Andrew Fisher, LRC joint secretary, analyses the 2010 General Election result which could have been so much worse.
From some of the post-election analysis you’d be forgiven for thinking Labour had been a doughty fighter holding its own, resisting until the end, but just edged out in a contest from which it could walk away with its head held high (and other such tedious clichés).
The reality is somewhat different. Labour’s share of the vote fell from a poor 35.3% in 2005 to 29% in 2010. The number of Labour voters was reduced from 9.57 million in 2005 to 8.61 million in 2010, even though the turnout increased in 2010 – up from 61% in 2005 to 65% in 2010. In 2010, Labour polled five million fewer votes than in 1997. By comparison, in the 1983 General Election (entered in folklore as Labour’s darkest hour) Labour polled 27.6% and gained 8.46 million votes.
There has been a large decline in support for Labour since 2005 – as has been shown by election results in the intervening period. Despite the higher turnout, the average Labour candidate polled 13,643 votes in 2010 – 1,475 fewer, on average, than in 2005. Their share of the vote also declined by 5.5 percentage points to 31% (excluding Northern Ireland). This decline saw the net loss of 91 seats, the most lost by Labour since 1931.