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What happened in the 2024 UK general election?

Ten charts tell the story of Labour’s landslide victory in the UK’s 2024 general election, putting it in historical perspective and, in the data on turnout, revealing the disengagement of many voters.

On 4 July, the UK electorate voted Keir Starmer’s Labour into power with a landslide majority. The party won a total of 412 seats (to the Conservatives’ total of 121), an increase of 211 seats since the previous general election in 2019. This gives them a large majority as they form a government for the first time in 14 years.

Supporters argue that the new prime minister and his cabinet now have a strong mandate to govern, while critics point to Labour only getting 34% of the overall vote. This may have been a tactical move to ensure victory, but some see it as a ‘double-edged sword’.

In this article, we look at the results of the 2024 general election, how they compare to elections over the past 100 years and what they tell us about the political mood of the country.

Labour’s seat share in historical perspective

Keir Starmer’s performance in the 2024 election places him among the top Labour leaders, with a seat share close to that achieved by Tony Blair in 1997 and 2001.

Figure 1: Share of seats in general elections, 1924-2024

Source: House of Commons Library, General Election results (1918-2019); author’s calculations

Labour’s vote share in historical perspective

In terms of vote share, Labour’s performance in 2024 ranks below average compared with past leaders of the party. This discrepancy – where a party wins a disproportionately higher number of seats relative to their vote share – suggests that the victory margins were very narrow this time around. Indeed, analysis of the seats gained by Labour reveals that the average victory margin was only 12%, indicating many tightly contested races.

Figure 2: Share of vote in general elections, 1924-2024

Source: House of Commons Library, General election results (1918-2019); author’s calculations

Labour leader’s personal vote share

Typically, changes in the number of seats won by a party and the party leader’s personal vote share are closely aligned. For example, in the 1997 election, Labour gained 22% more seats in parliament, and Tony Blair’s vote share in his Sedgefield constituency increased by 11%.

Here, the 2024 election is an anomaly: while Labour secured 34% more seats compared with the 2019 election, Starmer's vote share in his own constituency decreased by 16%.

Figure 3: Change in seat share compared with the party leader’s personal vote share

Source: House of Commons Library, General election results (1918-2019); author’s calculations

Labour ministers’ personal vote share

Keir Starmer was not the only Labour candidate to lose votes in his or her constituency. The majority of the Labour MPs announced as cabinet ministers saw their vote share decline: Rachel Reeves, chancellor (a 6% decrease), Angela Rayner, deputy prime minister and secretary of state for housing, communities and local government (a 4% decrease), Wes Streeting, health and social care secretary (a 17% decrease) and David Lammy, foreign secretary (a 19% decrease).

Figure 4: Candidates’ vote share in their own constituencies

Source: House of Commons Library, General election results (1918-2019); author’s calculations

The two main parties’ seat and vote shares in historical perspective

The 2024 election was not just a historic win for Labour. A number of other political parties got their highest shares of votes and seats in this election.

This increase suggests a notable shift in voter support away from the traditional two-party dominance towards alternative parties, indicating a possible fragmentation of the political landscape in the future.

Figure 5: Seat share of parties other than Conservative and Labour, 1924-2024

Source: House of Commons Library, General election results (1918-2019); author’s calculations

The Liberal Democrats’ performance

The Lib Dems made significant in-roads, winning 72 seats. The majority of these were in constituencies where the Conservatives were incumbents, and particularly when an incumbent Conservative MP was not standing in the 2024 election.

Comparably, the Lib Dems did not manage to win a single seat in constituencies with a Labour incumbent. Labour retained over 97% of such seats. The Conservatives managed to retain only a third of the constituencies where they were incumbents.

Figure 6: Share of seats gained/retained by incumbency status

Source: Democracy Club; author’s calculations

Voter turnout

At around 60%, the overall turnout in this election reached a historic low. In areas with a Labour incumbent, voter engagement was notably lower, reflected by an average turnout of around 55%.

Further, over 75% of the constituencies with a Labour incumbent had a turnout below the national average. This suggests lower mobilisation efforts and potentially less political activity or voter interest in these regions. It may have been exacerbated by the outcome of opinion polls in the last six months that had significantly favoured Labour.

In constituencies with a Conservative incumbent, the turnout was also at lower levels but at least comparable to previous elections: 2010 (65%), 2015 (66%), 2017 (69%) and 2019 (68%).

Figure 7: Voter turnout by incumbency status

Source: Financial Times, General election 2024 results; author’s calculations

The far right’s vote share

While the Lib Dems secured 72 seats – placing them third in terms of seats in Westminster – they received 12.2% of the vote. Reform UK received a larger share of the votes (14.3%), but only secured five seats.

Reform ranked third in terms of overall votes secured and garnered half a million more votes than the Lib Dems. The distribution of the Reform vote share in 2024 is comparable to the UKIP vote share in the 2015 election, which preceded the 2016 referendum on Brexit. The rise in the vote share for the far right mirrors the trend in other European countries, suggesting substantial and persistent support for far-right policies amid continuing political and economic uncertainties.

Figure 8: Constituency level vote share of far-right parties 2010-24

Source: House of Commons Library, General election results (1918-2019); author’s calculations

Vote share and Brexit views

Reform have gained significant traction in constituencies with a higher proportion of the electorate who voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum, indicating a persistence of more right-leaning and pro-Brexit sentiments in those constituencies.

In contrast, the Greens gained most of their votes in constituencies with a higher predicted vote to remain in the EU. The Greens won four seats in 2024, with 6.7% of the national vote.

Figure 9: Vote share by party (2024) and predicted vote to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum

Source: 2016 Brexit referendum estimates on 2024 boundaries by Chris Hanretty; author’s calculations
Note: Figure excludes data for Northern Ireland.

Voting and Muslim populations

Historically, Labour has had strong support in constituencies with higher Muslim populations. This election saw a significant fall in the party’s vote share in these areas and an increase in vote share for other parties and independent candidates who were more supportive of Gaza.

Figure 10: Party vote share by proportion of Muslim population

Source: House of Commons Library, Data for new constituencies; author’s calculations
Note: Data for England and Wales only.


The 2024 general election marked the worst performance in the history of the Conservative party, with many prominent figures, including former prime minister Liz Truss and notable MPs like Penny Mordaunt, losing their seats. Labour’s landslide victory can largely be attributed to voters’ dissatisfaction with the Conservative government's handling of the cost of living crisis and internal party conflicts, suggesting that the result was more an anti-Conservative vote than a pro-Labour one.

But it is noteworthy that Labour faced its own challenges, as several newly elected cabinet ministers and even the party leader himself experienced a loss in vote share within their constituencies. Looking ahead, the future of politics in the UK is likely to be shaped by how effectively Labour can address the many pressing issues it faces as a new government, as well as how the Conservatives reorganise and respond to this historic defeat.

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Author: Apurav Bhatiya
Image: Parrot of Doom, via Wikimedia Commons
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