Theresa May called a snap election, and on this day – the 8th of June – those that had the foresight in registering to vote before the deadline will be able to choose which party and which member of parliament represents them in parliament for – possibly – the next five years.
The snap election was called, and within less than 6 weeks all parties had to campaign and to get their message out to the public. Both campaigns of the Conservatives and Labour parties during these 6 weeks could not have been more polarised in their ideological stances and in their tactics. Within this time-frame, although the issue and the mandate of Leave is settled amongst the two major parties, the divisiveness of the EU referendum has oozed out into party politics.
The Conservative party campaigned on an uncosted, policy-less manifesto. The Labour party campaigned on a costed, policy-filled manifesto. Conservative rallies were controlled affairs of dozens of people, while Theresa May resorted to repeating platitudes as a tactic of messaging and of answering questions. Labour rallies were open affairs of sometimes thousands, as Jeremy Corbyn answered questions from anybody attending in a sometimes drawn-out way, but with honesty and depth. The Conservatives – in an attempt to focus the election on a presidential race between leaders of the largest parties – overall ran a campaign of ad hominem attacks, slander, and misrepresentation of the opposition.
The United Kingdom suffered two attacks – in Manchester and in London – by extremists during the general election campaign. This gave breaks to campaigning where the reaction momentarily was to cease the personal abuse during the campaign. This ceased as the Far-Right print press shamelessly depicted the Labour opposition as “terrorist sympathisers” on the day before the election.
The snap election was called primarily because of the huge lead of the Conservative party compared to all other parties. This was a margin of 24 points, although as of recently some polls closed this lead down to a single point, with the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck.
As an overall disastrous decline is looming for the next generation, the issue of class in the United Kingdom is transforming, amalgamating into a generational divide. The younger generation wish desperately to break from a generational consensus of neoliberalism and subsequent austerity as matter-of-fact dogma; their own livelihoods are at stake. The older generation wishes to maintain this status quo as they see it as necessary; it’s “how the world works”, it’s the “real world”. To them, this sudden break within the Labour from this consensus represents a return to 1970s Labour; a time when the professional ownership class held much less power over the British workforce but to older generation, the country “stood still”. As neoliberalism had its day and the ownership class held more and more power, the pendulum eventually has swung to the opposite side.
These circumstances are behind the younger generation’s plight, and are the explanation behind the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Although the opposite response to this incoming decline is also evident. You can read about this in the Analysis article Common Sense as Ignorance for an explanation behind the rise of English nationalism, and of red-herrings: the misdirection of people’s anger – especially the working class – towards non-issues.
Theresa May – in her effort to turn the election into a presidential race – also made the election focussed on a question of leadership. Due to the Conservatives framing this narrative, leadership in this debate was framed as being defined as brute force. As the election campaigns went on, May’s performances and her unsure demeanour became increasingly defined as anything but brute force and strength. Polls reflected that May lost credibility amongst the public in this regard.
As Brexit negotiations will begin right after the election, the election was more so portrayed by the Conservatives as a referendum on who should be taking on these negotiations on behalf of the United Kingdom. The election has nevertheless become a question of what principles do you have, and who would you like to act out these principles on behalf of you; whether these people are negotiating with the European Union, or simply implementing policy in your country for the next five years. It has become referendum on whether the United Kingdom would like to be a civilised society.
The prescience of this moment due to Brexit is overwhelming and will have ripple effects on British society for continuous generations. The welfare state and security for the most vulnerable in society is on the ballot today, and so is the majority of people’s future.