Keir Starmer is new Labour leader

Sir Keir Starmer (Photo: New Statesman)
Sir Keir Starmer has emerged victorious in the race to become the new leader of the Labour Party, winning in the first round with 56% of the vote.

His priorities as leader include replacing Universal Credit, the abolition of tuition fees, investment in lifelong learning, developing "a new green deal", reviewing UK arms sales, clamping down on tax avoidance and supporting "common ownership" of utilities.

I have not been a Labour member for over ten years, but I should congratulate Keir Starmer on his victory. We need a strong and effective opposition at this time and one that is capable of providing rigorous scrutiny. Starmer is very much someone who focuses on detail, which should serve his party, and the country, well at this time.

While I do not find Starmer a particularly inspiring choice, if I was a Labour party member I would probably have voted for him as the candidate most likely to create problems for Boris Johnson - and also as the most sensible option. At least we have a Labour leader who believes trans rights are human rights, recognises the weaknesses of the Corbyn era and understands that the Catalonian example is hardly a model for how the UK should treat Scotland.

Like a lot of us, I would like to see the first elected female leader of the Labour Party and perhaps if someone like Yvette Cooper had put herself forward that might now have become a reality. I'm not sure I could have supported a "continuity candidate", in denial about recent failures, after the worst General Election result since the 1930s, and neither could I have supported a candidate who so clearly fails to understand Scotland.

While I expected a Starmer victory, I was surprised by the margin of that victory. What this result underlines is the degree to which the "left takeover of the party" narrative was largely mythological. 27% of the vote for Long-Bailey and 17% for Burgon in the deputy leadership contest hardly points to the kind of domination of the hard-left many were suggesting. That's not to understate the powerful influence of the Left within the party over the last few years, but their preferred candidates failed to make any kind of impact in these elections. A weakness of Momentum types was to imagine that most party members shared their views. Jeremy Corbyn's appeal may well have helped create a large membership base, but their sympathies did not necessarily lie with Corbynism itself and many were clearly disinclined to support his self-appointed "succesors".

Indeed, Starmer won in 2020 with the votes of 225,000 members - comapred to 121,000 for Corbyn five years ago. The idea that he is an establishment plant devoid of grassroots support is quite plainly nonsense. He has been given a HUGE mandate by the membership.

Britain deserves so much better than an inept Conservative government with what I will diplomatically call nativist tendencies. Can Keir Starmer convince the electorate than another - indeed, a better - future is possible? If he can deliver on his positive suggestions of doing politics differently, he may well be able to develop not only a broad appeal but also a broad consensus.

What I hope is that the new Labour leader proves his commitment to electoral reform and to moving his party in a more pluralistic direction. He may then truly change the course of UK politics.