Nation first as UK witnesses historic Labour win

Friday 05th July 2024 10:10 EDT

The Labour Party is back in power after more than a decade in opposition, following a landslide victory. Labour leader Keir Starmer has officially become prime minister, leading his party back to government less than five years after it suffered its worst defeat in almost a century. Now, Labour faces the mammoth task of reinvigorating a stagnant economy and dispirited nation.

When it comes to the representation of approximately 9.5 percent of the UK population who identify as Asian, the previous number of 35 British Asian candidates has gone up to 50. Among them, 28 are of Indian origin up from 15. With this, 7.7 percent of the parliament is now British Asian, with Indians making up 4.3 percent of it. 

Some of the new faces that have achieved victory include Shivani Raja, Jeevun Sandher, Naushabah Khan, Jass Atwal, Neil Shastri-Hurst, and Uma Kumaran, among others. Shivani will replace Claudia Webbe as the representative of Leicester East in Parliament, becoming the first non-Labour MP in 37 years, which is a significant milestone for a first-time MP. Uma, on the other hand, has made history as the first Tamil MP elected to Parliament. Most new Asian and Indian MPs are from the Midlands, followed by London and Yorkshire.

As highlighted by both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer in their final and inaugural addresses from No. 10 Downing Street, Sunak’s work as the first British Asian Prime Minister is an achievement for the nation, showcasing the country's progress. This increase in British Asian representation in Parliament is a testament to that progress.

Public is over the politics

Throughout the campaign, various polls suggested that the British public is now vary of the country’s politics and that can be seen in the voter turnout. Though we won’t have a full picture until later in the day, current estimates reckon turnout at this year’s Election is below 60 per cent, a significant drop from the 67 per cent turnout in 2019.

Several seats across the UK have seen voter turnouts of around 50 per cent – and some even around 40 per cent, which is exceptionally low. These elections have also seen the lowest turnout in 20 years, possibly the lowest ever, at a touch below 60 per cent.

While the Labour has restored the Red Wall, data show that the election’s outcome is more a result of an anti-Conservative vote than a Labour groundswell. Compared to 2019, Labour’s vote share, at 33.9 per cent, has gone up by a modest 1.7 per cent points, with most of this gain coming from Scotland. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have seen their vote share collapse by almost 20 per cent points, to 23.7 per cent.

Labour's recent victory marks their largest win since Tony Blair's first term as prime minister in 1997, where they enjoyed a 178-seat majority. In postwar history, Tony Blair's Labour government in 1997 held the record for the largest majority, securing 63.4% of parliamentary seats, making it the most substantial win of any government in the modern era.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated Keir Starmer on his victory in the UK general elections and expressed anticipation for a positive collaboration with the Labour leader.

"Heartiest congratulations and best wishes to @Keir_Starmer on the remarkable victory in the UK general elections. I look forward to our positive and constructive collaboration to further strengthen the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in all areas, fostering mutual growth and prosperity," PM Modi said on X.

PM Modi also expressed gratitude towards Sunak for his leadership and contributions to enhancing India-UK relations.

"Thank you @RishiSunak for your admirable leadership of the UK, and your active contribution to deepen the ties between India and the UK during your term in office. Best wishes to you and your family for the future," PM Modi added.

Rishi Sunak becomes the scapegoat?

Sunak, who retained his parliamentary seat, said that he heard the anger of the people and took responsibility for his party's defeat in the elections. The outgoing Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, announced his resignation as both British Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in his final address to the nation outside 10 Downing Street. He will remain the leader of  his Party till another is chosen. 

In his speech, Sunak highlighted the success of diversity as a third-generation immigrant and paid tribute to his family—his wife and daughters—who made sacrifices so he could lead the nation.

He said, "… Most of all I would like to express my gratitude to my wife Akshata and our beautiful daughters. I can never thank them enough for the sacrifices they have made, so that I might serve our country.

"One of the most remarkable things about Britain is how unremarkable it is that two generations after my grandparents came here with little, I could become prime minister and that I could watch my two young daughters light Diwali candles on the steps of Downing Street.

"We must hold true to that idea of who we are. That vision of kindness, decency and tolerance that has always been the British way.”

Although Sunak is being blamed for leading the Conservatives to a historic loss, it's important to consider the challenging conditions he inherited. Notably, he made history as the first British Asian Prime Minister, opening the door for greater diversity at No 10.

Prime Minister Keir Starmer who was joined by wife Victoria acknowledged Sunak's contributions and competition in his incoming speech at No. 10. He said, “I want to thank the outgoing prime minister Rishi Sunak. His achievement as the first British-Asian prime minister of our country, the extra effort that that will have required, should not be underestimated by anyone. And we paid tribute to that today.

“We also recognise the dedication and hard work he brought to his leadership.”

Starmer faces a daunting to-do list, acknowledging that Britons are weary of deteriorating public services, rising prices, and unfulfilled promises from politicians.

His government, he said, would put "country first, party second," vowing to restore "respect for politics" after a succession of Tory scandals eroded public trust. However, he tempered expectations of an immediate transformation, stating, "Changing a country is not like flicking a switch."

Both the leaders met King Charles III today following the declaration of the result, one to tender his resignation and the other to form the government. Interestingly, while the King can actually legally vote in the UK general elections, he chooses not to, as a part of the House of Lords and so as to remain neutral to political happenings of the country.

The election also saw some big names like Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt, Alex Chalk and Lizz Truss among others, losing their stronghold seats.

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