LabourThe Radcliffe Camera on a rare sunny day. Credit: Tallulah Hawley
The Radcliffe Camera on a rare sunny day. Credit: Tallulah Hawley

Oxford students react to Labour landslide

In the early hours of Friday morning Britain returned the Labour party to government. Despite winning just 33.7% of the popular vote, Keir Starmer’s Labour Party obtained 412 seats.

Oxford Labour Club (OLC) said the “landslide” victory was “helped by thousands of hours of campaigning by students at this university”, and provided Labour the opportunity to “change the country after 14 years of chaos.” 

The Conservatives were wiped out in Oxfordshire, losing a seat they have held for over a century. Labour’s Annelise Dodds, meanwhile, held her Oxford East constituency by over 14,000 votes. OLC expressed their delight, commenting: “We can’t wait to support her campaigns to fight inequality and build the genuinely affordable housing that Oxford desperately needs.”

The Sutton Trust have reported that Starmer’s cabinet is the most state educated ever recorded, with just one individual attending an independent school. This cabinet also sees a slight drop in Oxbridge educated ministers,  40% of the new cabinet studied at Oxford or Cambridge, down from 45% under Rishi Sunak.  Notably, Keir Starmer obtained his BCL at St Edmund Hall after studying at Leeds. Chancellor Rachel Reeves attended New College for her undergraduate degree. Secretary of State for Education, Bridget Phillipson, studied History and Modern Languages at Hertford College.

A loss of 251 seats leaves the Conservative Party on 121 seats, just 49 seats more than the Liberal Democrats. Regarding the result, OUCA said: “Whilst we are obviously disheartened by [it], the world is currently very unforgiving towards incumbents, and no party can govern forever…Democracy is something that we must protect, cherish and never take for granted.” OUCA further stated that they stand by the Conservative’s record on issues such as Brexit, support for Ukraine and education reform.

A number of high ranking Conservative MPs lost their seats, notably, former Prime Minister and Merton College Alumna Liz Truss, and OUCA Honorary President, Sir Jacob Rees Mogg, for whom OUCA noted they were “especially saddened”.

The Oxford Liberal Liberal Democrats (OULD) described themselves as “absolutely ecstatic”, saying, “The Lib Dems ran an excellent, and locally targeted, campaign.” This included the Oxford and West Abingdon MP, Layla Moran, who maintained a sizeable majority, winning with 23,414 votes.

OULD President Zagham Farham added: “Turning Oxfordshire almost entirely yellow is an incredible achievement, and I think speaks to a real dissatisfaction with the actions of the Conservative Party… this represents a huge public outcry at the broken nature of the two party system – with the two main parties not even receiving 60% of the vote between them.”

Surprise losses were not limited to the Conservative Party. Shadow Paymaster General, Jonathan Ashworth, lost his seat to Independent Candidate, Shockat Adam, who has been outspoken in his support for Gaza. Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) suggested gains by independent MPs were evidence of the “deep concern of the British electorate” for the Palestinian cause and that “both conservatives and labour have failed palestine profoundly”.

OA4P said of the new Prime Minister “[He] represents a party that has failed to call for an unconditional ceasefire in gaza, opposes sanctions on israel, and refuses to recognise the murder of more than 37,000 palestinians as a genocide.”

Losing their status as the third largest party, and with it the automatic right to ask two questions at Prime Ministers Questions, the SNP won just 9 seats. 

Even smaller parties were able to make gains, with The Green Party at 4 seats and Reform UK at 5. Independent candidates won in 6 constituencies, including Islington North, where Jeremy Corbyn was elected with 49% of the vote.