Labour Sweeps Conservative Party In UK General Election: The Business Is Hopeful

An exit poll predicting that the Labour Party led by Keir Starmer will win 410 seats in Britain’s general election is projected onto BBC Broadcasting House in London on July 4, 2024. Labour celebrated a landslide win in UK election. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

The UK held its general elections on Thursday, July 4, and Labour has ended a 14-year Conservative rule in what has been considered a landslide victory by all local accounts. The party’s campaign ran under the slogan of “Change,” not little of which has been aimed at the (live) music sector. Labour party leader Keir Starmer, now the country’s new prime minister, said in March, that his party would cap the price charged for tickets on the secondary market, and hold ticketing platforms accountable, if Labour won the election. Now that the election results are in, the entire UK industry has congratulated the new prime minister, and repeated their calls made over the past months.

UK Music chief executive Tom Kiehl urged the “music-loving” PM to “seize the moment, and work with the industry to devise a long-term music strategy as a top priority to help deliver Labour’s key election pledge of securing the highest sustained growth of the G7 group of nations.” According to stats from the trade body, the UK music industry contributes almost £7 billion ($8.9 billion) annually to the UK economy and supports 210,000 jobs – with its talent admired all over the world. UK Music had outlined in its pre-election “Manifesto for Music,” how the new government could deliver growth and opportunities across the UK, including the need to sweep away barriers facing UK musicians touring the EU post-Brexit, and the call for action against ticket touts who resell tickets to music fans at rip-off prices. Most of this has been embraced by the new government at some point during the election campaign.

Kiehl said, “The music industry is facing a number of challenges, but also opportunities. A strong relationship between UK Music and the new Government will be essential to navigating what the rest of this decade brings. As a teenager who played the flute, piano, recorder and violin – as well as attending the Guildhall School of Music, Sir Keir is without doubt a music-loving PM. He has an immense passion for music. It is in his DNA. He fully understands the joys music can bring and, just as importantly, the huge challenges our sector faces. We share his passion and the music industry is keen to continue working with him to ensure everyone can benefit from the important life skills that learning a music instrument with the help of brilliant teachers can bring – as Keir himself has acknowledged. We have lost 1,000 music teachers from our secondary schools since 2012. That poses a huge risk to the talent pipeline on which our sector relies and deprives thousands of young people of an enjoyable and rewarding career.  We will work with the members of the new Government – which has promised to recruit 6,500 new teachers – and strive to reverse that damaging decline.  As the collective voice of the music industry, UK Music already has strong links with Sir Keir’s top team. Our plan is to continue to build on those relationships and work across the political spectrum, including the many newly elected MPs, to deliver real change and further growth for our world-leading sector.”

Over the past months, there’s been multiple hearings in UK parliament on the state of the grassroots sector, and in May, the parliament’s Culture, Media, and Sport Committee said, that “a new levy on arena, and stadium tickets, and a cut in VAT are urgently needed to support grassroots music venues across the country as they struggle to cope with a crisis of closures and soaring costs.”

A statement from the Association of Independent Festivals’ CEO John Rostron reads, “We offer sincere congratulations to Sir Keir and to the Labour Party on their landslide win, and are pleased that there’s now a strong Government in place that can develop a program for the next five years. Our call to Sir Keir and to the incoming Culture Secretary will be for urgent lowering of VAT on festival ticket sales to 5% to mitigate independent festival closures in the UK and sow seeds for growth in 2025. We hope, also, that this Government will take forward the recommendations of the CMS inquiry into grassroots music venues. We want to note that we’re sorry to see Thangham Debbonaire lose her seat – she has been excellent in the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Culture. It’s also bittersweet to know that Tom Gray, who has been a brilliant advocate for progressive policies in music, lost out in his attempt to become an MP. We hope he returns to his excellent advocacy and representative work for the music sector. We hope all incoming MPs will now be able to relax for a short while and celebrate at this summer’s array of independent festivals.”

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum, said, “This should be a watershed moment for the music industry, and we look forward to helping the new Labour government deliver their manifesto commitments on international touring and online ticket touting, both areas on which the MMF has led through the #LetTheMusicMove and FanFair Alliance campaigns. For the sake of artists and fans, we all want to see quick progress on both these issues. We also hope to see a renewed focus to progress the discussions on creator remuneration as part of the ongoing economics of streaming work at DCMS, and to ensure that creators’ voices are centrestage in all discussions around AI.”

David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, commented, “congratulations to the new Labour government. Although we offer commiserations to our Artist in Residence, David Rowntree, and to Tom Gray, who were both standing for election, the FAC will now look forward to working with a new influx of MPs. It’s especially important that we can pick up on unfinished business from the previous Parliament, and quickly deliver the much-anticipated reforms to music streaming alongside greater support for the live music ecosystem. Music and culture should play a key role in the UK’s future success, so it’s vital that the foundations of our business are reset on a sound and artist-friendly footing.”

Adam Webb, campaign manager for the UK’s anti-secondary ticketing group FanFair Alliance, commented, “I’m personally delighted to see Sharon Hodgson get re-elected. Through her chairing of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, Sharon has been instrumental in keeping the issue of ticket touting so high on the political agenda. The Labour Party manifesto reiterated their commitment to capping ticket resale prices and protecting fans from exploitation, and everyone involved with FanFair Alliance will now look to support the new government in achieving that goal as quickly as possible.”

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