A Love-Letter to Progressive Youth | Finn Oldfield

“Strong and stable leadership in the national interest” to avoid a “coalition of chaos”. These were the words we were bombarded with by Tory HQ from day one of this election. But on 13th June 2017, it was in fact Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, throwing Theresa May’s words back at her as he sat in the Commons flanked by his now 262 strong MPs. To say that the Conservative Party is out of touch with reality, and thereby the voter, is an understatement. We should be celebrating that young people came out in force to vote, up from 43% in 2015 to around 70% just two years later. It is of little surprise that few of this 70% voted Conservative; one senior Tory after the election calling young Labour voters “grubby children”. The Conservative manifesto offered nothing but contempt for young people while Labour’s manifesto was the jewel in Corbyn’s crown. It promised to scrap tuition fees, reinstate maintenance grants and build affordable housing. Young people should be proud that by voting in our millions we have effectively created a new chunk of the electorate whose votes cannot be ignored by establishment politicians. The important part now is not to be swayed when the Tories suddenly propose new, shiny policies aimed at attracting young people, but to instead understand what we should do to build on this movement.

The election is over. The fight starts now.

It is vital that left-leaning young people, and progressives in general, continue to engage at every level of politics. Democracy does not begin and end at the ballot box and our voices must be heard. We mustn’t leave our enthusiasm on the shelf until the next Tory leader Boris Johnson decides to call another snap election to shore up support, or when the deal with the devil and the DUP goes awry. We must strike while the iron is hot and get involved: talk to neighbours, family, friends, strangers, attend rallies, campaign with your local Party, create, mobilise, retweet, anything to get the word out about the genuine alternative we finally have a chance of putting into Government. A great way of getting involved without having to move is by joining the Labour Party, there is a range of membership fee prices to choose from; if you’re a student and 19 or under it’s just £3 a year. This will give you insight and involvement in what the Labour Party’s next steps are and how you can help. However, we cannot leave it up to Parliamentarians to act on our behalf, and we should not think that because the election is over, so is the chance to have our voices heard. Every breath you take is political-you can use each one to further the possibility of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. Young people can grow from being a thorn in the Tories side to the blooming red flower of a Labour Government.

It isn’t just young people turning out for Corbyn’s vision of a different kind of world however. A poll published by Lord Ashcroft, former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, suggests Labour won 50% of the 35-44 vote, as opposed to 30% for the Tories. These are people with mortgages, jobs, children, and concerns for the economy. If anything shows that Labour is now a credible force to be reckoned with it is this, and it is all thanks to Mrs May’s arrogant gamble of relying on older votes, an undeniable backfire. Not only this, the election result will give heart to progressives across the world, and particularly to those in the USA crushed by Hillary’s deceit in securing the Democratic Party nomination to President #45 winning the election. Speaking at the People’s Summit, Bernie Sanders spoke of his pride in seeing the Labour Party doing well, arguably thinking that he could have won the US election if he’d been able to secure the nomination. It is now vital we recognise that building support between US and UK progressives can bring into fruition a radically different tomorrow of peace and prosperity between nations.

Social media is an easy tool that can be used by progressives, if that is the level of activism you are most comfortable with. With most of us on social media, and every day hundreds more young people turning 18, it is easy to see how elections will soon be fought and won on social media. The left-wing activist group in support of Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum, only needed to spend £2,000 on Facebook advertising whilst the Conservatives spent over £1 million. If you consider the fact that the Tories expected at least a 70-seat majority and ended up in fact losing their majority whilst losing seats to Labour, it shows how the Conservatives grip on the social media electorate is far from tight. With the added fact that less and less young people read newspapers, hate-filled rags like The Sun and The Daily Mail are losing their power to shape elections. How can we trust these papers to inform us when most of us before the morning after the election had never even heard of the anti-lgbt, anti-woman Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Journalists need to do better at educating and not guarding the door to the truth; starting for example with better reporting of devolved issues. This may prove vital with the coalition of chaos potentially disrupting peace in Northern Ireland.

As for Corbyn, he must continue to engage with working people, students, young people, families, and you, to ensure we can continue to grow this momentum. With ultra-conservative views taking hold of the Westminster Government, it has never been more important to stand up for what you believe in. Every one of us has the ability and tools to live an activist lifestyle, however moderate or radical. We must also ensure that our enthusiasm for politics does not begin and end with Jeremy Corbyn, and can continue without the emotional attachment to one man. He may be the figurehead of a revolution, but we are the ones with the power to keep fighting for change for years to come. For now, however, Corbyn is secure and energised by the surge of the 18-24 vote. As he said when asked if was able to stay on as Labour Leader and fight another election: “Look at me. I’ve got youth on my side”.

Finn Oldfield is a writer for Student Voices
A Love-Letter to Progressive Youth | Finn Oldfield A Love-Letter to Progressive Youth | Finn Oldfield Reviewed by Student Voices on 17:23 Rating: 5

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