Current Affairs

Oxford alum Sir Keir Starmer elected leader of the Labour Party

Sir Keir Starmer has been elected leader of the Labour Party. The alum of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, will take on the reins from Jeremy Corbyn, beating two other candidates: Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy.

Starmer who won in the first round of polling, taking 56.2% of the vote while Long-Bailey came in second with 27.6% and Nandy third with 16.2%. 490,000 voted overall, with 784,151 eligible to take part. Eligible voters party members, registered supporters of the Labour Party and trade unionists.

Sir Keir Starmer took his first law degree at the University of Leeds, graduating with a first class degree in 1985. He took his BCL at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford in 1986. Starmer became an MP in 2015 for the London seat Holborn and St Pancras and before succeeding to his position as leader was the Shadow Brexit Secretary. He was primed to win the leadership contest early on, building much support amongst local constituency parties and Labour MPs.

Starmer was named after the founder of the Labour Party: Keir Hardie. Starmer became a barrister in 1987, and was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008.

Starmer’s deputy leader will be Angela Rayner, who won in the third round of voting also with 52.6%. She defeated Rosena Allin-Khan (26.1%) and Richard Burgon (21.3%).

Starmer’s Message in light of the pandemic

Due to the current climate, Sir Keir Starmer has released a video message discussing his victory. He said “it is the honour and privilege of my life to be elected as leader of the Labour Party”.

It is however, a watershed moment in history to be elected as leader of the opposition, and Sir Keir Starmer has recognised this. In a poignant message on the reality this pandemic has brought, he commented on how “we’re missing each other. People are frightened by the strangeness [of the situation]…it reminds us of how precious life is, but also how fragile”.

As leader of the opposition, Starmer has pledged to work constructively with Boris Johnson’s government rather than being an “opposition for opposition’s sake. We will shine a torch on critical issues and where we see mistakes or faltering government or things not happening as quickly as they should we’ll challenge that and call that out”.

Tackling anti-semitism

Another issue which Starmer touched on is that of anti-semitism, which plagued Jeremy Corbyn in the later days of his leadership. Starmer has promised to “tear out this poison by this roots”, likely not wanting to fall to the same accusations Corbyn did of not doing enough to tackle it.

Future Plans

Starmer’s reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet will likely happen on Sunday, and political pundits predict that his choice for shadow Chancellor will indicate the political path he intends to forge. Starmer has said that he intends to keep some key policies of Corbyn’s, including the nationalisation of the railways, mail and water services as well as abolishing anti-union laws.

Mrs Long Bailey has graciously commented that she believes Starmer “would make a great prime minister” and that she “would do all she could to make that a reality”. Nandy also offers up “her full support in all the challenges that lie ahead”.

Keir Starmer has garnered the support of other big names in the Labour Party, including former leader Ed Miliband who commented, “former leader Ed Miliband saying “his decency, values and intelligence are what our country needs at this time of crisis”. David Lammy also supported Starmer’s campaign and says he is ecstatic at the result.

Starmer did co ngratulate Jeremy Corbyn for his tenure as leader, saying he “led our party through some really difficult times and “energised our movement”.

It is perhaps not the last we will see of Corbyn despite Starmer’s election as the new leader.

“Being Labour Party leader is a great honour and responsibility. Corbyn commented that “I look forward to working with Keir and Angela to elect the next Labour government and transform our country.” On his Facebook page he has also said “I can assure you my voice will not be stilled. I’ll be out there campaigning for socialism, peace and justice, and I feel sure we’ll be doing that together.”

With Starmer as the new face of the Labour party, it will be fascinating to see how he manages what is arguably one of the most difficult political jobs: leading the opposition in a time of national crisis.