Britain’s 60-year progressive consensus

Jon Cruddas' Compass speech included a graph showing the popular vote since 1832. A reinterpretation of the data shows Britain's 60-year progressive consensus.

The coverage around Jon Cruddas’ speech last night has centred on his criticism of the Labour leadership or his 10point plan for Labour’s future. But discussion at the event was more focused on a graph, presented by Cruddas, which showed the popular vote by party in UK general elections since 1832. Cruddas used the picture to support his argument that

“Labour has faced two periods of real crisis and now stands on the verge of a third. The first followed the crash of 1929, and the collapse of the second Labour government as MacDonald, Thomas and Snowden entered the National Government.

“The second came with Labour’s loss of power in 1979, the Thatcherite ascendancy and our threatened eclipse by a new third party in the early 1980s.

“Now, a third crisis is imminent. If the decline in Labour’s fortunes since 1997 continues, this latest watershed will occur following next year’s election – and history suggests that it will be every bit as dramatic.”

Polly Toynbee, in response, noted that the graph showed that the Conservative Party had never, in the post-war era, had a majority of voters. The graph below, produced by Left Foot Forward, shows the Conservative vote plotted against the combined Labour and Liberal/SDP-Liberal Alliance/Liberal Democrat vote in every election since 1945.

James Purnell, Polly Toynbee, Neal Lawson and Jon Cruddas were united last night in calling for a referendum on proportional representation on election day. With the data in front of you, it is easy to see why.

9 Responses to “Britain’s 60-year progressive consensus”

  1. The Independent View: Labour and Lib Dems must show a willingness to work together

    […] a long-term believer in the need for a more progressive politics, I take no great joy in the spate of polls showing the Liberal Democrats in free […]

  2. Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there" | Left Foot Forward

    […] – as there were at the last election and at every general election since 1945, a point illustrated by Left Foot Forward last year. Mr Harris was also encouraged by the new Labour leader’s […]

  3. Terry Daniels

    This is all well and good but will only make a difference if there is real proportional representation, as the Tories won the majority over all parties (except for 1974 and 2010) of seats despite not winning a majority of votes.

  4. Peter Oborne is wrong about the ‘unpopular’ liberal Left | Left Foot Forward

    […] fact, as we reported in one of our very first posts, general election results show no such thing: The graph showed that the Conservative Party had […]

Comments are closed.