Blair-style landslide or ‘supermajority’: what different results would mean for Labour

<span>If Labour’s majority is on the smaller side, there could be some battles ahead for Starmer on issues within his party.</span><span>Photograph: Lesley Martin/Reuters</span>
If Labour’s majority is on the smaller side, there could be some battles ahead for Starmer on issues within his party.Photograph: Lesley Martin/Reuters

With hours to go before the polls opened on Thursday, the parties’ expectation management machines went into overdrive. The cabinet minister Mel Stride, one of the only senior Tories to willingly defend the party’s record during the campaign, conceded his party faced electoral oblivion. Meanwhile, Labour activists warned of jitters over swathes of “shy Reformers” backing Nigel Farage’s hard-right party.

Three final polls forecast big Labour wins, with the Tories projected to tot up their worst-ever losses and a series of long-held records expected to be broken.

An MRP prediction from Survation said it was 99% certain that Labour would win about 484 seats, up astronomically from 206. Even the “lower end” of expectations gave Labour 447 seats, leaving the Tories on a mid-point of just 64, down vertiginously from 345.

YouGov projected Labour would win 431 seats with a majority of 212 – the biggest for any single party since 1832. More in Common suggested Rishi Sunak’s party would have 126 seats and put Labour on 430.

With every single poll for years, let alone in the past few weeks, putting Keir Starmer’s party on course for victory, we examine possible outcomes for a Labour majority and what they would mean for the party in government.

A moderate majority of 0-80 seats

According to the polls, this would be the least likely outcome for a Labour majority, meaning Starmer would have at the very best matched Boris Johnson’s 2019 victory, which was itself the highest Tory majority since 1987. If the majority is at the lower end of this range, there could be some battles ahead for Starmer on big issues within his party such as workers’ rights, NHS reform and civil liberties. The smaller the majority, the greater the challenge for the administration to push new laws through.

A Blair-style landslide of 80-179 seats

This would be an enormous win for Labour, potentially matching Tony Blair’s historic landslide in 1997. While Labour could still lose a small number of seats in this territory, for example Thangam Debbonaire’s Bristol Central constituency, which is under threat from the Greens, it would be substantially cheered by securing a majority of this size and would find it relatively straightforward to get a lot of legislation through the Commons.

Luke Tryl, of More In Common, said: “The fact that I can say Ed Davey’s chance of being leader of the opposition isn’t zero is extraordinary. Such a result will be predominated with questions over the future of the Tories and how strong an opposition they could form.”

A ‘supermajority’ of more than 179 seats

If Starmer wins what has been dubbed (mainly by Conservatives) a “supermajority”, he would make history by beating Blair’s landslide 1997 win – taking his party from a record defeat to a dramatic victory in just one term. Not only would he be able to pass through controversial legislation, it would be done with ease.

However, a majority of this scale would mean that Labour has pulled together such a broad coalition of constituencies – the most pro-immigration and the most anti-immigration, for example – that it would be a challenge to keep all his MPs happy. Or his voter coalition together at the next election in five years’ time.

As with any government, the larger a prime minister’s majority, the more scope there is for big rebellions. With a majority of more than 200, it is possible many Labour candidates would have won their constituencies with smaller majorities over their rivals. So a supermajority could become a blessing and a curse for Starmer.

In the event of a “supermajority” and a corresponding Conservative wipeout, Starmer could enjoy months, or even years, of watching the Tory party scramble to rebrand itself, including a probable acrimonious contest for a new leader.

He would also hope the economy improves quickly enough to make some substantive change across the country, with investment and reform of public services after 14 years of Tory rule.