GENERATION NEXT / GUEST POST BY TOM ROBERTS

We’ve had a swathe of young writers guest on here before and after the election: to a hugely positive response from the readership. Makes my retirement less depressing, as I know that whatever space I leave will be filled, over time, many times over by young writers perhaps not as jaded as myself.

Sophie’s piece on her school elections was, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite excellent. Great comments came through, with one exception: a Tory troll who tweets under a series of fake names sent in a particularly nasty and misogynistic comment which I blocked. The woman in question, who forgot to block her IP address, is also someone who, when not out campaigning with the Conservatives, believes that the UK is ruled by a secret Jewish Cabal and that ‘chemtrails’ are being sprayed from planes to keep us subservient. We’re not talking a genius here. As the ruler of that Jewish cabal, I’ll ensure my planes target your house more thoroughly, Ms S.

The incisive, witty and myth-busting Andrew Tucker’s piece on how young voters are perceived was also a real winner, Andrew has been inspired, since the piece was published, to go and set up his own blog, Millennial Radical which I hope you’ll like.

Tom Roberts, who reported on the hustings for me, was a real find: I just happened to sit a couple of seats down from him at the first hustings, and chatting afterwards he asked if he could write for me. He writes his take on what went wrong, below.

Finally, just a few things to give a mention to before I hand over to Tom: OXJAM Beeston is hosting a fundraiser on May 27th at the White Lion: a fun-packed music quiz (which I think I might be compering) with entry and tapas a staggeringly cheap £3 a head. More details on Facebook: click here.

The White Lion –which is rapidly morphing from pub to arts venue – will be playing  host to Open Studios on May 30-31st, further cementing Beeston’s burgeoning reputation as a place of creative excellence.

There will also be a Civic Society hosted event at The White Lion ( I know! I swear I don’t work for them!) this Saturday morning where Council Officer John Delaney will be on hand to answer questions about Beeston’s future development. Kicks off at 10.30am.

That’s me done then. I have a couple more days at work then I’m swapping Gonzo for Gozo and escaping Beeston for a few days. Don’t worry, the Conservatives have promised to keep it in safe hands (despite not a single one getting elected in Beeston – the ‘Rant Room surge’ flopped magnificently in the areas where the tram actually comes through), and they have kept their promises to protect Stapleford’s Field Farm and call for a Judicial review into the process. Anything less, after all , would make them cynical liars.

Over to Tom Roberts: 

Where did it all go wrong?

Yesterday I was writing a piece about how this would be the first social media election. Everything I saw seemed to indicate this would be the first election to be fought on twitter and facebook and I maintain that to be true. I just may have over-estimated their importance.

By all metrics Labour were doing so well. They had more people on the ground than anyone else, better voter engagement and even the Milifans. So why did it all fall apart? The short, and probably over simplistic answer, is Scotland. In the final days of the campaign Scotland eclipsed all other issues and became an albatross around Ed’s neck and perhaps we shouldn’t be as surprised by the result as we were.

The loss of their Scottish heartland was a blow but it was one that Labour could have weathered. It was not the loss but instead the narrative built up around it that cost Labour this election. For weeks the gutter press and the gutter party (Tory) have screamed about the “dangers” of Scottish MPs and amongst all the negative campaigning that had failed this small tit-bit took off. Polls by the Independent showed that 1 in 4 voters in Middle England were swayed by the thought of Labour kowtowed to Sturgeon; admittedly polls have proven mostly useless at this Election with the “neck and neck race” anything but, but it’s a useful starting point.

So with voters in Middle England wavering it was up to Labour to mitigate the fear and in this they found their greatest enemy had become more dangerous. The SNP in Scotland began to promote a narrative, a vicious and largely untrue narrative, that Labour needed help to be honest and stick to its principles. “A vote for SNP is a vote for a Labour Government” was the somewhat perplexing cry and suddenly Ed had a war on two fronts.

He wasn’t conservative enough for England and wasn’t left wing enough for Scotland, his base had shifted into a precarious centre left space and it was hard to counter everything. And so the propaganda train rumbled on, the gutter press promoted the idea that Labour needed the SNP and the Scottish gutter press promoted the idea that Labour NEEDED the SNP. They were simultaneously weak and easily led by Sturgeon and dishonest enough to need an SNP shaped moral compass. It’s all rather depressing.

So who is the biggest loser here: the temptation is to say Labour but honestly it’s hard to be sure at this point. The union will suffer, following the vicious attacks on Scottish MPs  by their English colleague in recent weeks and if there was ever a time and a place for federalism this may be the moment. The SNP may be the big winner in numbers but will likely suffer due to association. They’re in a difficult position and it’s inevitable their supporters will realise they A) aren’t actually the lefties they claim to be and B) Aren’t able to command power on a national level. The electorate are obviously screwed. Perhaps worst of all though is the vindication of this sort of campaigning, that being divisive and aggressive works.