Independence day election to grant liberation from Tory misrule - The Irish News view

Keir Starmer almost certain to become fifth prime minister in five years through revolving door at Downing Street

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was soaked while making a speech outside No 10
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak failed to account for heavy rain when organising a press conference announcing the general election date of July 4 (Lucy North/PA)

In the United States Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4 1776, the 56 signatories set out a long list of grievances explaining why they no longer considered themselves subject to British rule.

Among the charges levelled against King George III were cutting off trade links, imposing taxes without consent, removing rights to trial by jury and, more generally, being “unfit to be the ruler of a free people”.

Were we to reach for modern parallels – the monumental folly of Brexit, the highest tax burden in 70 years, the shameful denial of justice represented by the Legacy Act, as well as a level of general ineptitude in the affairs of state not matched in living memory – there is more than enough reason for July 4 2024 to be the date when the people of Britain are finally liberated from this wretched Conservative government.

That Sir Keir Starmer will be the fifth tenant in as many years through the revolving door at Downing Street, taking charge of an emasculated and impoverished UK, appears all but certain. While failing to entirely convince as prime minister-in-waiting until now, in the way Tony Blair did at a similar stage in 1997, it is clear the British public have had their fill of this rotten band of Tories and are ready for change.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking in front of supporters holding 'Change' placards during a visit to Gillingham Football Club in Kent
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Gillingham Football Club in Kent on the first full day of the general election campaign trail (Gareth Fuller/Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Any lingering doubts are likely to have been washed away by the lamentable spectacle of Rishi Sunak being incapable even of checking the weather forecast before arranging a press conference.

In Northern Ireland, as ever, the general election represents more of a political beauty contest – or tribal headcount – than an opportunity to send a meaningful message about how we are governed.

Having become top dog in recent council and assembly elections, Sinn Féin will seek to complete the triple crown by becoming the north’s biggest party at the House of Commons, albeit not physically in the chamber itself.

The DUP certainly has most to lose, with Alliance targeting both Jeffrey Donaldson’s former seat in Lagan Valley and interim leader Gavin Robinson in East Belfast. While the divided party may get some credit from voters for finally returning to Stormont, its right flank remains exposed to attack from Jim Allister and the timing near the Twelfth is unhelpful.

The story of the independence day election will be the scale of the Labour victory and the implications for the UK’s relationship with Europe and its devolved regions

For Colum Eastwood, it is simply a case of attempting to hold on to the gains of 2019, while Doug Beattie’s UUP is seeking to secure a foothold at Westminster for the first time in almost a decade.

However, the story of this independence day election will undoubtedly be the scale of the Labour victory and the implications for the UK’s relationship with Europe and its devolved regions. After 14 years of Tory misrule, things can surely only get better.