After 12 years in political wilderness, the Labour Party finally has a chance to win elections.
With a. 33-point lead – the largest any political party has enjoyed this century. The Conservatives, at 21%, appear to be in serious danger of being left behind at the next general elections.
However, the past year has shown just how quickly things can change in British political life. It remains to be seen if Sir Keir Starmer will win over the British public. Labour is still nervous after 12 consecutive years in opposition and a long way to go following the disastrous defeat of 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn.
Fortunately for Labour, there are many parallels to the recent experience of Australia’s Labor Party (ALP).
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The ALP was almost a decade in opposition. They lost a winnable election 2016 and then the presidency. ‘unlosable’Election in 2019. This led to a reckoning within party and a reviewIn the shattering 2019 election defeat.
The historic victory of the ALP under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in May this year was achieved by the ALP.
The Australian electorate voted against the Liberal-National Coalition. A swing of 3.7% left the ALP with a lower majority of 77 seats. There were also unprecedented gains for greens and climate-conscious Independents in traditionally conservative-held seats.
The ALP faced many obstacles on its way to power but also solved political dilemmas and had a lot of luck thanks to their Conservative counterparts. Starmer and Labour can learn from their experience and regain the keys at Number 10 Downing Street.
First and foremost, ALP benefited unapologetically from a decade old, politically unstable, and policy-void incumbent.
The former government of Scott Morrison, former Prime Minister, was right-wing populist. It offered a limited vision of Australia’s future policy and was a vacuum in policy terms. With few plans to address cost of living pressures or high energy prices, and a refusal to establish an anti-corruption commission, the coalition’s pitch was primarily a tax cutting one.
During the election, the Morrison government was accused of running a campaign focused on ‘dog-whistling’ and culture wars. This included denial of climate change, scare campaigns about refugees, and other bizarre activities. attack Information about transgender people
Scott Morrison, the sitting prime minister, quickly became attached to a perception among many voters of rank dishonesty. This was centered on his time in Hawaii during the worst bushfires in decades, about Australia being ‘at the front of the queue’ for coronavirus vaccines, and the response of French President Emmanuel Macron who replied “I don’t think, I know”When Morrison was asked if Morrison was lying about a cancelled submarine deal, Morrison replied that he was.
The Australian right shared the British counterparts’ penchant for knifing sitting prime minsters. The party had three leaders from Tony Abbott through Malcom Turner to Scott Morrison between 2013 and 2019.
After two years of a pandemic that highlighted inequalities in Australian society, the electorate clearly decided that the government’s time was up and that they wanted a viable, policy-driven alternative.
The Australian Labor Party responded with a ‘small target’Some corners criticized the policy platform as too risk-averse and unambitious. This included the establishment of an anti-corruption commission, a referendum on an indigenous ‘voice’ to parliament and reform of the childcare sector. Albanese also announced a climate policy, which although more ambitious than that of the incumbent coalition, was still not ambitious enough to meet Australia’s international commitments.
This ‘safety-first’ approach avoided repeating the mistake of a broad policy platform that spooked the electorate in 2019. Easy to explain to the electorate, it was the opposite of Morrison’s self-described ‘bulldozer’approach to government. Although it was less far reaching than previous ALP platforms, and unpopular with many on the party’s left, it was evidently enough for ordinary Australian voters to elect Albanese and Labor.
In the UK, Labour’s position has, similarly, undoubtedly been helped by the Conservatives, who after twelve years in power have little credible to show for their time in office. This is excluding Brexit, which is still a highly contested achievement. Recent polls would suggest that the party’s tax cutting agenda may no longer work with voters.
Labour in the UK has presented a fairly ambitious, but mainstream, manifesto to address the challenges faced by ordinary people. At Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, Starmer announced a range of policies to address the cost of living crisis and high power prices, including the creation of Great British Energy and ambitious renewable energy policies. The speech also highlighted Labour’s plans to improve economic management, support the NHS, home ownership policies, and a points based immigration system.
This policy approach, similar to the ALP is a steady one that distinguishes Labour from the instability and perceived poor governance by the incumbent government. Labour will hope, as the polls suggest that the electorate wants change.
The ALP’s victory also shows that Starmer himself doesn’t necessarily need to be popular to win a national election.
Albanese, Labor leader in Australia was initially unpopular or underwhelming. He is not well-known for his public speaking skills and has struggled to connect with the wider community. Albanese was born in September 2021, less than 12 months ago. polled 26% to Morrisons 47%, when it came to who Australian’s preferred as their Prime Minister. While Albanese successfully increased his popularity, even by May 2022, Morrison still hadn’t surpassed Morrison (37% versus 45%).
However, come the election campaign, Morrison’s personal unpopularity and the governments failures dominated the agenda and ushered in a Labor victory. There are again parallels to the UK. Only June 26%The British public thought Keir Sterner would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson. Although the position has changed, it is still the same as when Liz Truss first entered Downing Street.
Starmer and Albanese therefore follow similar paths to government.
Both want to be seen as a safe pair of eyes in opposition to the political instability. They also perceive mal-governance from the incumbent.
Both are more likely to offer sensible reform than more risky, more comprehensive manifestos.
Starmer’s challenge is to keep the course.
Although Labour will continue to profit from any mistakes made by the Conservatives in the future, consistency of message will help get the keys to Number 10 and a united front.
Although it may not be exciting, it seems to be working.