The youth awoke from a deep slumber sounding a roaring call for progressive change here in Britain. Previous elections had tiptoed silently past, barely registered and scarcely noted. The whole process felt distant and removed as tired pledges and phatic language only softened the footsteps of a runaway political system. But something sounded this June 8th. Social media buzzed electronically as sound bites and conflicting tweets invigorated a previously despondent generation. Encouraged and engaged now by two distinct, and ideologically opposing prospects, it felt all the more tangible, like there might actually be something important to vote for.
Voter apathy is not exclusive to the youngest in society and it affects all levels of the electorate. It is the cumulative effect of an ongoing process, which has become the embodiment of modern-day politics. In an era of post-truths, politics has become the simple distortion of reality, as affluent clones are masqueraded behind empty promises. This has and will continue to repel not only the youngest voters but runs the risk of alienating entire generations. The damage of which though is most greatly felt for the youngest cohorts of society, as they tend to remain quietly unaware of the important issues and policies that will govern their adult lives, the tracks of which are lain before they ever know their true significance.
The reasons behind such disillusionment can in part be explained by reviewing the 2015 general election. Here we were presented with an unusual game of ‘Spot the Difference’. Any attempt to identify discernible difference between Cameron, Clegg and Milliband in appearance and policy remained an incredibly difficult task. They all seemed to have been plucked from the same golden crèche, flaunting vaguely similar, yet equally uninspiring politics. You have the feeling that their motivation to lead is an ego driven aspiration, solidified by social position, rather than intrinsic desire to better people’s lives.
So, this recently reinvigorated youth demographic must in turn be linked to Labour and the Conservative parties current posturing. The two main parties now occupy very different territories with Labour making steps back toward the socialist values the party was built upon. This has signified a break away from the neoliberal agenda that was introduced into the party during the Blair era, and for the first time in a long time has provided a very real fork in the road. We have the choice to continue aggressive austerity measures, questionable foreign relations and massive cuts to our public sector, or we could deviate from this.
Corbyn’s Labour promised a manifesto for the many not the few. It would address the country’s deficit not through divisive attacks on the social welfare state, which inherently creates divisions amongst the hardest affected in society, but instead will shine a light on the very real tax evasions at corporation level here in the UK. It could begin to heal the scars of broken communities, inflicted by infectious austerity cuts that leave wounds seeping rather than repaired. It would rein in big corporations, whilst nationalising the Royal Mail and potentially the National Railways, a movement away from private profiteering and a push to improve services. And It should provide the grounds for more inclusive, fairer policies that would in turn tackle rising inequality and protect the interests of the neglected many.
The choice for a lot of people has become obvious. I have watched as my own family and others in similar position suffer in the face of growing inflation and stagnant wages. I have witnessed the increasingly competitive job market that is flooded with graduates and not enough work to support qualified individuals. I see tuition fees rise down South, set to break the £10,000 mark by 2020, ensuring that university will become a truly elitist system, and further deprive the poorest in our societies. I hear of the property ladder and its awkward footing, as the first rungs appear missing, tucked between belt and tweed trouser. I sense that the overall picture, if sustained austerity cuts continue to ravish many in society, will provide a UK that is more difficult for the children of today than it were for our parents. As life expectancy snags, the NHS wheezes, MP’s check out on holiday and the country clumsily stalls through EU negotiations, I feel that we deserve better.
Yet there will be those forced to suggest that Labour’s costing is fanciful. Those that have been assured there is no magical money tree, I ask you to avert your eyes from the higher branches where the Tory’s now swing, shaking seemingly non-existent funds over a corruptible DUP deal. There is no need for the system to be the way it is, things can be altered, adapted and averted. There is an alternative to our countries economy, environment and current direction, and we have at last been presented with a viable option.
Though the election results rolled in and confirmed what many had anticipated, a Tory victory, it was a victory of the slightest of margins. Unable to form a majority, and now squatting awkwardly to collect the pieces, the conservatives have been forced into a farcical deal with the far-right, northern Irish DUP. The opinion polls did however fail to recognise resurgence in Labour’s support, aided no doubt by a newly awakened youth.
The young voters had been responsible wining Canterbury, a constituency that had earned its place in the Guinness book of world records for the longest uninterrupted holding of a parliament seat by one party. They had help provide the largest increase in Labour seats since 1997, and in turn mark the way for progressive change here in the UK. The fuel of which must be seen as Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn. As his campaign grew in momentum, Theresa May squandered her position, like grains of rice between parted fingers, loosing her mandate, confidence and seemingly unassailable lead.
With some opinion polls placing Labour in front for the first time in 7 years it has provoked Corbyn to call his party, the government in waiting. And as he continues to visit marginal seats across the country to reinforce a message that we do have an alternative, impetus grows and a new direction presents itself. This election has brought about a re-posturing of the electorate and as first time voters engage the propensity to do so again cannot be undone. After June 8th, the message if clear for many of us, we want change.
By Liam McGuckin