Inspiring the young with hope over microwaves
First of all, I was so wrong. And I’ve never been happier about being wrong. About Corbyn, but also my own generation.
I sat in a pub last night, delirious and in utter disbelief, watching as a particularly potent seat -Stockton South- was won back for Labour. As a student, I campaigned in Stockton South, an ultra-marginal with about 400 votes in it. The Tory incumbent, on that dreary 2015 night, increased his majority to more than 5,000. Last night, we won it back. It wasn’t supposed to happen. All the injustices of 2015 were rectified. I cried a lot.
This seat was a microcosm of what I think changed the game. It was one of many. Sheffield Hallam and many other university seats turned red. We don’t know the finalised youth turnout, but it’s clear there was something that inspired a higher engagement of young people, young remainers, and people otherwise uninspired by our 2015 manifesto -like my mum!- that turned out for our 2017 one.
While I was taken up in that final ‘Milimania’ of 2015, and the excitement of the campaign that saw us seemingly defy the odds only to very much not, it was clear there was nothing meaty for young people or those seeking real change in our 2015 offering. We were cautious, with at its most radical, a £3,000 discount to fees that inspired more ‘mehs’ than it did votes. It chucked microwaves at a generation desperate for change.
Corbyn sensed their betrayal, their anger at intergenerational fairness, and he offered them something. Our 2017 manifesto was clear, with popular policies, carried by an incredibly positive campaign that exchanged attacks on its rivals with a message of an alternative. We swapped cautiousness for the promise of a new, fairer world.
Not only was this a great night for Corbyn, it was an endorsement of positive, bold campaigning with radical policies. And it was the death knell of equivocations and triangulations.
The Labour Party can never go back to microwaves. It can seek rewards by offering boldness, clear-cut radicalism and hope, and in doing so can now build a generation of young voters firmly on our side. The future’s very bright and the UK has a progressive generation about to step into the limelight. And a radical Labour benefits.