The Labour Party has learned its lesson from the previous election. After socialist Jeremy Corbyn’s poor management of the party for the previous four years, the direction is now set to change under Keir Starmer, who is about to say goodbye to Corbynism and hello to a new, moderate agenda.
Labour’s 2019 Results
A result of 32.2 percent is what Labour managed to obtain during the 2019 election, a decrease of 7.8 percent within just two years. Moreover, the showing was the party’s worst since 1935. Contrary to Jeremy Corbyn’s belief, the country was simply not inclined to follow him in his plan to remodel the U.K.’s entire system. A change in leadership was thus inevitable.
On Saturday, it was finally time. Labour members elected Keir Starmer as the party’s new leader and Corbyn’s successor by a comfortable margin. The choice was not really a surprise, as Starmer has been leading the polls since January. However, with 56.2 percent of the vote, the party members have made a strong statement for a change in a different direction, notably as Corbyn’s heir apparent Long-Bailey only received 27.6 percent of the vote. With Corbyn, there were only two directions: a turn back toward moderate, sound leadership or one to the extreme left that would ultimately lead steeply downhill. Now the same party, which in 2015 witnessed a significant increase of new left-wing members, has decided to redefine its identity.
Where Starmer Overlaps With Corbyn
During the race for the leadership, however, he also adopted a few elements of the Corbyn agenda, including the nationalization of public services. It remains to be seen whether this was just a Machiavellian maneuver by Starmer in order to appease the party’s radical core for the time being, however.
Previously, Starmer was a member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. Here he acted as a Brexit expert who opposed the UK’s exit from the EU. However, it is not expected that Starmer will demand to reverse Brexit. Back in February, he stated that the dispute over whereabouts or leaving was “over.”
Starmer also seemed initially reluctant to criticize the Johnson government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, though he has uttered concerns in regards to key workers currently being overlooked and underpaid.
Outside of politics, Starmer was a civil rights lawyer at the beginning of his professional career before working as the head of the public prosecution office until he was elected to parliament. Needless to say, his role as a prosecutor caused criticism and even accusations of betrayal by some ideologues in his party.
Starmer: Champion of Labour’s Moderate Wing
Unlike the ideological socialist Corbyn, Starmer is considered to be part of the moderate circles of the party, a wing within that spoke out against Corbyn in a letter shortly before the previous election. That Starmer is very different from Corbyn was also made clear in his video message. Unlike Corbyn, who conducted partisan politics, incapable of deviating from his apodictic ideology for the good of the party, the new party leader presented himself as a mediator. Someone who seeks to merge the hostile factions within the Labour party. He also formally apologized on behalf of the entire party for the growing anti-Semitism under Corbyn’s leadership and promised to fight the evil at its roots.
In terms of a political vision, Starmer remains vague, though he has formulated the goal of regaining the trust of the people after four electoral defeats, and making the party capable of governing again.
Nevertheless, he declared that he sought to provide constructive support for the government’s health and economic policy measures and to avoid party-political games during the current crisis.
Starmer’s first days as Labour leader provide thus hope to a party that has been through a lot under Corbyn.