As Britons headed to the polls Thursday for the much-anticipated and highly consequential general election, U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sounded a note of optimism in response to early reports of big crowds and long lines at polling stations across the country.
"It's happening. We can do this," said Corbyn after the British newspaper Metro reported that early turnout resulted in the "longest queues ever" at several voting stations.
Aidan Conway, a resident of Balham, London, told Metro that he has "never seen a queue like this at my polling station."
These images of people queuing to vote will scare the death out of the Tories
— Dave Ward (@DaveWardGS) December 12, 2019
Never in my adult life have I ever queued for an election. Every vote counts. Get every young person you know into a voting booth. Let’s #KickBorisOut #GeneralElection #GE2019 pic.twitter.com/p1tFe9kKiE
— Stephen (@dr_swatso) December 12, 2019
— Dylan Murphy (@DylanMurphyIRL) December 12, 2019
"Many of the voters out this morning have said the lines are 'full of young people,'" Metro noted.
That could be good news for Labour. According to YouGov, more than 60 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for the Labour Party in the 2017 general election.
"More than 1.5 million people under the age of 34 registered to vote between Oct. 22 and Nov. 19, compared with 1.2 million in the same time frame in 2017," the New York Times reported late last week.
Labour activists on Wednesday continued to promote their get-out-the-vote push online and in communities nationwide, telling voters there was still time to make a difference and urging them to head to the polls to "kick the Tories out of government":
Polls move when people do.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) December 12, 2019
As Labour supporter and Guardian columnist Owen Jones wrote Wednesday, "Tories have discounted millennial rage against their policies and that mistake could cost them dear at the polls."
They have endured a decade of assaults on their living standards and their beliefs. The Tory elite calculated that this onslaught would have no political consequences because young people would not vote in sufficient numbers for it to matter. This hubris finally collided with reality in 2017, but it was not enough.
And so this is the question that will soon be answered. Will enough young people march to polling stations, in the right places, to stop a hard-right Tory government committed to implementing hard Brexit by the end of next month? Will Boris Johnson's entitlement meet its nemesis in the shape of a revolt of the young? There is very little time left. But if Britain's nightmare finally ends, it will probably be the young who save us from it.
Corbyn has characterized the general election as a life or death moment for the National Health Service. Last month, the Labour leader unveiled over 450 pages of trade documents that he said show Johnson has put the NHS "on the table" in talks with the U.S. over a possible post-Brexit trade pact.
As voters headed to the polls Wednesday, Corbyn tweeted, "Boris Johnson will sell-off our NHS, and that's the tea."
"Today, vote to save our NHS," Corbyn said. "Vote for a pay rise. Vote for free childcare. Vote for lower fares and bills. Vote for real change. Vote for Labour."