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LEONARD QUART: Some good news in a time when it is hard to find any

Labour won the election with the pragmatic, non-doctrinaire candidacy of Sir Keir Starmer, who repositioned the party away from the left and toward the center.

I have been trying without success to avoid watching all the fallout from Biden’s faltering, disastrous debate performance. I know he still has defenders and supporters, but I hope that a plausible and possibly winning alternative—Harris, Newsome, Whitmer, or someone less predictable and known—will soon be chosen to replace him.

But on July 4, I gave my full attention to the British election—wishing for some positive political news from a country I have long had a deep commitment to and feeling for. By the late evening, I was rewarded with the news that the Labour Party was on its way to a landslide victory, winning one of the biggest parliamentary majorities in history, having won 412 seats. That is a majority of 176, with the last couple of results still to come. Also, it made me happy that a number of Tory Cabinet ministers were defeated like Penny Mordaunt, Grant Shapps, and Gillian Keegan, and so were extreme right-wing Tory figures like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Liz Truss.

Other significant results included seeing the Lib Dems winning the highest number of seats since the party’s creation, securing at least 72 in a stark contrast to their tally of 11 in the 2019 election; the Scottish National Party beset by scandals and political turmoil, that won 48 seats in 2019, have been reduced to nine; the former, repudiated hard-left Labour Party leader Jerome Corbyn winning his seat in North London as an independent; and the Trump ally and Brexit advocate Nigel Farage, who failed in his seven previous attempts to enter parliament, won a majority of nearly 10,000 in Clacton. His right-wing party Reform UK did well, and it may pose a threat in the future, taking 14 percent of the vote, but only five seats.

Labour won the election with the pragmatic, non-doctrinaire candidacy of Sir Keir Starmer, who repositioned the party away from the left and toward the center. He also emphasized the importance of eliminating antisemitism within the party, which had been a controversial issue during Corbyn’s leadership. Still, once in power, Labour will face the immense task of restoring chronically underfunded public services in a time of economic hardship. It is clearly going to take huge funding to improve the National Health Service—a prime issue for many voters. The non-charismatic Starmer makes no stirring promises; instead, he offers modest notions like: “Changing a country is not like flicking a switch. The world is now a more volatile place. This will take a while,” and, “Brick by brick, we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity.”

For me, it is consoling to see Starmer’s triumph in a Europe where the right is in the ascendancy. But I am too old to move to London to escape Trump and his cohort. So unless the Democrats defeat the MAGA Republicans in 2024, I will have to live with democracy under threat for the rest of my life.

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