Starmer’s Victory: Contours of British Politics After the Election

The Labour Party won the British general election held on July 4, 2024, ending a 14-year absence from power and displacing the Conservative Party from Parliament, the Prime Minister’s office, and government leadership. This election reflected growing discontent with Conservative policies, as indicated by recent local elections. Naturally, these results raise questions about the impact on British politics, especially as Labour seeks to present itself as a distinct alternative to the Conservative government model.

The British general election featured candidates from fifteen political parties, including the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Reform UK, Scottish National Party, Green Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Plaid Cymru, and Sinn Féin, competing in 650 constituencies across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. According to electoral rules, the winning party must secure a majority of 326 seats for its leader to become Prime Minister and form a government. The election results revealed several key indicators:

Labour’s Majority Victory: Labour secured a majority with 9,725,117 votes (33.83% of votes), translating to 412 seats (63% of Parliament). The Conservative Party came second with 6,824,610 votes (23.7% of votes) and 121 seats. The Liberal Democrats garnered 3,501,004 votes (12.1% of votes), resulting in 72 seats, placing them third. These outcomes align with recent local election results and pre-election polls.

Labour’s Swing Vote Success: Labour attracted 11.1% of swing votes, slightly less than the 12.7% recommended by electoral simulation models after the 2023 boundary redraw, but higher than Tony Blair’s 1997 historic swing vote percentage (10.2%).

Arab-Muslim Community’s Impact: Labour lost seats in constituencies with a 15% Muslim population to independent candidates supporting the Palestinian cause, such as Heather Iqbal losing Dewsbury to Iqbal Mohammed, Cat Hooleran losing Blackburn to Adnan Hussain, and Shadow Government Office Minister Jonathan Ashworth losing Leicester South to independent Shaukat Adam.

Decline in Voter Turnout: According to the British National Statistics Office, 49 million citizens registered to vote in the 2024 general election, with approximately 29 million participating, marking a 60% turnout—lower than the 67.3% in 2019 and the second-lowest after the 2001 election (59%).

Punitive Voting and Seat Redistribution: Labour’s historic victory is partly due to punitive voting against the Conservatives, evidenced by the 9% vote difference between Labour (33.8%) and the Conservatives (23.7%). The Conservatives lost 252 seats, Labour gained 214, and the remaining 38 seats from Conservative losses were distributed among smaller parties, totaling a 14-seat gain.

Internal Issues Dominating Electoral Decisions: Domestic and economic issues remain significant drivers of electoral decisions, with little impact from foreign policy matters. Reviewing party manifestos and political debates revealed no major foreign policy differences between Labour and the Conservatives.

Rise of the Far Right: While British Muslims tried to influence politics, Nigel Farage’s Reform UK entered Parliament for the first time, reflecting the European political landscape’s far-right surge. Polls underestimated the “shy voter,” who influences outcomes unexpectedly on election day.

Increased Female Participation: The 2024 election marked the first time women held 264 seats (40% of Parliament) compared to 34% in 2019. Women’s representation in Labour reached 46%, reflected in Starmer’s government with women leading the education, home, justice, labor, and finance ministries, with Rachel Reeves becoming Britain’s first female Finance Minister.

Potential Policies

Labour’s rise to power implies implementing Starmer’s electoral program, characterized by continuity in foreign policy and radical changes in domestic policies. Key potential policies include:

Electoral Process Changes: Labour aims to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 and introduce reforms in the House of Lords, ending hereditary peerages and implementing retirement age limits, with proportional representation based on constituency sizes and populations.

Economic Development Focus: Labour’s economic plan involves increasing state involvement in development through a centrally prepared industrial strategy. Starmer’s program emphasizes reducing inflation to improve living standards by 5% compared to the 2005/2006 financial crisis. The economic plan includes £5 billion in public health spending, employing 6,500 teachers, and providing healthy school breakfasts, plus £4 billion for clean energy. On the income side, a national wealth fund will attract £3 of private investment for every £1 of government spending, generating £7 billion. Remaining income will come from tax policies, saving £2.5 billion in the state budget.

Tax Policies to Support State Resources: Starmer plans to impose VAT on private school fees and windfall profits taxes on large energy companies. The end of non-domiciled tax exemptions for British residents, introduced by Sunak, will remain, potentially generating £8 billion, contingent on their continued UK residency. Property, corporate, and pension taxes will likely continue as under Sunak.

Strengthening British Energy: Labour plans to establish a state-owned energy company, Great British Energy, investing £8 billion in modern technologies and capital-intensive projects, maintaining a strategic gas reserve, and halting new North Sea gas and oil field licenses. Taxes on gas and oil companies will increase by three points, and investment allowances will be stopped. In nuclear energy, Labour will extend the lifespan of existing plants, build new ones, and create small reactors for clean energy. Additionally, Labour aims to retrofit 5 million homes to use clean energy within five years, achieving full transition by 2030.

Military and Defense Manufacturing Support: Labour will maintain military spending at 2.5% of GDP, invest in local defense industries, and review strategic defense priorities.

Combating Violence and Crime: Starmer aims to halve violent crime against women and girls within ten years, ban knife sales, provide 14,000 new prison places by 2030, and reinstate antisocial behavior orders. Shoplifting offenses will be investigated regardless of value, and bravery medals will be awarded to fallen police officers.

Changes to Conservative Immigration Policies: Labour will repeal the law deporting illegal immigrants to Rwanda, create a “Border Security Command” to combat human trafficking, impose stricter visa controls, and hire 1,000 social workers to address asylum application backlogs.

Emphasizing US-UK Relations: Starmer values US-UK relations for global security and cooperation on transnational issues like climate change and counterterrorism, maintaining strong ties similar to those under the Conservatives.

Russia and China as National Security Threats: Starmer shares Sunak’s view of Russia and China as military and cyber threats while recognizing their roles in trade and environmental issues. Labour will continue supporting Ukraine against Russia and focus on deterrence to avoid conflicts with both nations.

Unlikely Change in Gaza Policy: Labour is expected to maintain Britain’s stance on the Gaza conflict, opposing Hamas as a terrorist organization and supporting Israel while advocating for humanitarian aid to Gaza. Labour will promote balanced positions, recognizing Palestine in peace efforts while coordinating with the US.

Overall, Labour’s historic victory under Keir Starmer ends the Conservative Party’s 14-year rule, promising significant changes in domestic policies and continuity in foreign policies, with an expanded state role in economic development and consistent regional and international strategies.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

Articles: 14402

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *