Election day is a contradiction for campaigners. It’s both the ‘this-is-it’ feeling of crunch time and the day the frenzy of the campaign abates, leaving behind a limbo-like sense of anticipation. Five years on from the 2017 election, I remember it well.
On Thursday June 8th, I was in Brighton where activists wearing red, green and orange badges and ‘progressive alliance’ shirts were stopping passersby to tell the story of cooperation: how they usually voted Labour but this time were voting Green. As I travelled back to London, I was tasked with explaining progressive alliance to intrigued strangers: “We’re backing the best-placed progressive in every seat, to elect a progressive government that will bring in proportional representation… so that we don’t have to do this anymore!”
And then the dam broke. In scenes memorable to many a progressive voter, as the 10pm bell chimed and David Dimbleby opened his envelope, the feeling of doom was replaced with an unfamiliar one: relief, even tentative elation. The Tories, presumed unstoppable, were set to dramatically lose their majority.