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In the News

Keir Starmer and voting behaviour

Mike McCartney

21st June 2022

As a recent newspaper article points out, things aren't looking great for the Labour leader

I came across an excellent article by Katy Balls, the deputy political editor of The Spectator.

She wrote:

"When Tory MPs lament their political woes these days, there is one ray of light they often point to: Sir Keir Starmer. They think the Labour leader is beatable and missing the opportunity to capitalise on Tory problems. If Labour had a leader of the same quality as Tony Blair, they argue, the party would be out of sight by now rather than ahead by single digits."

This article made me think about what the implications would be in terms of voting behaviour.

The modern electorate, as probably all Politics students are aware, are inclined to cast their vote according the rational choice model. The twin anchors of partisan and class alignment still heavily shape decisions by voters at the polls, but they don't decide the outcome. It is decisions by the vital swing voters that ultimately determine what the colour of the door at Number 10 will be painted.

As such, it is the 3Ps that matter: past performance, the party leader, and future policies. (We could add a fourth 'P' here for party unity). And so, as things stand, it doesn't look too good for Labour.

The author continues:

"The Labour leader appears to be relying on the Tories losing the next election – admittedly something they are trying rather hard to do – rather than Labour winning it. When he was first elected, a Labour figure told me that “oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them”. While the opposition party certainly benefits from government dysfunction and blue-on-blue attacks, if you strip that away it is not clear that Labour would lead of its own accord.

Even shadow Cabinet members believe that Starmer is a key part of that. In polling by J L Partners this week, 2,000 people were asked what they thought about Starmer. Fifty per cent of the responses were negative with the most common word being “boring”."

Well worth a read, see the full article here.

Also, worth a watch, though it is quite painful, is Starmer's exchange with Boris Johnson at PMQs where he references Star Wars!!

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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