I was pleased with the Labour Party’s big win in the British election this week for a couple of reasons: Labour’s philosophy is closer to mine and the 14 years of Conservative rule were largely chaos and mismanagement.

Looking superficially at the election results, one might get the impression that Labour was the overwhelming choice of the British people. One would be wrong. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the British people did not choose Labour. While Labour won almost two-thirds of the seats in the House of Commons, it won only a third of the popular vote. In fact, the two right-wing parties, the Conservatives and Reform combined received more votes than Labour. Despite their greater popularity among the voters, the two parties won only 19 percent of the seats.

Considering the limited popularity of Labour combined with the worst voter turnout in decades hardly suggests enthusiastic support. One commentator aptly referred to it as “a loveless landslide.” Or as King’s College professor Anand Menon put it “We wanted change, but we aren’t inspired by Labour.”

The gross misrepresentation of the will of the people is of course the result of the ridiculously undemocratic first-past-the-post voting system, the same British anachronism that we suffer under.

The mockery of democracy extended to the smaller parties. The moderate Liberal Democrats won 71 seats with 12 percent of the vote; the right-wing Reform, who cut heavily into Conservative support, got only five seats for 14 percent of the vote.

The question now arises, how should Labour lead? That the people wanted change can hardly be in any doubt. The ruling Conservatives were delivered the worst defeat in their party’s history. But why? Because the Conservatives were chaotic and incompetent, or because the electorate seeks major change? Or are British electors just fed up with their political class?

We can’t really tell from the Labour landslide. Not only did they win with a relatively small vote, but they presented nothing major in their platform

Their leader, and new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, is reputed to be solid middle of the road, socially left, economically right—a bright but dull technocrat. He told his supporters that the goal of his government would be “To restore service and respect to politics. End the era of noisy performance. Tread more lightly on your lives. And unite our country.” Whatever he means by that, it doesn’t sound like anything radical can be expected. No Jeremy Corbyn nonsense here.

In particular, left-wingers cannot assume the landslide means a slew of social democratic policy. Nor should they. Clearly the voters have sanctioned no such thing despite those 412 Labour seats. Under the first-past-the-post system, parties that win large majorities despite receiving only a minority of the votes are inclined to boast of their “mandate” to carry out an ideological platform when in fact most voters don’t even want them in government.

PM-elect Starmer appears to suggest that his party will govern moderately and restore respect to politics. That would seem to be an excellent approach. There seems to be no mandate from the British people for anything else.

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