UK Labour leader says French far-right win a ‘lesson’ for ‘progressives’

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The far-right victory in the first round of France’s general election is a sign for politicians to better respond to disaffected voters, UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said Monday.

Starmer’s center-left party is firm favorite to seize power at the UK general election on Thursday, bucking the trend of a rightwards shift in Europe and elsewhere, and making him prime minister.

“The lesson I take from (the National Rally victory) is that we need to address the everyday concerns of so many people,” he said as the UK election campaign entered its final few days.

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“We have to take that head on and we have to show both Thursday in the United Kingdom and across Europe and the world that only progressives have the answers to the challenges that are facing us in this country and across Europe,” he added.

“We have to make that progressive cause but we have to, in making that, understand why it is... that people do feel disaffected with politics.”

Labour is campaigning on a platform for “change” after 14 years of Conservative government marked by economic upheaval, including a biting cost-of-living crisis, divisions over Brexit and a succession of party scandals.

The campaign has been increasingly dominated by the challenge posed to the right-wing Tories from Nigel Farage’s anti-immigration Reform UK party, and whether it can translate polling popularity into parliamentary seats.

But Labour has also warned about the dangers of complacency, given that it has been so far ahead in the polls for so long, urging voters not to stay at home but to turn out to secure a change of government.

Starmer, a former human rights lawyer and chief public prosecutor, said what was needed was to “return politics to service and continue to make that argument that politics is a force for good.”

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