2017 Election: a Summary

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So, after the dust has settled, what has this election shown us and what have we learnt? Definitely that the younger generation cannot relate to the Tories. They are seen as outdated, short-sighted and unable to deliver what British youth needs. Labour under Corbyn geared an entire campaign towards this demographic and these efforts were not wasted. The buzz around the number of people registering to vote was reflected in the turnout. According to the BBC, it was the highest since 1997 at 69 percent of the electorate. Whilst exact figures are not available, it is thought that there has been a swing towards Labour in areas with more 18 to 24-year-olds. This in itself is something to take away from the election: engagement.

Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to conform to the style of other Westminster politicians was a point of criticism in the press but praise amongst youth. Whilst David Cameron might have told Corbyn to do up his tie last year in Parliament, he would have been better off telling his party to tighten up its policies. His departure after the Brexit vote provided a demonstration of an increasingly incapable Conservative Party. Whilst the Conservatives won the most votes in the recent election, they also lost the most seats after the SNP.

The Conservatives intended to inject £4bn into schools, but this was at the cost of free meals for infant school children. This is a prime example of the Conservative manifesto’s failure: simple, practical policies were ousted by bigger promises that were somewhat reminiscent of the Brexit campaign, such as £350 million supposedly being invested into the NHS. Labour, in terms of education, geared towards students rather than parents. With the scrapping of tuition fees as well as the ending of zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships, Labour presented an engagement with the problems that our youth currently faces. Alas, this did not win Labour the election.

Unfortunately, within world politics, it is increasingly a binary race between a competent and a populist candidate. The problem with Theresa May was that she lacked popular policies. The dementia tax was widely criticised, and the debate on whether to bring back fox hunting and the calling of an election in the first place showed May’s alienation from youth culture and other problems.

This was not to the detriment of Tory strongholds such as Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, where MP Crispin Blunt won quite comfortably. However, this should have apparently been the pattern in the entire country. For if the right-wing media was to be believed, Corbyn did not stand a chance.

The media that generally supported Corbyn was social. Indeed, the prospect of a hung parliament had been widely celebrated on such social media platforms as Twitter. The social media buzz surrounding Corbyn was another factor in his success this election. The <em>Sun, Daily Mail</em> and <em>Telegraph</em> may be bandying around words such as ‘catastrophic’, but the picture from the youth on social media is entirely different. Appearances with grime artist Jme, interviews in the NME and generally coming across as a human being ensured that Corbyn was successful in achieving a large fan base. Again, this highlights the discrepancy between Tory policies and the younger generation.

This election has shown a dissatisfaction with old elites, and progress was shown with diversity across the board. There are more female MPs now than ever before, with more than 200 women to be found in Parliament. This, though, was at the expense of solidifying the two-party system. It was also at the expense of centrist politics, with a ‘confidence and supply’ deal being struck with the socially conservative Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). By doing so, Theresa May has disaffected not only young voters but potentially loyal Conservatives too.

The Brexit vote last year alienated and disappointed many 18 to 24-year-olds, myself included. Nonetheless, Jeremy Corbyn, despite his tentative approach to the EU, has personified an optimistic change. He ran a better campaign and was a much better speaker than Theresa May. In him, I hope we can find a better future.

Global Seven News

Catherine McNaughton

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