Canterbury fail: Loss in Tory stronghold shows youth surge

By DAVID KEYTON and

SYLVIA HUI

Associated Press

CANTERBURY, England — The historic English university town of Canterbury, a Conservative stronghold with a high proportion of young voters, has elected a Labour lawmaker for the first time since the constituency was formed a century ago.

Some say that remarkable win for Labour — echoed elsewhere in places with big student populations — suggests that a rise in college-age voters helped prevent a widely expected victory for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives in Thursday’s election.

The Conservatives still hold the largest number of seats in Parliament but lost an overall majority. Labour, written off as almost unelectable just weeks ago, surpassed expectations by securing 261 seats in a last-minute surge of support.

“We had 10 percent more voters than in 2015, and those voters were mainly younger voters — and they were really attracted by Labour’s promise to abolish tuition fees,” said Edward Morgan-Jones, a politics lecturer at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

Students and staff at the institution, which bills itself as “the U.K.’s European university” because of its diverse population, also were worried about how May was going to lead Britain out of the European Union, he added.

While unpopular with the mainstream press, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has a large, enthusiastic following among young voters with his promises to boost spending for schools and public health, raise taxes on the wealthy and tackle growing inequality.