What made the Labour Party so popular during the General Election of 2017? My views shared.

Carla Solo, February 17, 2018

(Photo Source: ITV)

The Labour Party had done so badly in the local elections, just weeks before the General Election of 2017. How did Corbyn turn this around?

(Photo Source: Daily Mirror)

In my opinion, the commitment to renew trident in the Labour Manifesto, actually boosted support for the Labour Party. Why? Because trident renewal is an important issue for the British people, because it is about our national security. The majority of the British people support trident renewal, and wouldn’t feel safe, if we got rid of our nuclear weapons. This doesn’t mean the British people want nuclear weapons to be used, but it is a deterrent. The example of Ukraine being invaded by Russia in 2014, after they got rid of their nuclear weapons had been mentioned in political debate before, and of course it is the first job of any Government to keep the public safe. Michael Foot’s commitment to get rid of our nuclear weapons in 1983 was widely unpopular with the British public, and saw the biggest Labour defeat in a generation. Jeremy Corbyn, who himself, is against trident renewal, had no other option, but to accept a commitment to renew trident in the Labour Party manifesto, as the majority of Labour Party MPs were in favour of it. At the most recent trident renewal vote in Parliament, even Corbyn’s allies Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis had abstained on the vote. It didn’t look like Corbyn was going to get enough support over this issue. Moreover, there was a huge boost in the polls for Labour, after they launched the Labour Party Manifesto, with many news headlines, highlighting the commitment to renew trident.

Of course, many other Labour policies were popular with the public too, including Corbyn’s anti-austerity position, unlike Ed Miliband’s austerity-lite position. There were many people, who previously didn’t vote, who felt motivated to vote for the first time. They thought the political parties were all the same before, but they saw Jeremy Corbyn as someone who stood for real change. Corbyn’s plan to spend more on the NHS, and his anti-privatisation of the NHS was popular too, as well as Labour’s commitment to get rid of zero-hours contracts, increase the minimum wage, and renationalise the railway, which had been popular for Tony Blair’s New Labour in the 1997 General Election.

Another reason for Labour’s popularity was the unpopularity of Theresa May’s Dementia Tax, especially with the elderly. It meant that the elderly would pay for their social care with the value of their own home. This was the point the polls had significantly boosted for Labour. The Tories saw the elderly as their secure voters, so they actually thought they would get away with this policy. Many elderly people seemed horrified, and some of them turned to Labour as a solution to this problem. They also preferred the Labour Party’s policy for their pensions, as Theresa May vowed to remove the triple-lock.

Also, the Conservative Party ran a very poor campaign, which helped Labour to win support. May didn’t turn up to the TV debates, she started to bore people. For one debate, Amy Rudd, the Home Secretary, took her place, just two days after she lost her father. It didn’t go down well with TV viewers. They thought Theresa May was hiding away. It also looked unprofessional for her not to turn up, as most people would turn up to a job interview, if they wanted to apply for a job. It looked like May couldn’t be bothered to follow the process of applying for the job of Prime Minister, by not showing up to the TV debates. Of course, this isn’t an official application process, but it annoyed people nevertheless.

(Photo Source: BBC)

Theresa May’s use of the strong and stable Government slogan made her an easy target. It gave the opportunity for all of the other political parties to point out how weak her leadership was. This was almost like political suicide. Many people pointed out how many times Theresa May had u-turned on many issues, and called her weak and wobbly. The comedian Jan Ravens, who impersonated Theresa May, hilariously pointed out that May u-turned on her EU views, and immigration policies. Click to watch this video of Jan Raven impersonating Theresa May.

(Photo Source: Scottish Sun)

Jeremy Corbyn was so energetic, turning up to all debates, interviews, rallies etc. He had a way with engaging young voters. His policy for scrapping tuition fees was very popular with the young. They were so sick of middle and upper class politicians causing them to go into debts of 50 grand or more, if they wanted to go to University. Their parents didn’t have to pay anything, when they were their age. It didn’t seem fair. Jeremy Corbyn’s policy to reduce the voting age to 16 was also popular with the young. They didn’t think they were too naive to understand politics, not so long ago. They didn’t think it was fair that 16 and 17 year olds were old enough to work and pay taxes, and even join the military, but not be allowed to vote. They saw Jeremy Corbyn as an honest candidate, representing real change, and someone who was on their side, whereas previously they felt politics didn’t speak for them. They were also poorer than their parents and couldn’t afford to buy a house at their age, unlike their parents, who were able to, when they were their age. Jeremy Corbyn motivated the young to register to vote in time for the election. Social media campaigning also helped in reaching out to the young.

(Photo Source: Press Gazette)

The biased right wing media tried harder to smear Jeremy Corbyn, it backfired on them. It was hard to believe that Jeremy Corbyn was an IRA supporting terrorist sympathiser. His voting record and his actions suggested he was always on the side of peace. People were getting sick and tired of the smears and the fake news. They wanted real news, backed up with real evidence. The use of social media also meant that the left could put across their side of the argument, and reveal the lies of the media, which weakened the tabloids, as the left rushed to Corbyn’s defence on social media.

Of course, Labour didn’t win the General Election, and they came second, but they increased their share of the vote, as well as the number of Labour MPs elected. The Tories lost their majority, and unashamedly turned to the DUP for support. It came as a surprise to many that Labour did much better than the polls predicted. Usually, when the polls get it wrong, they underestimate Tory support. This time, they underestimated Labour support. Were there many shy hard left voters? It also came as a surprise, because Labour doesn’t usually do well in a General Election under left wing leaders. Tony Blair, a centrist, won three general elections for Labour. Gordon Brown, a centrist who was slightly to the left of Blair, lost a Labour majority, and Ed Miliband, a soft Left candidate, did even worse. It seemed the more left wing the Labour leader was, the less popular he was with the public. Was it charisma that helped Corbyn to gain more support for Labour? Or are many people just fed up of the way things are, and are now turning to left wing populism? Could it be because May took the Conservatives to the hard right with her Cabinet Government that the support for the top two parties were now almost even (Labour 41% Conservatives 43%)? Perhaps the British public felt they didn’t have a centrist party to vote for this time? Or is public opinion shifting to the left, with more people than ever before living in poverty, and the standard of living falling? Or did people turn to Jeremy Corbyn, because they were fed up of Theresa May making the General Election all about Brexit?

(Photo Source: The Sun)

Now Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are already preparing for the next General Election. Jeremy Corbyn advised the CLPs to select candidates for the next General Election. Some of the CLPs in Tory held constituencies have already selected candidates. These include; Altrincham & Sale West, Broxtowe, Camborne & Redruth, Carlisle, Corby, Crawley, Erewash, Filton & Bradley Stoke, Gloucester, Macclesfield Milton Keynes North Northampton North, Northampton South, Norwich North, Plymouth Moor View, Rochford & Southend East, Rossendale & Darwen, Rugby, Shipley, South Ribble, Southport, Swindon South, Thurrock, Watford, and Thorpe Outer.

What is your opinion on Labour’s electoral strategy? How can the Labour Party win the next General Election?

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