So Politics Is Unpredictable. But What Else Have We Learnt?

Artwork by Anna Jay.
Well, well, well. Theresa May – the one who wanted to steal kids' school dinners and make your nan homeless – has failed to get a majority. Instead, the beleaguered prime minister has had to ask the Queen’s permission to form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) following an election that resulted in a hung parliament and massive increase in support for the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, once again defied the haters and pollsters to bring his party a 10-point surge.
Okay, so politics is unpredictable. But what else have we learnt?
Labour know how to rally the electorate
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Ain’t no party like a Jeremy Corbyn party. No, seriously. He travelled 7,000 miles, from the Scottish Highlands to the south of England, addressing 90 rallies in total, with music and speeches from the likes of Steve Coogan, Four Tet and The Libertines. Seasoned campaigners, such as Maryam Eslamdoust, Labour councillor for Camden, claim they’ve never seen such “positive political engagement from the public before" and many say that political campaigning has changed for the better. The days of elderly people propped up with walking sticks and ticking off clipboards in half-empty halls is long gone. For the first time in what feels like forever, politics has become fun – maybe even cool?
Young people matter
All hail Big Narstie. “Bless the yute dem,” he said, in his recent election message. And how right he was. This was a day in which Britain’s younger generation flexed their political muscles to real effect for the first time. Some estimates have predicted the youth voter turnout to be as high as 72%. Michael Sani, CEO of bite the ballot, a movement designed to engage young citizens to lead change within society, says young people are finally taking their place at the table. “It’s fantastic,” he says. “We saw young people come off the back of a referendum and look at the Trump result and the subsequent talks around climate change and realise that politics isn’t something you can let flow past you. It’s something that affects us all. Their voice has been missing for so long and yesterday finally demonstrated they’re going to play a key role in their future.”
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Social media isn't a waste of time
Insta yesterday was awash with polling station selfies, rose emoji and drawn-out political ramblings from your mates. But as cute or annoying as this may have been, it probably did help mobilise young people and previous non-voters. Sani reckons social media is far more important than we think. “Obviously, new form media has been criticised for being an echo chamber, in part by the mainstream press, but anything that sparks someone’s interest should be celebrated,” he says. “It’s a good thing to normalise talking about politics.”
Politics just got more confusing
May has struck a deal with the Democratic Unionists that will allow her to form a government, but the real question on many a little Englander’s lips is “Who the hell are the DUP and is this it for the next five years?" Well, according to Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University London, this is just a short-term solution. “I wouldn't be at all surprised if we're all here again next spring or even this autumn. May won't be leading the Tories into that election: they need to replace her but how do they do that when they need a PM to lead the Brexit negotiations and hold together a minority administration? It's a delicious dilemma for us political geeks.”
Women rule
Big up all the women candidates out there. As of today, there will be a record number of female MPs in the House of Commons, after at least 207 women were elected overnight. That's certainly something to celebrate.
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It's not all about the centre ground anymore
This election saw a surge in both Conservative and Labour votes as first-past-the-post amplified the return of the two-party system after an absence of nearly 20 years. Oh yeah, and even former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg lost his Sheffield Hallam seat to Labour. Oh, and UKIP got zero seats. As Luke Akehurst, former Labour National Executive Committee member, explains, "Corbyn's taken votes off the Liberals, the Greens and the SNP and gotten non-voters enthused." Eslamdoust agrees. She says that just focusing on the centre ground is not the way politics works anymore.
Nothing has changed. For now.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but May’s latest speech outside Number 10 made it seem like nothing had happened. She walked back into Downing Street as prime minister, albeit as a diminished leader, but for how long? Brexit negotiations are still set to take place in about 10 days' time, but the whole thing is starting to look a lot more complicated. Deal or no deal, May's days are numbered and she's got no one to blame but herself. So what next for Corbyn? "The sky's the limit," said one unnamed Labour insider. He's likely to have the support of his party from now on, so who's looking strong and stable now, eh?
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