General Election 2024: What are the risks to Labour's 'sandcastle' majority

Dr Nathan Critch explains Labour's thin public support and the risks it faces in keeping its majority.

Sir Keir Starmer giving his first speech as Prime Minister outside Downing Street

"Whilst the number of votes won is not a perfect barometer of a party’s popular support given that some votes are cast tactically, it gives a flavour of the general levels of enthusiasm parties enjoy. That Labour’s landslide in terms of seats so outstripped actual levels of support for Labour among voters indicates that enthusiasm for a Starmer government is far less widespread than their working majority in the Commons suggests.

Much of Labour’s support in the general election, it appears, ultimately rested on a desire to get the Conservatives out of office. Thus, this base of support may well dissipate given that this objective has now been achieved in absence of other reasons to support the party. In not generating real, entrenched popular awareness, support and enthusiasm for his project, the patience Starmer’s Labour seem to want from voters is unlikely to materialise. Furthermore, without popular legitimacy for their policies, British governments have tended to govern in an authoritarian and top-down style, which further fuels dissent and discontent.

An early decline in Labour’s popularity and significant public discontent as they continue with fiscal restraint is therefore the real risk wrought by Labour’s ‘sandcastle’ majority. This risk feels all too likely to manifest itself given Labour’s unwillingness to be bolder and build popular support for a clear political project and vision."

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