Election 2024: After Labour’s landslide, we must demand real change
Prime Minister Keir Starmer arrives at 10 Downing Street

Election 2024: After Labour’s landslide, we must demand real change

By: Nick Dearden
Date: 5 July 2024

It’s worth taking a minute to celebrate today’s election result: after fourteen years, one of the most awful governments in living memory has been decisively rejected. From deporting people to Rwanda to expanding North Sea oil, hoarding vaccines for profit to slashing the aid budget, the outgoing government’s agenda was the very opposite of global justice, and the end of their period in office hasn’t come a moment too soon.

But now the important work begins. Millions of us have voted for change in different ways, but if we want real, radical change it’s going to take sustained popular pressure from the bottom up to achieve it. The Labour manifesto contains some positive steps towards the kind of world we want to see, but also some worrying signs that the party sees big business as the answer to too many problems – in this country and further afield.

As a movement, we will need to work with MPs from across parliament in the weeks and months ahead to hold the new prime minister and his government to account. We must make sure they deliver on the positive steps they’ve promised, and push them to go further – or change course where necessary.

Even under the last government we won victories – from exiting the Energy Charter Treaty to setting up the climate Loss and Damage Fund at UN climate talks. So with a new government in place, we can afford to aim high and demand what we know is right.

Our strength is in our numbers. Over many years, we have put issues on the political map and forced them onto politicians’ agendas. We can only do that because ordinary people power our work – donating, signing petitions, getting together locally and taking to the streets. Yesterday, we voted for change up and down the country. But now we need to make sure real change happens.

The radical change we need

During the election campaign we set out three key challenges for every candidate to address. Together we sent thousands of messages demanding they back action to end fossil fuels, stop arming Israel, and offer safe routes for people seeking asylum. Thank you to everyone who was a part of that. Now we need to keep up this pressure as new ministers are appointed and they arrive in their departments.

First of all, we need ambitious action to tackle the climate emergency. Labour’s pledge to end new oil and gas licences in the North Sea is a good start, but it will take much more to get the UK back on track. We will push the new government to back the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty at COP29 in November, an essential step if we’re to show the climate leadership the new government has pledged.

On Gaza, the new prime minister has an opportunity to overhaul the previous government’s appalling complicity in Israel’s war crimes in recent months. But after his horrific comments on Israel’s right to cut off water late last year – which allies claimed were misunderstood – Starmer has it all to prove. Is he willing to stand up for an immediate ceasefire and long-term justice for the Palestinian people? We will be joining with others to push for an immediate arms embargo on Israel, as well as a halt to trade talks.

More broadly, we need to change the UK’s relationship with the global south. From Brexit to the pandemic to Gaza, a chasm of mistrust has opened up with the majority of the world. It will take concrete actions, not just warm words, to bridge this divide. On access to medicines, on global debt, on safe routes for seeking asylum, on restoring the aid budget – there are policies the new government should be taking up, and campaigns we can win. But we will need everyone to be part of them.

Democracy doesn’t just happen at the ballot box, it happens every day. And we have to use all the campaigning tools at our disposal. We can be sure that the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the arms industry, and the likes of Nigel Farage, won’t be sitting on their hands for the next five years. We need to stand up and be counted – and demand real change.

So let’s celebrate today – and then get ready for what’s next. Together we can make the most of this opportunity to build a determined movement for real change.

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Photo: James Manning/PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo