Why is the UK Voting Left as EU and US Shift Right?

As the EU and the US veer rightward, the UK’s unexpected leftward turn under Labour leader Keir Starmer offers a fascinating counter-narrative. Here’s the full story.

Dramatic Political Shift

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The general election campaign is finally over, the polls have closed, and we have a new government under Labour leader and now Prime Minister Keir Starmer. To say the political landscape of the UK has undergone a dramatic shift in the past five years since the 2019 general election would be a colossal understatement.

Noteworthy Shift

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This shift to the centre-left is noteworthy as many major economies, including several in the EU and the UK’s closest ally, the United States, are veering further right. Starmer has been credited with orchestrating this remarkable turnaround in fortunes, positioning Labour as one of the few left-of-centre governments with a commanding majority rather than a fragile coalition.

Labour’s Achievement

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How has the Labour Party achieved the seemingly unachievable? Though the Conservative Party has undoubtedly helped Labour with its perceived elitism, factional infighting and the seeming inability to solve any of the nation’s most pressing problems, Starmer has focused firmly on one issue: class.

“My Dad Was a Toolmaker”

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Starmer repeatedly mentioned his working-class roots: “My dad was a toolmaker, he worked in a factory, and my mum was a nurse. We didn’t have a lot when we were growing up.”

Repetitive Message Reaches Voters

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UK voters, who heard the phrase uttered over and over again by Starmer during the campaign, laughed in the general election debate when Starmer trotted out the well-used refrain about his family background. However, the message reached voters in a way that Conservative culture war issues did not.

Stark Contrast

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It did not hurt that Starmer’s humble beginnings were in stark contrast to former Conservative Prime Minister who, as a multimillionaire many times over, was officially richer than the King.

Class Focus Resonates

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This focus on class has resonated with voters across various demographics, particularly those who felt alienated by Labour’s previous emphasis on identity politics under successive Conservative governments who sought to use wedge issues to rile up their shrinking voter base.

Strategic Avoidance

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Starmer’s strategic avoidance of contentious culture war issues has played a crucial role in Labour’s success. By focusing on practical solutions rather than ideological purity, Labour has maintained broad appeal.

Human Rights Stance

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However, Labour did not shy away from issues of human rights as, during the election debates, Starmer received the biggest applause of any of the leaders when he used a question on transgender rights to argue that the country had become too polarised and heavily criticised Sunak for making a transgender joke in Parliament when the mother of murdered trans teenager Brianna Ghey was present.

“Reasonable, Tolerant Bunch”

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To applause, Starmer stated, “As a country, we’re a pretty reasonable, tolerant bunch and most people know that there are a small number of individuals who do not identify with the gender that they were born into. Many of them suffer great distress and trauma. And for my part, I’m perfectly happy to say I would treat them, as I would treat anybody, with respect.”

Focus on Everyday Issues

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Rather than shouting into online echo chambers, this focus on issues that affect people’s everyday lives helped the Labour Party tremendously. Simple solutions, like using a tax on private school fees, used by a vanishingly small minority of the electorate, to fund the schools for the vast majority of them who use state schools, cut through to an electorate struggling under a cost of living crisis and were hardly, as many right-wing papers suggested, a political revolution set to bring about Communism.

Labour’s Success an Outlier

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However, the Labour Party’s success does make it an outlier. While the UK is experiencing a leftward shift, many European countries are moving in the opposite direction.

European Rightward Shift

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In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally has gained significant traction, potentially leading to the country’s first hard-right government since Vichy France capitulated to the Nazis. Similarly, Viktor Orbán’s nationalist government in Hungary continues to throw a spanner in the works of the EU while, as Hungary is president of the EU’s rotating top spot, promising to “Make Europe Great Again.”

US Rightward Drift

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In the United States, politics has also been marked by a shift to the right, with former President Donald Trump maintaining a strong influence within the Republican Party despite being a convicted criminal. President Joe Biden has tried to advance progressive policies, but the US political climate remains deeply divided.

Trump’s Influence

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The potential return of Trump to the White House underscores the volatility and rightward drift in American politics, showcasing that, while the US grapples with intense cultural and ideological battles, the UK electorate appears more focused on stable and practical governance following years of Conservative chaos.

Global Impact

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Labour’s victory in the UK could significantly affect progressive movements globally. Starmer’s success demonstrates that focusing on economic issues and class politics can be an effective strategy for centre-left parties.

Inspiring Progressive Movements

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Moreover, a progressive UK government might inspire similar movements in other parts of the world, challenging the dominance of right-wing populism. The global left could find a new leader in Starmer, with the potential to reshape political narratives and strategies in other democracies.

Blueprint for Other Nations

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As the EU and the US experience a shift to the right, the UK’s move to the centre-left under Labour offers a blueprint for other nations struggling with the rise of nationalist, anti-immigrant and, in the case of Italy and France, fascist-founded far-right parties. However, whether these nations follow Starmer’s lead remains to be seen.

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The post Why is the UK Voting Left as EU and US Shift Right? first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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