Thursday night was a long night, and it was not made any more bearable by the gloating faces of the be-suited young Conservatives at the Union. The sight of people celebrating and guffawing at Labour’s collapse was hard to take: a night we had allowed ourselves to be excited about had become a night we would rather forget.
It is all very well for them to swig their champers and puff on their cigars – they have nothing to lose from this result. I am more than prepared to accept that life for the well-off in this country will, in monetary terms, be better under a Conservative government than under a Labour one. Taxes will not rise, banks will be left alone, and in all likelihood the non-doms will retain their ridiculous tax break. Meanwhile, it is the disadvantaged, the downtrodden, and the disabled who will suffer. Hell, so will the North of England. Those who are entangled in the social services and those who are out of work will be abandoned to the forces of neoliberalism.
The fact is that the electorate was scared. The Conservatives and UKIP had succeeded in framing the debate around migrants and benefit ‘scroungers’, stealing from hard working people. They succeeded in hiding the real criminals – bankers and tax-avoiding bosses – behind the façade of calls for a ‘Big Society’. They also succeeded through the demonization of one, ordinary man: the representation of Ed Miliband in the media was superficial, petty, and cruel. But it was enough.
But this article is not aimed at the Tories. It is aimed at those whose stomachs dropped at the exit poll results and who watched with growing despondency as their tentative hopes were crushed. We must not give up. We cannot let them get away with it. The Union was not filled solely with celebratory conservatives: present as well were huge numbers of incredibly sad, angry young people. We must harness that passion to resist the worst of Tory restructurings and cuts.
Still, there were two glimmers of hope in this election, and I’m clinging to them. Nigel Farage has been denied a seat – small mercies. Secondly, let’s not forget that Cambridge went Labour. While it was not the barometer of a Labour victory we were all hoping for, at the end of the long night, Labour won Cambridge. That victory is thanks both to the faith of the people of Cambridge that we could achieve change and the tireless efforts of the Cambridge Universities Labour Club. In a panicked last-ditch attempt to do something, I went out canvassing. Meeting the dedicated Labour activists brought home how much they have put into the campaign.
As university students, we have reached the age where we must take responsibility for our country. If we stand by and let the government leave the European Union, crush the poor, and privatise the NHS, it is our children’s futures we are jeopardizing. So no, we shouldn’t move to Sweden.
We should stay and fight.