Keir Starmer takes over – La ContraCrónica

Keir Starmer takes over – La ContraCrónica
Keir Starmer takes over – La ContraCrónica

As expected, the Labour Party won the British elections last Thursday. Its victory was overwhelming in seats (411 out of 650, 63%), but not so much in the number of votes, as it obtained 33.7%, just one and a half points more than in the 2019 elections that ended Jeremy Corbyn’s political career. But the British electoral system is a single-member majoritarian system, which means that in each constituency (there are as many as there are MPs) only the winner gets a seat. On the one hand, the Conservative Party, which had been in power for fourteen years, has suffered the worst defeat in its history. The now ex-Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was running as the head of the list, did not even reach 25% of the votes, he was left with 23.7%, twenty points less than Boris Johnson five years ago.

In short, it was the Tory collapse that handed power on a silver platter to the Labour candidate, Keir Starmer, a 62-year-old lawyer who has been the party leader for four years. During this time he has rebuilt Labour while patiently waiting for his rival to decompose. The operation has gone off without a hitch. The Labour party of 2024 has little to do with the one Jeremy Corbyn left behind after the 2019 debacle. It is a much more focused party and the permanently warring internal factions have disappeared. This calm and pragmatic approach is what has allowed Starmer to position himself as a reliable candidate, far removed from the radicalisms that took over British politics during the past decade. But Starmer’s victory is far from equalling Johnson’s or Tony Blair’s in 1997 when he removed the Conservatives from power with around 45% of the vote.

Labour, in short, has won more from the crisis of the Conservatives than from the popularity and drive of Starmer. The British electoral market has changed a lot in the last quarter of a century. Today it is much more volatile than it was then. In a single legislative period the country has turned around in political terms. It has gone from a historic victory for the Tories to a historic victory for Labour. There are also some new players such as Reform UK, which has become the third political force in the country in number of votes, but they have not managed to convert those votes into seats. Their leader, the always controversial Nigel Farage, will have to settle for only five seats in the House of Commons despite having obtained 14.3% of the votes, two points more than the Liberal Democrats, who with 12.2% have won the representative of 72 constituencies.

So far, Starmer has been extremely cautious and at times ambiguous about his intentions. Now he will have to show his cards. He has five years ahead of him to do so and a very solid absolute majority that will allow him to undertake ambitious reforms. But not everyone is sure that he will do so. The pessimists believe that his bureaucratic streak and the phlegm that characterises him will end up prevailing. The optimists, on the other hand, see an opportunity in the new cabinet that will not have the internal constraints of Sunak’s team. He will not have to satisfy the different factions of his parliamentary group, which, at least to date, has been very compact. The mandate he has is simple: end the chaos, put an end to the polarisation brought on by Brexit and resume economic growth. It will not be easy, but if he wants to avoid a certain defeat in 2029 he will have to end the legislature better than he started it.

Well, last week Andrea and I did a pre-election programme on this very subject. We agreed to come back this week with the final results to discuss them in depth. That is exactly what we are going to do today.

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