General Election 2024: Three Key Takeaways

Following the Labour Party’s landslide General Election victory last week, Consultant Ben McCarthy shares his thoughts on its impact and the key takeaways.

As Parliament begins its new session and 650 MPs take their oaths, there is no doubt that the UK’s political landscape has been completely transformed. Following last week’s General Election, Keir Starmer has formed his new Cabinet and continues to make ministerial appointments to his Government. Shortly after the crushing defeat, Rishi Sunak announced he will step down as the Leader of the Conservatives once his successor has been confirmed. In the meantime, Sunak has formed an interim Shadow Cabinet.

With the results of this election likely to bring about significant change, below are three key takeaways from what we’ve seen and heard so far.

Labour’s clear mandate

Of the 650 MPs now in Parliament, 412 are Labour MPs, with the Party winning a thumping majority of 174 seats, the size of which we have not seen since Tony Blair was elected in 1997. As a result, this mandate gives Keir Starmer and his Cabinet the freedom to implement legislation without it being blocked by opposition parties in the Commons.

One of the key areas the new Government is likely to focus is planning. In her first speech as Chancellor, Rachel Reeves stressed she will overhaul planning restrictions and promised to “get Britain building again”, confirming Labour’s plans to build 1.5 million homes in England. With the King’s Speech taking place next week, we will soon find out more about the Government’s plans for the new Parliament.

Starmer, however, must also take into account the issues associated with having such a large number of Labour MPs in Westminster, most notably how to satisfy them all. Over the next few years, backbench Labour MPs may feel they have more freedom to vote against the Government on certain issues, given it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the result of a vote. For example, with a significant number of rural constituencies, ranging from South East Cornwall to North Northumberland, now in the hands of Labour MPs, they will be carefully considering the interests of their rural constituents when voting on issues such as planning reform.

Starmer will therefore need to work hard to ensure party discipline is maintained. We have already seen him reward loyalty by giving Lisa Nandy a Cabinet position, who was demoted in his 2023 Shadow Cabinet reshuffle but caused him no headaches in her more junior role.

However, this can act as an opportunity to those looking to influence policy. Campaigns that target backbench Labour MPs, engaging with them on key issues that are affecting their constituents, are likely to be more successful in highlighting particular issues to a Government that will be looking to reduce serious backlash from their own backbenchers.

An existential crisis for the Conservatives?

We have seen the media describe this election defeat as ‘existential’ for the Conservatives, with the Party receiving just 121 seats in total, the worst result for the Party in terms of seats in its entire history.

With Labour only increasing their vote share from 32% at the last election to 34% this year, an arguably bigger problem for the Conservatives was Reform, with Nigel Farage’s Party receiving 14% of the vote share and coming second in 98 constituencies. The Conservatives’ share of the vote suffered particularly in areas where high numbers voted to leave the EU, falling by 27 points in constituencies where more than 60% voted to leave. This was coupled with pressure from the Lib Dems in rural constituencies, particularly in the South, with the Party taking 72 seats across the country, their highest tally since 1923.

The result certainly is devastating for the Conservatives, and a bitter battle for which direction the Party should now go in has begun. A lurch to the Right is a strong possibility, with the Party looking to regain the votes they lost to Reform. Both Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman are expected to throw their hats in the ring to become the new leader, appealing to voices on the Right. Other names being mentioned, more towards the centre of the Party, are James Cleverly and Tom Tugendhat.

After Labour’s loss in 2010, we saw the Party take a step to the Left with Ed Miliband and an even greater step with Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, losing three general elections in total in this period. It remains to be seen whether a step to the Right for the Conservatives will have the same fate.

Once a new leader is confirmed and they have picked their Shadow Cabinet, the importance of engaging with the Conservatives will increase as they scrutinise Government policy and look to support campaigns that will help them win back key parts of the electorate.

A reshaped landscape for devolved nations

Scotland is the only part of the UK where Labour’s vote share rose significantly, increasing by 17 points, with Starmer’s Party taking 36 seats from the SNP, who had a torrid night, only retaining nine seats, a 39 seat decrease from 2019. The Party do not have long to regain support ahead of the Scottish election in 2026.

Elsewhere, the Conservatives lost all of their 12 seats in Wales, with Labour and Plaid Cymru benefitting as a result. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein are the largest Westminster party, with the DUP losing three out of the eight seats it previously held to other parties, leaving unionist representation highly fractured.

Over the last few days, we have seen Keir Starmer meet with the First Ministers of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, becoming the first Prime Minister to meet with the heads of the UK’s devolved governments so soon after taking office. His desire to reset the relationship with these governments following the difficulties his Tory predecessors had will be welcomed. With a majority of seats in Scotland and Wales, Starmer certainly has a position of strength, and he will need to maintain support in these areas throughout his term to secure another win at the next election.

For organisations seeking to influence policy affecting the devolved nations, particularly where there is an intersection of devolved and reserved matters, Starmer’s desire to ’reset’ the relationship with the devolved governments is particularly positive, giving organisations more routes to engage both devolved and Westminster politicians.


The Labour leadership team will be driven in the first few years of government to achieve as much of their agenda as possible. Therefore, for those looking to influence policy, tailored and targeted messaging to the right people will be essential, allowing organisations to cut through the noise and ensure their voices are heard more clearly.

Photo by Marcin Nowak on Unsplash

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