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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
British General Election 'Being young in Britain right now is weird'
When I turned on the news this morning and saw that we had a hung parliament, I wasn’t overly surprised, writes Chloe Rennard.

WAKING UP IN a new and changed Britain is something I’ve had to deal with every year for the last three years, with two general elections and a referendum.

It’s something I’ve become quite accustomed to by now.

It’s been a strange few years for Britain politically with three results that pollsters failed to predict, but it’s given me fiery passion about the subject of politics that I didn’t have before, and has led me to study it as a degree.

Casting my vote for the first time

Yesterday I eagerly cast my vote for the first time in a general election, fingers slightly shaking with anticipation, as I crossed my box and folded the paper. I had a very difficult time choosing who to vote for in this election.

Neither May nor Corbyn stood out to me as fantastic leaders, and pressure from my Corbyn-ite peers and social media to be a left-wing pioneer had me feeling severely guilty for even considering voting Conservative.

And don’t even suggest I vote Lib Dem, UKIP or Green. In our “First Past The Post” system it would be about as effective burning your ballot paper. However, I made my decision and I stand by it, even after waking up to today’s turmoil.

In a post-Brexit Britain, and post-Trump world, political surprises aren’t really rare. As this is the only politics I’ve lived through, it’s the only thing I’ve known. Long gone are the days when opinion polls carried any kind of accuracy.

When I turned on the news this morning and saw that we had a hung parliament, I wasn’t overly surprised. Past events haven’t exactly projected that this election would be a clear win and living in a country with a two-party electoral system whereby there are multiple parties for you to choose from.

What’s a hung parliament?

A lot of people on social media this morning were very confused about the result – no party has a majority? What’s going to happen? What’s a hung parliament?

It’s quite simple: a hung parliament is a result of one party not receiving enough seats in order to form a majority government in the House of Commons. Theresa May was unable to achieve a majority alone so now she needs help in order to create one and the help she is receiving is from the Northern Irish DUP.

The news will try and confuse things with specialist terms like “psephology” and “mandate” but the bare bones of the situation are as follows: Theresa May can’t form a strong and stable government but she’s going to try, using the DUP to prop her up.

Oddly, I didn’t feel sad when I switched on the news this morning, which was different to most mornings in the past few weeks. Turning on the news and feeling that sinking feeling of dread – whether it’s Trump being elected as President sending shudders down your spine, or yet another mindless and callous attack from those who call themselves the Islamic State – has become commonplace in the UK, with three extremist attacks since March and three trips to the polls since May 2015.

Turning to my boyfriend in bed in the morning, with BBC News open in my hand, saying “something bad happened again” is becoming a weekly ritual for me.

Terror sucking the happiness right out of you

For me, and I’m sure for everyone else, it’s the terrorist attacks which make you feel like one of JK Rowling’s “Dementors” has entered the room and sucked the happiness right out of you.

When they happen abroad it’s terrifying and sad but when they happen three miles away from where you were peaceful, unaware and sleeping, it hits home just a little more. A lady who my mother works with had a family member killed in the most recent attack on London Bridge, and that’s the kind of dread that punches you right in the stomach.

But the spirit shown by the people of Manchester and London – and inspiring events like the One Love Manchester concert – give ISIS the big smack in the face that they rightly deserve. They show unity where ISIS aim to divide. They show love where ISIS aim to insight hate.

On Saturday night, my twitter feed was filled with people in the London Bridge area explaining that they have room in their flats and houses if people needed a safe place to stay, and this is the exact opposite of what these vile terrorists want. The unanimity of British people gives me, as a young person, hope for the future.

I’m not sure what the future holds

Being young in Britain right now is weird. Every time you think how could this possibly get worse, you get smacked in the face by a Brexit, or a suicide bomber, or a Tory-DUP coalition.

What more could happen that’s worse? Will I live to be seventy or will the world have exploded in a tirade of nuclear war by then? Will I always have this democracy or will Nigel Farage somehow take over as a dictator and repeal the smoking ban? Will someone set fire to Jeremy Corbyn’s allotment?

I’m not sure what the future holds for me as a young woman studying politics in Britain. I have no idea how Brexit negotiations will go. I have no idea how long this Tory-DUP administration will last. But I do know that I am hopeful that things might settle down – we’ve handled terrorism before (cough – IRA – cough) and we’ve lived through hung parliaments and we haven’t always been in Europe – and still wishful for the future, even if that does seem bizarre.

I’ve been told by a lot of adults not to get involved with politics because they’ve been disillusioned and believe MPs are the route of all evil. But, quite frankly, I think we need to do the opposite. This election showed what young people can do if we put our minds to it. I think it would be foolish for us to stop.

Chloe Rennard is a 19-year-old student of politics in London and a dedicated beauty and lifestyle blogger. She’s passionate about all things political, as well as make-up, dogs and baking. She has just recently moved to Greenwich in London with her boyfriend, Johnny.

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