One of the remarkable aspects of the 2024 general election is that the Labour Party won a majority from a similar vote to the one they lost in 2019.

Some on the left now seem to argue that the Labour Party can win this time with the same kind of leadership and policy platform they presented in 2019. There is a view that the support for Labour this time was broad but shallow. In fact, there was an alternative path to power with deep support. None of these views materialized.

Understanding the reasons for both the 2019 and 2024 results is necessary. There are several reasons for Labour's low margin of victory. The key to connecting with many people is that the attitude of non-Labour voters towards Labour is as important as those who actually vote for Labour. Many non-Labour voters in 2024 knew that their votes could not prevent a Labour victory. Some actively wanted that, but most were indifferent. However, unlike in 2019, they did not vote to try and stop it.

1) Labour's campaign ruthlessly targeted seats they could win or where they couldn't win but the Lib Dems could defeat the Tories. There was no effort wasted on safe seats or places where Lib Dems could win over Tories.

2) Some former Labour voters in safe seats voted for the Greens or various independents. Undoubtedly, the Labour Party lost votes. However, many of these votes were driven by an understanding that Labour needed to win the election. They felt they were sending a message to Labour or felt liberated to vote for the Greens or independents as in the first round of the French presidential election.

There is evidence for this. According to Ashcroft's election day poll, 61% of Green voters were swayed on the last day, compared to 31% on the day. It is hard to describe this as anything other than shallow support. In contrast, only 16% of Labour voters decided on the day.

3) Similarly, some Labour voters strategically voted for the Lib Dems. This not only effectively reduced the number of Tory MPs but also depressed Labour's vote share. Unlike in 2019, the Lib Dems positioned themselves mainly as anti-Tory. 46% of Lib Dem voters voted tactically ("I voted to stop the party I liked the least from winning."), while 50% voted positively ("I voted for the party I most wanted to win"). Ashdown survey.

4) Labour's shifted political position was seen as a way for the Lib Dems to tactically reverse Labour in seats where the Lib Dems couldn't win. They wanted to remove the Tories and felt comfortable with a Labour Prime Minister this time.

5) The proportion of votes going to the three main parties has been declining in the long term. This continued in 2024. However, the trend was not as neatly falling as the graphics show in 2017 and 2019. The country looked like a two-party (SNP) system.

Two factors drove this. They occurred after the highly polarized and divisive Brexit referendum. Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson are politicians who drive polarization. Both evoke strong emotions.

The 2019 Brexit Party withdrew many candidates to urge supporters to tactically vote against Labour. Previously, 25% of Labour-supporting leave voters backed the Tories. A minority of voters passionately supported Labour, but the majority did not want a Labour government. Only 10% of YouGov survey respondents thought Jeremy Corbyn looked like a "waiting prime minister" in 2019, 40% thought the same of Keir Starmer in 2024. Tactical voting is generally seen as a phenomenon against the Tories, but it can also happen against Labour, as it clearly did in 2017 and 2019. Due to Labour's strategy and positioning, there was almost none or none of it in 2024.

6) Reform gained five MPs in 2024, but some of the votes received were slightly more than what was given to UKIP seats in 2015. To keep Labour? A significant number of Labour's minority were in seats that took a considerable number to become a three-way margin for the previous Tory vote. Most reform voters in most seats knew that their vote would contribute to a Labour victory.

7) Undoubtedly, Labour's support is shallow. Disillusionment with politics and politicians is not unique to the UK. However, is Labour's support somewhat shallower than in 2019?

One clue is included in Ashcroft's opinion poll. 25% of Labour voters in 2024 said it was slightly harder than usual to decide how to vote in this election. However, in 2019, that figure was 44%. Despite the rallies and Corbyn enthusiasts who filled the halls or went to Glastonbury, there were Labour voters who had reservations. In 2019, at least some Labour supporters were convinced the party would lose.

8) Another way to think about the shallow support is that while it may be oversimplified, Britain once had a uniform two-party system divided by class and people were loyal to the party that brought them economic benefits or the party they inherited from their parents. Today is very different.

Whether you are socially liberal or conservative, it is now less important to determine voting preferences along the traditional economic left-right divide. People can naturally identify clusters of voters who tend to share common attitudes and values over time, although they are not neatly divided into two distinct groups on the left and right. John Curtice and Lovisa Moller Vallgarda ran a machine learning tool on the Gold Standard UK Social Attitudes Survey to identify six groups.

· Wealthy Traditionalists (12%)

· Political Moderates (17%)

· Left-wing Patriots (15%)

· Urban Progressives (16%)

· Soft Left Libertarians (14%)

Voting companies that produce similar groups using different methodologies have performed similar exercises. The point is that the "people" often talked about by populists do not all agree or have the same interests. We have commonalities but do not agree on many things, and we do not neatly divide into two clean groups on the left and right.

The art and science of modern politics consist of winning election coalitions made up of sufficient voters from these groups. While Brexit may have forced this country into two, it is generally much messier. Reform may have spoken to many remaining patriots, but speaking in a way that only one group represents in how it speaks to the majority of the remaining patriots may have received passionate and even deep support, but it may not be enough to build a winning coalition in all but a few seats. Those who can have passionate rallies may be deep but narrow. Election success requires breadth, but probably won't deliver more than the party's faithful.

Boris Johnson may have realigned British politics for a line, but today, despite still having the passion of the right, the permanent realignment has turned to dust.

However, in an age where we can easily connect through social media and our individual views are actually more widely shared (especially when we are at rallies).

The first question for all campaigns is

· What is your theory of change?

· How do you build broad support beyond your clear base?

· How do you gain power?

· How do you neutralize opponents?

Labour answered these questions in 2024, which they did not in 2019.

9) We have some indication of how the 2024 election, which did not change the 2019 party leaders, was delivered.

In late June, through a poll, people were asked how they would vote if leaders like Johnson, Corbyn, and Swinson from 2019 were present. The Conservatives beat Labour from 36% to 30%.

This could be the mother of all hypothetical questions and should not be taken entirely seriously, but it is still a surprising result when Labour's poll lead has consistently been over 20%.

Reasons Labour Won

Labour achieved a significant victory because of changes in strategy and leadership. The similar share of the polls from 2024 to 2019 continued for Labour regardless of the changes, and it is wrong to claim that they can still form a government.

Labour needed to expand support to new groups of voters living in different parts of the country and had to present support in a way that would renew Labour voters through tactical voting.

While recognizing the need for Labour's broad strategy, some may not agree on some of the choices along that path. Most will undoubtedly recognize that some mistakes were inevitably made.

Labour may have been overcompensating when it should have been showing real change, but it may have been necessary to demonstrate actual change. Voters do not always respond to nuances or even pay attention.

Those who argue that Labour's policy pledges were not surprising did not underestimate the damage to the country's economy and social structure caused by 14 years of austerity, Brexit, and incompetence.

Voters have limited expectations for a new government and understand how much the country is struggling and how difficult it is to make immediate improvements. Liz Truss showed in just a few weeks that ignoring reality does not deliver what you expect. Voters want change, but they are skeptical about the mood Labour needs to capture and are mostly skeptical about the mood. It is better to be in an overly cautious position than to have excessive promotion.

However, the winning election coalition is inevitably broad and somewhat shallow in support, but Labour still did exceptionally well in winning many seats. There are many minority groups, and various challengers are challenging from second place. Labour must deal with challengers from the Greens and Reform as well as traditional Tory foes.

Election System

Finally - and tangentially, there is some reflection on the election system. The 2024 results look very unfair. Labour holds a majority from less than a third of the vote. However, the electoral system influences how people vote and how parties behave. The above people either tactically vote or abstain where they won't change the result. However, there are other more subtle effects. The issue at stake in 2024 was whether a Labour government should replace the Conservatives. Many people voted for other parties, but out of dissatisfaction or indifference to Labour forming a government. This legitimizes a new Labour government to a different extent.

It quickly becomes clear that there is no perfect system that meets all the criteria used to design an election system to make it fair. You may want all votes to count, make it difficult for extremists, maintain constituency representation, and encourage a minority of voters to gain total power and promote a strong government. However, no system can deliver everything. Choices and trade-offs must be made.

I personally prefer change, but - the Jenkins Review would be fine with me. I am not convinced that this election has changed the debate significantly. I have seen people argue 2024 in two ways. The case for a changed system is that it would be slightly better balanced in terms of advantages and disadvantages than first past the post and not solve all problems.

Users who liked