It wouldn’t be an election without me bearing my soul all over the internet, now would it?
After taking Brexit, shall we say, not very well, I needed this. I f*cking needed this.
Being inside a bubble that seemingly holds no relevance anywhere else is an alienating experience. Perhaps the hardest part of the whole Brexit mess was coming to terms that something I took so for granted – that we were better off as an inclusive nation inside the EU – was actually a minority view. My fundamental belief about the world is that good can prevail, and hate will never win. Brexit, and the success of the Tories and UKIP in 2015, brought that belief in to question.
It’s a frustrating place to be. There were plenty of people around me in my left-wing, London-centric bubble that felt the same as me. But, when it came to the democratic process, that view seemed to hold little weight. I wasn’t even shocked when Trump was elected last year. It seemed to be the direction the world was going in, and no matter how strongly my bubble felt in opposition to it, it would have no influence on what would end up happening.
One of the key takeaways after last year’s referendum was how young people were being presented with a future they didn’t want, and yet they weren’t getting out and voting to change it. A small number of privileged people were getting through to the masses with a message of hate and exclusion. It made me feel sick.
It’s for this reason I went on one of the pro-EU marches after the referendum. It’s not that I thought we could change the vote – as much as I hate the outcome, the result is the result and we can’t go back on it – but rather I wanted to feel like I had a say. I wanted people to know that I cared, and wanted to be around other people who did as well.
That’s why this election result means so much.
Yes, the Conservatives had more votes, more seats, and are still the largest party. This is not a monumental alteration on a political level. Rather, the difference is a moral one. This is a rejection of a kind of politics I fundamentally disagree with.
Certain newspapers (whose name I won’t use through not wanting to waste oxygen on them) spread messages that were insanely propagandist. These aren’t tiny-circulation hate-mags, these are the biggest newspapers in the country. They spread the message of hatred and fear, and forced the narrative that you had to vote in one direction lest you wanted to ruin the country.
Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour party, on the other hand, projected an image of hope over fear. They didn’t resort to hatred and bigotry. They didn’t use smear tactics. They tried to argue that things could get better if you were willing to fight for it. They played the game on their terms, terms that we all believed would no longer work, and they did.
Theresa May holding an election for the sole purpose of increasing her own majority during a time where there are protests against public sector cuts was, with hindsight, either incredibly naïve or incredibly arrogant. Thinking that she could just turn up and automatically get more seats, even when she is so inherently unlikeable that no-showing a debate was better for her image than presenting her views, is more than arrogant. It’s contemptuous. People saw through it. People said “no”. People put their foot down and said they wouldn’t stand for it.
Now May is forced to tuck her tail between her legs and turn to the DUP to help maintain a majority, after having driven home the “Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser” angle. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so bleak.
But more importantly, it was the young who made their voices known.
I can’t begin to describe how frustrating it is to see young people being given a future they don’t want, and yet doing nothing about it. That is no longer the case. One prediction has youth turnout at 72%. That’s incredible. Young people are seeing their future they don’t want being handed to them and are fighting back. They are making a stand, and it makes me so happy I could cry.
(That might also be from the lack of sleep in staying up to watch the results, admittedly).
Corbyn deserves an enormous amount of credit. He had to fight against both the propagandist right wing press and his own party. I’m a wishy-washy liberal who I liked what he was saying, and even I didn’t support him. I thought he was too polarising and hence unelectable. I thought you had to be a short-term-thinking, mean-spirited, vaguely-offensive “populist” to get people behind you in this political climate. I was wrong. Thank God I was wrong.
This afternoon, for the first time in a few years, I feel less alienated. This felt like someone else’s country. Hell, what with Trump and the right wing movements across Europe, it felt like someone else’s planet. I felt like an outsider; someone with an inherent belief of how the world works that isn’t mirrored by anyone else. I could see the path we were starting down, one of exclusion, hatred and fear, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.
It turns out, neither did many other people. Marie Le Pen didn’t succeed in France. Geert Wilders didn’t succeed in the Netherlands. And Theresa May, for all the seats they still have, did not achieve the goal she set out for. Conservatism does not necessarily defeat liberalism. Fear doesn’t necessarily beat hope.
The Conservatives are still in power. That was inevitable, and this result hasn’t changed that disappointing fact. What it has done is stick a much needed middle finger at a certain way of thinking. It turns out there are people like me out there after all, and I couldn’t be happier.