Well, well, well.
Can’t imagine you saw that one coming, Theresa. Tory HQ must have been quite something this morning.
When I say quite something, obviously I mean that Tory HQ must have been funny as fuck. Genuinely, among all of the feelings of excitement, energy, joy and hungover disbelief that I’ve found myself contending with since the early hours, the single, defining thing about this election result seems to be just how fucking funny the whole thing is. Imagine, if you’re able, to have been a fly on the wall as news came in of the Labour surge at Club de Brexiteer. Picture it: Dr Fox, quiet and confused, silently weeping into a plate of dry toast, David Davis locking himself in the bathroom to cool down, BoJo – already two and a half bottles in – swearing at the television and slamming doors. The thought of those awful, smug goblins watching their ghoulish mandate dissipate in front of their tired and bleary eyes has had me pissing myself laughing since breakfast.
All jokes aside though (and there are lots of them), it’s easy to get carried away. After all, Labour didn’t ‘win’. The Conservatives are – for now, at least – still in power. They will probably form a minority government. It will probably involve those lovely folks over at the DUP. And, despite her starring role in the most colossal of clusterfucks since that little referendum her good ol’ predecessor helped set up, Theresa May will probably remain in charge. Though the echo chambers are bouncing to the tunes of revolution this morning, a socialist utopia this ain’t. But – and this is a big, massive, super important but – you can’t help but feel that Britain’s political conversation is shifting seismically. Young people have spoken.
See, a lot has been made of the indifference of Britain’s youth when it comes to politics. We’re apathetic. Lazy. Not really arsed. During the 2015 election, just 43 per cent of 18-24s cast their vote; similarly, in last year’s referendum, only 64 per cent. In the eyes of the older, wiser grown-ups, generation Y didn’t deserve an opinion. ‘If you cared that much, children, you’d have gone and voted when it mattered. So be silent.’
But it’s never been a question of us not caring. Rather, in a system that is – by default – complex, convoluted and alienating, the kids didn’t ever really stand a chance. Young people aren’t politically apathetic, because to be politically apathetic is to be sentient in one’s refusal to engage – it’s a conscious, calculated ‘no thanks’. The UK’s youth aren’t even given that opportunity; from the get-go, politics is inherent in its inaccessibility. The problem isn’t with the youngens, its with the system’s refusal to try and animate them.
With this election, though, that’s all changed. Our response has been deafening. According to reports, 72 per cent of 18-24s went down to their local polling stations and voted. 72 per cent. That’s unprecedented; bonkers. It’s a figure that goes toe-to-toe with the 64s-and-overs (forever kings of the turnout) and says ‘your move, you wrinkly old dildos’. I don’t know whether it’s the coffee, or the sleep deprivation, but I think that’s fucking beautiful. It’s future-shaping stuff.
With Jeremy Corbyn, young people saw a politician that operated separately from the Westminster pack. This was a man who was prepared to sit down, begin a conversation with them and participate accordingly. He offered a genuine alternative vision to the suit-and-tie austerity of Food Bank Britain and they – in their drones – recognised that. Corbyn captured a mood that was always there, but had remained untapped; as soon as the resonance was established, the kids got to work – and once you get us going, we’re a real fucking force, mate. Tory complacency tried to sweep that potential to mobilise under the rug, but with Jezza, it exploded into life. 72 per cent. seventy! two! per! cent! It’s definitely the coffee, but I’m pulsing. It’s definitely the sleep deprivation, but I’m welling up all the same.
Now, whatever happens, the landscape is changing – our disillusion has been channeled into something alive and good and we’re hungry. We’re a generation that know what’s right and fair and our worldview is one that is going to shape what comes next. At Camp Strong and Stable, they’re fucking terrified, because this is something they’ve never had to contend with before. While the Conservatives may have won the election, even they understand that there’s a much larger victory in play here – and it belongs to us.
I’m excited. I’m thrilled. I’m ready to get started. Let’s make the future we want to see.
Volume #19 is here – order your copy now.
Words by Niall Flynn