LONDON—Jeremy Corbyn is preparing for a second election this year at which he expects to secure a majority and lead the most radical Labour government since 1945.
Outside the pub at the end of his road in Islington, North London, the hard left Labour leader declared that he was expecting another campaign in the near future. “We’re going to do it all again in a few months. I’ve got my train ticket,” he said. “We’re nearly there.”
Corbyn—who was considered a no-hoper at the start of the six-week election campaign—has benefitted from a shock surge in support from young voters.
“It's been amazing,” he told The Daily Beast. “It's a fantastic result. It's young and old—it's everybody.”
Corbyn was greeted as a conquering hero by people who have known him as their local MP since 1983. "You've done it for us," said one woman. “Thank you.”
May called a snap election asking for her hand to be strengthened on Brexit negotiations. The people of Britain said, “No!”
Opinion polls were all over the place when it came to predicting the number of seats that would be won by each party, but one area where they all agreed was the unprecedented generational divide. Class, gender, and regional differences were all much more muted than normal—the one clear factor was age of the voter.
Britain’s young people swung behind the anti-establishment, radical left-wing agenda of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. The only question was: Would they turn out to vote?
In the early hours of Friday morning, Ben Page, the chief executive of Ipsos MORI, announced that the verdict was in:
A young man wearing a Corbyn t-shirt in the Labour MP’s local pub said his generation had been caught up by politics for the first time. “Young people are voting again,” said Ross Allan, 26. “The more the campaign went on, the more young voters realized this guy was different.”
One of the beneficiaries was Chris Williamson, who was returned to the House of Commons as a Labour MP in the closest margin of victory in the country. He said it was “absolutely definite” that young voters had played a leading role in ousting the Conservative candidate in Derby North.
He encountered a gaping divide within the families that he met while canvassing. “I believe there is a generational shift going on right now,” he said. “You only had to see every time Jeremy spoke the number of young people engaged and attending those rallies.”
When The Daily Beast visited his district earlier this week, a Bernie Sanders campaign veteran was teaching local activists how to replicate the Sanders’ efforts to get youth and grassroots voters to actually turn out at the polls and turn their frustration with the political classes into a powerful voting bloc.
The hard-left campaign group Momentum, which was set up to support Corbyn from outside the Labour Party, helped make that a reality. Speaking via phone after the electoral shock, Williamson said young people “didn’t want to get stung again” after the Brexit vote, where older voters consigned Britain to a future outside the European Union.
Not only did the youth vote account for the strongest bloc of anti-Conservative votes, there is evidence that young voters turned out in much greater numbers than usual. The detailed breakdown of voters’ IDs won’t be calculated until next week, but several clues pointed to an outsize role of young voters: Districts with higher percentages of voters age 18-24 saw swings to Labour that were twice as big as in older areas.
The overall election turnout was 68.7 percent, which is the highest since Tony Blair’s landslide in 1997.
“It may well be the rise in turnout across Britain was driven in part by a rise in young voters,” the former president of the YouGov polling company Peter Kellner told The Daily Beast.
Right-wing newspapers that dominate the British media had tried to save May by attacking Corbyn and claiming that only the prime minister could navigate the divorce from the EU.
“The public has just put up two fingers to the foul abuse of the tabloids trying to paint Jeremy Corbyn as responsible for the terrorist outrages. How low can you get?" veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn asked The Daily Beast. "That kind of fake news has been rejected.”
Rupert Murdoch didn't seem to take the news terribly well. A source at The Times election party said he stormed out when he saw the exit poll that spelled doom for the Conservatives.
Younger voters are far less likely to read those newspapers than older generations, which may explain their failure to influence the result of this election.
At the age of 81, Flynn said he had been expected to lose his seat amid the charge of the Brexiteers, led by the prime minister, but he said she had not factored in an uprising from younger voters who were responding to Labour’s most radical election pledges since the party established the welfare state and the National Health Service at the end of the Second World War.
“There’s a great welling up of idealism among young people. There’s a feeling of 1945 spirit again,” he said. “I’m a born-again socialist today.”
May’s political gamble to improve her majority in the House of Commons backfired in spectacular fashion and she has now told Queen Elizabeth that she will form a minority government.
That administration clearly does not have the votes in the House of Commons to force through a “hard” Brexit that would cut Britain off from its trading partners in the EU. With angry Conservatives on the right of the party threatening to unseat May if she attempts to strike a compromise deal, there is no clear path forward.
That is why many analysts expect another general election within the next year or 18 months. “Oh fucking hell! Go wash your mouth out,” said Flynn. “Why do we want another election? No Tory leader would be mad enough to call another general election after this one! Would they? That would be insane.”