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The 2024 election results are among the most bizarre in British history – and the future could be stranger still | Lewis Baston


From Labour’s low share of the vote to divisions on the right, this was a night that redrew the electoral map

  • Lewis Baston is is a political analyst and writer

At first glance, the election has delivered what first past the post claims to provide but usually does not: a clear transfer of power. This is the first election since Edward Heath’s surprise victory in 1970 in which a parliamentary majority of one party has been replaced by a majority for the other party; all the transitions since – in 1974, 1979, 1997 and 2010 – have involved hung parliaments on the way in or out of government. But while power has changed hands decisively, the votes cast reveal a divided, uncertain nation. And those numbers reveal the result to be one of the most unique in British history.

The turnover of seats was on an awesome scale. No party has ever lost as many seats as the 251 the Conservatives shed in the 2024 election. No third party has held 71 seats, as the Lib Dems now do, since the Liberals in 1923. The nearest comparisons are from the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, competition between multiple parties, in which Labour displaced the Liberals as the main opposition to the Tories, combined with economic crisis to create an unstable series of election results.

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