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Let’s take to the fields: Corbyn and the youth have done good

09 Jun 2017

Today is a day for running through fields of wheat. Even though, as I write, the Tories are making gross pacts with Northern Ireland’s homophobic, anti-abortion, arguably racist, death penalty-supporting Democratic Unionist Party and cementing their minority government; even though the Tories still won 49% of the vote compared to Labour’s 40%; even though Scotland, my home country, is a traitor, in my eyes, this is still a small victory.

We have made history. In the past two decades, the turnout for young people at the polls has been reducing to around 40% (while comparatively in 2015 the turnout for those aged 65 and above was 78%). But this time round, early indicators put the turnout for 18-24’s in the election at somewhere between 53 to 72%.

Campaigns from organisations like Bite The Ballot and the National Union for Students, who went around the country encouraging college and uni students to register to vote, have worked their magic. Well over a million of us signed up in the month following the election being called.

“It might be the Corbyn-dabbing memes going viral, but this outcome is based in an idealism that the most vulnerable people in the UK deserve to live a decent life”

Our generation has long been called apathetic, self-serving and, more recently, “special snowflakes”. Today proved the older generation wrong. We managed to pull our finger out of our arses and think about other people. It might be the Corbyn-dabbing memes, Grime 4 Corbyn and the sexy #shevotes selfies going viral, but this outcome is based firmly in an idealism that all people in the UK, especially those most vulnerable, deserve to live a decent life. Corbyn’s political mandate, and the “Corbynmania” that has gone alongside it, has always been 100 times more powerful than “Milifandom” ever was, because it is based in nearly-radical policies (outlined in Labour’s excellent manifesto), that will truly benefit the disabled, women and PoC.

The other reason why we should be celebrating is that Corbyn has overcome the fact that for nearly two years the mainstream media has been trying to tear him down. Even the centre-left newspapers had it in for him – research from LSE university last year found that he was “thoroughly delegitimised as a political actor from the moment he became a prominent candidate” and that “in most newspapers, including The Daily Mirror and The Independent, Labour voices that are anti-Corbyn outweigh those that are pro-Corbyn”. If he was to win the leadership election there would be “disarray, bitterness and credibility forfeited” wrote Polly Toynbee in the Guardian in 2015. 

And yet Labour, who have been suffering from an internal crisis because MPs are snakes and, much like the left-wing media, didn’t want to support Corbyn because he was “unelectable”, even if they did agree with him politically, actually gained 29 seats. They were predicted to suffer vast losses across the country, but turned that shit around. Theresa May on the other hand, has owned herself: she went into the snap election expecting to gain a majority of 100, but actually lost 12 seats. Her calls for “certainty”, and her retention of power is completely undermined by the fact that she called this election to “secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond” and has actually left the UK in an even more politically unstable era.

“Although it’s sad that these heinous people are still in power, we can take a sec to celebrate. Just remember that we’ve just got more work to do”

Positives are that there are now over 200 women MPs, up from 191 (although still less than 50% of MPs are women). WoC were better represented than normal – the first female Sikh MP, Labour’s Preet Kaur Gill, won the Birmingham Edgbaston seat while in Battersea, Conservative minister Jane Ellison’s majority of almost 8,000 was overturned by Labour’s Marsha De Cordova – a black activist and former councillor who is also registered as blind. The UK’s first black woman MP, Aunty Diane, increased her majority in Hackney, despite having been nastily trolled and bullied throughout election cycle. Paul Nuttall of the “UKIPs” (if you haven’t seen comedian Stewart Lee’s sketch on this, watch it now), has stepped down as the party’s leader after UKIP didn’t win any seats in the election.

So bun Theresa May. Fuck the Tories and the DUP. As Corbyn put it himself after his re-election in Islington North: “You know what? Politics has changed. Politics isn’t going back into the box where it was before. What’s happened is, people have said they’ve had quite enough of austerity politics, they’ve had quite enough of cuts in public expenditure, under-funding our health service, under-funding our schools, our education service, and not giving our young people the chance they deserve in our society.”

Although it’s sad that these heinous people are still in power, we can take a sec to celebrate. Just remember that we’ve just got more work to do.