Editor: This article was last updated at 11:48am (04/04/20)
Sir Keir Starmer has won the Labour Leadership election and will replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader and Leader of the Opposition. Three candidates reached the final ballot and over the past six weeks over 784,000 Labour members and supporters had a chance to have their say on the future direction of the party. Keir Starmer won a decisive victory gaining 56.2% of first preference votes.
Following the announcement, Starmer tweeted his victory speech. In his speech, he pledged to support the Government during the COVID-19 pandemic but also to call the government out if mistakes were being made and went onto say that after the outbreak, things will have to change.
Starmer apologised for Labour’s record on antisemitism and pledged to tackle antisemitism. He thanked his campaign team and his two challengers and paid tribute to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership saying Corbyn was his friend as well as his colleague.
Deputy Leadership Election
Following the resignation of Tom Watson, a Deputy Leadership Contest was held alongside the Leadership race. Five candidates reached the final ballot and Angela Rayner won the contest after three rounds with 52.6% of the first, second and third preference votes.
The results of the leadership contest were hardly surprising with the two frontrunners Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner winning the Leadership and Deputy Leadership contests respectively.
Following, Labour’s disastrous 2019 General Election result, the pair face a difficult challenge to reform Labour’s image in the eyes of the electorate after four consecutive General Election defeats. In particular, Labour must face up to the antisemitism allegations against the party and reconnect with their lost heartland voters.
So what does Starmer stand for?
Starmer’s victory doesn’t mark the end of Corbynism, Starmer has previously said he wishes to return to the 2017 manifesto. He has already pledged continued support for Corbyn-era policies such as the abolition of tuition fees, the green new deal, a human-rights based foreign policy and a mass renationalisation of rail, energy, water and the royal mail.
These policies, which were unthinkable for a mainstream party just a decade ago, have become the new mainstream for the left. Although Jeremy Corbyn failed to get elected twice, his legacy will be that he shifted the Labour party back to left, a legacy which Starmer is likely to maintain.
However, these aren’t normal political times, so Starmer’s first task will be to decide how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Boris Johnson has reached out to opposition parties to work together to tackle the pandemic, so Starmer will have to decide how Labour responds to the Prime Minister’s invitation.
Once the pandemic is over, the economic, social and political landscape will be radically different. Whether Starmer’s leadership can turn a devastating defeat into a victory in 2024 is yet to be seen.