2024 United Kingdom general election

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The 2024 United Kingdom general election was called by King Charles III, following the advice of Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and hapless buffoon, on 22 May 2024, and took place on 4 July that year. The previous election happened in 2019. The impetus for this was, supposedly, inflation figures being good, although they were in fact worse than expected, meaning there was a widespread presumption that something much worse was coming down the pipe and Sunak didn't want to be around for it. Yay!

Starmer's Labour, to the surprise of very few given its huge polling lead for some time, won a landslide victory, winning 412 seats of the 650 available, with the Conservatives being reduced to their lowest level for over a century.

Main parties[edit]

Conservative Party[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Conservative Party (UK)

After being elected with a huge majority in 2019, the Tories lurched through a pandemic. Numerous scandals, three separate Prime Ministers (Boris Johnson, Liz Truss vs. head-of-lettuce, and Sunak) and complete economic chaos followed. By the midpoint of their mandate they'd hit the sort of polling that makes Jeremy Corbyn look like an electoral wizard,[note 1] with the consequence that they were widely expected to be wiped out—and were. Our official comment on this is: Lol rofl lmao.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (cropped).jpg
Rishi Sunak
Age: 44
Sitting Prime Minister,
Leader of the Conservative Party,
MP for Richmond (Yorks)[note 2]
Advantages: Um … they aren't Reform?
Disadvantages: Much was said about how exhausted Labour was in 2010 after thirteen years of Blair-then-Gordon Brown majority government, but the Tories were beyond exhausted and had no clear policy platform beyond being a bit more brutal to refugees (a platform effectively abandoned since any vote to try to overrule the Supreme Court now would come after the election[1]) and basically hoping that everything turned out all right in the end.

Usually, the Tories would run on economic competence, low taxes, and crime. Unfortunately, they'd raised taxes and their brief dalliance with Randian insanity spooked the markets enough to make the economy shit the bed, something they hadn't managed to live down. Meanwhile, that austerity thing they did, plus the rampant social issues it caused, has sent crime stratospheric while leaving prisons too full to house any more criminals; that is, if there are even police around to catch them or investigate any crimes. So, those three are out. In fact, as of April 2024, Labour were more trusted than the Tories in every area of public policy.[2]

Put simply, they had no coherent ideas to solve any of the social and economic problems they precipitated, so they were left throwing transparent red meat to Daily Express readers and the extremely thick.[note 3] Banging on about net zero, promising to bring back national service, shouting about immigration … desperate stuff when most people were worried about the economy, the health service, and rivers full of literal shit.[note 4]

Having stripped the nation's coffers bare over the past decade and a half, and reduced public service funding below the point even of bare sufficiency, Sunak's Conservatives were intent on making the state even smaller and reducing its tax revenue further. A further Tory government would have been likely to be an existential threat to whatever public services remain after over a decade of being hollowed out by David Cameron and his successors.

Sunak is a dismal campaigner and historically unpopular, with historically bad negative ratings figures that match those of Jeremy Corbyn, who lost horribly in case you need reminding.[4] Gaffe-prone doesn't quite cover it—he's very obviously a distant posh boy, seemingly incapable of making himself appear warm, in touch with people or even living in the same world as most of the electorate. In the past he's done such bizarre things as being unable to pay for something with a contactless bank card and borrowing someone else’s car to fill with petrol because his looked too obviously rich. Starmer might be wooden, but he at least has an authentic life story to tell; Sunak looks, sounds and acts like the rich twerp he is.

Indeed, based on his performance, Sunak may be the worst campaigner in any election to have ever occurred anywhere in the world. He launched his campaign by going on television in the pissing rain without an umbrella, while slagging Labour off for not having a plan; one of his first campaign stops was to visit the home of the Titanic to pose in front of a sign that said "Exit". His performance in the first debate with Keir Starmer involved him repeatedly shouting obviously disprovable lies that got him criticised by multiple official bodies.[note 5]

But the wheels really started coming off when he was supposed to attend an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing, which he left after "the British bit" and eschewing the reception with veterans and other world leaders.[5][6] Not only that, but he did this so he could have an interview with ITV whose time he chose. This achieved the closest thing British politics can have to "everybody hated that",[note 6] and given that he is supposed to be running a campaign based around winning over the right-wing nationalist crowd is possibly the absolute stupidest thing that he could have done. It is exceedingly difficult to think up ways that he could make things worse for himself, short of seeking a posthumous pardon for Myra Hindley or actually running someone over. All this happened only a couple of weeks into the campaign.

It’s very debatable as to how much Sunak even wanted the job—he transparently did not really believe or care about half the shit he was saying, and his own MPs were all kinds of pissed off at him that he even went for an election. Either he knew something was coming down the pipe that he didn't want to be in office for, or he simply wanted out of a job where everyone hated him so he could bugger off to his second home in California. You choose.[note 7]

Of course, it would be remiss to ignore that Sunak had no major legislative achievements in his time in power, with anything that one might reasonably deem a "legacy" for him now discarded outright or unlikely to happen due to the early election, including a phased ban on tobacco smoking, reforms of the private rental sector and the Rwanda policy, which even he didn't seem really to want in his heart. Most of whatever has happened has happened despite him—and it's telling that in his speech that called the election, the one accomplishment he could call out was the COVID-era furlough scheme, which happened while he was not actually Prime Minister, and which, more to the point, was an idea he stole from Labour.[note 8]

In short, if the Tories won, it would have been a shock victory to say the least and an unmitigated disaster in terms of governance. They had no real ideas left, and what ideas they did have were laser-focused at the stupidest people you know. They knew quite well they were heading for obliteration and acted accordingly.

Labour Party[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Labour Party

The winners, having turned it around drastically from their worst results in the modern era to, thanks partially to the vagaries of first-past-the-post voting and a split right wing, a landslide victory.

Official portrait of Keir Starmer (crop).jpg
Keir Starmer
Age: 61
Leader of the Opposition,
Leader of the Labour Party,
MP for Holborn and St Pancras
Advantages: Whatever you think about him or his predecessor, or the means he's used since becoming leader, it's extremely hard to argue with the facts — Starmer took Labour from a historic defeat to a landslide. That's an unprecedented swing during a single Parliament, and while you can easily credit this to events a lot more than the man personally, it's tough to argue that his contribution has been zero.

What policies he outlined since the campaign started were genuinely good—in particular, Labour's plans for workers' rights, even in the watered-down state they were in, would be a marked improvement over the Conservative status quo. The party's manifesto pledge for reform of planning (a process that plays a huge part in the UK's stagnant housing situation) would be truly transformative, even if much of the rest of the manifesto isn't.[note 9] NIMBYs getting rekt: what's not to love?

Certainly relative to his predecessor, there are very few skeletons in his closet. He is a fairly dull lawyer turned civil servant and looks it. (But then, Ed Miliband was similarly scandal-free and boring in 2015, and, well…)

Disadvantages: Despite having won a fairly convincing victory, Starmer is not particularly well-liked—more liked than Sunak, but not really by much, and almost as gawky and wooden. As a result, he was quite vulnerable to attacks on his character. At one point during a debate, he was asked to prove that he wasn't a "robot" … and proceeded to regurgitate the same lines he'd been repeating all evening. Yes, he was pursuing a cautious strategy, but would it really have been that hard to show a bit of personality?

He doesn't have Corbyn's airport-sized collection of baggage, but he's got a serious trust deficit. He barely even pretends any more that he didn't secure his position as Labour leader on the back of pledges that he's discarded whenever it's expedient, and one of the few consistent Tory attack lines that makes any sense is that he is quite clearly capable of lying to secure an elected office, so why would he not have been lying now?

His positions on some matters were baldly regressive, and he seems to take a perverse pride in winding up his party's activist base. His position on Israel's war in Gaza was equivocal even as the country bombed it flat, and he has consistently ramped up transphobic rhetoric in his time as leader.

In general, he adopted a position of not really wanting to rock the boat too much, which is rather at odds with the general mood for—and his outward positioning as—change. The manifesto has a few good bits in it (as above) but nothing else that's particularly special—indeed, one of the things the press has remarked upon is how unambitious the manifesto's proposals are![note 10]

His Shadow Cabinet (now Cabinet) included such wonders as (formerly shadow) Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who has a markedly Osbornite approach to public spending, while his (formerly shadow) health secretary Wes Streeting has received ample donations from private health firms, while also promising to expand private involvement in the National Health Service. They aren't the only Labour right-wingers who have gotten preferential treatment from outside interests, either.[8] There's fair reason to worry about the trajectory of a Starmer government if, like most of us on RationalWiki, you're not a fan of the approach of David Cameron to governance circa 2012.

Liberal Democrats[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Liberal Democrats

Following a dismal result in 2019 and a hasty rebrand in early 2020, "Jo Swinson's Stop Brexit Jo Swinson Liberal Democrats (Marxist–Swinsonist) From Me, Jo Swinson!" simplified their name back to "Liberal Democrats", and are now led by Ed Davey.

Official portrait of Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP crop 2.jpg
Ed Davey
Age: 58

Leader of the Liberal Democrats,
MP for Kingston and Surbiton
Advantages: The Lib Dems have, following Labour's shift back towards the right, reverted to their 1997–2010 form of being a "nicer", more outwardly liberal party than Labour, while also being non-threatening enough to secure the votes of former Tories for whom Labour would be a step too far. As such they've mopped up a few ex-Tory seats in by-elections, including some that have otherwise never been anything other than Tory, like Chesham and Amersham. But … we'll get to that.

As ever, a lot of the Lib Dems' social policies and principles are good bordering on great. They were also essentially your only viable choice if you have any interest in undoing Brexit, although naturally you should probably temper your expectations of that happening.

Disadvantages: Let's be blunt: they had no chance of winning. Their absolute best possible outcome was forming a coalition with Labour, but given contemporaneous polling, this outcome required that at some point during the campaign, either Keir Starmer was found in flagrante delicto with a group of barnyard animals or Rishi Sunak met a genie in a lamp that would grant him three wishes.

Where they have won ex-Tory seats, like the previously-mentioned Chesham and Amersham, it has often been with a depressing tactic of NIMBYism, specifically opposing the construction of HS2 which would have passed through some distant part of the constituency causing absolutely no issues for anyone living in it. As such, the party's dubious reputation for telling different constituencies what they think they want to hear continues; that, or you can't really rely on Lib Dems to support things like new housing, better transport links, or indeed anything else that might upset shire Tories. Or both! Who knows.

During the campaign, Davey made a point of doing publicity stunts to promote Liberal policies. He told a BBC interviewer that he was trying to show that he didn't take himself as seriously as he took the people's concerns.[9] But Mr Davey might want to remember the famous rule of thumb "the medium is the message": If he did poorly, it could easily be attributed to a method of campaigning that's all too easy to dismiss as unstatesmanlike.

The coalition is still something of a millstone around the party's neck, and (as with Swinson) Davey was up to his neck in it. Broadly speaking, if you remember the coalition, and you're anywhere to the left of David Cameron, you probably don't think about the Lib Dems with much pleasure.

Other parties[edit]

Reform UK[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Reform UK

For FUCK'S FUCKING SAKE!

Nigel Farage (31501835987).jpg
Nigel Farage
Age: only expressible via a complicated equation written in characters no human mind can perceive without shattering into a million pieces
Leader of Reform UK,
MP for Yarnham Cathedral Ward
Advantages: Listen, you're on RationalWiki. If you think that anything this goon wants to achieve in office is positive, then you're probably on the wrong website.

That said, he did everyone a favour by fucking over the Conservative Party horribly and letting Labour through the middle. Reform's outward positioning here is that the Tories have presided over high levels of immigration, public spending, and general "wokery" despite actively promising to reduce or get rid of those things in repeated elections. As such, they helpfully split the right-wing vote all across the country, reducing the Tories to historic and humiliating lows. So that's a public service, of a sort.

Disadvantages: LITERALLY EVERY OTHER SINGLE FUCKING THING ABOUT THEM.

This is the party for people who think the Daily Express is a bit too politically correct. Anti-immigration, transphobic, stuffed with racists: you name an issue, they've got an abysmal stance on it. Again, if you're on RationalWiki, you probably already know all this. You're also probably aware that their splitting the Tory vote (or even supplanting the Conservatives as the opposition) is probably not good, since it will help to drag UK politics even further to the right, while Labour don't seem that interested in pulling it much more to the left. Hilarious in the short term but soil-yourself TERRIFYING in the long term.

Notes[edit]

  1. Even notwithstanding his own sometimes troubling stances and bad tactics, Corbyn was on the receiving end of vendettas from many other corners to a degree almost unprecedented for an opposition leader.
  2. Later for Richmond and Northallerton after the redrawing of Commons constitutency boundaries, which took effect at this election.
  3. But we repeat ourselves.
  4. Even Eton College had to hold remote classes because the sewage system couldn't handle the boys' load.[3]
  5. Which Starmer did not even really try to rebut, but never mind.
  6. A full 68% of voters considered his actions unacceptable when polled, including 61% of 2019 Tory voters.
  7. For what it's worth, he did promise to serve his personal mandate as a constituency MP in his concession speech.
  8. He didn't mention how he paid people to go into restaurants during the worst phase of a pandemic of an airborne infectious disease, though. Curious!
  9. And that is mighty ironic when you consider that the party chose to give it the one-word title Change.[7] That said, it also refers to how Starmer has changed Labour from Corbyn, for better and for worse.
  10. Of course, if Starmer did put out some ambitious proposals, they'd just whinge about how he can't afford them. Even when led by a ruthlessly left-bashing ham homunculus, Labour plays politics on hard mode.

References[edit]

  1. With no flights before election, UK's Rwanda migrant scheme may never get off the ground by Michael Holden and Andrew Macaskill (May 23, 20246:37 AM PDT) Reuters.
  2. Rwanda, the ECHR, texting scams, and who would you trust to lead in a war? My April poll, Lord Ashcroft Polls, April 19, 2024: "Astute readers will notice that there are no issues left in the Conservative side of the chart."
  3. Eton College sewer problems disrupt start of term by Marcus White (10 January 2024) BBC News.
  4. Rishi Sunak’s satisfaction falls to equal worst ever Ipsos rating for a Conservative or Labour leader, Ipsos, April 18, 2024
  5. Rishi Sunak’s comedy of errors, Jonn Elledge, New Statesman, 8 June 2024.
  6. Rishi Sunak's D-Day Dodging Shows He Has Abandoned His National Service, Adam Bienkov, Byline Times, 7 June 2024.
  7. Change, Labour Party, retrieved 19 June 2024.
  8. Adam Ramsay, How Labour succumbed to big business and ditched its progressive plans, openDemocracy, 9 September 2023.
  9. Ed Davey says stunts are to showcase policies by Laura Kuenssberg (16 June 2024) BBC News.