Election nights are becoming events almost as big as the World Cup. I sat in to watch the results come in with a few beers, snacks and cigarettes. I was having myself a real personal political party. With the election resulting in a hung parliament and all the elections that have taken place recently, the election event is turning into an annual one more like the Superbowl or Eurovision Song Contest.
The run up to polling day had a few main narratives. Will the Tories march onwards towards the destruction of welfare and the NHS or can Corbyn swoop in to save a new look Labour? Will the Tories keep the ship steady and steer us through the tough Brexit situation like they did austerity or will Corbyn with his weak leadership and sympathy for terrorists but lofty dreams sneak the young vote and tear the country apart?
The UK was not hogging all the political limelight. Former FBI director James Comey was testifying to the senate about the Trump administration. Bars all over the USA were getting into the spirit by offering free drinks every time that Trump tweeted during the testimony. I’m not sure if Trump did tweet in the end. I have been too busy trying to keep up with the rest of my own life to follow all of the worlds dramas. Maybe I am shirking my duty to stay informed but I can only keep up with so many depressing events every day. If I started to follow that too, I wouldn’t have time to stand in front of my mirror telling myself that everything is OK and that I am a good person. But then, I am probably just a weak millenial, beta-cuck, liberal who does not really want to be a liberal because it is not cool anymore; “Conservatism is the new punk rock.”
With all of these events, politics is becoming the new thing to do. Advertisers are now using activism to sell their products rather than sex. Maybe this is representative of the new psyche of modern man; rational discussion is now more important than primal urges. However, the election result coverage did not feel like this. It felt more like the results of a public vote on who the new leading characters would be on your new favourite TV show: real life.
The night began with exit polls showing that the Conservatives had lost their majority and Labour had made large gains. The information was presented with graphs and opinion from former politicians-turned- journalists. The coverage was so fast that there was barely any time for thought. We were treated to constantly changing and moving segments. They jumped from constituency to constituency, reporter to reporter keeping us up to date with the changes. It felt like the news coverage was moving faster than the news itself. With the minute b minute history unfolding before us it was hard to believe that this election was supposed to decide the political landscape for the next few years. The relentless speed by which the coverage kept us up to date about not that much happening protected a hidden vagueness. I was not that sure what all the coverage and opinion was supposed to tell me but I did come out feeling like I knew more about markets, investors, the EU, the pound and the NHS.
The analysis, punditry, talk of “strategic mistakes” reminded me a little bit of Match of the Day. As a relatively uninformed citizen I was grateful that the coverage echoed a medium that I could relate to. As a citizen who is trying to become more informed about the political discourse that I live within and am affected by, I was very grateful for this. The coverage had me hooked. I stayed up all night to learn, to become better informed even though I knew that the lack of sleep might greatly affect my ability to function the next day in a way that would not affect my employability in the future. But I continued in defiance. History was more important than me, I concluded in the most self-righteous way possible. At one point I had the strange realisation that my vote could decide whether someone could work in a job that I was in no way even close to being qualified to doing.
Highlights from the night included the tantalising – as David Dingleby put it – prospect that Nigel Farage may have to get back into politics if his Brexit was threatened by these events. It seemed UKIP were being relegated from the political landscape and that their Brexit run was a one-off. A bit like Leicester or Liverpool. Although the latter have never actually won the Premier League. I can now hear the Liverpool fan retorting with the undignified, “we have had more than one Premier League title challenge.” When Nick Clegg lost the seat he had held for twelve years it felt like a one-club footballer playing his last game ever in front of an away crowd; the reception was respectable.
The final result seemed to be that young people, with their underdeveloped amygdala’s, had greatly affected the course of this election. Whether it is historic or not can only be seen over time.
Maybe the biggest outcome of this vote might be that suffrage should be withdrawn from those under the age of 28. Theresa May may turn out to be the biggest loser of this election as it was her decision to call for this election which has cost her the majority that she and her Conservatives had enjoyed.
The biggest winners on the night are the TV exec’s who – if the trend that people are becoming more interested in politics keeps up – will be rubbing their hands together with glee. They seem to have stumbled upon a hit show that requires very little investment in the way of production costs. And if events keep rolling the way they are, there will be plenty to stay tuned in for.