Bye bye, Tories, hello what?

by Chris Armstrong on July 5, 2024

In the UK, we’re all waking up to the prospect of a new government. The election was an oddity: Labour has converted a modest 35% vote share into a whopping Parliamentary majority; the Tories did somewhat better than suggested, on around 24%, but have lost more than two-thirds of their MPs. (The final figures were closer than most opinion polls suggested). But the election was not a story of Labour advances: they did little to increase their vote share (and neither did the Lib Dems, whose seats went up dramatically, from 11 to probably 71, on a virtually unchanged vote share). The real story was a fracturing of the Conservative coalition, with some voters locally going to Labour, some locally to the Liberal Democrats, and many going to Reform. One big question over the next few years will be how the Tories respond to this fracturing of that coalition. While they have long been divided and in decline, they no longer have Brexit to paper over their differences. Will they tack left, or right? (Answer: Electoral rationality suggests left; the demographics of their membership suggests right). Another is how Labour will attempt to sustain what is in fact a rather fragile electoral advantage in the coming difficult years, given that many wins were narrow, and given that they already appear destined to disappoint many of their voters.

Any predictions, then, about what the next four or five years hold for either Labour or the Conservatives?