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LEONARD QUART: Good news at a time when it is difficult

LEONARD QUART: Good news at a time when it is difficult
LEONARD QUART: Good news at a time when it is difficult

I have tried in vain to ignore the fallout from Biden’s flagging, disastrous debate performance. I know he still has defenders and supporters, but I hope that a plausible and potentially victorious alternative – Harris, Newsome, Whitmer, or someone less predictable and well-known – will soon be chosen to replace him.

But on 4 July I turned my full attention to the British election – I wanted some positive political news from a country I have long felt a deep connection and sympathy for. Late that evening I was rewarded with the news that Labour was on course for a landslide victory, winning one of the largest parliamentary majorities in history with 412 seats. That’s a majority of 176 seats, with the final results still pending. I was also pleased to see a number of Tory cabinet ministers such as Penny Mordaunt, Grant Shapps and Gillian Keegan defeated, as were far-right Tory figures such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Liz Truss.

Other notable results: The Liberal Democrats won their highest number of seats since their formation, securing at least 72 seats – a stark contrast to their result of 11 in the 2019 election. The Scottish National Party, plagued by scandal and political turmoil, which won 48 seats in 2019, has shrunk to nine. Former, ousted leader of the radical left Labour Party, Jerome Corbyn, won his north London seat as an independent. And Trump ally and Brexit supporter Nigel Farage, who had failed in his previous seven attempts to get into Parliament, won a majority of almost 10,000 votes in Clacton. His right-wing Reform UK party did well and could pose a future threat, receiving 14 percent of the vote but only five seats.

Labour won the election with the pragmatic, non-doctrinaire candidate Sir Keith Starmer, who moved the party from left to centre. He also stressed the importance of stamping out anti-Semitism within the party, which had been a controversial issue during Corbyn’s time in office. Once in power, however, Labour faces the immense task of restoring chronically underfunded public services at a time of economic hardship. It will obviously require huge resources to improve the National Health Service – a key issue for many voters. The uncharismatic Starmer makes no exciting promises; instead, he offers modest ideas such as: “Changing a country is not like flipping a switch. The world is a more volatile place today. It will take a while” and: “Brick by brick, we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity.”

For me, it is a comfort to see Starmer’s triumph in a Europe where the far-right is on the rise. But I am too old to move to London to escape Trump and his cohorts, so unless the Democrats defeat the MAGA Republicans in 2024, I will have to live with a threatened democracy for the rest of my life.

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