Lessons not Learnt: New report on 2015, 2017 and 2019 elections

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive

Posted on the 23rd January 2024

The last nine years have witnessed three general elections, a nationwide referendum and no less than five prime ministers. At times our politics has felt chaotic, and the output of the Westminster electoral system has only added to this sense of dysfunction.

Increasingly we are seeing the system failing on its own terms. Failing to produce the single-party, stable government that is supposed to be its strength.

Our new report Lessons not Learnt: The 2015, 2017 & 2019 General Elections, summarises what happened at each election and shows the patterns of change.

In 2010, First Past the Post delivered us a coalition government, the first since 1945, under a system designed to produce single-party majorities. In 2015, First Past the Post gave us the most disproportionate election to date with a majority government secured with under 37 percent of the vote share. In 2017, despite over 80 percent of votes going to just two parties (the highest combined vote share since 1970), First Past the Post could not deliver a majority government. And in 2019 a huge majority was delivered with the difference between a hung parliament and large majority resting within a polling margin of error.

With two of the last four elections having the highest ‘voter volatility’ since 1931 and each of our nations having different, multi-party contests, these general elections have shown just how erratic the Westminster system can be in this context – it is a system no longer fit for UK politics.

This report, Lessons not Learnt: The 2015, 2017 & 2019 General Elections, draws together our analyses of the last three general elections looking at the impact of First Past the Post on election outcomes, and how the results would have been different under different electoral systems. There are huge differences in how the system treats voters, throwing out increasingly distorted results. This should give pause for thought for all sides of politics. First Past the Post is damaging our democracy, it’s time to change.

Read the report: Lessons not Learnt

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To make the report easier to read, you can now sign up to receive the individual chapters direct to your inbox, spread out over the next six weeks. Discover the impact of small changes in voting patterns on your commute, or how many votes made a difference in Westminster – while sitting on the sofa.

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