by N. Peter Kramer
With a landslide win, last Saturday Sir Keir Starmer was elected as Labour’s new leader. The party not only dispensed with Jeremy Corbyn, but also rejected convincingly his preferred successor Rebecca Long Bailey. It is a significant moment for British politics. During the Corbyn era Britain suffered from the lack of a credible opposition. Now it is a challenge for Starmer to return Labour to the position of a competent opposition party.
But Labour’s new leader has shortcomings. He is not very charismatic. His association with Remain will alienate the Brexit supporters in his party who voted overwhelming for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the last November elections. Having run as a unity candidate Starmer promised to meld the best of the Blair government and the Corbyn leadership. That doesn’t really make clear in what direction he would like to go. Starmer is no centrist, he is from the soft left of Labour. He is more Ed Miliband than Tony Blair.
It is remarkable, that whilst he never challenged fundamental Corbyn policies, he broke with his predecessor after signalling that Labour was open to cooperate with the Tory government ‘in the national interest’. Sir Keir Starmer wants a real opposition, even in the current difficult times where the Brits have to live in along with the rest of the world. But he promised not ‘to score party political points’ or ‘demand the impossible’ of the government. How Starmer accomplishes this seeming contradiction will surely prove to be the real test of his leadership.