To have a chance of forming a Government in 2024, Labour must firstly face the Maths

Will Sadler
4 min readJan 8, 2020
Image: Public Domain

We must be honest when calculating the challenge we face

As the Labour movement continues to grapple with the aftermath of the 2019 general election, it must avoid resorting to the cold comforts of meaningless statistics. Yes, Jeremy Corbyn may have won more votes than any Labour leader since 2001, but here’s the problem: Boris Johnson won more vote than any Conservative leader since 1992.

Selective statistics designed to make us feel better just won’t cut it when it comes to the blunt psephological truths of what it requires to actually win an election.

Perhaps ‘uniform swing’, which measures the average movement of support between parties, isn’t a much better way to gauge electoral performance. Nevertheless, it is better, and as long as it’s treated with the pinch of salt it deserves, provides a rough yardstick to measure the number of voters who must switch their vote to Labour in order for the party to win in 2024.

According to, to win the 124 seats required to achieve an overall ‘majority of one’ Labour will need a swing of 10.52% — larger than the uniform 10.2% that Tony Blair achieved in 1997 — and contrary to popular belief — around five times more than the 2% that Jeremy Corbyn achieved in 2017. If Labour can’t manage to break back into Scotland then — after taking Scottish seats out of the equation — they will need a swing of a 13.8% — greater than the overall shift in support that Labour achieved in the famous 1945 election — to form a majority government.

And the challenge doesn’t stop there. When the new boundary changes are introduced, which are likely to disproportionately benefit the Conservatives, the swing required will be even greater still.

Too gloomy? Let’s approach this problem from the opposite direction.

What would it require for the Conservatives to remain the largest party but lose their majority in 2024?

Again, according to — and based on current boundaries — Labour would need a swing of only 3.18% to deprive the Conservatives of the 41 seats necessary.

Will Sadler

U.K.-based; I write about politics, the Labour Party, Brexit and Mental Health.