Britain’s Boring Election? — With Lydia Wilson

Britain’s Boring Election? — With Lydia Wilson
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer visits Bristol Rovers FC during the general election campaign. (Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Hosted by Kwangu Liwewe
Featuring Lydia Wilson
Produced by Finbar Anderson

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The upcoming election in the United Kingdom could see a change of government for the first time in 14 years, but the overriding emotion among the voting public is one of boredom, New Lines Culture Editor Lydia Wilson tells Global Insights host Kwangu Liwewe.

“Everyone is just taking for granted what’s going to happen,” Wilson says. “I think people are just disengaging, they’re just accepting the Labour government.”

“Everyone is just taking for granted what’s going to happen. … People are just disengaging, they’re just accepting the Labour government.”

The likely winner of the parliamentary election on July 4 is Labour leader Keir Starmer who, according to Wilson, “has been relentlessly central and anodyne. He’s being called bland, he’s being called boring but also the flip side of that is very stable and he’s wanting to sell himself as a competent pair of hands.”

Wilson notes her concern for a potential “supermajority” for the Labour party, given not least the physical, rectangular shape of the voting chamber in the House of Commons. “That is actually very worrying for a healthy democracy,” she says. “The thought of having one side of that chamber so packed with Labour MPs and the other side this motley collection of opposition [MPs] who don’t agree with each other; I don’t think that’s a great basis for policymaking or challenging decisions from the ruling party.”

The predominant unknown will be the performance of the right-wing Reform Party which, under leader Nigel Farage, is looking to take seats from the incumbent Conservatives. As opposed to Starmer’s “boring” demeanor, Farage “is so good at defining the message and reaching the audience through a lot of different platforms. He uses all the social media platforms, but he just gets that message somehow right to the heart of a lot of voters,” says Wilson. “Now he’s taken on the Tory party quite directly, and so that’s going to split the vote.”

Despite Farage’s popularity, the U.K.’s first-past-the-post voting system means the Reform party could struggle to turn votes into seats, says Wilson. “It’s really difficult to predict whether they’re going to get any power at all.”

Foreign policy, notes Liwewe, is notable by its absence in the discourse around the election.

“It’s a reflection that a lot of the domestic issues are pretty poor, which again is a reason why Labour is picking up so many votes,” explains Wilson.

Even issues like Israel’s war in Gaza, which has brought hundreds of thousands of protestors onto the streets of London since the Oct. 7 attacks, is unlikely to sway voters. “Although people care about that, and they criticize Starmer for his initial position, other concerns just trump that,” says Wilson. “They care more about the health service. They want to be able to turn up to a hospital and be treated.”

As for the incumbent Conservatives, the biggest question is whether or not they will be able to recover from what is predicted to be a major loss in the upcoming polls. “I think the election itself — everyone’s bored,” says Wilson. “[Later in] July is going to be much, much more interesting for the future of this country.”

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