THE BLOG

The War Has Begun - Choose Your Weapon Wisely

24/04/2017 12:42 BST | Updated 24/04/2017 12:42 BST
Rui Vieira/PA Wire

In seven weeks' time, the country will go to the ballot boxes for the third time in two years. However, it seems like decades ago Ed Miliband unveiled his own 'Ed' stone and #Milifandom gripped swathes of young Labour supporters. A lot has changed in two years; all three leaders of the main political parties in 2015 have vanished (until Miliband's recent stint on The Last Leg), Britain challenged the political consensus by voting to leave the EU, and the union is in a more fragile state than ever. The snap election creates a series of challenges and opportunities across the established political parties, but how can we as students capitalise on these to get the best deal in the lead up to the Brexit negotiations.

Theresa May, capitalising on the weak position of the Labour Party, yesterday called for a snap election. Her weapon? Leading Britain full steam into a hard Brexit, risking our economy and relationship with our closest trading partners to placate internal party politics. In fairness to her, it's a strong strategy - with a majority of the media on side she will be able to bulldoze her way through the next seven weeks, picking up on the success of the Vote Leave campaign. Avoiding TV debates will enable her to criticise Corbyn and keep the debate firmly on Brexit without being dragged into her governments failures on the NHS, education and the numerous broken promises from the last election (notwithstanding the ongoing investigation into electoral fraud of 30 Conservative MPs).

So, what weapons do the other parties have at their disposal? When it comes to Brexit, the Lib Dems, the SNP and the Green Party are best equipped to hold the prime minister to account on her hard-line Brexit strategy; threats of war over Gibraltar Rock, a failure to guarantee the residency of current EU citizens and an undermining of the British judiciary are the tools which these parties should use to hold and gain seats in Scotland, London and metropolitan areas of the UK. Labour's policy on Brexit is unhelpfully unclear on Brexit, but they are much better equipped to hold the government to account on their failures in the NHS, education and housing. What's more the Tories traditional weapon on the economy is fragile, after failing to miss every deficit target they have set themselves and their willingness to throw away the 44% of the trade we do with the EU, they are no longer in a position to claim they are the stalwarts of this country's economic future.

The polls have deceived us many times before, but it's without any doubt Theresa May is heading for a landslide victory. So, what is the best tool we have at our disposal? As students, we have the benefit of being able to register in two locations, so if you are already registered, check if your vote has more of an impact at your home or university address, and apply for a postal vote if necessary. If you're not a fan of Corbyn, fair enough; but let's not forget there are some fantastic MPs within the Labour Party who are stringently pro-European and share a progressive future view of the country. The Lib Dems have a real chance in areas of London to capitalise on their Brexit message, and look poised to regain control of the South West. Someone has helpfully created a spreadsheet entitled "How to stop the Tories" however, lest we forget MPs such as Anna Soubry, Nicky Morgan and Neil Carmichael. These Tory MPs have put themselves front and centre of remaining in the Single Market and have advocated to remove international students from the immigration figures. It's this cross-party support that, going forward, will get the best Brexit deal that Europhiles can hope for.

A lot has changed in two years and Theresa May has said it herself, the biggest threat to pursuing a hard Brexit is a coalition of these MPs. The battle front has significantly changed since 2015 and it's time the tactics of young people reflected just that. My weapon of choice? As a moderate Labour supporter, I hope to be campaigning for some great Birmingham Labour MPs who have worked tirelessly for their constituents over the last two years and will continue to hold the next government to account on Brexit. So pick your weapon carefully, check your local constituency and where you could hit the government hardest; the system has played us as young people for too long, let's put down our white flags and fight for the best deal possible for our future.