The ‘unexpected’ 2017 General Election ought to go down in history as the election in which people-power fought back. For the first time, Murdoch’s media empire failed to secure a majority for its backed party, despite the relentless onslaught against Corbyn. For the first time this century, Labour put forward a manifesto that was distinctively Labour. The middle-ground campaign fought by Miliband was proven to be a mistake, as both young and old flocked to vote for a left agenda: an anti-austerity, people-first, corporation-controlling agenda.
Mistakes were made: Labour campaigners in Scotland, perhaps with a lack of faith in Labour’s central message, counter-productively campaigned negatively to defeat the SNP by suggesting people vote Tories. As a result, SNPs’ losses were the Tories’ gains. Yet huge successes, not least the securing of Kensington, the UK’s richest constituency, for the first time helped to ensure an overall gain of 32 seats.
The result shifted the overton window further to the left; even Andrew Marr was forced to acknowledge there is a thirst for an anti-austerity message. The greatest success of the election was perhaps May’s announcement that austerity was cancelled; though this has hardly come to fruition, the fact that the Tory party even entertained the idea is a testament to the millions who voted in favour of the Labour manifesto.
In the aftermath of the election, campaigners, economists and environmentalists from both sides of the water celebrated this shift towards a more humanitarian popular politics.
As the Tories battled to form a government with the dubious (at best) DUP, Labour activists were out in force. Our own Momentum Members headed down to London for the Tories Out march, following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Meanwhile, journalist Owen Jones launched a campaign to target the worst of the Tory MPs:
Despite early promising signs of a repeat election, the DUP-Tory coalition seems to have settled in; already damaging emergency services’ pay by blocking Labour’s attempt to raise their salaries. We cannot afford to rest on the gain of 32 seats. It’s essential we continue to campaign and make our voices heard… to combat a government who can cheer as the wages of firemen are frozen in the same month as the Grenfell Disaster.