by Graham Pierrepoint
It can hardly be denied that this week’s UK general election was something of a dramatic one – it’s been a nail-biting journey through polls and interesting campaign tactics that have led to the very rare circumstances of a Hung Parliament – despite most polling organisations claiming that Theresa May and the Conservative Party would sweep to power with ease. The name on everyone’s lips – love him or hate him – is Jeremy Corbyn, who – after months of battling in-fighting within his own ranks, managed to pull off what many thought to be the impossible in the past few days.
Even those optimistic about Corbyn’s chances knew he wasn’t likely to gain more seats than May – the Labour leader is a left-leaning old-school politician who has largely spoken to working classes and young people since his time in the spotlight – but few, even professional polling organisations, could predict that his Labour front could have taken things so close. This is especially notable given the fact that he was so far behind in opinion polling just weeks before ballots opened.
What occurred, many are commentating, was a mixture of things – Corbyn was seen to lead a political campaign that focused on issues more than personalities, and his leanings and manifesto spoke to a chunk of society that had been poorly represented by the current government. Moreover, Corbyn has appeared to court the press well – something which has dogged him in the near two years since ascending to Labour leadership – but this transformation, and subsequent proof of his popularity (Labour pulling back over thirty seats to drive the government to Hung Parliament is no small feat), will likely transform and energize the way that the Labour Party operate from here on in.
For now, however, Theresa May has sought assistance from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland to build a majority – and with her focus on the approaching Brexit negotiations, it will be interesting to see how Parliament operates over the next few months. Could this election have been the turning point in the way that UK citizens view politicians – and in the way that they vote?
Corbyn’s rise to popularity and success in this election can also be put down to a significant increase in young people taking to vote – meaning that the party may have hit upon a lucrative audience to captivate for future ballots. Corbyn, at least for now – remains in charge, and proud of the evening – despite ultimately having finished second.