Labour Party scores landslide in British election, but left wing puts government on notice
Britons watch the election results roll in on July 4. | Stefan Rousseau / PA via AP

LONDON—Fourteen years of catastrophic Tory rule in Britain came to an end Friday morning as the Labour Party secured a landslide general election win.

New Prime Minister Keir Starmer said in the early hours: “Change begins now. And it feels good, I have to be honest. Four and a half years of work changing the party. This is what it is for: a changed Labour Party, ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.”

Starmer entered Downing Street as Labour’s seventh premier Friday at the head of a 1997-style Commons majority, with Labour projected to win 408 seats.

His landslide win, however, is probably the most grudging landslide in election history, with the party projected to secure less than 36% of the vote, well below polling figures and far less than it won in 2017 under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Corbyn himself served warning to Starmer’s victory by winning re-election in Islington North as an independent with 24,120 votes to imposed Labour candidate Praful Nargund’s 16,873.

Corbyn put Starmer on notice Friday morning, saying, “He has put forward a manifesto that is thin, to put it mildly, and doesn’t offer a serious economic alternative to what the Conservative government is doing.

“And so, the demands on him are going to be huge, the demands from the people are going to be huge. If you don’t give yourself space, to increase spending on the desperate social needs then I think there are going to be political problems.

“If the government ends the two-child benefit cap, for example, I will be delighted. But if they don’t, I’ll be there, saying: Why haven’t you done it?

“If they bring in rent controls in the private sector, well done. If they don’t, I’ll be there. Because this is a vote to show that people do want a true and independent voice in Parliament to speak up for social justice.”

Conceding defeat, outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight. There is much to learn and reflect on and I take responsibility for the loss.”

The Tories are projected to have 136 seats in the new parliament, a drop of about 60%, and with a vote share of around 23%, the lowest the party has received in its history.

This is a catastrophic outcome for the party, albeit better than some polling projections in the last week of the campaign which had them down in two figures in terms of seats.

Reform and the Greens each look like winning four seats, with the Greens’ co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay both securing election, the former defeating Labour’s Thagnam Debbonaire in Bristol Central.

Reform’s haul will be less than the 13 wins projected in the broadcasters’ exit poll, but they will include party leader Nigel Farage in Clacton. Its share of the vote will be around 14.5%, alarming but less than some forecasts.

The Scottish National Party faced a near wipeout in the Commons, being slated to retain just eight seats as Labour regained the position as the largest party in Scotland, which it had held for generations and lost in 2015.

The Liberal Democrats advanced to around 66 seats, a leap from the eleven won in 2019, snatching hitherto Tory constituencies across southern and western England, including those once held by former Tory leaders David Cameron and Theresa May, but with their share of the vote only inching up to over 11%.

The Tories lost all their 14 seats in Wales and the fabled “red wall” of industrial communities in the north and the Midlands swung back to Labour as Boris Johnson’s 2019 electoral coalition, built around delivering Brexit, unraveled.

However, it has not been replaced by a fresh Labour coalition, since the party actually lost votes in many parts of the country, both to Reform as well as to Greens, who may have won 7% of the vote, and independent socialists.

Not for the first time, the first-past-the-post system has distorted the outcome, with Labour winning nearly twice as many seats as its vote share would have warranted. It has benefited from the split in the right-wing vote between Tories and Reform but itself looks vulnerable to a challenge from several directions.

Infighting within the Tories will start immediately, pitching those looking to work with Nigel Farage’s Reform on a common national-populist platform blending culture wars, migrant-baiting, and neoliberal economics against more traditional “one nation” Conservatives.

The course of that struggle will be affected by which senior Tories survive what looks like a massive purge and are present in the next House of Commons to fight their corner.

They will not include cataclysmic ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss, who narrowly lost to Labour the Norfolk seat in which she had an immense majority going into the election

Other prominent Conservatives unseated include languid aristocrat Jacob Rees-Mogg, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, and cabinet members Penny Mordaunt, Grant Shapps, Gillian Keegan, Alex Chalk, Lucy Frazer and Michelle Donellan. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt just barely clung on to his Surrey constituency.

But Starmer saw his personal mandate shrivel as he secured just half the votes in the Holborn and St. Pancras riding that he won in 2019, a quite extraordinary drop, with independent pro-Gaza challenger Andrew Feinstein coming second with more than 7,300 votes.

Another pro-Gaza independent, Shockat Adam in Leicester South, sensationally defeated Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth, while Leanne Mohamad, the young British-Palestinian woman, came within 500 votes of unseating shadow health secretary Wes Streeting in Ilford North. A pro-Palestine independent also won Blackburn from Labour.

Workers Party leader George Galloway narrowly lost the Rochdale seat he won in a February by-election, with the constituency returning to Labour. Workers Party candidates Jody McIntyre and James Giles also ran Labour close in Birmingham constituencies.

In Chingford and Woodford Green, where Labour had purged progressive candidate Faiza Shaheen at the start of the campaign, forcing her to run as an independent, she and imposed official Labour representative Shama Tatler split the vote down the middle.

They both secured over 12,000, allowing former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith to secure a re-election he had despaired of six weeks ago, before the brutal and idiotic axing of Shaheen by Labour.

Morning Star


Andrew Murray
Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray is a British trade union and Labour Party official and activist. He was an adviser to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, from 2018 to 2020. He contributes to Morning Star, the social daily in the U.K. His latest book: "Is Socialism Possible in Britain?" published by Verso.