How Corbyn’s Red Wall Crumbled: The UK Election in Maps

red wall
BBC/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have won their largest majority since Margaret Thatcher was returned to power for the third time in 1987, with an 80-seat majority.

With 162 seats more in the House of Commons than their next closest rival, Labour, the Conservatives’ pro-Brexit stance has redrawn the political map. Labour lost 60 seats — gaining only one, in London.

As revealed by the BBC below, it’s the subtle changes in the shift in Labour Red to Conservative Blue that reveal how Boris Johnson managed to break apart the Red Wall in the North of England.

Some five million working-class Labour Leavers found themselves politically homeless after far-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he would back a second referendum in July 2019. As a result, the Tories were able to break through 24 Red Wall constituencies with blocks of Boris Blue.

BBC analysis shows that the Conservatives were clear winners in seats that voted to leave the EU in 2016, taking almost three-quarters of those constituencies.

Labour also lost seats in the north-east, and farther north in Workington — the home of ‘Workington Man‘, the average voter aggregate that the Tories targetted during the election: the older, white, Northern citizen who typically supports Labour but voted Brexit.

While the Conservative gains may seem harder to see in what is already a wash of blue, the one Labour win — Putney in London, obtained from the Conservatives — has been clearly and simply presented thus:

Britain was not always so blue. When Labour under neoliberal Tony Blair was elected in 1997, the country was more dotted by red, including in the party’s former stronghold of Scotland, which has since become dominated by the left-separatist Scottish National Party (SNP, in yellow).

While red has been consistently associated with the Republican party and blue with the Democrats since the 2000 election in the United States, it has historically been the reverse in the United Kingdom — with Labour’s red rose symbol being a nod to socialist red, in particular.

However, the effect is rendered much the same between Britain’s 2019 general election and the electoral college map from the 2016 presidential election. Both highlight that the left-wing tends to dominate in the liberal extremes of the west and east coasts, with ‘flyover country’ voting for Donald Trump, while in the United Kingdom it is London and other metropolitan and multicultural areas which remain Labour-controlled, while ‘Middle Britain’ backed Boris.

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