Published: July 7, 2024

An insider-betting scandal helped sweep the Labour Party to a landslide victory in the UK general election

An insider-betting scandal has helped sweep Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party to a landslide victory in the UK general election.

Sir Keir Starmer will replace Rishi Sunak as UK prime minister after a landslide election for the Labour Party, which saw the scandal-rocked Conservative Party book the worst result in its history. 

With Labour taking 412 of 650 parliamentary seats to the Conservative Party’s 120 (two results are yet to be called at the time of publication), Starmer will prepare to form the first Labour government since the days of Tony Blair. For the Conservatives, it’s the worst election result in its 190-year history.

In the lead up to the election, it emerged that several senior Conservatives were under investigation by the UK Gambling Commission for placing bets on the timing of the election. These bets were allegedly placed just days before the “snap” election was announced by soon-to-be-ex prime minister Rishi Sunak.

The Last Straw

This wasn’t the only reason for the Labour avalanche – the Conservatives have been trailing in the polls since the start of 2022 — but it was perhaps the last straw as far as the electorate was concerned.

A poll just before the election commissioned by Demos, a cross-party think tank, found that one in nine voters said they would change the way they voted as a result of the scandal. The survey showed the incident had eroded whatever trust voters had left in the party’s ability to govern.

For former cabinet minister Michael Gove, the scandal “sucked the Oxygen out of the [Conservative election] campaign.”

Damaging as ‘Partygate’

In an interview with the Sunday Times earlier this month, he likened it to  “Partygate” – when former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration was rocked by revelations of illegal parties held at 10 Downing Street in May and December 2020.

At the time, the UK was enduring a strict lockdown to counter the spread of COVID-19.

It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us,” Gove said. “That’s the most potentially damaging thing. The perception that we operate outside the rules that we set for others. That was damaging at the time of Partygate and is damaging here.”

“If you’re in a privileged position [close] to the prime minister at the heart of a political operation and you use inside information to make additional money for yourself, that’s just not acceptable … You are, in effect, securing an advantage against other people who are betting entirely fairly and without that knowledge.”

Center-left Starmer is a former chief public prosecutor who has a reputation for being a trustworthy if slightly dull man. He hopes to bring some political stability to a nation that has gone through six prime ministers since Brexit.

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