By Charlie Kimber
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General election: rejoice as Tories humiliated, prepare to fight Starmer

Keir Starmer rode to victory on a wave of anger against the Tories, but there isn't enthusiasm for Labour. His own vote was down by half, from 36,641 to 18,888.
Issue 2913
sunak illustrating an article about the general election 2024

He’s gone. Rishi Sunak has suffered a humiliating defeat in the general election (Picture: No10)

Tory slaughter. A massive Labour majority on a low vote share for a government. Advance for the racists of Reform. And some very heartening wins for independents and pro-Palestine candidates. That’s the first message from the general election result.

Celebrate the richly deserved destruction of the Conservatives. It is a historic murder of the guilty. At least eight cabinet ministers lost their seats including Penny Mordaunt, Grant Shapps, Johnny Mercer, Alex Chalk, Simon Mercer and Gillian Keegan. Former prime minister Liz Truss lost and the Conservatives lost the seats previously held by prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Theresa May. 

The Tories secured only 121 seats. That’s fewer than the 175 in 1832, fewer than the 165 when Tony Blair won in 1997 and fewer even than the 156 in the collapse of 1906.

Former cabinet minister  Jacob Rees-Mogg—who acts as if it is still 1906 or perhaps 1832— lost by over 5,000 to Labour in Somerset.

It’s brilliant to turn the page on 14 years of Tory brutality and class warfare.

But much of the damage to the Tories was the rise of Reform. A racist, far right party has grabbed over 15 percent of the vote—around four million—and taken five MPs. Nigel Farage won in Clacton. It’s a real and pressing threat as the crisis grows and anger with Labour grows. It will mean even more pressure for foul racist measures—and Labour is likely to bend even further to that pressure.

We need to fight hard for a stronger anti-racist movement, and the trade unions and Palestine campaigners have to be an active part of that.

Labour was the beneficiary of the Tory collapse, expected to win around 410 seats and have a huge majority.

Its 34 percent of the vote is a few points higher than in 2019 but below the 40 percent in 2017. It was no surge for Starmer. Gary Gibbon, Channel 4 political editor called it a “loveless landslide”. The Tories lost, Labour didn’t overwhelm them.

BBC election expert John Curtice said, “Actually, but for the rise of the Labour Party in Scotland, we would be reporting that basically Labour’s vote has not changed from what it was in 2019.” Indeed in absolute terms, it is lower than 2019.

Labour five years ago, in what was a disastrous defeat, took 10,269,051 votes. Starmer managed just 9,704,655. And in 2017 Labour had nearly 13 million votes.

Labour’s support is shallow and quite narrow. This is not a recipe for any sort of stability.

In Scotland, the crisis of the Scottish National Party (SNP) saw it lose at least 38 seats. It’s the end of a flawed independence strategy rooted in working inside the limits laid down by the British state

Starmer’s own vote in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency was down by half, from 36,641 to 18,888. And independent candidate Andrew Feinstein came second with 7,312 votes—19 percent of the vote.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting only just held his Ilford North seat, beating independent pro-Palestine candidate Leanne Mohamad by just over 500 votes.

And there are several positive signs of the potential for left resistance. Independents had won as many seats as Reform at 6am. 

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, running as an independent, heavily defeated Labour in Islington North. Corbyn won 24,120 votes—almost 50 percent—to Labour’s 16,873. Corbyn’s vote was higher than Starmer’s.

Speaking after the result was declared, Corbyn said people “want something different”. He said they are looking for an end to the two-child benefit cap and for regulation of the private rented sector. People want a government that “will search for peace not war, and not allow the terrible conditions to go on that are happening in Gaza”. 

In a message to Starmer, Corbyn said, “I’ve just been re-elected for Islington North. I hope you’re very happy about that because you’re my parliamentary neighbour. I hope you’ll also remember you didn’t want me to be a candidate.”

In one of the most extraordinary results of the night, independent pro-Gaza candidate Shockat Adam defeated Labour shadow cabinet member Jon Ashworth in Leicester South.

Adam won 14,739 votes to Ashworth’s 13,760 votes. He said, “Our resistance can manifest in various guises. In addition to protesting, we can exercise our freedom of speech by engaging in intellectual and moral debates, economic sanctions, and, ultimately, the ballot box. 

“We must ensure that those who turned their back on one of the greatest injustices in modern times are told loud and clear we have turned our backs on them.”

Adam was supported by Azeem Rafiq, the whistle-blower against racism in Yorkshire cricket.

Green Carla Denyer defeated another Labour shadow cabinet minister, Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol Central. Denyer won by 10,000 votes.

Independent Iqbal Mohamad smashed Labour in Dewsbury and Batley. He won 15,641 to Labour’s 8,707. “People are suffering and have had enough of the damaging mainstream parties, their toxic politics and policies, and their support for genocide,” he said.

Independent Adnan Hussain won in Blackburn. But after 125 days as an MP, George Galloway lost in Rochdale. The Workers Party—pro-Palestine but reactionary on oppression—did generally worse than independents.

Labour was also under pressure in several Birmingham seats at 6am. Jess Phillips survived by only 700 votes. Independent Ayoub Khan won in Perry Barr. He defeated Khalid Mahmood who supported the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq under Blair and later pushed the now-debunked Trojan Horse conspiracy that there was a plot by Muslims to take over Birmingham schools.

There were excellent results for other independents who did not win, such as Muhammad Ali Islam, Azhar Iqbal Chohan and Michael Lavalette. And Socialist Worker supporter Maxine Bowler won 8 percent—2,537 votes— and came fourth in her Sheffield constituency.

Elections matter, but the fight for Palestine and against austerity will crucially take place in the streets and workplaces.

What is the content of the Labour vote?

Most of the millions who voted Labour are not signed-up Starmer supporters. They voted Labour because, for example, they want an end to low wages and benefits, bad or ruinously expensive housing and a government steeped in corruption.

At some point that mood will come up against Starmer’s do‑nothing government. A YouGov poll on the eve of the election asked Labour voters why they were backing the party.

The pollsters reported, “The answer is resounding—by far the most common response is ‘to get the Tories out’, which 48 percent of expectant Labour voters gave. 

“Even the second most common answer option—which scored a distant 13 percent—echoes the sentiment, with this group of Labour voters saying their top motivation is that ‘the country needs a change’.”

Just 5 percent chose “I agree with their policies”—and 1 percent “Keir Starmer’s leadership”.

And the Financial Times newspaper’s data expert John Burns-Murdoch noted, “The lack of enthusiasm for Labour at this election really is striking. Among those who plan to vote Labour tomorrow, the party is much less well-liked than in 2019, 2017 or 2015 (no data before that). Quite a flimsy voter coalition that could unravel in the absence of results.

“The Conservatives weren’t especially popular with their backers in 2019), and this was a big part of why they fell so far since then. But Labour voters this time are even less enthusiastic about their party than Tory voters were in 2019.

“If they don’t start delivering tangible results, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Labour start bleeding votes in all directions.”

But if ordinary people don’t rate him. Starmer went into the election with the support of the vile right wing Sun newspaper ringing in his ears. “By dragging his party back to the centre ground of British politics for the first time since Tony Blair was in No10, Sir Keir has won the right to take charge,” it said.

And Starmer responded, “I am delighted to have the support and the backing of The Sun. I think that shows just how much this is a changed Labour Party, back in the service of working people.”

His mission to win the backing of corporations and the right wing media has born fruit. And he will govern in the same terms.

Labour has said it will stage a global investment summit in its first 100 days in office. The party has held meetings with what it calls its British Infrastructure Council to discuss deals with private capital. Attendees at the meetings include representatives from BlackRock, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, HSBC, Phoenix Group and Fidelity International, among others. They will shape the government far more than the trade unions—unless there’s resistance.

TUC union federation president Matt Wrack said, “Trade unions will be holding all new ministers to every commitment made in the New Deal for Working People. 

“To improve people’s lives, we need to shift the balance of power away from profiteers and back to workers. This must start with reversing the Tory’s vicious anti-union laws.”

We need much more than that, but let’s see a real fight against the 2016 act Labour said it would remove—and a battle to obliterate all the anti-union laws.

Socialists have to speak to two audiences. One is those who already half think that Starmer won’t go far enough to bring change. We work with them wherever possible over specific campaigns—repeal the anti-union laws Labour said would go, overturn the two-child benefit limit, more money for the NHS—and over bigger changes.

Then there’s a big group of people who are ready to fight over Palestine, poverty, racism and more. We need to mobilise them against racism and fascism—starting on Saturday 27 July in London against Tommy Robinson. We need a fight over Palestine, pay and public services and climate catastrophe.

And we need a bigger revolutionary socialist core in all these struggles.

Some independent’s results
  • Adnan Hussain, Blackburn, 10,518, 27 percent, elected
  • Aftab Nawaz, Walsall and Bloxwich 7,600, 20.4 percent, second
  • Andrew Feinstein, Holborn and St Pancras 7,312, 18.9 percent, second
  • Ayoub Khan, Birmingham Perry Bar, 13,303. 35.5 percent, elected 
  • Azhar Iqbal Chohan, Slough, 11,019, 25.37 percent, second
  • Claudia Webbe, Leicester East 5.532, 11.8 percent, fourth
  • Dave Nellist, Coventry East 797, 2.2 percent, seventh
  • Emma Dent Coad, Kensington and Bayswater 1,824, 4.4 percent, sixth
  • Faiza Shaheen, Chingford and Woodford Green 12,445, 25.7 percent, third
  • Iqbal Mohamed, Dewsbury and Batley, 15,641, 41 percent, elected
  • Jabu Nala-Hartley, Oxford East 600, 1.5 percent, eigth
  • Jeremy Corbyn, Islington North 24,120, 49.2 percent, elected
  • Kamel Hawwash, Birmingham Selly Oak 2,842, 7.4 percent, fifth
  • Leanne Mohamad, Ilford North 15,119, 32.2 percent, second
  • Maxine Bowler, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough 2,537, 8 percent, fourth
  • Michael Lavalette, Preston, 8,715, 22 percent, second
  • Muhammed Ali Islam, Bradford West, 11,017, 29.7 percent, second 
  • Nandita Lal, Tottenham 2,348, 5.8 percent, third
  • Perveen Hussain, Halifax 1,367, 3.4 percent, seventh
  • Sam Gorst, Liverpool Garston 3,294, 7.8 percent, third
  • Shockat Adam, Leicester South, 14,739, 35.2 percent, elected
  • Tanushka Marah, Hove and Portslade, 3,048, 5.9 percent, fifth
  • Tony Wilson, Oldham West, Chadderton and Royton 573, 1.5 percent, eighth

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