Labour’s Vote Held Up in the 2019 Defeat

Corbyn is being blamed for “the worst result since 1935”.

1935 wasn’t that bad.  Labour’s policies of clear opposition to Hitler and in favour of Welfare were seen as vindicated during the war.  The election being postponed till the peace, there was then a dramatic victory in 1945.

And if you look just at England, Corbyn’s Labour got more votes even in 2019 than Labour than pre-Corbyn Labour had got since Blair’s first win in 1997.  A better percentage of the vote than any since Blair’s third victory in 2005.

Year Turnout Tory Vote Percent Seats Labour Vote Percent Seats Liberal-Democrat Vote Percent Seats
2019 67.4 12,710,845 47.2 345 9,152,034 34.0 180 3,340,835 12.4 7
2017 69.1 12,344,901 45.4 296 11,390,099 41.9 227 2,121,810 7.8 8
2015 65.9 10,483,261 40.9 318 8,087,684 31.6 206 2,098,404 8.2 6
2010 65.5 9,908,169 39.5 297 7,042,398 28.1 191 6,076,189 24.2 43
2005 61.0 8,116,005 35.7 194 8,043,461 35.4 286 5,201,286 22.9 47
2001 59.1 7,705,870 35.2 165 9,056,824 41.4 323 4,246,853 19.4 40
1997 71.5 8,780,881 33.7 165 11,347,882 43.5 328 4,677,565 18.0 34
1992 78.0 12,796,772 45.5 319 9,551,910 33.9 195 5,398,293 19.2 10
1987 75.4 12,546,186 46.2 358 8,006,466 29.5 155 6,467,350 23.8 10
1983 72.5 11,711,519 46.0 362 6,862,422 26.8 148 6,714,957 26.4 13

You need to look just at England, because Labour in Scotland declined massively in 2015.  That happened in 2015, when the Scottish Nationalist jumped from 19.9% to 50%.  From 6 seats at Westminster to 56.  Labour slumped from 40% to 23.4%, and lost 40 of its 41 seats.  Corbyn won back 6 seats in 2017 but lost them again in 2019, with increasing hopes of an independent Scotland that could remain in the European Union.

Scottish voters saw that a Scotland free of England might return to the moderate Welfarism and Mixed Economy that is normal in Continental Europe.

Blair’s 1997 victory was based on a promise of real change.  A promise that was not delivered, and his vote slumped.  But so did the Tory vote – people by then had lost faith in them.  Total voting slumped and he won in 2001 and 2005 almost by default.

Labour failed to draw the correct lesson from the Crisis of 2008.  The Tories said it was down to excessive government spending, and Labour was weak in saying that it was speculators.  Went along with policies Austerity for most people and a vast bail-out of banks that should have been allowed to collapse.   The wealth of the rich was protected, with Obama doing just the same thing in the USA.  So the Tories revived and Labour slumped in 2010 and 2015.

2015 also saw the collapse of the Liberal-Democrats.  Foolishly, they had not demanded a fairer voting system after 2010, when it would have been impossible to form a government without them.  They agreed to a Referendum, and lost it.  Lost most of their voters and seats in 2015, and have not really recovered them.  They picked up some dedicated Remainer votes, but still less voters than before they made themselves doormats to Tory policies in 2010-15 coalition.

No doubt some former Labour voters refused to vote for Corbyn.  But that is mostly the elderly: Baby Boomers who opted for Thatcherism and are now offended by the modern world they helped create.  Millions of young people voted Labour who had not voted before, and they are the future.

Or they are the future if Labour’s next leader insists that Corbyn was basically correct.  If Labour does not scuttle back to the policies of weak acceptance of injustice that led to a falling-away in 2001 and 2005, followed by defeat in 2010 and 2015.

Blair won the second and third election victories almost by default.  Turnout slumped dramatically, from 71 to 59 and 61.  The Tories before Cameron had a string of unpopular and unimpressive leaders.  They tried to tap into right-wing Populism, but were not convincing as demagogues.  Cameron managed to present himself as sensible and safe, though he was neither.  But Boris Johnson represents a Populism that can win voters not tied to the classical left-right spectrum.

In the USA, polls showed Bernie Sanders having a better chance of beating Trump than Hilary Clinton did.  Hilary actually got more votes, but lost because these were translated into Electoral College votes that favoured small US states that preferred Trump.  But what’s also worth noting is that there were discontented voters whose first choice was socialist Bernie Sanders, but whose second choice was anti-Establishment Trump.

We’d probably get the same in Britain, if Labour’s next leader is someone rejecting Corbyn and moving back to re-gather elderly unhappy voters.  No doubt they would win some, but they would lose enormous numbers of young people who want something different.  Labour would slump again.

All figures from the Wiki,  It does not show separate English data before 1982.  And in 1982 and 1987, the Liberal-Democrats were still the Liberal / Social Democrat alliance.