When Theresa May called a General Snap Election, she aimed at increasing their parliamentary majority through the increase of seats. Instead she lost seats and allowed Labour to gain. May based most of her campaign on the fact that an increased Conservative majority would strengthen her hand at the negotiating table of BREXIT. Instead she lost seats and consequently lost what dwindling respect the European Council had for her, thus weakening the United Kingdom’s hand when attempting to negotiate trade and security deals with the remaining members of the European Union.
Placing a large amount of the result of the campaign/election in the hands of the weaknesses of Labour was always risky, calling the potential for a Labour coalition a ‘coalition of chaos’. What has made May look even weaker is the fact that the loss of seats resulted in the loss of a majority, leading to a conservative-DUP coalition. With their old-fashioned and out dated views this coalition is clearly one of more chaos than the potential one involving Labour.
Why was Labour so successful? This question is repeatedly coming up and has various sides to the answer. One is of course Corbyn’s appeal to the younger generation, however, more importantly, it is the fact that for the first time in years, Labour is actually presenting a left and socialist political thought. Rather than succumbing to the right-wing populist behaviour and becoming a more politically centralised party, like many Labour leaders before him, Corbyn presented himself as a socialist, Labour leader, whose manifesto really looked as though it would make significant change within the political and social stage. Instead of immediately appealing to the centre ground, Corbyn tackled the majority opinion and introduced an actual left-wing manifesto to the Labour party, appealing to a larger audience and inviting people to vote for an actual change and more equal society. He pointed out the indiscretions of the Conservatives, including the potential for the privatising and continued underfunding of the NHS, as well as the tax advantages for the top 10%. But instead of simply pointing this out and presenting a manifesto of policies that was not strikingly different, Corbyn and his party introduced the potential for actual change and equality, allowing society to believe that their vote would really make a difference.
Creating a socialist alternative as opposed to a Conservative copy made all the difference for the Labour party and May’s inability to realise this, as well as her poorly led campaign is what led to the loss of seats and a strengthened Labour opposition. Although Labour do not have a majority and yes, the Conservative party are still the leading party in Parliament, many would argue that the biggest success of the night still goes to Labour. It demonstrates the death of Blairite politics and the New Labour, it demonstrates that there is room for a socialist and actual left-wing Labour party and it further demonstrates the weaknesses of the current Tory government.
By Joshua Brown History and Political Science Undergraduate at the University of Birmingham
(This article does not represent my own political views, I have attempted to take the role of Devil’s Advocate.)