There we have it: Theresa May has gone and done a Hillary Clinton. In one of the most winnable General Elections of our time, the Prime Minister had a simple goal: to increase her parliamentary majority. How unfortunate, therefore, that she should lose 13 seats whilst Labour gained 30. This last fact has perplexed many people, who are anxiously trying to explain why on earth anybody would vote Labour.
Lord Alan Sugar, who became especially anti-Labour in the final few days of the election, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that Labour voters were ‘not very experienced in life’ and, despite them being bright, he simply wasn’t sure ‘if they really knew what they were voting for.’ Not one to be outdone, co-editor of ‘The Conservative Woman’ had her own theory about why young people flocked to Labour. ‘Young people’ are not idealists wanting a better future’, she tweeted. ‘They just want more free stuff.’ Another individual declared that Diane Abbott increased her majority because ‘she’s from a scrounger area’ whilst another expressed how ‘scary’ it is that anybody would vote Labour with Jeremy Corbyn as its leader.
It appears not once to have crossed their minds that people voted Labour because they want a better future. A brighter future. A future where you will not be £27,750 in debt by the time that you leave university (this figure excludes the maintenance loan.) A future where young people actually have a chance of securing a place on the housing ladder without a reliance on the bank of mum and dad. A future where food bank usage has not increased, and where homelessness has not been steadily on the rise, since 2010.
All of these points, to people who are still anxious about why anybody would possibly want to vote Labour, can easily be dismissed as pure theory. Allow me to introduce you, therefore, to Brenda who I met whilst canvassing for my local Labour candidate. She is in her early fifties, and cannot stand up for very long due to a neurological problem. She also frequently needs breathing assistance from an oxygen tank. The monstrous organisation of ATOS decided that she was ‘fit to work’, and the Department for Work and Pensions are maintaining that decision. Seven years of Tory rule had not worked for this Brenda, and she wanted change – change that she believed would come under a Labour government. But why would anybody vote Labour, anyway?
And what about the IRA? The newspapers splashed across their front page that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were supporters of the ‘armed struggle’, and even met terrorists to express support in their campaign of violence. It may be true; it may not be. The electorate are not stupid, and they can recognise a ‘he said, she said’ tale a mile off. The official spin from the Labour Party was that Corbyn met them (being, Sinn Féin) on the basis of establishing peace talks, and so the electorate were left without solid answers. There are, as the polls proved, more important issues to discuss than who Jeremy Corby may or may not have met thirty years ago.
Of course, it isn’t just Labour’s message that swung voters. It was also the message from the Tories that turned them to backing Corbyn’s party. You may be excused for wondering what message this was, considering it changed every five minutes anyway, so allow me to clarify. I refer to the scrapping of free school meals for all children in KS1, counting property as an asset in making decisions about social care, and the completely shocking admission from Michael Fallon that the Tories did not even bother to cost certain aspects of their manifesto (I have written more about the Conservative manifesto elsewhere.) But why would anybody vote Labour, anyway?
There is a reason that the Labour Party chose ‘for the many, not the few’ as their campaign slogan. It is simple, it is effective, and it perfectly encapsulates the values of the manifesto. Of course, May’s message of strong and stable leadership appealed to a certain extent but the fact remains that Labour swept up seats, and in some places increased its majority. Many people wanted a change this election season, and Labour was the Party with the message of hope.