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How the British Labour Party won the election again

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With two weeks to go before the election that could see him take over Number 10 Downing Street, Keir Starmer, leader of the British Labour Party, has been cautious in his campaign, becoming the latest practitioner of the “open bottle strategy.”

The idiom, which refers to the careful way politicians avoid missteps in order to stay ahead in the polls, comes from Roy Jenkins, one of the more freewheeling British politicians, who, on the eve of Labour candidate Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, likened Mr. Blair to “a man walking across a polished floor carrying a priceless Ming vase.”

In fact, Mr Starmer has been holding the vase for far longer than this six-week campaign. He has methodically maintained his party’s double-digit lead in the polls for more than 18 months. Repositioning the Labour Party as a credible center-left alternative to the internally divided, erratic and sometimes extreme Conservative Party.

This is extraordinary Four-year projectAmong them, Mr. Starmer, 61, Clear His left-wing predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters Anti-Semitism This tainted the party’s ranks; and brought its economic and national security policies closer to center stage.

“When he first became leader in 2020, he was committed to removing all the negative factors that had prevented people from voting Labour in 2019,” said Steven Fielding, emeritus professor of political history at the University of Nottingham. As a result, “he was able to broaden the electorate.”

Robert Ford, professor of politics at Manchester University, said: “Four years ago, Keir Starmer was basically giving a human face to Corbynism – and he has thrown all that away. He has moved to the centre because the incentives have moved there and the audience has moved there.”

It’s tempting to compare Starmer’s remaking of the Labour Party to that of Blair in the 1990s. Both men brought Labour out of the political wilderness by remaking it into a pro-business organisation focused more on economic opportunity than tax-and-spend liberalism or socialist-style wealth redistribution.

Blair’s New Labour weakened the party’s ties to the unions, just as Starmer abandoned Corbyn’s promise to renationalise Britain’s energy network (although Labour did plan to set up a new publicly owned company, Big British Energy, to spur investment in clean energy).

Still, analysts say there are profound differences between the New Labour of 1997 and the Labour Party of today. Blair campaigned as a champion of the global economy, arguing that government should not intervene in markets. Starmer has taken a more radical approach, arguing that a strong government role is essential to provide economic security for working people.

Security is the watchword running through Labour’s messaging, from the economy to immigration and national security. It reflects Mr Starmer’s view of the world: it has become more volatile economically since the 2009 financial crisis and more geopolitically dangerous since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The foundations of any good government are economic security, border security and national security,” Mr Starmer said in his first major campaign speech in the coastal town of Lansing last month. “That is the foundation and the cornerstone of our manifesto and our first step.”

Professor Fielding said the contrast between Starmer and Blair was similar to that between former President Bill Clinton, who preached the virtues of free trade and a global economy, and President Biden, who has shunned trade deals in favour of huge new investments in US infrastructure.

“Blair was really a globalist liberal: free trade, economic growth, dynamism is good, disruption is good,” Professor Ford said. “Starmer’s worldview is very different: he believes change needs to be managed and controlled.”

Like Biden, Starmer will inherit an economy still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain’s growth has lagged behind that of the United States, and its public services, especially the much-vaunted National Health Service, have withered after years of austerity under Conservative-led governments.

The Labour government will Strict financial constraintsIt raises questions about whether Starmer, who has made a blanket pledge not to raise taxes on “working people”, will have to raise taxes to pay for promised investment in the NHS and other public services.

But Labour is expected to raise taxes on oil and gas companies, private equity firms and high-income foreigners living in the U.K. It will also scrap tax relief for private schools, a move it says will provide wages for an additional 6,500 state school teachers.

Labour has pledged fiscal prudence, typified by its new government’s chancellor, Rachel Reeves, a former Bank of England banker and economist who confirmed last February that Labour would scale back its ambitious climate policy, expected to cost £28 billion ($35 billion) a year, until Britain’s finances stabilize.

The reversal was designed to insulate Labour from charges it would run a tax-and-spend government, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak still accused Labour of planning to raise household taxes – a claim the party disputes.

Ms Reeves is part of an inner circle around Mr Starmer that reflects his moderate instincts, some of whom have refused to work under Mr Corbyn, even though his opponents point out he was part of his predecessor’s team.

“These are people who are signalling to more centrist voters that Labour is a party you can be relatively comfortable supporting,” said Jill Rutter, a senior researcher at the research group Britain and a Changing Europe.

Starmer has also shown no interest in reopening the bitter Brexit debate. He has ruled out a return to the EU, but he has left the door open to closer trading ties with Brussels. The Conservatives capitalised on the issue in 2019 by promising to “get Brexit done”.

exist Foreign PolicyStarmer has also sought to dispel accusations of patriotism for the Labour Party, which was accused of lacking patriotism under Corbyn, who has said he wants to see NATO dismantled. Starmer has vowed to increase military spending and maintain Britain’s firm support for Ukraine.

He also aligned himself with the Conservative government’s support for Israel in the Gaza war, in line with his campaign to rid the Labour Party of anti-Semitism, which has alienated some Muslim supporters and has been one of the party’s only stumbling blocks in the July 4 general election.

“There was only one leak in their tent,” Professor Ford said.

Of all the reasons why Labor seems more likely to win, analysts say the biggest reason may be The opponent’s collapsenot only the Conservative Party; Scottish National PartyFew analysts would have predicted that Labour, discredited by a financial scandal involving its former leader, would now be at the cusp of national power following its landslide defeat in 2019.

“Keir Starmer was very lucky,” Ms Root said. “He managed to restore Labour’s standing at a time when his opponents were losing ground with voters.”

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