By, Oliver Briscoe, Third Year Law
I was surprised. Surprised that despite the best efforts of the Student Union (SU) apparatchiks, acting on nomenklatura policy to campaign against Brexit, the country voted as it did. Surprised that despite what one hears in the halls of SU politics, the country did not really have an appetite for a radically transformative socialist utopia. Simply wanting to be heard and have their decision acted upon. Surprised to learn that democracy could involve the working man and his reality.
Embarrassed too, as I had become more confident and so more vocal in my prediction of a coalition; SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid, DUP, Green and Labour agreed on second referendum. At least my embarrassment and my surprise were not mine alone but that of many up and down the country when the exit poll was revealed and unflinchingly confirmed seat after seat, as the early hours dawned. As the journalists backtracked, calling into question what had been promised as the most accurate polling in electoral history, the BUCA members around me rejoiced (our drinks were much more jolly than the rest of the Balloon Bar I gather). Previously only the most ardent party sources had told me to expect such an emphatic victory. For everyone else, for students here and some of my more red-dye-in-the-wool lecturers, those who remember the 1970s, we were taught a perennial lesson; political hope does not transliterate into political reality.
Patriotism and expediency drained but were not the only drains of Labour’s losses. How little the socialist identity appealed to the Labour voter, how foreign the Islington intelligentsia and the not-so-intelligent that dominate Bristol University must have seemed. This University could never have solidarity with the working class. ‘I want to do whatever common people do’ cry out the students here, who barely do a day’s hard work between them and I know of very few lecturers whose fathers’ might have worked in the mines. Of those few, they are not the Labour members who care to argue about the correct gender pronouns and whether clapping is too bourgeois.
As I write, a stalinist coup is taking place inside the Labour party. Shots and cries of ‘traitor’ ring out, they have completely missed the plot. It was the unquestionable and disjointed ideology which has cost Corbyn and McDonnell who, in the midst of upheaval, are too busy setting up succession to continue the ‘quinquennial plans for the development of the national economy’. However, it will be relief for all the aspiring NEC committee members at Bristol that the SU does not have a sensible wing over its shoulder from which the daggers might be drawn. They who cannot even represent the 20,000 odd students at Bristol University, let alone socio-geographical swathe of the country.
In the short term it will be the impoverished legatees of the working man, the sons and daughters born under class siege behind the Red Wall, who will suffer; the residents of Blyth Valley, Bishop Auckland, Sedgefield. The uncertainty of Brexit, the close regulatory alignment–vassal-dom, the stock market niggles will not setback those of us with degrees and property-owning families. The wealthy are resilient. Those who run the country, who run Brexit, the party backers, will not be crucified for the cause. Instead, the country will be blood-let and politics will go on, as Brexit is relegated from a fundamental, national crisis to another political issue. My party will split, my party will heal. My student peers will continue to party, to drink, to write essays and vote Labour.
Despite this turmoil, there is one point worth fixing on: students will not suffer, not Bristol students at least. You can all go home comfortably for Christmas, those in the top fifty, top five, top one percent and my Law professors between £70,000 and £120,000 and their pension agreements.
In the short term it will be the impoverished legatees of the working man, the sons and daughters born under class siege behind the Red Wall, who will suffer
The embittered and dejected lecturers will no doubt continue to grade my essays on land taxation and individual freedom unkindly; so nothing much will change. Thankfully–excepting those perpetual students who seem to lurk in the fetid backwater of academia and feed off Government funding–we will join the workforce, join society. There, we will find no post-university, famine beset kolkhoz, run by deluded soviets. No burdensome repayments from nationalising just about everything, no fear of future a future national debt burden from cancelling student loans and even, perhaps most usefully for most of you, a potential for the decriminalisation of licence fees. The Red Threat has been rejected, the strength of two-party politics returned and, happily for BUCA, our working lives starting under the auspicious stability of Pax Optimas.
What do you think the Labour party can learn from the General election result?