General Election 2017: The Post-Mortem

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of TheSprout. We are a platform for young people in Cardiff to share their views, news, and opinions.

Whether you are happy with the result or not, this has been, without a doubt, the most exciting and the most brilliantly fought general election in modern history.

Since the day Tony Blair first came to power it has been a power-grab between the political parties in Westminster for the centre ground.

It was this creation of a political consensus that lead invariably to the rise of the Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg as well as the resultant Coalition Government in 2010 and the Conservative victory under David Cameron in 2015, against an “Austerity light” agenda under Ed Miliband.

But nothing lasts forever and the rejection of the consensus happened rapidly, starting in Scotland where the SNP won an overwhelming landslide against the Labour and Lib Dem parties in 2015. This has also recently caused a resurgence to the left within the Labour party with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

Since 2016 the main political parties have abandoned the centre ground for their traditional fault lines.

Since then the political fault lines have been even more keenly redrawn to their traditional positions. The result of our EU Membership Referendum last June which showed a nation clearly divided between the perception of right-wing xenophobes in support of Brexit and left-wing liberals standing against it.

Division such as this should have been a deciding factor in the Conservatives handling in the election, a campaign which was handled with as much sensitivity as a bull in a china shop. What Theresa May and her party had been hoping for was rather simply a coronation rather than a real debate.

Only the opposition parties weren’t prepared to treat an election as a referendum for the very simple reason that a general election is not a referendum, and must never be treated as one. The Tory party has made this mistake many times before in the past and have still not learnt their lesson.

Elections are not referendums and should never be treated as such, for even the best laid plans can be overtaken by events.

For this has without doubt been an election that has focused upon many issues, not just Brexit, but the state of our National Health Service, the housing crisis, food-bank Britain and the minimum wage, as well as the security of our country after the dreadful terror attacks in Manchester and London.

But if this election has proved anything it is that Jeremy Corbyn as both a person and a political force has been highly underestimated by both the establishment and by his own party. Though many in the Labour party can now be seen flocking to congratulate him on his electoral success.

Jeremy Corby in Whitchurch on general election campaign April 2017

Photo Credit: Jack (Correspondent)

Whereas Theresa May and Boris Johnson have come across as arrogant, out of touch, ignorant, inarticulate or just simply incompetent, Jeremy Corbyn has showed himself to be a man who actually cares and listens to the concerns of the electorate, both young and old.

Whereas the Tories have come across as arrogant beyond belief, Jeremy Corbyn has run a campaign that listens to its electorate.

The result as been a campaign and a manifesto that has been so successful in its message and so formal in its policies that even former Conservative voters have found themselves voting for him, as evidenced by the switching of seats like Stroud, Oxford West & Abingdon and even Canterbury where there has never been a Labour MP in its electoral history.

But it would be either naive or arrogant for Corbyn to claim victory, as he has done, for the very simple reason that the Tory party did field the best results, with the most seats and the popular vote as well. They even managed to gain seats in Scotland for the first time since 2001, relegating Labour to third place in Scotland.

The SNP, whilst still remaining the largest party in Scotland, have also suffered a reversal in fortune with the loss of 21 seats and several key members of its party including former leader Alex Salmond and Westminster Leader Angus Robertson. This has been seen as a reaction against Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for a second independence referendum.

A mixed night for the minority parties with the Lib Dems losing and gaining and the SNP still in charge north of the border.

For the Liberal Democrats it has been something of a mixed result, gaining seats but also losing them elsewhere. Wales became Lib Dem free after the loss of Ceredigion by Mark Williams to Plaid Cymru and former DPM Nick Clegg lost his seat of Sheffield Hallam to Labour.

The result has been a hung parliament with Conservatives remaining the largest party with 318 seats which, once taking away the Speaker and the newly elected Sinn Fein MPs (who are abstentionists – they do not take their seats in parliament), puts them just a few seats short of majority rule.

Theresa May for General Election 2017 post-mortem article

Photo Credit: Jim Mattis via Wikimedia Commons

It is an embarrassing situation for Theresa May’s leadership since it was her decision to call this snap election and threw away her previous majority. The vultures will no doubt be circling very soon. However they will have to wait an appropriate amount of time before making their moves, namely to see if their proposed deal with DUP actually comes through.

The vultures will soon be coming for Theresa May’s leadership if no deal can be struck with the DUP.

Regardless of political allegiances the person who has made out best from this election is Jeremy Corbyn. He has been completely vindicated by the simple fact that Labour has had its best result since 2005 under Tony Blair. He has run the best campaign and garnered the support of a large cross-section of society, including students and pensioners, Remainers as well as Leavers.

Related articles and info:

British Right-Wing Media: An Epidemic of Propaganda

General Election 2017: I went to the ITV Wales Leaders Debate

Election Special 2017: Who Governs Britain?

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