From record-breaking diversity to pro-Gaza support: Five takeaways from the UK elections

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul7,2024
Britain’s Conservative party has suffered its greatest defeat in history, losing to Labour by more than 290 seats just five years after a landslide win in 2019.
Thursday night’s election has reshaped the parliament. As the new British Prime Minister steps into the top role, here are five takeaways.

Conservative catastrophe

After 14 years in power, the Tories look set to shrink to around 120 seats, with Rishi Sunak’s outgoing cabinet losing a record 12 senior ministers.
Several others retained their majority by small margins, including party chairman Richard Holden who held on by just 20 votes.

A final humiliation arrived when former prime minister Liz Truss – whose 49-day rule in 2022 was the shortest in UK history – lost her seat.

Meanwhile, anti-immigration party Reform UK has emerged as a serious threat to the right-wing establishment.
Reform UK – – outperformed the Conservatives in many constituencies and secured more than four million votes, the third highest of any party.

Record-breaking diversity

Britain’s new prime minister will oversee the most diverse parliament in the country’s history.
The incoming parliament includes a record 242 female MPs, 22 more than in 2019.

Black, Asian and ethnic minority lawmakers will also represent around 13 per cent of the House of Commons, the UK’s lower house – up from 10 per cent.

Keir Starmer speaks at a campaign rally.

A historic number of women and people of colour will make up the new parliament. Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

But the proportion still does not fully reflect the diversity of the population and electorate, with around 18 per cent of people in England and Wales identifying as Black, Asian, mixed or ethnic.

Labour has by far the largest number of MPs from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds – 66 out of the 87 elected.

That diversity is not expected to be translated to leadership positions in Starmer’s cabinet picks.

Pro-Palestinian swing

Muslim voters have punished Labour over their stance on the war in Gaza.
In 2019, around four in five UK Muslims voted Labour. But in 2024, seats with significant Muslim populations saw big swings against the party.

Starmer has faced criticism for only gradually shifting towards calling for a ceasefire.

A pro-Palestinian protestor in London holds a sign saying 'Keir Starmer Supports War Crimes'.

Labour has faced fierce criticism over its position on Gaza. Source: AFP / Justin Tallis / AFP via Getty Images

Four independents have been elected on a pro-Gaza ticket. In Leicester South, Shockat Adam defeated Jonathan Ashworth – who would have been a minister under Starmer – and claimed victory in what had been considered a safe Labour seat.

After his win Adam declared “This is for Gaza” and waved , a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.

Jeremy Corbyn is back

Veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn returned to the seat he has held since 1983 and has promised to be a thorn in Keir Starmer’s side.

Jeremy Corbyn speaks into a microphone at a campaign rally.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ran as independent for the first time in his seat of Islington North. Credit: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

It was his first time running as an independent, following a bitter split with Labour.

Corbyn resigned as Labour leader in 2019 before Starmer threw him out of the party altogether less than a year later, accusing him of undermining efforts to tackle antisemitism.

Starmer often points to Corbyn’s exclusion as a sign of how he has changed the party.

But Corbyn, an ardent pro-Palestinian activist, said his win is a sign of dissatisfaction with Labour and particularly its approach to the war in Gaza.

Scottish nationalists

The results dealt a crippling blow to Scottish nationalists – and with it, to dreams of independence from the UK.

Scottish National Party members console Alison Thewliss.

The Scottish National Party was decimated, including candidate Alison Thewliss who lost the seat of Glasgow North. Credit: Andrew Milligan – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Just nine MPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP) were returned, compared to 48 in 2019.

Scotland’s former first minister and independence figurehead, , called the “seismic” results “grimmer” than expected.

With additional reporting by Reuters and AFP.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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