Prospect editor Tom Clark on Election 2017—and how the writers in our new issue make sense of itby Tom Clark / June 22, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
The educated classes spent the last year despairing at know-nothing Brexit and Trump voters. “Post-truth” was named OED word of 2016, and it’s now the title of three new books (all reviewed by Simon Blackburn). Anxiety abounds about ignoramuses sealing themselves off to trade in what Kellyanne Conway calls “alternative facts,” the echo chamber effect.
But a stunning election result has revealed that those who imagine themselves experts on politics know a great deal less than they thought. Jeremy Corbyn was written off as doomed by the media, and four in five of his MPs. He may not have won, but he topped 40 per cent of the poll, adding 10 points to Labour’s score and depriving Theresa May of her majority. There were seemingly-solid pointers against this outcome, such as the Copeland by-election, but there were other straws in the wind—like the surge in party membership. And about these, Gary Younge charges, too many journalists were unforgivably incurious. In other words, politicians and pundits—few of them personally touched by the austerity that has long gnawed at the country, especially its young (Shiv Malik)—were sealed off. Talking to themselves. In an echo chamber of their own.
In the aftermath of their shock, commentators have placed most stress on May’s dismal campaign. Her failings are real (Rachel Sylvester), but were su…