Letter to a friend in America about the UK General Election

Meme by Sadie Parker

Dear —,

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for a seamless transition of power after the general election here in the UK. Outgoing prime minister Rishi Sunak gave the best, most statesmanlike speech of his life when he resigned. If only he’d governed in that tone! Over the past 6 weeks, the Tories have behaved like a Russian troll farm, with their final and most ridiculous attack being on Keir Starmer’s desire to be a good father. They did not have a single positive policy to offer voters. And that’s looking forward.

Looking at their record over the past 14 years of corruption, cronyism, and downright incompetence, the harm the Tories have done to the UK is immeasurable. When he stepped down from being Russia’s ambassador to the UK in 2019, having served for 8 years, Alexander Yakovenko is credited with having said, “We have crushed the British to the ground, they are on their knees, and they will not rise for a very long time.” But credit where credit is due: even Putin could not have done a better job of ruining our country than the Tories did.

To get back to being grateful… we have no tangerine, wannabe dictator having a meltdown because he’s been voted out of office, no court cases challenging results, no ‘stop the steal’ brainwashed anti-democrats questioning the legitimacy of the results and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Sure, there are right-wing numpty pundits (such as Laura Kuenssberg, who behaves like the Tory member of parliament for the BBC) and on other TV channels and platforms trying to tell us that Labour winning 412 out of 650 seats on 34 per cent of the popular vote and having a working majority of 176 « is a bad day for Labour ». Those same voices didn’t care when David Cameron came to power on a 36 percent vote-share or Boris Johnson won 365 seats and had a working majority of 80. In our system, it matters not what vote-share you get, but who is ‘first past the post’ in each constituency, and a working majority of 176 gives you no more power than a working majority of 2 (although obviously the larger a working majority a PM enjoys, the less vulnerable to rebellion by a few of his MPs they are).

The general election did not excise toxic Toryism completely. Some of the worst, most vicious Tories retain their seats, including Suella ‘Cruella’ Braverman, spiteful Priti Patel, anti-Net Zero gaslighter Claire Coutinho, the mis-named outgoing ‘minister for common sense’ Esther McVey, mathematically-challenged former Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott, ERG prima donna Joy Morrissey… Toxic Toryism being an equal opportunities affliction, some of its male proponents who will return to parliament include cartoon-obliterator Robert Jenrick, sinister nose-picker Iain Duncan-Smith, vile propagandist and all-round thug Richard Holden, moral blancmange Oliver Dowden, Cruella’s vampiric mentor Sir John Hayes, darling of Russian dominatrices and BBC-hater Sir John Whittingdale, two-jobs Geoff Cox (aka member of parliament for the British Virgin Isles), gormless gnome Mark Gino Francois, upskirting controversialist Sir Christopher Chope, and so on.

Yet there is hope. Starmer hit the ground running and announced his cabinet in record time. Gone are the old Etonians who are all about their egos and exercising their sense of entitlement. Starmer’s cabinet will be one of the most state-educated, working-class cabinets in history. It may be more by accident than by design, but the make-up of 84 percent having attended comprehensive schools, 6 percent state grammar schools, and only 10 percent private schools closely reflects British society. For the first time, there will be someone who grew up in social housing in charge of social housing, someone who benefited from free school meals in charge of our schools, someone whose cancer was cured by the NHS and who is passionate about it in charge of the NHS, and so on.

The cabinet includes three heavy-weight ‘EXPERTS’ from Civvy Street whom Starmer has ennobled so that they can become ministers. Sir Patrick Vallance, a physician, scientist, and pharmacologist who served as chief scientific advisor to the government (not that it always listened to him during the Covid years, hélas) from 2019 to 2024, has been appointed as minister of state for science. James Timpson OBE, Chair of the Prison Reform Trust and a business CEO famed for employing ex-offenders to give them a second chance in life, has been appointed as a minister of state in the ministry of Justice. Richard Hermer KC, a heavy-weight barrister, international law specialist, and head of Matrix Chambers (a famous human rights set of lawyers), has been appointed as Attorney General, showing how important the Rule of Law – tarnished under the Tories – will be to this new government.

The whole of UK Twitter was in shock at (a) the brilliance of the appointments and (b) the fact that Starmer used peerages to bring expertise into government instead of donors, pals, and assorted cronies. The Trumpist Tory era of prioritising ignorance, magical thinking, and willful blindness to truth over expertise to avoid reality, experience, and empirical data-based challenges to the cult of Brexit is over, even if Labour is now officially a Brexit party.

A new day dawns… I don’t have to wake up every morning and doomscroll to discover how my government is contriving to make my life worse today. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it will, and I fully expect my productivity, and that of millions of others like me, to increase dramatically when we no longer have to spend so much of our time worrying what our government is up to. Restoration of trust in our political system could lead to not just a less stressful life for individuals like me, but also a boost in the entire country’s morale, attractiveness to investors and, ultimately, economic performance.