UK elections confirm predictions

As predicted in the polling, the Labour Party won a sweeping victory in the general elections. They got 412 seats, a gain of 211 from its previous 201 in the 650-member parliament. Conservatives got just 121, dropping by a whopping 251 seats from its previous 372, even worse than exit polls had predicted. The Liberal Democrats, who after they joined the Conservatives in David Cameron’s government in 2010 as a junior partner, got hammered in 2015 (going from 56 seats to just 8) also had a good day, winning 71 seats, a gain of 63. The Scottish National Party lost badly, getting just 9 seats, down by 39. I am not sure what that implies for the Scottish independence movement. Sinn Fein won seven seats in Northern Ireland, making them the largest party there. The implications for leaving the UK and uniting with Ireland are not clear.

In this clip, made just before the election, Jonathan Pie provides a brutal analysis of how bad the 14 years of Conservative rule have been.

Many of the front-bench Conservatives and cabinet members, including the ministers of defense, veterans, justice, education, culture, transport, and chief whip have lost. Leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt, seen as a potential replacement to Sunak as party leader, has also lost her seat. Sadly, the awful Suella Braverman, Priti Patel, and Kemi Badenoch were not swept away by the tide and have retained their seats. Mordaunt’s departure have improved their chances of becoming party leader. The infamous Liz Truss did lose her seat, one that had been considered quite safe since she last won it by a huge majority and it had been held by conservatives since 1964, ruling out any fantasy that she might have had about making a comeback as party leader.

Turnout is one of the lowest in post-war history, suggesting that there was not that much excitement about the race. Labour really did not offer an inspiring platform and indeed implied that they would not make any major changes.. Their main message was that the Conservatives should be thrown out and although voters seemed willing to oblige, it was hardly an inspiring message. Even in his victory speech, Keir Starmer promised ‘stability and moderation’, hardly the stuff that fires up supporters.

In this clip, Pie discusses the possible reasons for the voter apathy and savages the lack of any kind of bold message for the future from the Labour party and its bland leader Starmer that might have given hope to people who were utterly disenchanted with Tory rule and looked for major changes. He also reveals how he has voted down the years.

As he says, “Arguably, the Tories have done more to get Labour in power, than Labour have.”

The bad news is that Nigel Farage’s Reform party won four seats and Farage too won a seat after seven previous failed attempts. In terms of total votes cast, Labour’s share has not increased that much. What seems to have happened is that there was a big drop for the Conservatives that went to Reform. In many constituencies, Reform came in second, ahead of the Conservatives.

Some of the people who ran as Reform candidates seem to be real pieces of work

In Barnsley North, the exit poll predicts that Labour’s Dan Jarvis is likely to lose his seat to a former Reform candidate who was dropped by the party last week over alleged racist comments.

On an episode of BBC Question Time on Friday, Reform party leader Nigel Farage disowned three candidates, including Barnsley North’s Robert Lomas.

According to a report in the Times, Lomas had reportedly said that “black people of Britain should get off their lazy arses and stop acting like savages”, and that asylum seekers had it “in their DNA to lie.”

On Saturday, Reform confirmed it had withdrawn support from Lomas and two other candidates. It is understood Lomas would sit as an independent MP.

I’m surprised that the Reform party disowned Lomas. He seems to be on brand for them. But in this case the exit polls were way off and Jarvis handily beat Lomas, so that was good.

In the remarkably swift transitions that characterizes UK politics, Rishi Sunak will leave the official prime minister’s residence immediately and Labour leader Starmer will move in as soon as he leaves.

What this means for Sunak personally is not clear. He had hinted earlier that, while he will step down as party leader if they lose, he may stay on to ensure that the selection of a new party leader goes smoothly. But now reports say that he will resign the leadership immediately. The selection of a new Conservative leader is going to be a bit rough. After the turmoil that saw Liz Truss first picked and then kicked out as prime minister after just 49 days, the party instituted a new rule that any candidate had to be nominated by 100 MPs in order to have their name put forward to the members. This move was seen as to avoid having the election go to the membership. And it worked, with Sunak being elected unopposed. Johnson claimed to have got the support of over 100 also but withdrew his name. Having only 121 MPs now will make that rule difficult to implement and so the rules might have to be changed again.

In other news, Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg, who epitomizes the upper class twit characters satirized by Monty Python, has lost his seat and blames the party’s woes on their decision to kick Boris Johnson out of the party leader position. Meanwhile, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn easily held on to his seat as an independent after the party expelled him. The firebrand George Galloway has lost the seat that he won in a by-election earlier this year.

Part of the UK’s current economic woes are being blamed on Brexit that, far from the promised liberation from Europe that would propel the economy to new heights, has resulted in stagnation that has been estimated to have cost about $100 billion a year due to the lack of easy mobility of goods and services. Starmer has been asked about rejoining the EU and he has said that he is not going to push for it. But even if the UK decided to rejoin, would the EU even want them back? The relationship of the UK to the EU was always highly contentious. The EU was a convenient punching bag for British xenophobes, with the UK not fully committing to Europe and demanding various special accommodations in order to stay in. The UK seemed unable to decide if it wanted to be part of Europe’s economy or to be with the US. Even the break-up with the EU was highly acrimonious. The UK acted like a very high-maintenance friend and the EU might well feel that they are well rid of them and not allow them back in, despite the UK being the sixth largest economy in the world.


  1. Bruce says

    People who say that Labour should rejoin the EU don’t realize how it works.
    The first question from the EU will be: Does your country have a consensus about joining? Or, if we start negotiations, might the conservatives win the next election and cancel all our work?
    There will be no negotiations by the EU until the Conservatives are ok with it, even though they are not in government.
    All that Starmer can do until the Tories reform is to make parallel agreements, such as on veterinary certification and on standards. He will do that. So he is doing what is the fastest path to rejoining that is possible. If he were to SAY this out loud, that would not help anything, but would only rally objections to the process.
    So please don’t hurt the rejoin idea by demanding a platform of rejoining!

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Labour apparently got a *lower* percentage of the vote than 2017 under Corbyn. So the success is entirely due to tactical voting.

    Silver lining: UK voters no longer tend to turn conservative as they age. So long term the tories are moribund.
    But it would be better if voters pressure their MPs to call for electoral reform, that would ruin the tories forever.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    The demand for specific photo ID (and a deliberate lack of information about which IDs that were valid for voting) will have suppressed turnout, as well as causing voters to be turned away.

    You will notice there was a greater voter turnout 2017 aka the Corbyn era.
    BTW in a year or two the investigation into the handling of COVID will be underway. As disturbing news of tory mismamagement emerges, it would be a great time for another national election. Lots of people (including tories) lost relatives.
    Plus, now that tactical voting has been proven to work and the Tory fearmongering about Labour will have been proven wrong the treshold for victory will have been lowered (as long as people still remember the tory years).

  4. Jazzlet says

    The COVID Inquiry has been underway for some time, it has already seen evidence that infuriates including that from Johnson.

  5. JM says

    My understanding is that Labour intentionally ran a very quiet campaign. They knew that all they had to do was not screw up and they win so no radical proposals, all safe interviews with friendly media, all moderate center members in the forefront. This probably explains some of the lack of enthusiasm for them. Hopefully they understand they have to manage things more aggressively to stay in power. The hard rejection of the Tories got them in now and likely helps them next election but after that they stand on what they do, not history.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    Several US-media reports about the UK election drove me crazy by using words like “overwhelming” and “landslide”, but not including any, y’know, numbers.

    I finally found some serious figures at Al-Jazeera (still haven’t figured whether to feel a- or be-mused that they lumped the “Reform” Party under “Other”, even while listing, e.g., Plaid Cymru (with half as many seats won as the “R”P)).

    The US media seem to have a rule against giving actual return data after elections -- even though they usually describe pre-election polls in numerical detail, even going into tenths of percentages. Puzzling, though hardly their worst attribute.

  7. Bekenstein Bound says

    An old and mighty rotted-out oak tree has fallen in the forest. What dire saplings might now reach skyward where formerly was that vast and ancient canopy’s shade?

    Aside from the Reform Party, that is.

    The collapse of a center-right party has often given renewed vigor to the far right. We should celebrate, but with cautious eyes to the horizon.

  8. Holms says

    But even if the UK decided to rejoin, would the EU even want them back?

    Certainly not with all the privileges previously enjoyed.

  9. John Morales says

    Holms, I thought of endorsing your comment with a point I myself nearly essayed, then I thought about our dynamic, then I thought “so what” — I am not a feebloid.

    So, yeah.

    The UK had a bespoke arrangement and particular concessions other members lacked due to contingent historical circumstances… and those won’t come again.

    Next time, when the UK stops putting trade friction between itself and the EU, it will not be a member to whom special accommodations are afforded.

  10. John Morales says

    I mean, I watched the Brexit referendum result (hey, remember how it was “non-binding”?) come out a hairsbreadth ahead of no Brexit much as I watched Trump’s Election win.

    (2016, not the best year)

  11. seachange says

    The EU didn’t say ‘so long don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out’. They did say that the UK was a ‘longtime friend to the EU’ and would be ‘welcome to follow the procedures to rejoin’ and looked forward to it should the UK choose to do that.

    Now, this could be bureaucratese for door-hit-ass. Is that how the EU communicates, as a rule?

  12. outis says

    Well, good riddance to a bunch of demented European Trumpoids. To see the historically serious, rather plodding conservative party so metamorphosed was astonishing from every possible direction.
    About the return to the EU: it’s certainly possible but not for tomorrow.
    Everything will have to be done from scratch without any rebates or special concessions (EU and Switzerland do have a bespoke agreement… it has been enough of a pain that there’s zero appetite for a second show). Above all the UK has to show an evident, long-term committment to rejoin and that’s simply not there right now.
    Options like the Norway one so often mentioned in 2016 are simply not there, as the EFTA has clearly indicated that accession of the UK in their club is not going to happen.
    We shall see what we shall see but these things take time, plus the EU is not known as a swift mover -- the commercial pact between EU and Canada took eight years from start to final signatures (!).

  13. KG says

    “Arguably, the Tories have done more to get Labour in power, than Labour have.” -- Jonathan Pie

    Not even arguable, I’d say. Labour won a huge majority (63.4% of the Commons seats) on just over 1/3 (33.7%) of the vote. This is the lowest vote share that has ever given a UK party an overall majority, let alone a nearly 2/3 majority*. Labour’s and the Tories’ poll ratings both declined during the campaign, but in the end the polls turned out to have overestimated the Labour vote and they were just 10% ahead of the Tories rather than near 20%. The biggest factor in their huge majority in seats was that Nigel Farage’s Reform Party UK Ltd.** siphoned off a considerable proportion of potential Tory votes; and for that, the Tories have only themselves to blame, both for being such a collection of prize numpties and crooks, and for playing into Farage’s hands by focusing their propaganda on immigrants, “wokeness”, etc. -- just the topics where he can play his most seductively bigoted tunes. A poll taken post-vote showed around half of Labour voters voted primarily to get the Tories out -- only 5% cited Labour policies and 1% Starmer’s qualities. There have been claims that tactical voting reduced the Labour vote-share, but that’s purely speculative. Most such voting would have to have been voters who would otherwise have voted Labour voting for the LibDems in seats where the latter came second last time, and conversely, LibDems voting Labour where they were second last time -- and there’s no obvious way to know which of these involved more people. Neither of the two parties got a much larger vote share than in 2019, both gained large numbers of seats. It’s conceivable that Labour-preferers were more willing to vote LibDem than vice versa, but there were a lot more seats where Labour came second last time.

    For me, the best outcome was the election of 4 Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) MPs -- they have never before held more than 1 seat; and secondarily, of 5 pro-Palestinian independents -- Jeremy Corbyn, and 4 Muslims who ran specifically on the Gaza issue -- and 4 rather than the previous 2 Plaid Cymru MPs (a leftish Welsh nationalist party). This is enough to put at least some pressure on Starmer, especially as the Greens are now second in 39 seats won by Labour -- so their MPs will want Starmer to do something to secure them against the Greens taking them down next time. In Scotland the SNP had a (largely deserved) disastrous night -- partly down to people wanting to be sure of getting the Tories out, but mostly to financial scandals and two recent changes of leader. But my own party, the Scottish Green Party (entirely independent of and more radical than GPEW) did well, although we only got 3.9% of the Scottish vote -- before this election, we’d focused almost entirely on elections to Holyrood (the Scottish Parliament) and local councils. We probably picked up disgruntled SNP voters, and came third (after Labour and SNP) in a number of constituencies, including the one where I live, and the one where I canvassed and leafletted (I voted for our local candidate, but have a lot of time for our pre-election SNP MP -- who unfortunately lost -- and so preferred to campiagn next door against a particularly repulsive Labour MP).

    *A 2/3 majority has no constitutional significance in the UK, incidentally, despite silly Tory use of the term”supermajority” to beg people to vote for them to prevent one.

    **Yes, it really is a limited company, largely owned by Farage, there are no members as in a proper political party.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    When Thatcher brought Britain into EU Britain was the largest member of a rival European free-trade bloc, the EFTA. This gave Britain a lot of leverage. After Britain joined EU, so did nearly all other former EFTA members (Norway stayed out, but they pay a fee to get access to the common market).

    Today Britain has zero leverage. They will probably have to give uo the £ and accept Euro as currency if they rejoin.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Those who voted tactically can (and should) write to the MP of their district and tell him/her the victory was dependent on a voter that wants a reform of the voting system.
    Since many of the MPs won by tiny margins this is a powerful argument and the new parliament must not be allowed to forget this.
    The obsolete first past the post system is what has allowed a minority of tory voters to impose tory governments on a country with a divided opposition.
    Introducing proportional representation is like throwing Sauron’s ring into Orodruin; If the Brits do not do it the shadow will return.

  16. Deepak Shetty says

    @birgerjohansson @2

    So long term the tories are moribund.

    Im not sure if this is true though. As you mention it doesnt look like Labour got more votes than last time but Reform split the right wing vote -- i.e. people looked at the Tories and thought well they need to be more right-wing(which will be the lesson that both the Tories and Labour learn) -- so all the news about the people are fed up with the Tories and Labour landslide doesnt really seem to be valid atleast in the sense that the people realized that right wing policies will lead to ruin for most of the middle class and poor and voted labour .

  17. xohjoh2n says


    The problem with the single-vote-decides-all of representative democracy is you don’t truly know the reason behind the choice -- so parties losing voteshare tend to flail around grabbing at the nearest convenient explanation and say “Look! It must be this! We must do more of this to compensate!” (Even when the polling says that that individual policy is wildly unpopular.)

    So, sure, it could be that the high Reform vote means the UK has 14.3% (4.1m) dedicated fascists who the Tories have to woo next time. Or they could all be true blue Tories who are actually somewhat to the left of the party’s advertised position (because for some reason no party ever listens to the fine-grained polling data, only looking to the extremes of what their competitors are saying), who could never bring themselves to vote Labour but are absolutely sick of the shit-show and want to make that clear. The Greens are a bunch of clowns, and the Lib Dems are either a bunch of wets, or might actually stand a chance of getting in and they don’t want that either, so the protest vote goes to Reform who don’t stand a chance but sends a powerful message: roughly where you are now, but start doing it *better*.

  18. KG says

    The firebrand George Galloway has lost the seat that he won in a by-election earlier this year.

    Hmm: f-i-r-e-b-r-a-n-d -that’s an odd way to spell “arsehole”. One of the few Labour wins worth celebrating individually; another was the ousting of the SNP transphobic bigot Joanna Cherry in Edinburgh South-West, not far from me.

  19. KG says


    Probably a mix of those reasons, and others even more incoherent. I’ve seen interviews with Reform Party UK Ltd. voters who are pro-immigration and think everyone should be treated equally, and there will be quite a few who just think Farage is “a laugh” -- he has a big Tik-Tok presence.

  20. Mano Singham says

    Holms @#16,

    Thanks for that link. He definitely looks like a promising choice.

  21. sonofrojblake says

    it could be that the high Reform vote means the UK has 14.3% (4.1m) dedicated fascists

    I don’t think so. Someone (can’t remember who, they were pretty senior back in the day though I think) said something I was already thinking on the BBC on election night -- the Reform vote in 2024 is reminiscent of the votes the BNP were getting in the late 00’s. It wasn’t that there’s a high percentage of dedicated fascists (see how well the BNP did after 2010…). It’s that there’s a significant number of people who needed to send the message “You fuckers are NOT LISTENING”. In the 00’s it was Labour who weren’t listening, and for the last five years it’s been the Tories. I see two ways this can go:
    1. the Tories (or Labour) actually address the real concerns of the people who voted Reform successfully, and Farage goes back to being background noise until he dies or simply pretty much disappears like Nick Griffin did. He has more money than Griffin and is better at the media game, so likely the background noise thing.
    2. they don’t, the Tories take the wrong message, try to lurch right and fight Reform on their own turf, lose, and are ended as a serious political party.

  22. Jazzlet says

    birgerjohansson @#18
    Mrs Thatcher certainly did not bring the UK into the EU, that had been done by Edward Heath, another Tory, back in 1973.

    I tend to agree with sonofrojblake about the meaning of the Reform vote, can’t find it now but I saw a graphic of a poll of Reform voters asking who they would have voted for if they hadn’t voted Reform. Only 25% said they wouldn’t vote for anyone else, the other 75% included a lot of potential Tory voters, but also possibles for Labour, the Greens and various others.

  23. Deepak Shetty says

    @xohjoh2n @22

    you don’t truly know the reason behind the choice

    Sure. But I find it hard to believe that these people dont know what Farage/Reform represent , and more importantly they would rather vote reform than Labour which means that they would run back to the Tories if reform goes nowhere. Its the equivalent of an old school republican saying the Republican party is broken , but I cant bring myself to vote Democrat or anyone on the left , let me vote for someone to the right of Donald Trump.

    @sonofrojblake @26

    It wasn’t that there’s a high percentage of dedicated fascists

    Xenophobic more than fascist in this case I think. I think people of color may have a different opinion (I know my friends do). I suppose you also sympathized with the numerous articles about how the people who voted Trump were not really racist , they just wanted to send a message about the disappointing place they found themselves in life, and due to no fault of their own.
    I think in your scenarios #1 but where they join the Tory party and take it over and swing it to the extreme is the likely scenario -- after all they already have the same things in place .

  24. sonofrojblake says

    Xenophobic more than fascist in this case I think. I think people of color may have a different opinion

    This is a common mistake. There definitely IS a hard core of properly racist arseholes, and those are the ones who actually join the BNP, stand for election for them, or vote for them pretty much all the time. And those people, seeing which way the wind is blowing, vote Reform nowadays.

    But if that’s all there was, there’d be little need to worry. The people putting Farage in parliament and putting his cronies in second place in over a hundred other places are NOT that hard core. They’re not fascists, they’re not even, most of themn, even particularly racist -- and this is what the left don’t get. It’s not that they’re racist, it’s that they don’t give a shit about racism. Tell them the person they’re voting for is a racist and they won’t throw their hands up in horror and vow to mend their ways. More importantly, they won’t look you in the eye and say “Yes, fucking obviously, that’s why I voted for them”. What they’ll say is “so?”. It’s that indifference that’s the enemy. Misunderstanding that is what put Nick Griffin in the European Parliament and on Question Time. It’s what put Farage into power in Clacton. I wish more people could understand that.

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