- Kara Evans
How a centrist leader led Labour to success
By KARA EVANS
Keir Starmer’s prosperity in unifying a leftist party under a centrist reign can undoubtedly be equated to his realistic governing stance and a deeply rooted understanding of working-class experiences in an unequal Britain. Born from an NHS nurse and a factory toolmaker, Starmer’s entrenched working-class childhood allowed his understanding of ordinary people in the UK to predict his future as leader of the Labour party.
His legal career as Director of Public Prosecution ultimately prophesied Starmer’s influential position in Labour, with a big involvement in enforcing the passage of agreed recommendations to the Good Friday Agreement in order to promote peace in Northern Ireland. Working vigorously to prosecute MP’s misconduct in the expenses scandal showed Starmer’s strive for a refined Houses of Parliament long before his appointment as leader.
Starmer’s explicit centrist stance on leadership has divided Labour, with many senior colleagues clashing over the leader’s portrayal of the party. Years of Labour being dominated by Corbynism and consecutive failures left Starmer with the crumbling foundations of a once thriving party. Allies within the party have, however, highlighted the successes of Starmer in his proficiency to undermine Boris Johnson’s leadership and rebuild the party’s reputation following disastrous election results in 2019.
There is no stronger signal from Starmer that he plans to redefine a realistic version of Labour than suspending his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, from the party following alleged antisemitic proclamations. Although the leftists of the party have pushed for a more socialist, or Corbynite, agenda to win votes, Starmer’s current and continuing position of unifying and reconceiving Labour is seemingly working in his favour.
The uproar over lockdown measures (and the inability of Tories to follow the rules) gave Keir Starmer a key opportunity to provoke intense criticism of the Conservative party, especially Johnson, across the country. However, any direct action by the Labour party to unseat the Conservatives as a response to the pandemic notably failed. For a short period, much of the country lost faith in Starmer’s Labour party with YouGov statistics suggesting only 23% of Britons believed a Labour government led by Starmer would have been better at handling COVID-19.
Yet the toppling of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak’s adeptness to rumble the UK out of a much-needed general election has promoted opinions on Labour to spike in recent polls.
Recent polling by YouGov, taken three weeks after Sunak’s appointment as Prime Minister, put the Conservatives at 26% with Labour maintaining a significant lead at 47%. However, is it Starmer’s success as leader that has steered the polls in Labour’s favour, or rather the vulnerability of the Conservative government?
The flow of Tory PMs vacating the doors of Number 10 has ultimately left UK voters with no other choice than to look towards Starmer’s party to solve the consequences of a 12-year Tory reign.
A government led by Labour could restore public trust in the British political system, with the electorate's faith in British politics being strenuously undermined by consecutive Conservative leaders handing peerages to friends and donors. Starmer suggests the party’s plans to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber will fundamentally transfer power from politicians to the people. With past experience as the Shadow Immigration Minister, Starmer has hardened his stance on migration, suggesting that the UK must weave off a dependency on immigration and begin investing in training up workers ‘who are already here.’ Ultimately, the tough talk on migration allows Starmer to capitalise on Tory votes, yet also risks rekindling rows with the left of the party if he succeeds in the next parliamentary election.
Starmer has earned the largest polling lead in 21 years. But if the centrist leader fails to lose his ambiguous stance on politics, he faces losing his grip on the British people before the next general election.
Image: Keir Starmer/Flickr