General election: Uneasy voters hand Labour a 'loveless landslide' shattering traditional voting patterns

In the last few hours, this country has witnessed a peaceful political revolution and Sir Keir Starmer will begin work as prime minister after a landslide which seemed inconceivable barely three years ago.

From today, and for the next five years, our 58th prime minister will have a total command of the Commons, after a result in line with Tony Blair's historic Labour victory of 1997 - which at time of writing looks like a majority just shy of 170.

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Sir Keir has been given, in the eyes of many, a political blank cheque from which he will be expected to enact a promise of change - change from the status quo which an analysis of votes all over the country suggests the public are demanding with exceptional clarity and urgency.

The moment came early - Sky News announced Labour's victory at 4.42am - and the very headline result is beyond many of the wildest dreams of those around the new Labour PM, given both Labour and Tory campaign teams were still talking of a hung parliament this time last summer.

Remarkably, this result for Labour has been achieved in many areas which voted leave in the Brexit referendum of 2016, marking the repair of a schism between Labour and 52% of the population which as recently as the 2019 election many wondered could ever be healed.

Fickle electorate

However, this election result cannot be treated as an unalloyed endorsement of everything Labour has campaigned on - the turbulent and shifting political sands are complex and point to a fickle electorate determined to do one thing above all: punish incumbent governments in every part of Britain.

Voters everywhere seem to dislike existing governments of all stripes - Tory in Westminster, SNP in Scotland and Labour in Wales - and there have been massive drops in support for all: the single biggest dynamic in this vote.

One commentator went as far as to dub this the "loveless landslide". It is undoubtedly the revenge election.

At 6am, Labour's victory comes off the back of just 35% of the voting public choosing to vote for them - up just 1.4 percentage points on 2019 and a whole 5 percentage points lower than Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.

In England, Labour's vote share is unchanged, while in Wales it is down four points, only up overall because of a big rise in Scotland where they are currently up just over 17 points.

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It is a peculiar landslide when two expected cabinet members - Jonathan Ashworth and Thangam Debbonaire - both lose their seats to campaigns on their left, to an independent and the Greens respectively.

Collapse of the Tories

Instead it is the collapse of the Tories, and the rise of Reform, that in so many cases has handed Labour its chance in parts of the country it has never done well in before.

For Thursday's election was Britain's opportunity to tell Conservatives of their despair at the handling of the country at the end of 14 years in Number 10.

The British public took the opportunity to tell Rishi Sunak that electorally, he is the worst Tory leader in history.

At 6am, the party has received the support of barely 23% of the electorate - after the biggest drop in vote share of any party ever in history compared to Boris Johnson's victory in 2019.

Dislike of the Tories have propelled the Liberal Democrats to their highest ever seat total, taking almost every one off the Conservatives.

So far 11 cabinet ministers have lost their seat - the past record was seven in 1997 - although not Jeremy Hunt whose personal mandate and local hard work seem to have carried him through, meaning he might be one person to end up as a temporary leader.

The Tories are on course to have the lowest number of seats ever, the highest number of losses, and they have lost 26 deposits so far.

This all means existential soul searching for the Tories begins - with already two visions being spelt out this morning by Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman, the latter more inclined to move towards a right wing, Reform-centric policy platform than the former.

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Traditional voting patterns shattered

However, it was a punishment beating election in so many other ways too.

Labour rejected in Islington North where Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected. Ashworth's loss in Leicester to a candidate focused on Gaza - on a vote share of 41% in an election where few winners got above 35% - was a shock but also a sign that the debate over the Middle East could intensify.

This election has showed traditional voting patterns have cratered.

The electorate is firm about what it doesn't want and it is now up to Sir Keir Starmer to convince them that his brand of change is what they need.

If he doesn't, then new parties are able to catapult into positions where they can pose a challenge with greater ease than ever before.

The electorate is uneasy.

Can Labour's massive mandate - built on dislike for the status quo rather than a surge in support for the alternative - soothe the country's nerves?