The Cornish Labour Surge

Dan Basil Collins


At 21:59 on the 8th of June I was staring at my laptop, BBC One on the screen, waiting for the exit poll. After ten weeks campaigning, due to the local elections flowing into the General election, I was tired but sure that the Conservatives were onto an increased majority. David Dimbleby seemed apprehensive. When he had said Conservatives were going to be the largest party, I felt relieved. It was not to be. He announced the Conservatives had lost their majority, and before I had a chance to digest this news, I was whisked away to the count at Carn Brea where all three Conservative MPs were returned. All three with significantly reduced majorities.

So what happened? Labour Surged. In Truro and Falmouth, it seemed 6,000 people who had never voted before all voted Labour. A fact to be noted that in the three most westerly parliamentary constituencies in Cornwall, the Conservative vote increased. In Truro and Falmouth alone the Conservative vote increased by over 2,400. The Labour however vote tripled from 2015.

As a Conservative Party voter and campaigner, to say I was surprised on the night of the 8th June would have been an understatement. We were not blind to the awful manifesto, we were also aware that our popularity from the election being called had declined considerably. By the beginning of June ‘Strong and Stable’ was only to be found in memes or to be used against us. However, all this being considered, there is still a lot to explain. Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was having so many car-crash interviews that we were surprised she had not been locked in a cupboard in the basement of Labour HQ. Even Jeremy Corbyn forgot figures himself. From what I was hearing on the doorstep, the Labour Party was making themselves known but most people had already made their minds up, and it looked good for us.

This was not to be however, after the manifestos were launched the backlash ensued. The opposition was effective at labelling Conservative policies such as ‘dementia tax’ and any counter arguments against such labels never broke through. It seemed very few voters actually thought Labour would have much success in this election, but many people felt they had no choice but to vote as the Conservative Manifesto did not seem to benefit them. The Labour Manifesto seemed to promise all things to all people, they were given a promise of hope and so voted for it. The Liberal Democrats were still unpopular so the tactical vote went red.

What ultimately can explain the Labour surge in Cornwall is the unprecedented turnout, Twinned with the collapse of other parties, seen by the Green Party in Truro and Falmouth losing over 80% of their vote and UKIP over 85% of their vote. I am proud that suddenly young people got out of bed and showed they cared about what was happening. They felt ignored.

Our generation has made its mark and it is for the Conservatives to show what they can offer us if they hope to keep power. The battle for the youth is now crucial for power like never before.