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Reaction As Labour Party Sweeps To Power


After 14 years in the political wilderness, Labour has stormed back into power with a huge parliamentary majority and will form the next government of the UK. Keir Starmer has unseated Rishi Sunak, but what does the entertainment want from the new boss and his troops?

Performing arts union Equity was the first to have its say, with an announcement timed to land the same minute as the all-important exit poll, which confirmed a huge win for Labour, was released at 10pm local time last night.

“With the election completed, our new government must get to grips with the performing arts and entertainment, a critical sector for the UK’s long-term success,” said Paul W Fleming, General Secretary of Equity.

“We’ll be pressing the new administration to set out a long-term plan for UK arts funding to reach the European average, to tackle the high upfront fees charged by casting directories, to make Universal Credit fairer for freelancers, to ensure public subsidy only supports work on decent union terms, and to fight for better rights in the video games and TV commercials sector.” 

“There are no creative industries without this incredible workforce. It’s time politicians stand up and offer them the same recognition that is offered by audiences across the world.”

Equity says UK arts councils funding has been cut 16% in real time since 2017. Among Equity’s key demands are for UK arts and entertainment funding to be increased to 0.5% of GDP.

The election result saw Labour win 410 seats, well over the 326 required for a majority in the Houses of Parliament. This gives Labour a huge mandate to enact change, which the vote shows British people clearly want.

Marcus Ryder, CEO of the Film & TV Charity, said a Labour government would be beneficial for workers’ mental health.

”I am incredibly happy to see a new incoming government, who in opposition, clearly identified the need to address the growing number of UK workers experiencing mental health issues,” he said. “The Film & TV Charity have shown that people working in our sector are disproportionately affected by these issues, and so we are looking forward to working with the new government to ensure any new policies specifically address these workers’ needs and concerns.”

The UK’s industry has been hard hit over recent years through a mix of post-pandemic hangover, U.S. labor strikes, reduced budgets, the TV ad market downturn, streamer reset and other factors that have left workers reeling. Alarming research from the Film & TV Charity in January showed nearly half of freelancers are struggling to make ends meet.

James Burstall, CEO of indie production group Argonon, pointed to similar challenges.

“I have met some of the incoming ministers over the last 18 months and I am encouraged and hopeful that we will see strong, sustainable and much-needed support for our sector in the coming months and years. It’s urgently needed,” he said.

“Since the beginning of 2023, our world class creative sector has endured – and continues to battle against – a perfect storm of tough economic headwinds, fracturing business models and declining audiences, with huge knocks on effects for our world class production base as well as our talented freelancers at all levels. These are the immediate challenges we’re facing today.”

International response

Emmanuel Macron, the French President who is reeling after the far-right made significant gains in the first round of the French election over the weekend, has already been in contact with his new British counterpart.

He wrote on X he was “pleased” with his first discussion with Starmer and added: “We will continue the work begun with the UK for our bilateral cooperation, for peace and security in Europe, for the climate and for AI.”

We’ll update this story with more reaction as it comes in.

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