This is most definitely not the result that was expected when Theresa May called the snap election, just 7 short weeks ago.
Polls predicted upwards of a huge 20-point lead for the Conservatives, with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party floundering feebly in the background. But today her Snap Election became a disaster that saw her lose the Conservative majority, leaving the UK with a hung parliament in this already unstable period in politics.
So how did such a shock result occur?
- First and foremost, the turn out of young people. Jeremy Corbyn appealed to the youth through social media campaigns and policies to scrap tuition fees. Normally ignored because they ‘won’t bother to vote’, young people did bother to vote and swung many seats, especially in University cities, to the left.
- Secondly, May’s campaign and charisma. This is something I discuss with frustration because while it is obvious to anyone that Theresa May lacks charisma, this should not have influenced the result. But due to her lack of public appearances, dodgy soundbites and, to be quite honest, her almost non-existent campaign, she has led the party into turmoil. Quite frankly, she was complacent and it backfired.
- Now the obvious one: tactical voting. There was a huge influx of tactical voting, due mostly to Brexit. Constituencies that voted largely to leave, tended to vote Conservative; while those who voted remain, tended to vote Labour. However, people recognised that a certain stability was required that could not be matched by the smaller parties, thus increasing Labour’s vote share and bringing about a new era of two-party politics.
- Finally, social care. At the beginning of the campaign, the Conservatives rightly recognised that they were at an advantage and so chose the moment to try to tackle an issue that has been festering for years. Unfortunately, many were displeased by their manifesto promises and more unsure voters were swayed away.
However, now is not the time to dwell on the result, but rather a time to get on, and get along with the job at hand. We have a duty to recognise the positives in the umpteenth political upheaval of the past 2 years.
While, as a person whose loyalties lie with the Conservatives, I am disappointed, I am also able to recognise the dramatic display of true democracy that we have witnessed.
Almost 70 years ago, at the tail end of 6 years of unrelenting war, the 1945 election seemed set in stone. Of course, Churchill – a man hailed a war hero – would continue his service as Prime Minister.
But he didn’t.
The British public voted in a Labour government in what was described as the ‘Great Landslide’.
That shock result mirrors that of today, though perhaps not quite so radical, and to me a certain tenor can be taken from it: the British have the same volatile level-headedness that they did all those years ago and they will shout it loud and proud. As ever though, there was not violence or societal divide, but rather a more peaceful form of protest – a well thought out vote.
So what does this demonstrate? Well, primarily, it shows there was widespread dissatisfaction with the Conservatives; with their manifesto and their campaign. But more can be taken from it than that.
It tells us that the people in power do not dictate our choices, it tells us that anyone can rise from the ashes and it tells us that the ruling classes are, in fact, ruled by us.
And so, I conclude: while my personal hopes were not met, the hopes of millions were and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty of democracy.