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Elections: Labor benefits from conservative chaos

Elections: Labor benefits from conservative chaos

The Conservatives have been in power in Great Britain for 14 years. If the polls are correct, the upcoming parliamentary election on July 4th will be over. What comes next?

Rishi Sunak stood in the London rain like a watered poodle – and rarely has a picture made the situation of a politician as clear as that of the British Prime Minister. The conservative head of government announced the parliamentary election for July 4th with pithy words. But if he fails to significantly change public opinion within weeks, his next appearance in front of the famous black door on Downing Street will likely be his last as prime minister – to admit defeat. Sunak’s Conservatives are around 20 percentage points behind Labor in polls.

Unless a bigger miracle occurs, opposition leader Keir Starmer will move into Downing Street on July 5th as the first Labor Prime Minister in 14 years – and 100 years after the first Social Democratic head of government in British history.

Starmer’s plus point: the Conservative Party

Labour’s lead is mainly due to the enormous anger towards the Conservatives. Many people still do not know what the party stands for. Starmer recently presented an emergency programme with six points. He wants to ensure economic stability, reduce waiting times in the NHS, create a new command structure for border protection, establish a national energy company, take action against anti-social behaviour and employ 6,500 new teachers.

Starmer promises the British a change. According to commentators, many voters are counting on Labour to bring a new tone to the government and the chaos of the past few years with three prime ministers, frequent scandals and constant changes of ministers to finally come to an end.

“Sir Keir Starmer’s strategy is to reassure the public that the biggest risk this time is keeping a discredited government in office,” political scientist Mark Garnett from Lancaster University told dpa. Starmer is definitely considered boring. But it is often heard that this is exactly what many Brits longed for.

Who is the Labor Party?

The Social Democrats were often overshadowed by the Conservatives. Starmer would be only the seventh Labor Prime Minister in history. Born out of the labor movement, the Labor Party united left-wing movements when it was founded in 1900. From the beginning it has been closely linked to the trade unions, which still have a lot of influence today.

A comparison with German politics is not easy. Labour does have close ties to the SPD. But the British electoral system, in which only the candidate with the most votes wins in each constituency, regardless of the lead, means that both major parties cover a broad spectrum. Labour also has positions that would be more likely to be attributed to the Left, the Greens and some to the FDP.

Arsenal fan and former law enforcement chief

Former lawyer Starmer has been the “Leader of His Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition” since April 2020, as the head of the largest opposition party in the British House of Commons is traditionally called. The 61-year-old took over the Social Democrats from Jeremy Corbyn, who lost the 2019 election by a landslide to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson. From Corbyn’s very left-wing positions, Starmer has led the party back to the political center.

At first, however, things did not go well. After a defeat in a by-election to the British Parliament in the north-eastern English Labour stronghold of Hartlepool in May 2021, Starmer wanted to quit, as he recently admitted. But many scandals under the conservative prime ministers Johnson and Liz Truss brought him new support. Most recently, Starmer has also adopted moderate conservative positions – making use of the space left to him by the Tories’ right-wing course.

The former head of the CPS, like his rival Sunak, is not considered a rousing speaker. But many people appreciate the father of two teenage children for his down-to-earth nature, his calmness and his sensitivity. In his private life, Sir Keir, as he has been able to call himself for several years, is a big fan of the London Premier League football team Arsenal and plays football with his friends as often as possible.

Under his predecessor Corbyn there were accusations of anti-Semitism

Starmer repeatedly emphasizes that he has overhauled Labour. While anti-Semitic accusations arose under Corbyn against the party, which traditionally has strong sympathies with the Palestinian movement, Starmer is taking a clear course against anti-Israel comments. He clearly denounced the terror of the Islamist Hamas against Israel.

However, there are still representatives or candidates who make negative comments about Israel. At the beginning of February, Labor stopped supporting its actual candidate in the parliamentary by-election in Rochdale near Manchester, although no replacement candidate was allowed to be named. Shortly afterwards, in a survey, around 40 percent were of the opinion that the party was still struggling with anti-Jewish prejudices.

Labour and the EU

In Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Starmer served as his party’s Brexit spokesman. In contrast to the party leader at the time, he campaigned for a second referendum to reverse the Brexit. But he has now made it clear that he sees no way back into the EU. He does want to get closer to the community again, and such hopes are regularly heard from the EU. But Starmer has so far rejected rejoining at least the EU customs union or the single market. Commentators point out that the Labour leader is afraid of losing important votes in the traditionally EU-critical north of England.

Source: Stern

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