There is no denying that, however we analyse the election results, however much we try to look on the bright side, we have a Labour government, endorsed by the Murdoch press. Labour has a large majority of seats in the Commons and may do exactly what it wants, knowing they do not have to face judgment from the electorate for another five years.

But can we find hope among the results? We can certainly find an appetite for more radical politics.

Many of us feel that real change will not come through the electoral system but through local communities and grassroots activities. But we have not yet seen a truly radical change in our society initiated at a local level. Many of these grassroots activities, though they may have a considerable impact, are not coordinated and are not yet in a position to lead to a transformation in our society. We all want to see bolder trade union activity. Trade unions prioritise fighting for their members’ rights, but they are also in a position to challenge the establishment and let us hope that they do so more often.

Among the election results, among the voters and among the MPs, there is a radical voice. The number of such MPs may be few but that does not mean that their voices cannot be loud. One of Jeremy Corbyn‘s comments after his victory was: “The hope for a better world can never be extinguished”. And his was an astonishing victory. Corbyn’s majority exceeded 7,000 votes over the official Labour candidate, the millionaire owner of a private healthcare company, imposed on Islington North by the Labour hierarchy. And Corbyn received over 5000 votes more than Sir Keir Starmer received in the constituency next door. The Labour Party was devoted to defeating Corbyn, providing time and money to do so. Neil Kinnock made a promotional video for the official Labour candidate. Mandelson canvassed for him, and Tom Watson came to campaign on polling day. Andrew Fisher, former executive director of policy for the Labour Party, pointed out this weekend: “Both Corbyn and the policy agenda he spearheaded generated enthusiasm, passion and inspiration.“

Elsewhere the election certainly did not go all Sir Keir’s way, however much he may bask in the ‘landslide’ victory. Andrew Feinstein campaigned in Holborn and St Pancras in a principled, energetic, direct and honest manner, and emphasised local issues and Gaza in his People’s Manifesto. Feinstein won 7,312 votes from people who decided that there was another way. It is unprecedented for an incoming prime minister to have the number of votes cast for them so dramatically reduced, reduced almost by half in this case. In 2019 Sir Keir Starmer received 36,641 votes. In 2024 he received 18,884 votes. 

If we look at a few other figures, we can see that a large percentage of voters in some constituencies voted for independents. Starmer nearly lost Streeting, a key player in his cabinet. He also nearly lost Jess Phillips to Jody McIntyre. Phillips’ vote was halved. In 2019 she received 23,379 votes and on Thursday she received 11,275 votes. Her constituency is now a marginal. Starmer lost Thangam Debbonaire to the Green Party in Bristol and another putative frontbencher, Jonathan Ashworth, in a surprising defeat to Shockat Adam after 14,739 voters decided to ignore the two main parties and the Liberal Democrats and elected him. The independent candidates did not have rich donors, nor did they have the backing of party machinery, but were relying on their own integrity, hard work and huge numbers of volunteers who believed that campaigning for an independent MP was a way of challenging the establishment. 

Starmer may not care less about these figures, or perhaps pretend to himself that he does not care, but they are significant and underline the fact that Labour was elected not because of its overwhelming popularity but because of how tired and disillusioned people were with the Tory Party and because of the votes for Reform, which let in some new Labour MPs. John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, stated: “In many ways, this looks more like an election the Conservatives have lost than one Labour has won.” 

Many people understandably do not know a great deal about alternatives, about what independent candidates can offer, but thousands did and voted accordingly. Some of us believe that Gaza has woken us up to our broken politics and have recognised that the callousness our politicians are demonstrating abroad is no different from the callousness that we see all around us at home.

Many of the independent candidates have local connections. Leanne Mohamad was already a community activist and organiser and has interpreted her election result with positivity. She is stressing the fact that, although she did not gain a seat in parliament, she almost toppled Wes Streeting, losing by only 528 votes. Jody McIntyre only just failed to win and remove Jess Phillips in Birmingham Yardley, but he is continuing to campaign locally, and a group of his supporters are joining him in opening an office. He is determined to continue fighting for what is right. It is possible that community activism can build on the increased awareness of local people and perhaps become involved in local elections initially and move on from there. This is the hope of some activists.

Meanwhile many on the left have not lost heart. We will endure Keir Starmer ruling the country for now, but his is not a popular victory. One commentator referred to it as “a loveless landslide”. As Sky News pointed out in an article on the result: “This election result cannot be treated as an unalloyed endorsement of everything Labour has campaigned on”. Dr Ismail Patel, chair and founder of Friends of Al Aqsa, who spoke at the huge London demonstration for the Palestinians on Saturday, said to Starmer: “You have not won the hearts and minds of the people of this country.”

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