Next month we will see the 50th anniversary of the most extraordinary general election of modern times – 1970 when Edward Heath led the Tories to victory. His party came to power with a working majority beating Harold Wilson Labour which also had a working majority.
For there to be a change of government in such circumstances was actually quite unique. For at no other election in modern times has a party with a working majority taken over from another party which had a working majority.
Just go back over past elections which have led to changes of government and it will be seen how unique June 1970 was. In 1951 when the Tories came in Labour had effectively lost its huge seat lead from in 1951 after its massive majority the year before had been reduced to just single figures.
In February 1974 Heath lost power and Wilson was back at Number 10 heading a minority government. Seven months later in the second general election of that year a small majority was secured. This was not, however, large enough to cope with splits and by-elections and by the time of the 1979 election there was no LAB majority.
When the Major’s Tories lost power to Tony Blair in May 1997 it had seen its small majority been reduced to nothing. At the next change of government in 2010 Cameron came in but without a majority and had to rely on the LDs and have a coalition government.
All this points to the huge challenge facing Starmer. whenever the next election takes place.
My guess is that the excellent series of BBC repeats of its past election results programmes will include 1970 at some point next month. This Saturday we have 1964.