Have your social media feeds turned a bit British recently? Have fervent denunciations of Prime Minister Theresa May therein caused you to ask yourself “Allo, allo, allo, what’s all this, then?“
The reason for that is the general election in the U.K. on Thursday, which was called about a month ago by May’s Conservative government. Since then Britain has seen two significant terror attacks, and many Britons are up in arms because, much like the recent French election, it has become a chance to prove that that progressive causes might not be entirely strangled by the right-wing axis represented by May and Donald Trump—who, you’ll recall, once called himself “Mr. Brexit.”
Incidentally, it’s Brexit that’s at the heart of all this agitation. Britain’s leadership fell to May after almost everyone involved with Brexit disowned it and she painted herself as, like Trump, the only negotiator who could make Britain’s exit from the European Union as painless as possible. (Most economists say there’s no getting around the fact that this is a form of economic suicide, so May is basically promising to be the Jack Kevorkian of Brexit.)
May wanted to strengthen her political coalition and called the election in the hopes of decimating Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seemed to be almost vanquished. But now it seems, perhaps because she’s a terrible politician, that the Labour Party is ascendant and oddsmakers say the election may be a squeaker.
This has led to celebrities to come out to stomp for Ol’ Jezza in the hopes of garnering the youth vote. At a stirring Corbyn rally, Steve Coogan encouraged people to “rise like lions from their slumber in unvanquishable number.”
Lily Allen posted a particuarly ghoulish photo of May.
“Jeremy Corbyn is like the princess Diana of British politics,” said woman of the people M.I.A. on Twitter. “Now and again u get some1 abit human and the establishment freaks out.”
Rob Delaney, co-star of the London-based sitcom Catastrophe, said in a Labor-sponsored video that he may not be able to vote but called the NHS, Britain’s under threat free healthcare system, “the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Even Stephen Hawking has said he’s voting for Labour “because another five years of Conservative government would be a disaster for the NHS, the police and other public services.”
(Hawking’s comments speak to another element working for Labour. Usually, following a terrorist attack, populations gravitate towards the right-leaning candidates but in this case, because of Tories’ embrace of austerity measures, Theresa May has been responsible for cuts to the police budgets. Not the kind of thing you want on your résumé following two terrorist attacks. It’s all very Armando Iannucci.
Finally, Lena Dunham told her 3.3 million Instagram followers that “despite my U.S. Passport, I desperately urge my U.K. friends/fans/frenemies to get out and vote for the Labour Party,” which speaks both to how popular the movement’s become.
Brothers of Bernie and other U.S. leftists have been fairly salivating over these developments because, much like Sanders, Corbyn was thought to be too liberal and unelectable a leader, even for Labour. His success would prove the viability of the Democrats going harder left as a way to drum up popular support, hence the noise about the always important Dunham endorsement.
It’s all very exciting, but like everything else lately will probably go horribly, horribly wrong. Polls in the U.K. are even worse than they are here so nobody has any idea what’s going to happen on election day.