Newcastle students from across the political spectrum respond to the results of Thursday’s general election.
A tale of two Maggies
A great wave of blue has drenched our electoral map, one that now distinctly resembles the ever-young baby Maggie Simpson. Scotland is the yellow spiked hair of SNP’s success, a clear statement of the nationalist cravings for Indyref2. England and Wales have been blanketed by the great blue swaddle of Conservative domination, whilst Labour’s colossal defeat just represents a small red dummy. Clearly the Santa-looking Jeremy Corbyn and his sack of socialist gifts wasn’t enough to persuade the nation to let him slide down the chimney into number 10 this year.
The election marks the biggest Tory majority since a very different Maggie, with the Conservative Party now enjoying an 80-seat leeway within the House of Commons. This landmark victory now grants Boris all the mandate he could ever have wished for on his Christmas list, exciting the 43.6% who were dreaming of a blue Christmas. Tonight, he will be slipping his hands into some padded oven mitts in preparation to serve up a steaming hot Brexit pie to a nation of eagerly awaiting diners – only that pie has a distinctly poultry aroma and it was the turkeys that voted for it.
When the exit poll flashed up on the screen in my local Wetherspoons, I was shocked at the size of the Conservative majority that was predicted. I knew a Corbyn government was not going to happen but I expected the Tory majority to be slim, or that we would even have a hung Parliament once again. Whilst the reaction of opposition party supporters was anger and frustration, reflecting on the result after 24 hours, it is clear Labour and the Liberal Democrats did make some errors in the campaign that cost them many seats.
I voted Liberal Democrats in my constituency, partly because my area is a Conservative heartland, meaning the Lib Dems were the only chance of beating the Tories. However, a key reason I voted Lib Dem was because I struggled to accept the hard right stance of the Conservatives as well as the hard left wing politics of Labour. Corbyn’s politics typically appeal to the young voters, but he failed to engage lifelong Labour voters, many of whom voted to leave the EU. I might have appreciated Corbyn reacting to hate Tweets or showing us a political version of Spotify Wrapped on Twitter, but a strong social media campaign wasn’t going to secure the votes of the older generation of Labour supporters.
The Liberal Democrats really had a chance to reinvigorate centre right and centre left voters, especially when many feel politically homeless. However, the mistakes of the 2010-2015 coalition government continue to haunt the Lib Dems, and with Swinson leading a pretty average campaign there was little hope for huge gains. Many remain Conservative voters were sceptical of giving their vote to the Lib Dems in fear this would simply help Corbyn become the next PM. As a Lib Dem supporter, it remains all too clear that it will be a slow race to gain anywhere near the number of seats the party won in the 2010 election.
Labour’s marketing mishap
While as a Conservative I would like to write an article about the triumph of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party’s ideology, particularly in constituencies like my home town, I have instead decided to touch upon something I feel a lot of people will miss: marketing.
I’ve asked a few people this but what was Labour’s slogan for the election?
Everyone I’ve asked has either not known or has said “For the many, not the few”, nobody has mentioned Labour’s actual slogan. “It’s time for real change”.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know; it isn’t your fault. Labour’s failure at conveying what should be its key message has hounded this campaign.
Labour’s biggest weakness policy-wise was undoubtedly Brexit, but while the Conservatives ran on the simple and memorable “Get Brexit Done” Labour failed to convey a clear idea of what they actually wanted to do. But it goes beyond that too. Many who closely follow politics have been annoyed by Boris Johnson’s propensity for answering every question with some variant of “Get Brexit done”, “20,000 police officers”, “40 new hospitals”, “50,000 new nurses”. But this style of campaigning which is designed to relentlessly beat voters over the head with the same few talking points and policies works, and I remember all of those policies and those figures.
On the other hand, what are Labour’s policies? What are the headline figures? Nationalisation of key industries just isn’t as tangible a benefit as 20,000 police officers on the street, and Labour’s increased funding for the NHS hasn’t been put into memorable figures or slogans.
While everyone will talk about Brexit and Corbyn’s leadership I think Labour’s failure to succinctly convey tangible benefits or market their own policies has led to their worst election result in almost a century.
If you recognise my name, then you’ll be undoubtedly familiar with where I likely stand on the results of Thursday night based on my SU work and social activism. As a working class, disabled, mentally-ill person of colour, I am not going to waste word-count space reiterating in detail what many other of my peers have said both this week and for the last many years, expressing concern, disgust, fear and confusion that once again we have voted for a party that has enabled, through deliberate policy, racism, bigotry and the verifiable deaths of members of the disabled and mentally ill community. If you voted for the Tories, it doesn’t matter if you hold these views or if they were not part of your reasons: you have enabled this party to continue to have power, you are responsible for the continuing state of despair and fear felt by members of vulnerable communities, and you have blood on your hands.
It’s a surprise to me how affected I felt on Friday morning waking up to the headlines. I have always been a political cynic. I do not agree with the state of part politics. The way media and journalism are used as tools of maleficent social warfare. The cloak and dagger nature of it all. I’ve lived most of my life so far feeling detached to it all because of this. I guess that teaches me to put any personal investment into it all.
I spent last night watching Channel 4’s Alternate Election Coverage – what is meant to off-set the uncertainty of an election with comedic lightness. But even the comedians seemed depressed by it all. If you do need a summation of why so many have woken up today aggressively angry and afraid, then I suggest you Google online for the comments made by Stanley Johnson, Robert Rinder’s response, and Nish Kumar’s display of emotion that people of colour and minority groups across the UK echo in droves.
Last modified: 20th December 2019