Global Affairs

Europe's disappearing socialists

The British Labour Party’s recent electoral defeats are the latest sign of trouble for a socialist movement whose traditional draw based on the union movement and the welfare state no longer works

The British Labour Party, with a new and perfectly respectable leader in Sir Keir Starmer, is experiencing a political phenomenon now sweeping through Europe: the demise of the old socialist left. PHOTO: REUTERS
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

A political party that has been in power for 11 years, during which it pulled the country out of the European Union but then did not know how to handle trade relations with Europe, run by a prime minister who once lost his job as a journalist because he invented stories and is now embroiled in financial scandals, would expect to be trashed in elections.

But when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his centre-right Conservatives faced the voters in local elections last week, he not only managed to avoid any political damage but also increased his party's share of the vote. The Conservatives even defeated the opposition in a by-election, capturing a parliamentary seat which for more than half a century was considered such a safe Labour Party seat that nobody bothered to conduct opinion polls there.

Already a subscriber? 

Dive deeper at $0.99/month

Want more exclusives, sharp insights into what's happening at home and abroad? Subscribe to stay informed.

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • 2-week e-paper archive so you never miss out on any topic that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.