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British victory of conservative values? Labour to establish 'ideologically free zone' in politics

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* 
The crushing defeat of the Conservative Party and their local version called Scottish National Party in the UK general election may be a cause for celebration for many. The Labour Party has returned to power after fourteen years of Tory rule. It is a clear electoral victory for the Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Rodney Starmer, who is now the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 
No doubt, the Labour Party's victory marks a pivotal moment in British politics, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with the Conservative Party's handling of key issues over the past decade. The new government faces the formidable task of uniting a divided nation and delivering on the promises that fuelled their electoral success. 
However, despite this significant political shift, a wave of disillusionment continues to ripple through the public. In his victory speech, the new Prime Minister pledged to "restore trust in politics" and vowed to rebuild and govern Britain with a vision "unburdened by doctrine." 
How can anyone trust a word from Keir Starmer, who has a habit of taking opportunistic political positions and changing his views on policies and his commitment to manifestoes? He changes more often in politics than the British weather. His politics of being "unburdened by doctrine" means establishing an ideologically free zone of politics and governance, which aligns with conservative values of capitalism and the interests of British and international elites. 
Even the Conservative Party leadership and supporters claim that the Labour policy offering is not drastically different from the policy agendas of the Conservative Party. There is no fundamental difference between Starmer and   Sunak in terms of their approach to welfare policies. Both are committed to the requirements of capital more than to the everyday needs of people. How can Starmer promise to rebuild Britain while standing on the foundations and values of Conservative politics and policies?
The scepticism surrounding Keir Starmer's leadership stems from his perceived lack of a consistent ideological stance. Critics argue that his flexible approach to policymaking raises questions about his authenticity and reliability as a leader. Many question his commitment to working people and their needs. This concern is further amplified by the notion that his governance style might cater more to the interests of the corporate elite rather than addressing the pressing needs of the general populace. 
Moreover, the Labour's policy platform mirrors that of the Conservatives suggests a troubling continuity rather than the transformative change many voters desire. If the new Labour government under Starmer's leadership fails to distinguish itself significantly from the previous Conservative administration, it could lead to further disillusionment among the electorate.
However,   Starmer’s public positions on the privatisation of public services, economic austerity, social welfare, and even on foreign policy issues like Gaza, Ukraine, war, nuclear weapons and NATO are not markedly different from those of   Sunak. Both leaders follow similar policy trajectories in British politics, reflecting a convergence in their approaches on key issues shaped by the Conservative political culture. 
While Starmer and   Sunak come from different political parties -- Labour and Conservative, respectively -- their stances on privatisation show a shared inclination toward involving private sector efficiencies in public services. On the issue of economic austerity, both have advocated for fiscal prudence, albeit with nuanced differences in their approaches to government spending and debt management.
In terms of social welfare, Starmer’s proposals do not deviate significantly from   Sunak's policies, suggesting a consensus on the need to balance welfare provisions with economic sustainability. Foreign policy positions of both leaders also align in many respects, particularly in their support for NATO and a firm stance on international security challenges. 
This alignment indicates a broader trend in British politics where major parties exhibit similarities on fundamental policy issues, reflecting a right-wing shift in their political positions. Therefore, the landslide victory of the Labour party is not a victory of progressive politics of social democracy. It is the consolidation of victory of extreme right wing politics.
The dominance of the Labour and Conservative parties has transformed British politics into a political oligarchy, where a very small number of unmeritorious economic elites shape public policy to uphold their interests with the support of the British state and government. This concentration of power within a limited political framework has led to significant consequences for the broader democratic process. 
The political influence wielded by these elites often results in policies that favour their economic and social interests, rather than reflecting the diverse needs and aspirations of the working people. 
This collaboration between the ruling elites and opposition politics undermines the principles of democratic practice in Westminster where decisions are frequently driven by the priorities of a privileged few. The intertwining of political power and economic clout means that these elites can effectively circumvent mechanisms designed to ensure accountability and transparency. 
Their deep connections within both the Labour and Conservative parties enable them to exert disproportionate influence over legislative and regulatory frameworks, often to the detriment of wider societal welfare. In essence, the current oligarchal political landscape in Britain is detrimental for the deepening of democracy and public welfare in Britain. This has far-reaching implications for social equity, public trust in government, and the overall health of the democratic system.
The rise of far-right political parties like Reform UK, led by   Nigel Paul Farage, in this election reveals disturbing trends of conservative consolidation in British politics. Such a political trend indicates a significant shift towards more extreme conservative ideologies, reflecting growing discontent and polarisation among the electorate. 
The increasing support for such parties suggests a backlash against traditional political establishments and a demand for more radical solutions to economic, social, and cultural issues. 
The presence of far-right parties like Reform UK in the political arena also raises concerns about the potential erosion of democratic norms and values. Their often inflammatory rhetoric and divisive policies can exacerbate social tensions and undermine efforts to foster inclusivity and cohesion within society. It signals a troubling trend towards conservative consolidation, with potential implications for the country's democratic integrity and social harmony. 
The electoral success of these parties encourages mainstream political entities to adopt more hardline stances to retain their voter base, further shifting the overall political discourse to the right. This conservative consolidation poses a challenge to the principles of pluralism and tolerance that are foundational to a healthy democracy in Britain.
For Starmer to truly rebuild Britain, he must go beyond the rhetoric of being "unburdened by doctrine" and present a clear, progressive vision that prioritises social welfare, economic equality, and robust public services focusing on health, education, employment and transportation. Only by doing so can he hope to bridge the gap between his promises and the expectations of a public weary of political platitudes. 
This requires a commitment to bold, tangible policies that address the root causes of societal issues and a willingness to challenge the status quo entrenched by years of conservative governance. Given   Starmer's political records, he is unlikely to break through the iron curtain of the conservative British establishment.
The overwhelming victory of   Jeremy Corbyn, other independent candidates, and the Green Party shows that there is still electoral space for the revival of alternative and progressive politics in Britain. 
Mass mobilisation of all working people can ensure the defeat of conservative values and halt the forward march of right-wing politics in Britain, establishing a society based on peace and prosperity for all in this small island nation.
---
*London Metropolitan University 

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