Labour Party Hopes for the Future

Corbyn has been perceived by some observers as having led the Labour party too far to the left ideologically, which may have played a role in Labour’s historically poor showing in the 2019 snap election. It won only 203 seats, a drop of 59 seats – its worst national election performance since 1935. In April 2020, Keir Starmer replaced Corbyn as party leader and it seems to have yielded good results in the recent elections.

“Starmer seeks to free the Labour Party from traditionalism and old leftist beliefs.”

The Labour Party in the 2021 Elections

Labour leader Keir Starmer received a boost in northern England on Friday, fighting off a challenge from the governing Conservatives to hang on to a parliamentary seat that, if lost, would have heaped pressure on him to stand down.

Many expected the Conservatives to take the seat, which Labour has held since 1997, because of the spoiler campaign of George Galloway. The victory will be a big relief for Mr Starmer, who faced criticism in May when his party lost a by-election in Hartlepool, another former stronghold in the North of England.

Labour’s Starmer has struggled to connect with voters since becoming leader last year, sometimes unable to challenge a government that has won support for its successful Covid-19 vaccination programme.

That result added weight to the idea that support for Labour had collapsed in the “red wall” former industrial areas of England in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have been making big inroads.

Results announced early Friday gave the Labour candidate, Kim Leadbeater, a win of just 323 votes over her Conservative Party rival, Ryan Stephenson, after an acrimonious contest in Batley and Spen, one of Labour’s traditional heartland seats in northern England.

Kim Leadbeater lives in the constituency of Batley and Spen, where she grew up with her sister Jo Cox, and which Jo represented in parliament since the general election in 2015 until her death.

She is a fitness professional and former lecturer in physical activity and health, with a passion for holistic wellbeing. Since Jo’s death, she has devoted much of her time to creating a positive legacy for her sister and has worked tirelessly to create as much positive energy and action from Jo’s horrific murder. Through the work of More In Common in Yorkshire and in her work across the UK, she champions the importance of strong communities, where everyone has a sense of belonging, inspired by Jo’s words in her first speech to parliament when she said: “We have more in common than that which divides us.”

The victory for Labour, which saw 13,296 to 12,973 votes in favour of its candidate, Kim Leadbeater, in Batley and Spen, hands Starmer a reprieve from those questioning whether he can rebuild Britain’s main opposition party after a 2019 election disaster.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives had been cautiously hopeful they could oust Labour from another northern England constituency after winning a contest in Hartlepool in May, but fell just 323 votes short.

Criticism of Labour Supporters in the UK

Thursday’s local, regional and national elections will be the first indication of how far Starmer  still has to travel if he wants to replace Boris Johnson. The omens don’t look good.

In a little more than a year since he took over, the former public prosecutor has scored regular debating hits against Prime Minister Johnson in Parliament and taken an unambiguous line against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He has even urged the government not to ruin the pandemic recovery with tax hikes, a very different fiscal stance to the tax-happy Corbynites.

But polling suggests none of this will deliver the gains Labour needs. The popularity Starmer built up toward the end of last year waned as the Johnson government’s vaccine rollout picked up steam. Pollsters have suggested Labour is even losing voters to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, neither of which has any chance of doing much governing.

If polls prove accurate and the party loses the parliamentary election in traditionally Labour-run Hartlepool, comes last in Scotland behind the Tories and loses local council seats in the Midlands and the North, people will ask whether soft-left Starmer really is a better bet than socialist Corbyn — electorally at least.

Starmer has two disadvantages in trying to turn things around. The first is personality. His lawyerly demeanour may one day prove the antidote to Johnson’s bluster that the public wants. But regardless of his many failings, the prime minister is one of the towering personalities of modern British politics.

Voters will need to tire of Johnson’s antics, the chaos at Downing Street, his tabloid-worthy peccadillos and financial woes. They’d have to grow less tolerant of a Conservative Party that’s been in power for more than a decade and want a change. So far they’re still rewarding the prime minister for delivering Brexit and Covid vaccinations.

Starmer’s second big problem is his party. Cleaning house from the Corbynite era consumed much of his first year in office. He’s now under pressure from the left to stay true to statist Labour values and from his party’s moderates to prove he can win back those working class voters who defected to Johnson after the Brexit vote. Both sides will want to see evidence that he can draw blood against the Tories soon.


The UK’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union has transformed the country’s political landscape, with the Conservatives, traditionally the party of more affluent southern areas, openly targeting voters in northern England. Some in the party fear Johnson’s strategy to “level up” the UK by tackling its geographical inequalities might be alienating southern English voters after the party suffered a defeat in an election on the outskirts of London last month. But by-elections offer partial evidence of trends, pollsters say, and the race in Batley and Spen may only show a small part of a wider political picture, especially after it was tarnished by a divisive campaign. Also the election of a woman in one of the constituencies is encouraging for the Labour Party, but given the poor performance of the Labour Party and Starmer, as well as her critics, it cannot be a support for women to gain power in the Labour Party.

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