By Thaina Sa’id, Associate
They called this the Brexit election, with many questioning how Johnson planned to “get it done” so quickly and why Corbyn was so insistent upon sitting on the fence? Ordinarily, I would have thought that bread and butter issues such as welfare cuts would take precedence during an election, generally, the government attempts to defend their economic policies and the opposition uses this opportunity to criticise the current state of the economy.
However, this election has made me reconsider this train of thought. The fight for sovereignty from the ‘Leviathan’ that is the EU and austerity undoubtedly dominated the election. With pressing issues like our NHS possibly being put up for sale, gender recognition rights and the claim that climate change being at the forefront of people’s minds, this was going to be a tough election.
It was apparent that our Prime Minister and many others believed that you could not get to the bread and butter issues until Brexit was sorted. The Conservatives seem to have led with the promise of ensuring a great deal and quickly, whilst other parties made a considerable amount of promises, to their own detriment. A lot of scepticism was shown towards the Labour Manifesto as it proposed that the State play a substantially larger role.
With many refusing to return to the Winter of Discontent, the socialist ideals being sold in the new manifesto was viewed as quite disconcerting. Nonetheless, for many who had only known an increasingly privatised society and had seen the effects of the cuts on their local communities welcomed the radical position. Surely going after the “tax dodgers”, “big pollutors” and “bad bosses” wasn’t so bad? Promises such as ceasing zero-hour contracts, putting an end to food banks, delivering free full-fibre broadband and scrapping Universal Credit had some of the members of public up in arms.
Furthermore, the concept of abolishing tuition fees and introducing four new bank holidays made the Labour Party stance seem ridiculous to many. The IFS expressed that the plans put forth by both the government and opposition were not credible. However, they expanded on this by stating the view that Labour’s “vision is of a state not so dissimilar to those seen in many other successful western European economies”. Some of these policies have been implemented in other countries, why is it so unfathomable that something similar could be achieved here?
There has been much analysis of why Labour faced such a devastating loss. Many lay the blame at Momentum, the socialism boogeyman was too much to bear for some voters. Others denounce the Lib Dems for wanting such an early election in the first place. There is also the view that there could have been a more comprehensive alliance or pact between the Remain Parties, this is quite evident in areas such as Kensington where the result was so close.
Many voters especially find it infuriating that the Party could not seem to control the narrative or properly challenge the manner in which it was being portrayed. Overall, something must be said of the detrimental impact remaining neutral on such a decisive topic as Brexit had on the campaign. A thorough reflection on what went wrong and a strong leader that can help the Party garner strength is now most certainly needed.