University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Tories Left Standing in Election Meltdown, in Conversation with BBC 5

Charlotte Berry

ByCharlotte Berry

Apr 16, 2024
Image: BNN Bloomberg

As a first-time voter, I need help understanding what is happening in the often paradoxical world of politics. This is why I joined a panel of first-time voters on BBC 5 Live. Isabella (our lovely Arts Editor) and I had the privilege of speaking with Dotun Adebayo (BBC presenter) about the upcoming general election. We debated with fellow first-time voters, as well as those who have frequented the polling station. The overarching theme in our conversations was; do we vote for the party, the leader, or the local MP?

Recent by-election losses have left Tories reeling. Conservative safe seats, often called Bellwether seats, have now been refurbished with lovely Red cushions. The Conservatives have lost a total of six seats in ten by-elections in this parliament, the worst record of any government in the past 50 years. Now left standing, the Tories have nowhere to hide. Public scrutiny of the Conservatives is at an all-time high. Tory scandals such as “Party Gate”, the cost of living crisis, and Rishi’s greed for North Sea oil have meant that our beloved government has left a less than positive impression on the general public. Whilst the recent by-elections do not guarantee that the Tories will lose the general election, clearly there are trends in voting patterns that may suggest that they’re on the outs. But if we are so disillusioned with the party, perhaps it is better to vote for the leader or the local MP.

The “Rishi recession” could suggest that voting Labour is the perfect strategy for ousting the Tories. When asked by Dotun Adebayo if Labour are the “lesser of two evils”, it initially seemed to me that they are. In a poll by ITV in May 2023, named “Youth Tracker”, up to 60% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would vote Labour over any other party, compared to just 15% saying Tory. Has the “Red Wall” finally fallen? Labour obtained landslide victories in Kingswood and Wellingborough local elections in February 2024. Both constituencies have historically had a Tory MP and do not fit with the stereotype that Labour is exclusive to the North of England. 

Image: BNN Bloomberg

The appeal of the Labour Party promises such as boosting the economy, promoting equal access to education and better housing sounds like a student’s dream. However, recent controversy has implied that Keir Starmer is in support of Israel’s “right to defend her people” against the oh-so-threatening children of Gaza. At Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool on 10 October 2023, just three days after the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Starmer called for increased funding to humanitarian aid in Gaza but was very clearly against a ceasefire. Ironic, seeing as Starmer claims that “innocent lives must be protected”. If the leader is contradicting his pledges for social justice, do we still vote for the party he represents? 

We also cannot forget that we are Brightonians. Brighton has historically voted Green in local by-elections, it holds the first and only Green seat by Caroline Lucas since 2010. Green campaigns hard on local issues; they focus heavily on climate protection and improving the rent crisis through council-led schemes. Beyond environmental issues, Lucas has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. It is no surprise that Brightonians favour green policies over the socially and environmentally un-conscious ones of their competitors. Does it make more sense to vote for the MP? After all, the more seats that are taken by Green, the less they are taken by bumbling Eton alumni and possible Zionists. But it isn’t very likely that Greens will lead our country this time around. In a conference in Brighton in October 2023, Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay claimed that Green is only seeking to obtain four seats in this general election.

Whilst this may seem like a very long and boring game of musical chairs, it is important to understand that this will have real impacts on the quality of living of the general public, and the UK’s footing in international politics. Young people have always been involved in politics, whether that may be through social media, debates in classes, conversations at the family dinner table, or banter at the pub. For many of us, including myself, this is the first time in which we have a real platform to voice our opinions. We mustn’t waste this opportunity. Isabella and I will be returning to BBC 5 Live in the coming weeks to further discuss the trials and tribulations of our government, keep an eye on @thebadgersussex on Instagram to stay in the loop!

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