so keen to gain advantage, this is what she must do.
All three contributions demonstrate how an astute Leader of the Opposition could ensure that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act does not necessarily give a Prime Minister a free ride when it comes to an early election.
If Gary Weatherhead would care to get in touch, his prize will be in the post.