New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer has vowed to “deliver change” after his Labour Party won the general election in a landslide.

In a speech outside Downing Street after a “hand-kissing” ceremony with King Charles III and the approval to form a new government, Starmer said it was “clear” the country needed a “bigger reset”.

“A rediscovery of who we are, because no matter how violent the storms of history, one of the greatest strengths of this nation has always been our ability to navigate calmer waters,” he said.

“My government will fight every day until you believe again. From now on, you have a government unburdened by doctrine, guided only by the determination to serve your interests. To silently defy those who have discarded our country.”

“You have given us a clear mandate, and we will use it to drive change.”

Starmer also thanked Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for all he has achieved during his time in power, saying: “His achievement as our country’s first British-Asian Prime Minister, the extra effort that has required, should not be underestimated by anyone.

“We pay tribute to that today.”

(Al Jazeera)

Earlier, Sunak took responsibility for his party’s election defeat by announcing his resignation and congratulating Starmer on his victory.

“I have given my all to this job, but you have sent a clear signal that the UK government needs to change, and your judgement is the only one that matters,” Sunak said in a speech outside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence.

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment and I take responsibility for this loss. To all the Conservative candidates and campaigners who worked tirelessly but to no avail, I am sorry that we were unable to deliver what your efforts deserved,” Sunak said.

Sunak then met with King Charles III to hand in his resignation.

Labour surpassed the 326-seat threshold for a parliamentary majority on Friday morning, putting it on course for a landslide victory against Sunak’s Conservatives.

So far, the Labour Party has won 412 seats, giving it a majority in the House of Commons.

Exit polls had predicted the Conservatives were on track to win 131 seats, their worst ever result. As vote counting continues, the party has so far won 121 seats.

Starmer, a former public prosecutor and human rights lawyer, said he would strive to show that politics can be a “force for good”.

In a victory speech on Friday morning, Starmer, 61, said the British people had provided an opportunity for the UK to “reclaim its future” and restore the country to “the service of working people”.

“Our task is nothing less than renewal of the ideas that hold this country together, national renewal. No matter who you are, wherever you started in life, if you work hard, if you play by the rules, this country should give you a fair chance to get ahead,” Starmer told supporters.

Hailing Labour’s huge victory, Starmer said: “Make no mistake, this is the great test of politics in this age. The fight for trust is the defining battle of our era. That is why we campaigned so hard to demonstrate that we are fit for public service.”

Several world leaders have already congratulated Starmer on his success, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“Together, the values ​​of this changed Labour Party are the guiding principle for a new government – ​​country first, party second,” Starmer said.

Labour’s sweeping victory comes amid widespread discontent with the economy and public services. Under the Conservatives, economic growth has stagnated, the cost of living has soared and hospital waiting lists have tripled.

Reporting from London, Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands said Labour would face a long list of challenges given the “widespread view here that in recent years things have been getting worse and worse, that public services in particular are disintegrating, that the National Health Service is on its knees, … that the chaos of the last few years of Conservative rule has basically distracted the government from doing what governments are supposed to do”.

According to an analysis by a leading research institute, Britons had on average £10,200 ($12,950) less to spend or save in total during 2010-2022, compared with economic growth rates from 1998-2010.

Starmer, who took over from left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2020, has campaigned heavily on revitalising the UK economy amid widespread anxiety about a perceived national decline.

As part of efforts to bring the Labour Party back to the centre after its worst defeat since 1935 in the last election, he has promised not to raise income taxes or value added tax and to make wealth creation a top priority.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer shakes hands with supporters at the Tate Modern in London [Kin Cheung/AP Photo]

While Labour’s electoral success has been compared to former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s victory in 1997, Patrick Diamond, a former political adviser to the Labour governments led by Blair and Gordon Brown, told Al Jazeera that the situation today is markedly different.

“In 1997, there was a greater sense of hope and optimism in the country based on the fact that Britain was in a very different position – particularly because economically it was doing very well at that time,” said Diamond, who is professor of public policy at Queen Mary University of London.

“The country that Keir Starmer inherits today is in a very different position,” he added.

“The economy has been weak for some time. It has gone through a series of shocks dealing with the fallout from COVID, the Ukraine war and so on.”

In his victory speech, Starmer said the task ahead would not be easy.

“Changing a country is not like flipping a switch. It is hard work, patient work, determined work. And we will have to move immediately,” he said.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *