UK: Why sometimes in politics, losing is actually winning – the shifting politics towards a just society
Mari-Claire Price
Mon 07/10/2017, 12:00

The recent UK general election has seen one of the biggest slides towards the left in recent memory. The results of the election read on paper like a win for the Conservative government, who arrogantly called for the election hoping to strengthen their position and validate their plans of a hard approach to Brexit. They won the most seats, the most votes, and now have a minority government with support from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

However, this was not a win. It was in fact a massive loss. They failed to even win the majority that they entered the election with, or anything close to a minimum they would have expected. They thought they would win some seats, but they ended up losing 32 seats, many of which were Conservative strongholds, and 25 of which went to Labour. The share of votes went from Labour 29% / Conservative 36% in 2010, to Labour 40% / Conservative 42% in 2017.

So why was this a win for justice?

In an analysis of the EU referendum result in 2016, we shared the very complex nature and context of the results, the rise of nationalism, xenophobia, right wing media bias, but also something that was generally missed out of the mainstream analysis, the push back against the neo-liberal agenda:

30 years of war has been waged by the Tories and the establishment: profit over people, demolishing of industry and jobs, crushing austerity, welfare reform, and cuts to and privatization of public services. The poor, working class, disabled people, migrants, refugees, women, and people of colour have seen their concerns and experiences ignored and placated for decades.

Never has this been more evident than in this general election.

The Labour party has gained a significant landslide of support from across the UK, across various demographics, and this with left socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is vehemently anti-racist, anti-xenophobia, pro-poor and pro-equality. On the night of the election, when the exit poll was announced, left wing UK media were celebrating.  Their landslide gains have made Labour the strongest opposition in government for a long time, able to push back alongside other parties on the conservative agenda, in particular in relation to austerity and Brexit. This defeat of the conservative in this way also opens up opportunity for Labour to form a new government with other parties in the coming months, if the current government continues to falter and flail, and will ensure more resistance to any Brexit deal that is anti-immigration and anti single EU market, in other words a 'softer' Brexit.

UKIP and their xenophobic agenda are done. With only 500,000 votes after nearly 4 million in 2015, their party and their support for a hard brexit are finished.

This is a parliament we can be proud of, with a record number of LGBT (45 in total), women, Black and Asian MPs (51), and an increase, but not an ideal number of disabled MPs elected.

Young People came out in force for the election, and it is what swung the election to such a landslide win for Labour, with 60% of 18-24 year olds voting for Labour.

The mainstream media, in particular the right wing media, has been blamed, pressured and exposed through this election, with some calling them redundant and many, especially young people, accessing news, analysis and opinion through other sources.


These were votes of resistance and a sign of a new politics in the UK; against austerity, against a hard brexit with xenophobia at its core, against the establishment and against neoliberalism. Ever since the election last month, this same wave of community and resistance, that has existed in so many communities of the UK and has been largely ignored, is making headlines in the mainstream media. The Grenfell tower fire, where (to date) nearly 80 people lost their lives in a preventable tragedy that has all the hallmarks of a failing racist and classist system that is killing people, has seen a massive response and resistance from the local community and further, supporting survivors and demanding accountability and justice.

This Our blog appears in South Feminist Voices and is tagged with United Kingdom.