GE19: Campaigners weigh in on polls

Exit polls predict an 86-seat majority for the Conservative party tonight as results come in.

It is still unclear the extent to which the student vote in key marginal seats has dented the results, and Britain Elects reports that the exit poll features 65 seats which are “too close to call”.

If the exit poll is correct, this will be the worst Labour loss since 1924.

Ansh Bhatnagar, Chair of London Labour Students, told London Student: “If this exit poll rings true, then it is a devastating night for all the wonderful activists in London who have fought tooth and nail for a Labour victory. It would also be a devastating five years for the most vulnerable in our society.”

The National Chair of Young Labour, Miriam Mirwitch, tweeted praise for “phenomenal Labour activists.” But once the exit poll was released, Mirwitch wrote: “The exit poll is heartbreaking. We desperately need a Labour majority so we can bring about transformative socialist change.For public sector workers, for kids growing up in poverty and for everyone on universal credit. This projected result would let them down.”

The mood is different in Conservative student circles. We spoke to Hamish Mundell, President of the LSESU Tories, who said: “Over the course of this campaign, you’ve heard both sides. But it’s what you don’t hear that matters. Between the strong views in favour of the Conservatives and Labour, there lies common sense. What tonight has shown is that common sense fell in favour of the Conservartive party.”

On the student vote, Mundell predicted that there is a large hidden vote in favour of the Conservatives. He said: “I think students feel bullied by loud and obnoxious left, but at the end of the day, they have to look at their own future. People want jobs and opportunity, not economic disaster and national debt. This is why the Conservatives will always be the party of responsibiliy and common sense.

“We will do well today: common sense will prevail.”

We spoke to Tom Hazell, the Co-Chair of the Young Greens. He told London Student:

“Since the green wave kicked off in 2018 with the youth strikes, support for the Greens among students and young people has been as high as ever. I’ve been on campus at Bristol University today, and it’s pretty clear that students here taken our message to heart.”

He continued: “The things that’s squeezed us the most is the national call for tactical voting, but students know that in most seats a Green vote will send a message while not changing the MP elected.”

Zack Polanski, the Green candidate for Cities and Westminster, also spoke to us. He said: “[I] really hope Labour reflects on tonight’s results and have some very fast and effective conversations about moving towards Proportional Representation so in the future every vote will count.”

In Uxbridge and South Ruislip

We spoke to voices from Brunel University in Boris Johnson’s constituency.

Cayla Martin, Brunel Students’ Union LGBT+ Officer and Uxbridge Labour’s Youth Officer, said: “Ali has run a really positive campaign focusing on what he can offer as a local candidate for Uxbridge. He uses our hospital, went to our university, uses our public services, he’s against Heathrow and will lie down in front of the bulldozer unlike Boris.

“And I feel that’s really been reflected in the mood at Brunel. We are one of the most multicultural and diverse campuses in London and Boris Johnson’s message of division and attacks on lgbt people, muslims, single mothers and working people have only reenforced that the young people and students in Uxbridge want change.”

And Lizzie, Brunel University’s Politics Society’s treasurer, explained: “The mood at Brunel in the run up to the election has been interesting to say the least!

“The Labour Candidate running against Johnson, Ali Milani, went to Brunel and was our Students’ Union President in 2015-17 which has been a large part of Labour’s campaign for Students here. There have been an enormous amount of campaigners, including the ‘FCK Boris’ protestors, and there has been a huge push to get students to register to vote, including driving students to and from the Polling Stations.

“This election was on a Thursday, and here at Brunel, it’s the last week of term and exam week, so lots of students have been at University this week and couldn’t make it home to vote. I think that the main focus for some students has been where their vote is most useful, especially if they live in a constituency that could swap seats.”

The Politics Society thinks that tactical voting may have been on students’ minds in the election. Uxbridge and South Ruislip is a potential swing seat.

Photo Credit: Author.

Will is London Student's Features Editor. He has recently completed a BA History at SOAS, and you might find him hiding in a library around Bloomsbury.

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