Comment, GE2017

Despite a Tory minority, the left should be optimistic

The chances of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister are, as they were a month ago, slim. The Labour leader has said he would try to amend the Queenís Speech, telling The Sunday Mirror shortly after the election:  “This is still on. Absolutely.”  It isn’t really, let’s be honest.

In black and white terms, Labour lost the general election – as many thought they would. But it isnít a paradox to still believe that the left should be pleased with the result.

The Conservatives could find themselves unable to carry out many of their manifesto pledges: regressive policies such as grammar school reintroduction and fox hunting will struggle to pass the Commons now.

This election also saw some incredible activists elected, as well as marking the first time individuals from certain groups will enter Parliament and marking an increase in representation of traditionally underrepresented groups. For example, a Sikh woman was elected for the first time in British history. Preet Gil won in Birmingham Edgbaston, where she secured a majority for Labour of 6,917. The number of women in the House of Commons has also risen, albeit by a fraction. After this election, 208 women were elected, an increase on the figure of 191 in 2015 (though an additional five women were elected in by-elections).

If present estimates are to be believed, somewhere between 65 and 75 percent of young people turned up at a polling station last Thursday to vote.

In addition to the overall turnout being recorded as the highest since 1997, this youth turnout figure would mean Labour have succeeded where they failed in 2015.

Whilst the 72 percent figure currently being thrown around is likely to be an exaggeration of the real turnout, there is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn convinced those who do not usually vote, including and especially young people, to make their voices heard.

The BBC reports that “seats with the highest proportions of 18 to 24-year-olds had above average swings to Labour,” which is an optimistic sign for the next (possibly very soon) election.

Our expectations were incredibly low, no doubt about it.

However, the left has proven it can recover from the nadir of 2015, and that the Conservatives are not the natural party of government.


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August 2021
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