By Bethany Dawson
There seems to be a nation-wide post-election hangover clouding each member of the population. Frankly, everyone is exhausted. I had the joy of staying up with the Politics Society and the Politics Department to watch the election results. I’ll admit, I went home early, but I stayed awake for the results.
This election was deemed famously hard to predict by nearly every non-biased person who was asked. I think it is fair to say, however, that the result was indeed a shock to many. The Conservative Party won, retaining their rule over the country for the third election running. Not only did they win: but they won a landslide victory with a gain of 47 seats. Labour suffered a defeat with a loss of 67 seats, and the Liberal Democrats – despite a successful campaign during the council elections earlier this year – suffered a net loss of one seat and saw the resignation of their leader, Jo Swinson.
As an overview of what the electorate has decided they want the next five years to look like, The Conservative Party manifesto promised a myriad of things including: the introduction of voter ID regulations during a general election, an increase in prison numbers, an Australian-style point system of immigration, an increase in the number of nurses and doctors, and of course: getting Brexit over and done with.
What does this mean for Brexit?
Brexit was – unsurprisingly – the key issue within this election, and is believed to be one reason why Labour took such a significant hit during this election. Boris and his team stormed through the country announcing, when he was not in a fridge, that he was going to get Brexit done. Assuming Boris’ next agreement with the EU is approved by Parliament, then he will indeed accomplish his mission by the 31st of January.
It is easy to assume that this will not happen, as over the past three years we have heard many withdrawal dates and repeatedly braced ourselves for a crash out of the EU which has never happened. However, with a pro-Brexit, pro-Boris Conservative majority, it might be that the end of January sees Brexit finally realised.
What happened in Guildford?
Guildford was a dramatic seat during the election, but the result was anti-climactic. With our previous Conservative MP Anne Milton turning to Independent, with the Liberal Democrats getting a mass of new votes during the council elections, and with the student vote being considered a massive support for Labour, Guildford was – at points – considered to be a four-way split. However, staying in line with the 14-year stronghold, the Conservatives retained Guildford. The MP now representing the constituency is Angela Richardson. Richardson has never been an MP before, and describes herself as a “fresh face” in politics.
What are the Conservatives’ policies for students?
The word “students” is only mentioned eight times in the Tory manifesto, so we can’t pretend that the needs of students were front and centre in the campaign. When mentioned, however, some rather important promises were made. Notably, the party proposed a £5000-8000 annual maintenance grants to nursing students, mentioned a student visa within the new points-based immigration system (it should be noted that the student visa is not a new policy, and one already exists in the UK under the name of a Tier 4 visa), and pledged to improve the application system for universities.
One comment what was widely made of the Conservative Manifesto was that it was very vague, and made few concrete promises. This is obvious when considering the lack of clear commitments to the lives of university students and their universities.
When is the next election?
Theoretically speaking, as per the Fixed Term Parliament Act, we will not be casting our votes in another General Election until 2nd May 2024. However, considering that we have had three General Elections in four years, there’s a chance that if there is a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson – either as leader of the Conservatives or of the country – we will be seeing one before that point.