The early hours of Friday morning saw UEA’s bars filled to the brim with slightly inebriated, slightly anxious students who were awaiting the results of the 2017 general election.
At 10:00pm on Thursday night, the exit polls were accurately predicting that there would be a hung parliament in Westminster. There was a palpable tension across campus, with some students fearing a Conservative led coalition, or the possibility of a minority government.
The majority of UEA students were hopeful that the progressive parties would outperform the predictions of the exit poll, whilst a few others were in support of the Conservatives.
Speaking to Concrete just after midnight, Scriptwriting and Performance first year Ella Dorman-Gajic said: “My standard thing to say would be that obviously a hung parliament is a good thing.
“The result of the exit poll does excite me. Whatever happens I think this [election] will have a positive impact on the left-wing agenda.”
In a not-entirely-reliable poll from the UEA Red Bar, UEA Politics Society President Nick Stokes found that approximately 49 percent of UEA students voted Labour, another 33 percent Conservative, and 13 percent voted for smaller parties, including the Pirate Party who campaigned in Norwich North against the incumbent Conservative Chloe Smith.
First year History student Robert Symonds voted Conservative. He told Concrete: “The hung parliament is a massive disappointment. The coalition with the DUP has led me to be officially opposed to the current UK government now.
“[The hung parliament] resulted from complacency from May and an exceptional campaign from Corbyn. I voted Tory as from a family who runs a small business it would be an economic impossibility to raise the minimum wage to 10 pounds an hour and may run the risk of reducing staff.”
Outgoing president of the National Union of Students (NUS) Malia Bouattia has suggested that as many as 72 percent of 18-24 year olds voted in this general election. Market research company Ipsos MORI have stated that it takes a week or so to produce accurate figures on voter turnout, but overall voter turnout is as high as 68.7 percent. This is the highest voter turnout for an election since 1997.
The NUS have since officially commented on the election result. Noting the rise in turnout for 18-25 year olds since 2015, President Malia Bouattia said: “NUS and students” unions have worked tirelessly to get the vote out amongst students and young people.
“Students want to see progressive and fair policies that will have a very real and positive impact on all our futures.”
Bouattia also suggested that “under the last 7 years of Conservative rule, further and higher education funding has radically reduced and student debt now follows us into mid-life.”
It is thought that the 18-25 youth vote played a significant role in securing Clive Lewis’s Norwich South seat for Labour. Following the annoucement Mr Lewis thanked Green and Liberal Democrat voters in his speech.
SU Campaigns and Democracy Officer Amy Rust described the election as “extraordinary from the moment it was called in April to the results we saw come in” Friday morning.
In a statement for the SU website, Miss Rust said that whilst there were “so many unknowns to be answered” she felt confident in saying that UEA students “have made their voices heard here in Norwich and across the UK.”
“The more young people who vote, the more that politicians have to listen to us. We know from talking to students that we have a number of issues which we would like to see our new MPs focus on from mental healthcare to the way immigration is viewed in this country, weíll be working to ensure those issues are front and centre in the coming weeks.
As an SU with strong ideals based on collectivism and tolerance we hope that we can work with our local politicians towards embracing these values in whatever shape the Government of the UK takes over the coming days and ensure that the voice of young people is at the forefront of MPs minds.”
Miss Rust added, “I want to take a moment to simply say thank you” and described speaking to hundreds of students in the run up to polling day who “stayed true” to their word and “turned up” to vote on 8 June.