Tiger Thoughts: The UK General Election 2017

In a traditionally two-party contest, the 2017 General Election has ended in a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives Party, led by current PM Theresa May, claiming a diminished majority- BBC coverage of the General Election.

As a former foreign student who voted in the 2015 General Election (if you’re a UK citizen who is mortified by this, blame your country’s imperialist past), I am delighted that the Labour Party has clawed back. From a microcosmic point of view, the Conservatives has been bad news for local and foreign students alike. University fees under David Cameron’s government has soared. While I recall the global value of the pound was at a low in 2012, the net effect of a David Cameron government was more belt-tightening for students across the board. If the Conservatives are somehow unable to form Government- paving the way for Labour to do so- it would be terrific news for university students. Labour- led by Jeremy Corbyn- has promised to scrap University fees. Foreign students will logically be charged, but probably less. And Corbyn’s promise to rescue the NHS is a great thing across the board. When I was still residing at the UK, I learnt from healthcare professionals, including some of the brightest young doctors in England, that the NHS is underfunded and understaffed and doctors are overworked. It is not conclusive evidence that the NHS needs rescuing, but it is evidence that people working  for the NHS are unhappy.

The unexpected resurgence of the Labour Party (albeit still a significant minority) affirms the tendency of the media to be wrong in its first impressions vis-à-vis Western Politics. In late April 2015, Ed Miliband was predicted to be Prime Minister (he was crushed and many Labour-loving Scots favoured SNP); Last year’s Brexit was perceived as a mere political manouevre and was expected to be unsuccessful just like the Scottish Referendum (Brexit is now a reality); Across the pond, up until the October announcements of further investigations into the Hillary Clinton email controversy by then FBI Director James Comey, the prospects of Donald Trump becoming president was dismissed by the media. One would have at least a modicum of success with the bookies if one bet against the predictions of the mainstream media. Having said that, this does not necessarily point to a waning influence in the media, as Ed Miliband’s disastrous loss can be attributed in no small part to a below the belt attack by the British Press. In short, one ought to pay heed to media’s agenda, but not its mathematics.

The most heartening takeaway from the 2017 General Election is the participation of young voters. If the effect of young voters were overestimated during the Brexit referendum, it was certainly underestimated this time. I believe the younger people, who do not share the weariness and pessimism of the old, were incensed that Brexit was favoured by those who would not live long enough to feel its repercussions. Voting has become urgent and fashionable again. Hot-air blower Russell Brand, who previous denounced voting, has announced his support for Jeremy Corbyn. However, the greatest lesson from the General Election is not for the voters, but for the politicians. Jeremy Corbyn has proved that sincerity and humility in politics is still effective even in an age where info-savvy voters, who can quickly expose half-truths and disingenuity, are inherently mistrustful. I have been following Jeremy Corbyn on social media since he was running for Labour leadership and have felt a lot of sympathy for his plight. At the outset, he has been opposed by Blairites of the Labour and derided by the media. Even the famously pro-Labour Guardian has been (rightly) accused being unfair to Jeremy Corbyn. As Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn has had to endure personal attacks ranging from being constantly labelled as a “Marxist” and “terrorist-sympathiser” (he is obviously not either) to being attacked for his modest wardrobe (remember David Cameron’s “my mother” insult?). Jeremy Corbyn has maintained an upbeat campaign that has seen him embraced meme culture and celebrity endorsements. He has been seen everywhere, and has consistently maintained his composure and rigour in public speeches. He has also pressed his advantage when PM Theresa May haughtily snubbed televised debates, giving the lame excuse of preferring to focus on face-to-face campaigning. Whatever the strengths of Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies, he has shown the world that an earnest character can be just as compelling as a fearmonger.