The result on the 8th June shocked everyone, no-one was expecting Labour to gain seats and Conservatives to lose seats. Since then every political commentator is attempting to make sense as to why Labour has seen such an increase in vote share, where Jeremy Corbyn gained more votes than Blair in 2001 and 2005 but Theresa May also increased her vote share to higher than that of Blair in 1997, but lost seats, significantly in England.
Theresa May’s grip on power has been strengthened by their best showing in Scotland in 40 years, winning 12 seats. Labour managed to make some of the ground up on the significant losses in Scotland from the last election winning 7 seats.
Social media and society
Digressing from the point, Question Time, the day after highlighted that large proportion of journalists, political commentators and politicians haven’t quite grasped why Labour had a significant victory in terms of expectation over Theresa May and the Conservatives. Journalist, Isabel Oakeshott, couldn’t get through Question Time without snide remarks about Jeremy Corbyn even when criticising Theresa May, she was rude and interrupted other guests with unnecessary remarks. Armando Iannucci came across the most sensible, closely followed by Alastair Campbell.
Labour’s strength and gain didn’t come from having a large proportion of press or wealthy backers on their side. Their strength came with the mobilisation of people across the country and their ability to harness social media to its full extent. The Conservatives spent more on social media campaigning but failed to engage voters with their advertising, whereas Labour’s campaigns online were often poignant and felt real rather than forced and fake. Several times Jeremy Corbyn’s large rallies went viral thanks to sites such as Another Angry Voice (AAV) and Evolve Politics.
Youth and Brexit engagement
Labour’s victory isn’t the result itself but the mobilisation of support and engaging people into voting for their future, in particular the youth vote, with reports suggesting 72% of 18-24s voted on June 8th. The figure has yet to be confirmed but this engagement with younger voters means that they will likely to vote again in the future. Social media and 18-24s are not the only reason that Labour saw impressive gains from where they were, but with the collapse of UKIP, many expected them to switch to the Conservatives over Brexit.
It was reported in the Telegraph and various other outlets that within Labour heartlands, that UKIP voters were switching their allegiances to Conservative. However, this hasn’t turned out to be true, a fair chunk of UKIP voters have switched to Labour, it is estimated to be a 50/50 split between Conservative and Labour in UKIP gains. This is down to Brexit and Labour were clear in their plan to leave the single market, and a lot of UKIP supporters had been dismissed as racist, xenophobic and prejudice by many. This is not true, they have concerns and previously UKIP were a protest vote.
Labour had a large mobilisation of people, an effective social media campaign, engagement with youth voters and a clear plan for Brexiteers. These four aspects had a significant part to play but this still doesn’t fully explain the turnaround by Labour. A lot of commentators, politicians and those who engage online often accused others of cognitive dissonance of the issues, this may be true for the minority, it certainly doesn’t apply to the majority. However, cognitive dissonance was still rife and it came from most of the press, politicians, political commentators and journalists alike.
The so-called ‘establishment’ displayed a staggering amount of cognitive dissonance from society itself. Theresa May’s campaign epitomised this very aspect, with her constant avoidance of public scrutiny and engaging with real voters. Theresa May, made the campaign about Corbyn and herself and that move has proved costly to her image. She tried to make this election all about Brexit but whilst people believe it is important, people have concerns in their everyday lives that she failed to address. She was trying to tell people what is important to them, rather than listening to what is important to them. This display of cognitive dissonance supported by many the press and journalists, turned people towards Labour from other parties such as UKIP.
Labour’s small step for society
Labour will see this as a positive step for their plan and the election has been particularly peculiar. Analysing it from a traditional sense of who won and lost is murky. Conservative, SNP and Labour have all simultaneously won and lost, Conservative because they will still form a government but a weak minority after losing seats, Labour gained seats and changed the conversation within politics itself but still lost the election and the SNP won Scotland but also lost seats.
The Labour victory isn’t outright victory itself but it is people and society telling our leaders that, they don’t want the same all the time, they want to give voice to those who are poorest within society. Their victory is signalling that change is slowly happening within the heart of society itself and whilst some of the old guard remain on to fight for the status quo, there are others engaging who want real change. This could be the start of something new and this election has proved that our political system is broken.
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