Why it all went wrong for the Conservative Party as Labour scoops huge majority

Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak and  Labour Party leader Keir Starmer in pictures at General Election watch parties

The Labour Party has won a landslide majority, the 2024 General Election results show

John Redwood

By John Redwood

Published: 05/07/2024

- 07:02

Sir John Redwood was Conservative MP for Wokingham before standing down ahead of the 2024 General Election

The polls were broadly right.

Labour has a large majority based on a disappointing vote.

A similar number of people voted Conservative or Reform to get very few seats.

Many people stayed at home, not liking any party offer enough to want to vote for it.

It shows the high price paid for the split on the right.

It also means a Labour government without as much popular support as a normal majority government will lack effective Opposition.

Unless a very large group of Labour MPs fall out with their government, the Opposition will not be able to win a vote or threaten the government’s mighty majority.

The shortage of Opposition numbers means difficulty in staffing all the Committees, fielding a full team of shadow Ministers and having enough MPs in party roles to do the speaking and campaigning around the country.

So why did it all go wrong for the Conservatives? It wasn’t the D-day mistake or the launch in the rain that turned people off. They were already angry or wanting to teach the Conservatives a lesson before the election began.

Many who voted Conservative in 2019 did so to get Brexit done.

They expected migration to fall as promised in the Conservative Manifesto.

Instead, it surged with Ministers granting hundreds of thousands of extra visas every year. The government promised to stop illegal migration but kept losing cases in court, so the boats kept coming.

Voters wanted their taxes to stay down.

Instead, the huge costs of Covid and the extra money needed for the inflation of public service spending meant the tax burden rose.

The Bank of England lost control of money and credit, prices took off and people were worse off.

The Bank blamed the Ukraine war and trade disruption, but the inflation had set in before either of those happened.

Whilst the Bank is independent, the government takes the hit when it gets it wrong.

The high waiting lists and difficulties getting access to healthcare were a problem.

The pandemic led to the cancellation of many non-Covid appointments and procedures.

It is taking a long time to clear the backlog. The public is impatient to get it done.

Ministers who did not want high inflation or long waiting lists have just been given a punishment for failing to find a way to prevent or remedy these harms more quickly.

Ministers who ignored the Manifesto to cut migration and keep taxes down have just been told the public noticed and did not approve.

A One Nation Conservative top team of Ministers did not take the Reform threat seriously. No one said government is easy.


Events or a badly managed public sector can upend the best of intentions.

As a result, it is now the challenge for a new team.

They need to find the levers of power, make the public sector respond better and keep their promises.

The first main pledge, to get the UK economy to be the fastest growing in the G7 has defeated previous governments.

The new government's aims of faster growth, better public services and more opportunity for all will have the support of far more than voted for Labour.

The public will be impatient for progress and apprehensive in case they are let down.

Their economic proposals are unlikely to be achieved on the analysis and policy they have so far set out. Let us hope they listen to good advice.

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