After months of political uncertainty, the 2019 general election has finally provided us with an idea of the UK’s trajectory over the next few years.
It was possibly one of the most unpredictable general elections in decades. There were many factors to consider: a possible youth surge for Labour, the huge remain message from the Liberal Democrats, the possible impact the Brexit Party could have on seats in Leave areas and how the SNP could make a huge statement in Scotland.
This election was divisive, volatile and at times, showed the very worst of British politics. If you were a Conservative Party supporter, it was quite a tough time for you on social media. Similarly, Shadow Cabinet members including leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott were the subject of ridicule on online platforms, like they have been for some time. That’s why I’m totally relieved that this general election campaign is over.
Now, it’s time for England and Wales to accept the result. Whilst it’s true that Boris Johnson has made comments in the past that have been rightly criticised, everyone has made mistakes that they need to learn from. Johnson now needs to take action on Islamophobia to make amends for his ‘letterboxes’ comment.
He also needs to apologise for his seemingly homophobic remark on gay men. There are more comments that he’s made on top of this, but now is his chance to make up for this by being the ‘people’s government’ and display his care for minorities in the United Kingdom.
However, I was bemused by Antifa’s protest against the general election result. Not only was this election democratically won by the Tories, but also by quite a large majority. The argument could be made for an alternative voting system to First Past the Post (FPTP), but the fact is that the Conservatives had a very effective campaign with their ‘Get Brexit done’ slogan, in what was called the ‘Brexit general election’.
All parties put their heart and soul into this election campaign and put forward their own unique manifestos. These manifestos were made available online in a highly accessible way. That’s why I don’t accept opposition politicians and supporters blaming the media for this election result. If people are heavily influenced by the media to change their mind on supporting a political party, that’s something that voters need to learn from.
We need to start reading manifestos, stop getting on social media bandwagons and stop blaming the mainstream media. That’s part of our problem in UK politics. It’s for us to decide who we vote for, it’s our vote, not the media’s, not anyone else’s. Everyone has the right to support the party that they believe in without outside influence.
The decision has been made that Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party will take us through the next five years. Brexit is likely to happen. We now need to accept this result and make the best of it, whether you support the Tories or not. You have every right to protest, but what’s the point now that Johnson has just won a large majority?
Scotland is a whole different kettle of fish. The pro-independence, pro-EU Scottish National Party have won 48 seats out of a possible 59 in Scotland. Whatever your view is on Scottish independence is, you have to argue that this result is a huge mandate for Nicola Sturgeon to push once more for indyref2.
Not only are the SNP pro-independence, but Scotland as a whole voted overwhelmingly to remain back in 2016. Would it be ethical to take the country that voted to stay in the EU out of Europe without another Scottish referendum? Whilst we did have an independence referendum five years ago, UK politics changed profoundly with just one vote in 2016.
Keep an eye out for Northern Ireland as well. The pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party lost two of its previous ten seats on Thursday night. They are the only party who currently have Northern Ireland MPs, who actually support the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Both the Social Democratic & Labour Party and the Alliance Party both gained seats (three combined) on Thursday night, whilst Sinn Fein retained the seven seats they won in 2017.
All three of these parties are opposed to Brexit, with a combined total of ten seats, whilst the DUP are now on eight. Like Scotland, Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU by a 55%-45% margin. I have deep sympathy for those in Northern Ireland who fear about the possible implications of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement, especially now because the DUP have lost any form of control they may previously have had over Boris Johnson’s deal.
This issue over the Irish border needs to continue to be handled with great care. The Good Friday Agreement stopped fighting between Republicans and Loyalists. And with the high threat of both Islamic and far-right terrorism proving to be a constant risk to the United Kingdom, we need to continue to avoid further conflict.
The UK government will need to keep in close communication with both Scotland and Northern Ireland on the necessary next steps to ensure that the interests of both ‘remain’ countries are respected.
Speaking of conflict, we have to be mindful of the language and rhetoric that we use both on social media and verbally. This applies to those across the political spectrum. Now that this election has taken place, it’s time to be respectful to one another regardless of political beliefs.
Different views make our democracy the great thing that it is today. Let’s debate sensibly without being disrespectful. That will go a long way to making the United Kingdom an even better place.