‘There Is Much To Celebrate However You Voted’ One Writer On Why Labour’s Victory Is A Win for All

east kilbride, scotland july 3 labour leader sir keir starmer c and scottish labour leader anas sarwar r take a selfie as they attend a campaign event at caledonian gladiators stadium on july 3, 2024 in east kilbride, scotland photo by jeff j mitchellgetty images
There Is Much To Celebrate However You VotedJEFF J MITCHELL

‘Just one more. Let’s just see one more’.

That was the fake promise shared on repeat between my parents and I last night, as we drank coffee and spiked our energy levels with sugar. Let’s see one more Tory lose their seat in the General Election and then go to bed. 2AM. 3AM. 4AM... I called it quits when the sky started turning lilac. It reminded me of the Labour landslide of May 1997, when my mum woke me up and let me snuggle up in her bed as Michael Portillo lost his seat, but also of Christmas Eve nights as a child buoyed up on the anticipation of what was to come.

Politics can sometimes be so electrifying, so much so it seems to me unfathomable anyone could ever accuse it of being boring. But what is an even greater fallacy, the one that really irks me, is this: ‘They’re all as bad as each other’. Hard no, absolutely not.


Even the weather seemed to know that today was a day of change. When our new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer drove from Buckingham Palace to 10 Downing Street on this wet and grey Friday morning, having accepted the monarch’s ‘invitation’ to form a government, the sun came out. It was a metaphor so glaringly obvious that had it been choreographed by the Labour comms team, it would have been ripped apart by pundits as patronising to the public. Rays of hope. New start. Yeah, we get it.

keir starmer meetings king charles
Getty Images

But if you can’t bask in the warmth of optimism today, really when can you? We’ve earned this moment. For 14 years we’ve suffered through a complete disregard for all working people. The bullying scandals. PPE contracts for buddies. Baubles in the form of peerages for allies. The parties while the rest of us cut off vital cords of connection during Covid. The betting scandal. Rwanda. Tractor porn. Barnard Castle. £100 rolls of wallpaper. Paddle boards while Afghanistan collapsed. A 49-day premiership that crashed the economy. A Brexit referendum called to sate a personal agenda and won on the basis of lies. The lies, so many lies.

If you’re angry, then good. You should be. Those are some of the lowlights of the last 14 years, some more grave than others all indicative of the arrogance that has defined these self-serving Tory governments. The reverberations of the recklessness will be felt for years.

Do I sound emotional? I am. Politics is a matter of heart as much as head. Passion can often override logic. I was born into a Labour family – my retired-teacher mother from south Wales – that it sometimes feels like my own political preferences were as baked into my DNA as being short or blonde are. But I have always tried to be fair and critical in my opinions, and wholeheartedly believe that dialogue is essential to democracy.

So, yes, I am admittedly biased – but I am also open minded. Do I think the current version of the Labour party is perfect? Absolutely not. The deselection/reselection of Diane Abbott, was woefully mishandled. The party’s position on Gaza appears to have cost it votes – and seats – in some constituencies. It was heart-breaking to see the ever impressive and fearless defender of women’s rights, Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, talk of this being ‘the worst election I have ever stood in’ and go on to outline the harassment she and her staff had experienced on the campaign trail. The purist left of the party often charge this version of Labour with being too centrist (though to them I highly recommend listening to David Lammy on Pod Save the World podcast on the June 26 on this issue, arguing for ‘progressive realism’ and how ‘power is important’).

Nevertheless, with both head and heart, I think there is much to celebrate however you voted, not least that we now have a more working-class Cabinet than ever before in history. That is surely only a good thing, a reminder that whatever your background, you have a right to participate and yes, to lead. Look at deputy PM Angela Rayner, who left school at 16 and was told she would never amount to anything. Consider Health Secretary Wes Streeting who grew up in a council flat, the son of teen mum and grandson of a bank robber. Or Foreign Secretary David Lammy who has been frank about the ‘pain’ of growing up poor in Thatcher’s Britain.

angela rayner
Angela Rayner.Chris Furlong

The broader class representation has a direct, positive impact on women, who disproportionately carry the domestic and financial burdens. Labour has pledged to strengthen maternity and menopause rights, reduce the gender pay gap and protect against workplace discrimination. Of course, it is easier to make promises in opposition than it is to implement them in government (a whopping majority helps of course), but I dare to hope that there are already signs that it will be positive for women – from the first female Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves to reports that Lady Victoria Starmer has aspirations to have some autonomy beyond being ‘wife of…’ and apparently wants to continue working in her NHS job.

One of the most emotional moments of the past 24 hours, however, came for me from a surprising source: outgoing chancellor Jeremy Hunt. I was deeply moved to hear his acceptance speech – having just managed to hold on to his Surrey seat – in which he told his children ‘don’t be sad, this is the magic of democracy’. Similarly, to hear Rishi Sunak in his concession speech saluting Starmer as ‘a decent, public-spirited man who I respect’. Given the rise and rise of populism (see France, Trump, or domestically, the success of Reform) these moments of dignity shouldn’t be taken for granted. It is one thing to be gracious in victory, it is quite another to do so in defeat.

on the day of the labour partys landslide victory in britains 2024 general election, and the installation of sir keir starmer as the uks new prime minister, the conservatives former chancellor jeremy hunt leaves downing street with his family, on 5th july 2024, in london, england photo by richard baker  in pictures via getty images
Jeremy Hunt and his family depart Downing Street.Richard Baker

And so, to Starmer. Who, like wider politics, is often accused of being boring, I like to think of his victory as a win for the quiet and diligent. Many - not me! - think that Boris Johnson has charisma to spare, but just look where that got us. Personally, I am sick of men assuming authority via volume, the social equivalent of manspreading. That is why, I think, that even if Labour is yet to appoint a female leader, Starmer is my ally. In his first speech as Prime Minister, he extolled the virtues of ‘stability and moderation’ and reiterated his belief that ‘public service is a privilege’.

Boring has never sounded so exciting.

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