Large majority belies low vote share

Labour landslide: industry reacts

Starmer's Labour Party has achieved the largest Labour victory since Tony Blair's 1997 landslide
Starmer's Labour Party has achieved the largest Labour victory since Tony Blair's 1997 landslide

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party will form the next government after winning a majority of around 170 seats – the largest majority since Tony Blair’s 1997 victory.

Labour stormed past Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives, beating them by 412 seats to 121 with two seats left to declare at the time of writing.

King Charles has now accepted Rishi Sunak’s resignation; Sunak has likewise resigned his post as leader of the Conservative party.

“Change begins now,” said Starmer, hailing his party’s victory.

“A mandate like this comes with great responsibility. Our task is nothing less than renewing the ideas that hold this country together – a national renewal. 

“Whoever you are, wherever you started in life, if you work hard, if you play by the rules, this country should give you a fair chance to get on.”

He continued: “We have to return politics to public service and show that politics can be a force for good. That is the great test of politics in this era – the fight for trust is the battle that defines our age.”

While the Labour Party’s large majority will give it considerable license to conduct government as it pleases, it is not quite as clean a victory as it might seem.

Polls indicate that Labour’s vote share (33.7%) has hardly changed since 2019, when it won just 203 seats under Jeremy Corbyn; Labour’s 2024 vote share is actually 5% lower than it achieved in 2017, also under Corbyn.

The Conservatives’ collapse is in many places attributable to the party bleeding support from both left and right wings: Reform, a newcomer to electoral politics that won its first seat in April 2024, won four seats with 14.3% of the four nations’ votes, much of which it appears came directly from former Tory voters.

The Conservatives won just 23.7% of the vote. Grant Shapps, who had served as secretary of state for defence, lost his seat in Welwyn Hatfield. Shapps is the majority shareholder in PrintHouse Corporation based in North London.

For the Liberal Democrats, the rise was even more dramatic, as voters – largely in formerly Conservative southern seats – handed the party a massive gain of 63 seats, despite a vote share of 12.2% overall.

Ousting four cabinet ministers, the Lib Dems will now have 71 seats in parliament: the largest number since the party’s foundation in 1988 – and by far the most seats in the House since the party’s support was obliterated during the Coalition years of 2010-2015.

The SNP also faced a torrid night, losing 38 seats – largely to Labour.

To hear how the results have been received, Printweek went out to the industry. Here are their thoughts:

Charles Jarrold, chief executive, BPIF
"Firstly, congratulations to the Labour Party on their landslide victory.

"With such a large majority there’s a great opportunity for Labour to work closely with UK industry, and print in particular, to make sure that UK business can fully contribute the productivity and growth challenges that have been so persistent recently.

"It’s businesses that create the growth that we all need, and we look forward to working with the new government to further unlock the potential in the sector.

"There’s so much that we are proud of about our sector, and there’s much that Labour will be able to do to accelerate its potential. We look forward to working with the new government across the areas that our Manifesto for Print that set out the sector’s needs.

"Overall, that means making it easier for businesses to invest, further enhancing and developing apprenticeship and skills training and funding, consistent focus on environmental performance, and making sure that the UK business environment is really favourable to the many vibrant entrepreneurial businesses across print and packaging. A lot to be done!"

Charles Rogers, chair, IPIA 
"In an increasingly globalised economy, the UK manufacturing sectors, including print, face significant challenges in maintaining their competitiveness.

"To ensure their growth, it is crucial for the incoming Labour government to implement robust policies that support these industries. The manufacturing sector is a backbone of the UK economy, contributing significantly to employment, innovation, and trade.

"Manufacturing industries, including print, are essential sources of employment. They provide jobs for millions of people across the country, from skilled labour to high-tech engineering roles.

"Government policies that support manufacturing can help create a stable economic environment, promoting job growth and reducing unemployment. Investment in training and apprenticeships, for instance, can ensure that the workforce remains skilled and adaptable to technological advancements.

"The manufacturing sector is also a significant driver of innovation. Companies in this sector invest heavily in research and development (R&D) to improve processes, reduce costs, and develop new products. Government policies that provide tax incentives for R&D, grants for technological innovation, and support for collaborations between academia and industry can spur technological advancements.

"For UK manufacturing to remain competitive on a global scale, it is also essential to have strong export capabilities; likewise, as global awareness of environmental issues grows, print manufacturers also face increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices and lower their carbon footprint.

"Government policies that promote green manufacturing can help our industry lead the way in sustainable production. This can include subsidies for renewable energy use, regulations that encourage recycling and waste reduction, and support for the development of environmentally-friendly technologies.

"By recognising the unique needs of the print sector, government policies in the future really can help this industry adapt to changing market demands and maintain its competitive edge.

Zoe Deadman, managing director, KCS Print
"The country has voted for change. Despite the landslide in numbers of MPs for Labour, there is also a huge ground sway in support for Reform and Nigel Farage. It just shows the split between those that are liberal minded and those that are looking for a more nationalistic and anti-immigrant political stance in Westminster.

"As a key part of the UK’s manufacturing sector, the printing sector has been hugely impacted by the lack of staff both skilled and unskilled (but willing to learn). The cost-of-living crisis has buffeted our industry by pushing digital transformation, often to seek savings, resulting in a move away from printed goods.

"At the same time, the cost of investment in machinery is incredibly expensive, hindered further by interest rates. My hope is that this decisive victory brings a ray of light for the economy, makes people feel more positive generally and boosts spending whilst inflation remains under control.

"Change is faster now than it has ever been, with the huge range of priorities that will face Starmer on his first day, our challenge is to put manufacturing and printing in particular, front and centre of the agenda to build the country back stronger than ever. Our heritage is innovation and with the right economy, political support and a willing market, at the time of the next election we can be in a far stronger position to evolve as an industry. I would like to see more support for investment in machinery and digitisation for printers.

"In the South West, there has been a significant change towards liberal democracy. Environmental issues have been given serious consideration for the first time that I can remember.

"In Cornwall we are conscious of the sewage scandal that is visible on our coastline. This, as well as the wider environmental impact, is an area that the printing industry is already making significant strides but could go further, faster, to be recognised as the eco conscious choice for communications from brands that wish to gain respect from their customer base. Given the power intensity of our industry, I hope tax breaks for sustainable technologies and help to reduce our carbon footprint would support Labour's plans for growth in a way that won’t harm the planet.

"Let's put print in the minds of the politicians. There is an opportunity at the BPIF Members' Day on 10 July in the Houses of Parliament to lobby loudly for our industry – I for one am feeling hopeful that we can be heard. Get hold of your new MP, invite them to your factories and shout about the priorities for print whilst they are ready and listening."

Dominic Hartley, commercial director, LexonGB
"The result was completely as expected. I didn’t even bother to vote in my area of South Wales which has always been Labour.

"I guess the Tories have been fairly stagnant over the past few years and the Liz Truss debacle just added nails to the coffin, so a change was always on the cards. It does feel very similar to how the country felt in 1997 and I’m not sure we want to see a repeat of the noughties under Labour.

"I do worry that Labour are not business friendly, even though their manifesto would state otherwise. The new PM will have every public sector worker clamouring for higher wages just as inflation is levelling out. If he manages to realise his plans for investment in infrastructure, defence, education and the NHS, then we know where the money will be coming from."

Kath Doran, managing director, Spectrum Plastics
“It’s not a surprise, is it? But it certainly wasn’t what I was hoping for. It’s the usual result for the print trade: we have to take it all on the chin, and find our way through.

“I’m not a fan of Starmer; I don’t think that the policies are robust enough – if you can actually make out what they are going to be. 

“The issue with [the last government] was morality: the actual policies that Rishi Sunak was putting in place, had a very good chance of coming through [successfully], I just don’t think he had enough time to be able to deal with it. Unfortunately, a lot of people in his party let him down.

“I would hope that we get some straightforward guidance [from the new government]: there are an awful lot of new rules that have come about because of Brexit. Just in terms of policy changes, there’s going to be lots of change – Labour is going to be the complete opposite [of what came before].

“We need more support for businesses in the UK, so that we can see a return of manufacturing in the UK, as opposed to us purchasing from abroad – it’s just crazy that something can come from China for a cheaper price than it costs for us to manufacture here.

“We’ve got to come with terms with [the new government]. I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen.”