Crunching the numbers of the election

The Tories are on LIFE SUPPORT, Reform is SURGING, the battle begins Crunching the numbers on the 2024 general election results JUL 6

Matt Goodwin’s Substack goes to more than 38,000 subscribers across 151 countries,

This is an edited and expanded version of a piece in today’s Sun newspaper …

THE British people have inflicted a truly historic and humiliating defeat on the Conservative Party.

It awoke yesterday morning battered and bruised, having been put on life support with just 121 seats.

That’s their lowest number of seats in history.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer and Labour have been propelled into government with a commanding majority of 176 — their largest win since 1997.

How did it come to this?

How did the Conservative Party go from winning a commanding 80-seat majority in 2019, and capturing the Red Wall, to being utterly humiliated only five years later?

Some will point to specific events like Partygate or the Liz Truss Budget.

Others to the lacklustre leadership of Rishi Sunak, including his disastrous decision during the election campaign to leave the D-Day anniversary early.

But the answer runs much deeper than this.

The reason why the Conservatives have been utterly repudiated by the British people is because they have fundamentally lost touch with their core voters — the very people who have been voting for them ever since the Brexit referendum.

Just look at the results.

It is certainly true that the Tories were blown to pieces by tactical voting, with voters in seats where Labour were second punishing the Tories by voting Labour and voters in seats where the Liberal Democrats were second punishing them by voting Lib Dem.

But the real story at this election was elsewhere.

The striking Tory collapse was most dramatic in the most strongly pro-Brexit areas of the country where the party was completely smashed apart not by Labour or the Lib Dems but Nigel Farage and Reform UK.

As I’ve warned for months and months, in this Substack, the Reform revolt has now hit Rishi Sunak and the Tories much harder than the Tories ever expected.

While the Tory vote collapsed by 12 points in less strongly pro-Brexit seats, it collapsed, remarkably, by nearly 30 points in the most staunchly pro-Brexit areas.

In precisely those parts of the country that are filled with working-class, non-graduate, older, hardworking, and deeply patriotic people who have watched the evolution of the Tories since Brexit with a combination of shock, anger, and horror.

In these places, a massive chunk of the Tory electorate decamped en masse to Farage and Reform, with Farage essentially inheriting the post-Brexit realignment that Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak completely squandered.

In these areas, then, Farage has just picked up where he left off.

After all, it was Farage and the UK Independence Party, not the Tories, that first began cultivating these areas during the 2010-2015 parliament, when David Cameron mocked the Faragists as an assortment of ‘fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists’.

It was then Farage, far more so than Boris Johnson, who then cultivated them further during the Brexit referendum, campaigning deep in the Labour heartlands, while much of the political establishment did not have any idea what was coming.

And it was then Farage and the Brexit Party, in 2019, which returned to these areas while much of the elite class was deriding their voters as thickoes, Gammons, and racists and trying to force them to vote again at a second referendum.

And now Farage and Reform, nearly ten years on from Brexit, have become the main beneficiary of all this, once again outflanking a Tory elite class that has consistently underestimated, ignored, or mocked the larger part of its post-Brexit coalition.

Labour’s vote, meanwhile, especially in England, has remained static.

As I’ve also been writing for months, and as the result of the election confirms, there really is no mass public enthusiasm for Keir Starmer and the Labour Party.

Yes, Labour now has an enormous majority.

But it is one that rests on just 35% of the national vote, lower than what Jeremy Corbyn attracted in 2017 and lower than anything Tony Blair achieved.

At the start of the election I said this would become the ‘None of the Above’ election and that is what’s happened, with millions of voters rejecting Labour and the Tories.

Turnout has slumped to the second lowest level since the 1880s, while the combined share of the vote for the two big parties has crashed to the lowest level since the modern two-party system began.

I discussed and successfully forecast much of this during our online Zoom Town Hall meeting with our paying subscribers the night before the general election.

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In fact, no governing party has ever won a majority on a share of the vote as low as what Keir Starmer and the Labour Party just won.

Keir Starmer and his new Ministers might tell themselves they won back the working-class and ordinary people but, actually, their support in England remained static.

It barely moved at all.

This is one of the most important — yet so far neglected — aspects of the result.

Sir Keir’s massive majority owes more to the sheer scale of this Tory collapse than to any eruption of mass public enthusiasm for the Labour Party.

Labour’s share of the vote in England stayed as flat as a pancake, only increasing by 0.6 per cent, while it actually declined in Wales.

It was only in Scotland where Labour surged, which was, again, something I’ve been warning about for a long time.

Guardian data team In England, the big story was that Reform’s share of the vote increased by 13 points, inflicting enormous losses on the Tories in hundreds of seats.

Here’s just one statistic to consider.

Support for Reform was greater than the margin of defeat for the Tories in nearly 180 seats, underlining just how much damage Farage & Co. caused Conservatives.

While winning five seats, 4 million votes, and finishing second in around 100 seats (I predicted 1-3 seats, 5 million votes, and lots of second places), Reform not only cost the Tories seats but is now embedded as the opposition in lots of Labour heartlands.

“We are coming for Labour now”, said Farage, yesterday, pointing to this two-flank strategy. Keep hitting Tories in the south; open a second flank on Labour in the north.

Reform’s second places (on right). Guardian data team So, why did this happen?

Because, as I’ve written for the last three years, on this Substack, the Conservative Party no longer really knows what it is anymore.

It is completely lost.

It does not know who has been voting for it since the Brexit referendum, or why.

The Tories are critically ill, gripped by a full-blown identity crisis — no longer sure who they are, what they believe, or what they are meant to say.

Steadily but surely, ever since 2019, the Tories angered and alienated its core voters by doing the very opposite of what they said they would do.

They failed to control our borders.

They failed to lower legal immigration.

They failed to cut taxes and the size of the state.

They failed to take on woke, exposing our children to ideas with no basis in science.

And they failed to level-up the left behind regions.

That is why so many voters jumped ship to Farage, who after eight attempts now has a seat in the House of Commons, or simply stayed at home, refusing to vote at all.

The Tory coalition, as I said it would back in January, completely imploded under the weight of this betrayal, apathy, and widespread disillusionment.

And if you look at what Tory-to-Reform switchers want it is crystal clear, because I have asked them, surveying more than 3,000 of them for this Substack.

They want to stop the small boat invasion, which is making a mockery of our claim to be a self-governing, sovereign nation which can control its own borders.

And they want to dramatically lower legal mass immigration.

These are perfectly reasonable requests, and they are ones the Tories will now have to engage with if they are to stand any chance at rebuilding their coalition and surviving as a viable political party in the future.

Because remember this, too, the pro-Brexit, anti-immigration chunk of the new Tory electorate is MUCH bigger than the anti-Brexit, pro-immigration elite minority chunk that will now dominate the debate about where the Tories should go next.

What we will now hear, endlessly, from the likes of William Hague, Rory Stewart, George Osborne and other members of the Tory elite class is that the party must now “return to the centre”.

What they mean by “centre” is a place that only reflects the values, tastes, and priorities of elites like them but which, as we have shown for years, alienates and angers a much bigger part of the new, post-Brexit Tory electorate.

If you think the Tories can return to being a viable party by targeting the cities, university towns, and affluent parts of the commuter belt that were just taken over by Labour and the Liberal Democrats and have been trending leftwards for the last decade then good luck to you. That is the path to political extinction.

No. The only way forward for the Tories, if they are to survive, and there is no guarantee they will, is to re-engage fully with all those voters in non-London England.

To completely reinvent the party —its message, philosophy, ideology— so they can appeal to the large majority of voters in this country who desperately want an end to mass immigration, mass taxation and regulation, mass woke, and mass chaos.

Because if they don’t then Nigel Farage certainly will.

And make no mistake.

For the Tories— this really is a battle for political survival.

Because with Nigel Farage and Reform now ensconced in Westminster, with millions of voters looking for something different, the few Tories who remain in parliament are going to have to get their act together — and fast.

This means coming up with a credible, compelling, and clear response to voters’ sincerely held concerns over mass immigration and the borders.

It means coming up with a far more resonant and appealing brand of Conservatism that is more in tune with ordinary working people.

And, most of all, it means treating their voters with the respect and recognition they deserve.

Because if the Tories do not do these things, then they will soon find themselves not just on life support but heading to the morgue.