Home SNG Originals UK Labour Leader Keir Starmer Likely Winner In Thursday’s Poll

UK Labour Leader Keir Starmer Likely Winner In Thursday’s Poll

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British opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer attends a campaign event at a farm in Oxfordshire, Britain. REUTERS/Phil Noble

As the United Kingdom prepares for a pivotal general election on July 4, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer stands on the brink of a historic victory. This potential triumph marks a dramatic turnaround for a party that, just four years ago, suffered its fourth consecutive defeat and held its fewest seats in 80 years. Through strategic repositioning and capitalising on Conservative missteps, Starmer has revitalised Labour’s fortunes and appeal to British voters.

Starmer’s centrist shift

Central to Labour’s resurgence has been Starmer’s deliberate move towards the political centre. Upon taking leadership, he swiftly distanced the party from its far-left elements, most notably by sidelining his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. This pivot involved abandoning policies such as widespread nationalization and significant public spending increases. Instead, Starmer has championed a pro-business, pro-worker platform that resonates with much of the electorate.

Conservative turmoil

While Starmer has bolstered Labour’s credibility, particularly on economic issues, the Conservative Party is grappling with internal problems. The party’s image has been severely damaged by Boris Johnson’s scandals and Liz Truss’s ill-fated mini-budget. Despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to steady the ship, voter confidence in the Conservatives has plummeted, creating a huge opportunity for Labour.

Recent polling data paints a picture of the potential electoral outcome. A poll by the Economist suggests Labour could secure an astounding 465 seats out of 632 in England, Scotland, and Wales – the largest majority since World War II. In stark contrast, the Conservative Party faces a potential collapse, with projections indicating they may win only 76 seats, their lowest tally in history.

Courting the British-Indian vote

Starmer has made concerted efforts to win back British-Indian voters, a demographic crucial in ensuring Labour’s 2019 defeat. Unlike Corbyn, who alienated this group with controversial statements on Kashmir, Starmer has adopted a more measured approach. He’s promised to tackle hate crimes targeting the community and has reshuffled his cabinet, demoting British-Indian MPs associated with positions that could be seen as anti-India in 2023.

Starmer’s key moves included demoting Lisa Nandy, who faced questions from the Overseas Friends of the BJP, on her stance on Kashmir and repositioning Preet Kaur Gill, Britain’s first female Sikh MP, who is believed to have Khalistani links. These decisions reflect his attempt to balance representation while avoiding potential controversies.

Rebuilding India ties

Recognising India’s strategic importance, Starmer emphasised in a Tweet that a “strategic partnership with India will be key to my Labour government.” A Labour delegation visited New Delhi in March, meeting with high-ranking officials and opposition members. Crucially, Starmer declared Kashmir a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, signalling a clear departure from Corbyn’s stance and a desire to reset Labour’s relationship with India.

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A contentious campaign

The election campaign has been marred by unprecedented ugliness, shocking many accustomed to British political civility. A particular low point was a racist slur directed at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak by a Reform UK MP. This incident highlighted the controversial tactics employed by some parties, particularly Reform UK, led by Nigel Farage. While unlikely to win many seats, Reform UK could siphon enough votes from the Conservatives to impact key constituencies.

Implications of a Labour victory

A Labour win would dramatically alter the UK’s political landscape. The Conservative Party, after 14 years in power, faces the prospect of a shattered political base if poll predictions hold true. For Labour, victory would be historic, but Starmer must deliver quickly on his promises.

The Labour leader has pledged that his first 100 days in office will focus intensively on the “economy, economy, economy.” He has set an ambitious goal to achieve the highest growth rate among G7 countries. The UK’s slow post-pandemic recovery poses a significant challenge to this aim.

On the international front, Starmer has promised closer ties with Brussels and a potential rewrite of the current Brexit deal. However, this may face resistance from European partners, who have other pressing concerns such as Ukraine and the rise of the far right and may be reluctant to renegotiate so soon after the 2021 trade agreement.

Coming to India, despite Labour’s push for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), significant hurdles remain. Issues such as intellectual property rights, rules of origin, financial services, work visas, and tariff cuts continue to pose challenges. Both Sunak and Starmer will struggle to find easy solutions to these complex problems.

Big challenges

The potential for a shift in British politics is on the horizon, however, the challenges facing the next government – whether led by Labour or the Conservatives – are formidable. From economic recovery to international relations and trade agreements, the road ahead for the UK remains fraught with complex issues that defy simple solutions. However, with an impatient electorate demanding change, the new prime minister will have no choice but to deliver immediately.