General Election 2019: The Big Opinions
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Following the result of the UK General Election, InQuire asked for the opinions of voters from the three main parties to explore how they felt about a Conservative victory.
Emily Webb-Mortimer - Labour Voter
On the morning of my first General election, I felt good. I'd scraped together a half-decent essay after an all-nighter and then took the picturesque walk to the Senate to cast my vote. I was confident this election would go the way of 2017, that Boris and his band of bullies would be nationally humiliated the same way Theresa May had been and a hung parliament would stop the Tories going unchecked in their disastrous plans for the country. I'd gone about my day excited. I was sure I felt something of a change in the air.
That evening the exit polls were released. I reassured myself that they weren't an exact science; since when were forecasts right? Watching the results unfold only made my sinking feeling worse and waiting for each constituency's result felt like waiting to hear if a friend was involved in horrific accident. I wanted to scream at a woman on the news that claimed Labour seats were being lost because their constituents were sick of years without any change. How can you vote Conservative if you wanted change? A vote for the Conservatives is a vote to continue a decade of the same austerity and shrunken financial aid to communities; ten years of schools needing to ask parents to donate just to have enough stationary. What we needed was radical change, a total upheaval of the way we've been living since 2010 because it wasn't working.
But people were scared of the bogeyman, Socialism.
They believed the 2008 global crash was the fault of the Labour government and not the banks that the Conservatives repeatedly bailed out. They believed the super-rich shouldn't be taxed because their money would somehow get to your average Joe through magical trickle-down economics (a lie the 1% use to shield their precious money that they could never spend in a thousand lifetimes). Like a boxer, the Conservatives exhausted us all with agonising Brexit attempts and postponements until even the staunchest Remainers were begging to just get it done. Even the idea of another referendum stopped being a shining beacon and became just another step on the long road to Brussels.
They lied to us again and again and still got elected, and with this we confirmed what they already knew: they can get away with whatever they want and we'll accept it.
The NHS will be sold off, leaving our poor to die in agony. More and more children will dip below the poverty line and go hungry, the rate of homelessness will skyrocket, the pound will fall ever lower as we charge towards a horrific Brexit; teachers and nurses will keep needing food banks and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. I will keep hoping it's not going to affect me and that makes me feel terrible because that's exactly what the Tories want: a country without empathy, without remorse and without accountability (or taxes) for the rich and powerful.
Jordan Ifield – Liberal Democrat voter
Well bugger. Whilst the headlines will inevitably focus on Labour’s collapse and the largest Tory majority since Thatcher’s reign, the Liberal Democrats face staring down the barrel of a shotgun.
The loss of leader Jo Swinson isn’t arguably a surprise, as holding a Scottish constituency amongst a rise in Scottish nationalism meant that holding her seat against the SNP would at least be challenging. However, as I sat staring bleary-eyed at the TV at 4:30 that fateful morning, it dawned on me that instead of recovering seats in what should’ve been simple in strong remain areas, we would in fact lose seats.
A political party only survives on one thing, success. Whilst under the likes of Nick Clegg and Charles Kennedy the Lib Dems could at least claim to be the third largest party in the UK, there have been no such bragging rights since that disastrous night in 2015. The only significant claimant to that lucrative ‘swing party’ status is now party that ousted our leader, the SNP.
Much in the same vein as Labour, I’m sure the party hierarchy (what’s left of it) will call for a time of “reflection” before acting. However, without an effective leader or presence in Parliament, we face becoming the next ChangeUK, a party destined for obscurity and merely an answer to the question, “Wait, who was in bed with the Tories that one time?”
Without our old love-affair Vince Cable to pick up the pieces, none of the remaining MP’s strike me as a political leader. The bookies’ favourites are currently deputy leader Ed Davey and Layla Moran, who both have more favourable voting records than those that dogged Jo Swinson,. However, the former has links with the ill-fated coalition and the latter has only been an MP for 2 years. Either one faces alienating a section of an already dwindling crowd.
In a wider scope, things don’t look much rosier. With the Tories securing their long-awaited majority we look forward to policies which only fund public services to levels before they were cut during the coalition years. Brexit will be finished before the end of January (and before you tell me this is a good thing, I’m a Lib Dem, what do you expect?) and we have a PM with as much diplomacy as duck with Tourette’s.
More worryingly, the destruction of the Labour campaign has meant that we’ll be stuck with this for not just this term, but the chances of the Tories winning the next election already look high and that’s still 5 years away! I could berate you all that Brexit was the reason for their collapse, but I’d be fooling no one. Corbyn and his radical manifesto were comparable to Michael Foot’s attempt in 1983 and that’s never a good sign, so we’re stuck under a Tory majority for probably the next 10 years…
Dark days indeed.
Bill Bowkett – Conservative voter
It is difficult to put into words how I felt when that gawping exit poll dropped on the evening of 12 December. I was sitting with my Labour and Tory friends, ciders in our grasp, hands in our jaws, anxiously sitting on our sofa with the fear that Johnson had blown his chance of a Tory majority, as public opinion seemed to show. But to my surprise, the Prime Minister was met with the greatest forecast imaginable: a stonking landslide and a Labour dismantling.
I was in awe. Not only because the Tories were smashing Labour’s northern ‘red wall’ down (towns like Darlington, Bolsover and Stoke-on-Trent) like they were made of Lego bricks, but because the ever-sceptical opinion polls, for once in a while, got the result spot on. Who would have believed the Conservatives achieving such a feat?
Now that I have time to compose and “reflect” – as the dejected Labour leader might say – on last week’s data, my take on the result was that it was less a BoJo coup than a Corbyn clobbering (with a little hand from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party). Sure, Rosie Duffield increased her mandate in Canterbury, thanks in part to the brilliant #YouthQuake mobilisation movement that saw students queue several hundred yards to the Senate. But unfortunately for Labour, they were only capable of appealing to these inner-city constituencies, and had totally abandoned its working-class loyalists, the demographic the party was founded to represent. These people fervently voted to leave the EU and have been demonised for the last few years by members of the Remain elite as ill-judged, racist, and stupid.
Shadow Chancellor, John Macdonald, said that this was a Brexit revolt that had cost the party dearly. Other party ranks are blaming the media, a tell-tell excuse for how little they have been able to take responsibility. The biggest finger of all must be pointed at Jeremy Corbyn for failing to appeal to the centre-ground with his socio-economic policies, for failing to respect the will of the public, and for failing to take leadership over the issue of anti-Semitism. For him to come out on Sunday and write for the Observer explaining how he “won the argument” symbolises how much denial he and his party are in. Whoever leads the party next much apologise for the electoral whitewash and detoxify John Landsman’s Momentum poison out of the party.
There is something more consequential in all of this. Not only does this result mean that Britain will be leaving the EU in January , and that democracy remains the greatest corrective to tyranny, it also means that Labour are now going to be out of government for the next decade or so, leaving many to question its existence, two decades after being the dominant force in Westminster. This question mark – along with the Union, the NHS, and trade arrangements – will prevail in the 2020s, dawning a new chapter in British politics.