After last week’s somewhat disappointing elections, controversy arose in Britain’s Labor Party that questioned the electoral strategy and the role of Keir Starmer, the Labor leader who has so far failed to fulfill his promise to take back the country’s missing voters. Recent years and to develop a strategy to defeat the Conservative Party headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Last week’s elections, Held on Thursday But the results, released over the weekend, featured mayors of several cities (London, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol, among others), local parliaments in Wales and Scotland and major by-elections in Hartlepool for a seat in the national parliament. These were elections in which those already in office tended to win: most mayors (all mayors of major cities) were reaffirmed, as were the governments in Wales and Scotland. However, in cases where expectations have been upended, or in some particularly symbolic votes, Labor has almost always lost.
The most notable defeat for the Labor Party was that of Hartlepool, a constituency with a very strong symbolic value, which analysts had identified before the election as one of the places where the strength of the Starmer Party would be checked. Hartlepool is, in fact, in the north-east of England and is part of what has been called the “Red Wall”, an area traditionally inhabited by workers and proletarians where the Labor Party has dominated unchallenged for more than 40 years.
The “Red Wall” began to weaken with the 2016 referendum on Brexit, when the majority of voters in the region voted in favor of “leaving” (Brexit), while Labor claimed it remained in the European Union, and collapsed in the 2019 general election When Johnson’s Conservative Party gained control of most of the district’s constituencies. Hartlepool was one of the few remaining colleges of the Labor Party, not so much for its own merits as with the division of the right-wing vote between the Conservative Party and the Brexit Party (Nigel Farage’s populist formation, later renamed British Reform).
The defeat in 2019 led to a serious crisis within the Labor Party: the leader at the time, Jeremy Corbyn, a member of the party’s left wing, was removed from the leadership as well as Suspended by the party (For a spat unrelated to the election), and in place, a little over a year ago, Starmer was appointed, more centrist, reassuring, and institutional. One of Starmer’s main promises was to restore the Red Wall, and the Hartlepool vote was supposed to prove the success of the strategy.
Instead, not only did Labor lose, but Conservative candidate Gilles Martimer got nearly twice the vote for Labor’s candidate.
Another major defeat in the Red Wall region was the defeat of Tees Valley, a small administrative area also in northeast England that Labor lost in 2017 and was hoping to recover. On the other hand, the conservative mayor was reaffirmed by 73 percent. The Scottish Parliament elections were also disappointing for the Labor party, which lost two lawmakers and achieved its worst result since the establishment of Parliament in 1999.
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The elections were not entirely catastrophic for the Labor Party. The ceremony was held and won in most of the cities he already controlled, such as London where Mayor Sadiq Khan was reaffirmed; Especially in Manchester, Mayor Andy Burnham is confirmed by a strong and convincing majority. In the Welsh Parliament, it asserted itself as the number one force and increased its majority by one seat, an excellent result.
But on Friday, right after the publication of the Hartlepool result, sharp disagreements began within the party, mainly driven by the left wing that still points to Jeremy Corbyn.
The former leader limited himself to writing on Twitter that the election result is evidence of the fact that he is “no hope”, but many of his allies have criticized Starmer more directly, blaming him for electoral disappointment and saying the party does so. You do not have a clear policy or vision.
The Conservatives’ gains are bad news for jobs, the environment, and public services for many, not the few. With millions not voting, these results show a loss of hope. We must present a bolder vision to transform people’s lives and give them confidence to strive for a more equal world.
Jeremy Corbyn (jeremycorbyn) May 7, 2021
Starmer responded to the criticism by posting a video on British television in which he said he was “very disappointed” with the result and took full responsibility for the defeat.
However, the video was also heavily criticized: guardian Wire With “one of the closest allies” of the Labor leader, who described the video as a disaster above all in terms of the image: “He did it in front of many copies of Hansard (MPG, editor), with the plant that looked like a dead plant in the background. Sweating. It was terrible. “
In the following days, internal strife began. Starmer initially reacted by removing his deputy, Angela Rayner, from the position of “party leader”, a senior party figure responsible for campaign management, among other things. The impeachment was seen as an attempt to find a scapegoat, created great turmoil in the administration, and in the end, after a weekend of negotiations, not only was Rainer fired, but was promoted and assumed important new positions within the shadow workers’ government (in British politics, pose The opposition party is an informal government that reflects the existing government, with the aim of responding to the initiatives of the existing government and relaunching its own proposals).
Starmer has made further changes in the party leadership and in the shadow government, and has promoted some of his allies, but this is not necessarily enough to strengthen him. According to British media, the internal opposition could decide to challenge his leadership in the coming months, especially if the disappointing electoral results continue: within the year, new by-elections are expected in the Batley and Spin constituencies, which again will be seen as a test of Starmer’s leadership.
According to analysts, the reasons for Labor’s disappointing result in last week’s elections are numerous.
Some are emergency, such as the coronavirus pandemic: The Conservative Party has definitely benefited From the success of the vaccination campaignThis helped him out of the consensus crisis that occurred a few months ago. Nationwide, between late 2020 and early 2021, the two parties were close even in the polls, the Conservatives only returned to distancing themselves as vaccinations began, and are now a 6 percent lead (Starmer is still doing better than Corbyn, who was 17 percent. He succeeded the Conservative Party at its worst leadership.)
Also read: The encouraging news from the UK on vaccines
However, there are other causes that are more structural and known. The Brexit vote split a large portion of historic Labor voters in places like the Red Wall, with “Brexit” winning in 2016 despite the party’s indications to the contrary; And even this election showed that Labor is now popular almost exclusively in the big cities and among the more educated voters, as workers and workers have moved to the right.
This shift was facilitated by Boris Johnson, who had abandoned politics Austerity A tax on his predecessors and he devised his party member policy He knew However, it is “conservative from a social point of view and left from a financial point of view.”
Johnson adopts much of the right-wing rhetoric, including nationalism and the defense of traditional values, but in economics he does not hesitate to go into debt to invest among other things in infrastructure and industrial redevelopment programs: this puts people in crisis. Difficulty working, who have always been in favor of this kind of measure.
Then there is Starmer, who according to many analysts was a good candidate in the period of a pandemic, for his serious and reassuring behavior, but in a more traditional campaign is punished with a certain lack of charisma, which makes him appear disconnected. And awkward. Unlike Boris Johnson, who feels comfortable in front of a large crowd, the Labor Party leader is “friendly”, he wrote Political commentator Henry Mance on Financial times.