Keir Starmer trod a careful path through the competing strands of the Labour party from the very start of the leadership contest.
He began his campaign by reassuring Jeremy Corbyn supporters with a vow not to “oversteer” Labour away from the Left.
The then frontrunner also tried to appeal to more centrist members who wanted him to put pragmatism before ideology.
His strategy left many Labour MPs – and members – wondering which side he would end up letting down.
Starmer doesn’t want to be either Corbyn or Tony Blair – he has insisted repeatedly that he doesn’t have another Labour leader’s name “tattooed on my face”.
Instead he wants to keep the best bits of the past – but to shape his own future.
But to do that he must be bold.
His resounding victory should strengthen his hand.
He took more than 56% of votes in the first round of the contest and won among all groups – members, unions and supporters.
Starmer has huge internal challenges to deal with from the off.
First among them is sharpening up the party – clearing out some of the old guard and dramatically professionalising the operation.
His allies say that will require patience – as it depends on Labour’s ruling body – but he will be boosted by three moderates winning seats from Corbynites today.
He will demand – and must get, if he is to ever win an election – loyalty from MPs and all the different factions within the Labour movement.
And he must deliver on his promises to the Jewish community to “tear out” the poison of anti-Semitism with tough and decisive action.
Labour leadership and deputy results in full
Keir Starmer 275,780 (56.2%)
Rebecca Long-Bailey 135,218 (27.6%)
Lisa Nandy 79,597 (16.2%)
Angela Rayner 228944 (52.6%)
Rosena Allin-Khan 113,858 (26.1%)
Richard Burgon 92643 (21.3%)
Ian Murray Knocked out in second round with 14.3%
Dawn Butler Knocked out in first round with 10.9%
For full breakdown of results click here.
At the same time, the new Leader must look outwards and show the country that Labour is ready for power.
Thousands of Labour voters lost trust in the party at the last election – over Brexit, the scale of its manifesto, patriotism and – crucially – over Corbyn himself.
It will be a hard task – and a long one – to win that back.
Starmer is up for the fight – and can’t be afraid of who he frustrates or disappoints on his own side to get there.
He has signalled he knows that is the price he has to pay to make Labour electable again.
“Where that requires change, we will change,” he pledged today. “Where that requires us to rethink, we will rethink.”
But the new Labour leader’s most urgent task is to help get Britain through the coronavirus crisis.
Starmer is already sounding like the grown-up in the room.
In his acceptance video, he pledged that the Opposition will play “its full part” and “engage constructively” with ministers.
“Whether we voted for this Government or not, we all rely on it to get this right,” he told supporters.
Boris Johnson has already invited him to a high-level briefing on the pandemic next week.
He will go – but won’t shy away from “shining a torch” on critical issues or “calling out” mistakes in the national interest.
And he will fight for NHS frontline workers who for so long have been neglected by the Tories: “They were last and now they should be first”.
Starmer has an opportunity to appear statesmanlike – and could emerge stronger from the crisis.
He was the leadership candidate the Tories feared most.
In public, they dismiss him as a boring version of Ed Miliband and question his time as Director of Public Prosecutions.
They plan to attack him over his anti-Brexit stance – although he admits that fight has been lost.
But privately they admit that after more than four years of Jeremy Corbyn – who helped them to two election victories – Starmer will be much harder to beat.
The former lawyer is forensic where the Prime Minister is broad-brush, serious where he is lightweight, and principled where he is unscrupulous.
He is also aware of the gravity of the position Labour is in – requiring a swing of 1997 proportions to win the next election.
And they – like the country – will become increasingly aware of his steely determination to get there.
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