It can be argued that last week’s General Election marks a turning point: a shift away from neoliberalism and towards – or rather back to – social democracy. There is talk that the age of austerity is over. The initial focus on Brexit was replaced by a genuine policy debate, based around the Labour and Conservative manifestos and revealing voters’ anxieties about the state of public services. Young people were energised into voting in greater numbers, which could lead to changing political priorities as parties take them more seriously in future.
The power of the mainstream media has been dented, as the public took little notice of their sneers and voted Labour anyway. The scale of Labour gains prompted discussion about the mechanics of campaigning, including the use of social media, the impact of positive messages versus smearing your opponents, and the importance of the ‘ground campaign’ through canvassing and rallies.
On the other hand let’s not lose the run of ourselves. Despite unexpected Labour gains, the Conservatives are still likely to be in government, kept in power by the DUP: a regressive partnership, rather than the progressive alliance we at The Combination had hoped for. And a partnership that regards the Good Friday Agreement as collateral damage.
The Combination group blog has organised a public meeting to address these and related issues, and to consider the implications of the General Election for progressive politics in Northern Ireland and farther afield.We’ve invited five speakers from a range of perspectives: Brian Campfield (NIPSA), Geraint Ellis (QUB), Ellen Murray (GenderJam NI and Green Party NI), Liz Nelson (Belfast Feminist Network and Belfast Trades Council) and Robin Wilson (independent researcher and journalist).
Join us on Tuesday 20th June, 7.30pm at the Crescent Arts Centre, Workshop Room 4.