Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Thanks to Jeremy Corbyn, young people swayed the 2017 general election result

Turning out in large numbers, 18 to 24-year-olds voting Labour stopped the Tories winning a majority.

We don’t have official figures yet, but early estimates suggest a huge young voters' turnout played a big part in Labour’s gains.

There is no way of knowing exactly how many 18 to 24-year-olds voted at the moment, but the overall turnout figure is estimated to be 68.7 per cent – up from 66.1 per cent in 2015 – and commentators suggest this includes an unusually high turnout among the young.

Polling company YouGov had the most accurate picture of the result, its findings showing the gap narrowing and predicting a hung parliament scenario. It is also the polling company that allowed most for the scenario of significant numbers of young people voting.

An ICM poll a week ago found that 63 per cent of young people said they were “absolutely certain” to vote, and estimates now suggest it could be even higher. The percentage flying around at the moment, reported by Sky News and various other outlets but yet to be confirmed, is that turnout among 18 to 24-year-olds could be as high as 72 per cent. This would be an astonishing increase on 2015, when 43 per cent of young voters were estimated to have turned out, and on the EU referendum, in which it was estimated that 64 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted.

As the i points out, this would mean a huge departure from recent history – in 2005, only 37 per cent of young people voted, and in 2001 it was 39 per cent.

Labour’s surge is underpinned by young voters. All the polling beforehand showed it was the most popular party among 18 to 24-year-olds, with YouGov finding 71 per cent  would vote Labour (compared with just 15 per cent backing the Conservatives.)

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign focused heavily on young people – a key manifesto pledge being to scrap tuition fees. His campaign style – rallies across the country, and fewer stage-managed speeches and press conferences than Theresa May – also appealed more to this demographic.

In addition, Labour had viral news on its side. As BuzzFeed reported, pro-Corbyn articles by “alt-left” sites were shared on an enormous scale on social media. I hear that nearly 25 per cent of UK Facebook users watched a Momentum video on the website in the penultimate week of campaigning. This is a particularly effective way of reaching young people, and inspiring them to vote – something the Tories weren’t as good at.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.