This was a bittersweet election. We rejoice at the fact the Conservatives have been pegged back and the landslide they presumed was theirs by right has been denied them. We are delighted that an alternative to austerity and nearly 40 years of free-market fundamentalism has secured 40% of the vote. We celebrate the exuberance and scale of the youth vote and both feel an incredible duty to repay their faith in us and our colleagues. And we are proud that in some key marginals cooperation not to split the progressive vote resulted in the Tories losing.
But equally we felt a profound sense of frustration and dismay when Tories won by narrow margins in places such as St Ives, Richmond Park and Hastings – it really could have been so different. In seat after seat, progressive votes were wasted, because of our broken electoral system. If every progressive voter had placed their X tactically to defeat the Tories then Jeremy Corbyn would now be prime minister with a majority of over 100.
Electoral alliances, which in this instance saw people across parties cooperate on tickets that included support for proportional representation and the common goal of preventing Conservative candidates winning, were pulled together quickly for the snap election. There wasn’t time to build deep relationships at either the top of the parties or more importantly on the ground. They were not perfect nor, in many instances, were they more than loose arrangements around tactical voting. However, more than 40 local alliances were formed, where almost exclusively Greens put the national interest before their party. It had a huge impact on the vote – more than doubling the average swing away from the Tories.
But just as important as the vote was the cultural effect of people from different parties working together to a common aim. This was about doing politics differently and it’s not just election results that are the measure of success. It’s the numbers of people who knocked on doors for the party most likely to beat the Tories, who came out and got involved in an election campaign for the first time ever, and it’s the sense that politics has become something hopeful and positive again. People in Britain have embraced a more plural and open politics and it’s critical that what happens next continues to build that vision and listen to their voices. To do otherwise would be both a massive disservice to democracy and to misunderstand that the Corbyn effect is just one wave in the tide of change.