Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
13 December 2019updated 08 Jun 2021 11:05am

Labour suffers a historic defeat, as Tories win first big majority in decades

By Stephen Bush

The Conservatives have won a significant majority while Labour is on course to finish with fewer seats than it got even in 1983. While the exact size of the Conservative majority is unclear, it is a triumph where the margin of victory makes it a Herculean task to reverse it over a single parliament – and puts the Tory party in a strong position to hold power until the end of the decade.

The Labour Party lost a slew of seats including that of Laura Pidcock, tipped as a contender to replace Jeremy Corbyn, in a night of travail for the party. It was also a crushing disappointment for the Liberal Democrats, who gained seats in England but lost seats in Scotland and Wales, including that of Jo Swinson, their leader. 

Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he will not lead Labour into another election, but that he plans to lead the party for a period of reflection. That Labour lacks a deputy leader – and had Tom Watson stuck around he would in any case have been unavailable as he would have lost his seat – means that frankly it is unclear who would lead the party in the interim in any case. A temporary candidate imposed by the NEC? The NEC in concert? 

For both UK-wide parties of the left and centre, it is a defeat of equivalent scale – as far as seats in parliament, the Conservative lead over Labour is larger than the equivalent in 2015 – to the one to which Michael Howard led the Conservatives. It took the most effective Conservative politician of his generation in David Cameron and a financial crisis to reverse that in a term – and despite Cameron leading the Tories to their biggest haul of seats in a single night in 2010, they still needed a coalition to take office.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action