What Keir Starmer’s victory means for the future of UK politics

Keir Starmer faces an uphill struggle in bringing the country together (Picture: AP/Getty)

Despite Labour’s landslide victory, the country is nowhere near united and many people will continue to feel alienated from politics, an expert has warned.

On the face of it, Keir Starmer has a crushing mandate to shape Britain as he and his cabinet see fit.

With 411 seats out of 650 as it stands, any bill backed by the Labour whip can only be defeated if a huge rebellion of backbenchers unites with the Tories (119 seats) and Lib Dems (71 seats).

Labour’s seats are also spread widely across the country, offering a chance to mend rifts with devolved governments and regions where many people have felt left behind.

‘Labour’s red wall has been restored,’ says Stuart Wilks-Reed, a politics professor at Liverpool University.

‘There will be a continuous run of Labour seats from the Menai Strait in North Wales to the Humber, or at least close to it.

‘A similar line of Labour constituencies will run across the central belt of Scotland once more.

Labour’s victory is partly down to a huge fall in popularity for the Tories (Picture: LNP)

‘Red will pepper the electoral map in parts of southern and eastern England that have not seen Labour MPs for a very long time.’

But Starmer’s landslide is coming to rest on thin foundations, secured mainly thanks to the UK’s First Past the Post system.

Labour received a vote share of around 34%, up by less than 2% compared to the last election, while the Tories’ fell by 20%.

The Lib Dems received around a third as many votes (12%) yet won less than a fifth as many seats.

Reform UK, meanwhile, got just 4 seats despite winning 14% of votes.

‘Labour’s victory has not been built on a surge of support for the party compared to the previous election,’ Prof Wilks-Reed told Metro.co.uk.

Many voters will feel like their voices aren’t being heard (Picture: AFP)

‘It has secured its landslide from the damage that Reform has done to the Conservatives.

‘The Reform vote looks to have been remarkably consistent across England, but at a level that will win the party very few seats.

‘The outcome of the election will surely reignite discussions about electoral reform and it will be Reform UK leading that discussion.’

Nigel Farage, who is now an MP, is expected to ‘make life uncomfortable for the Conservatives’, who will now ‘inevitably turn in on themselves as they search for explanations for their record defeat’, the professor continues.

‘Reform will look to set the agenda in opposition to Labour at a time when the Conservatives will turn inwards, elect a new leader and debate how they should move forward.

‘Some Conservatives will surely suggest that Reform has shown that way forward and that the party should seek to emulate them, or even work with them, rather than oppose them.

Nigel Farage will steer the debate toward voting reform, our expert predicts (Picture: Getty)

‘Even with a handful of MPs, Reform can make a big impact and they will be looking to do so from the outset.’

What’s more, turnout is on track to be the lowest in more than 20 years (only around 60% of eligible adults are estimated to have voted).

‘In constituency after constituency, turnout has fallen and in some cases dramatically’, Prof Wilks-Reed added.

‘There is nothing in these results to suggest a popular wave of support for the new government. The pendulum has swung to Labour, but almost by default.’

The party also has trouble ‘in its own back yard’, the professor points out, with defeats in Leicester driven by ‘anger over Labour’s stance on Gaza’ and a victory for an independent Jeremy Corbyn which ‘Starmer will have dreaded’.

‘And the incoming Labour government has an inheritance that is far more challenging than 1997.

‘In 1997, the economy was growing and the opportunities to increase public spending within a parliamentary term were clear. In 2024, the very opposite is true.’

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