After 14 years of Conservative rule, in which the country endured a pandemic, Brexit, war in Ukraine and war in the Middle East, Labour have now taken the reigns after a landslide victory in the 2024 UK General Election.

There will be people waking up this morning very happy with that result, but also a lot of people who will be worried and disappointed. This is my take on the seismic events of last night and what it might mean for us in the fenestration sector.

Labour wins huge majority

There were a number of records set last night. It was the worst set of results for the Conservatives ever. Quite remarkable considering the 80-seat majority Boris Johnson won in 2019. It is possibly the best ever result for Labour – if they win one more seat by the time this is published. Tony Blair won 412 seats in 1997 which is where Keir Starmer sits right now. The Lib Dems had their best result in over 100 years.

Four previous UK Prime Ministers lost their seats: Liz Truss, David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Let that sink in. What a resounding verdict on the last 14 years.

Today will be a day for celebration for Labour and their supporters as they have managed to achieve something which after the dismal period under Corbyn seemed impossible.

But there are some important caveats. First and perhaps the most pertinent is the share of the vote. Labour won this landslide on just 33.8% of the vote. That is by some margin the lowest share of the vote whilst attaining a result like this. For a comparison, Tony Blair won with 43.2% of the share of the vote. Factor in that turnout is set to be around 60% or just under, which would be the worst turnout for an election for a long time, and is a signal at how disconnected the public is with politics and politicians. It means the Labour majority whilst large, is also very shallow. It also means that the vast majority of the voting public did not vote for Labour, which means they have a huge task ahead to keep the public on side and secure that majority. Think about this, the increase in the Labour share of the vote in this election compared to 2019 was just 1.6%. The Tory vote share dropped by 19.9% – and we know where that went…

Second is the Reform vote. One of the biggest reasons for such a large Labour majority is Nigel Farage and the Reform UK party took a massive swathe of votes away from the Tories, essentially clearing a path for Labour to win. The Reform vote share was 14.3% and score more than 4m votes. Both more than the Lib Dems who won 71 seats and Reform winning just 4 seats. There will be an argument to be had about the electoral system itself, with perhaps more parties than usual calling for change and a proportional representation system. But with a majority for Labour of this size, that is not going to be a conversation that will be had any time soon.

Despite the size of this win, it is not a Blair moment. There is no overwhelming sense of joy and elation. Keir Starmer knows there are some very serious problems that need fixing and the work on those has to start today. He needs to hit the ground running and his opening speech needs to let people know that stability will return to the UK, that scandal and uncertainty is gone, and that people’s personal circumstances will get better. This won’t be easy considering the large proportion of the public that did not vote for Labour.

Outlook for fenestration

Generally, when a new party wins power, there is a bit of a bounce. There will be one here but it is likely to be a short-lived one. After what has been a quiet couple of months since the election was announced, our sector will be hoping that now the result is known, homeowners who may have put spending on hold will now get on and make those decisions. From my own conversations with others it is clear that there has been a marked slowdown in business activity. I know we will all be hoping that will now change.

In terms of policy, there are two areas that may see positive bumps for fenestration. The first is Labour is keen on it’s green policies. The UK’s housing stock remains the leakiest and worst performing in Western Europe. Labour wants to keep to net zero targets, which means they could look at ideas to rapidly improve the UK’s homes on mass. That would have to involve the window and door market, which hopefully would bring a boost for our sector. I don’t want to see any new complicated schemes such as the Green Deal which became so bloated and poorly communicated it failed before it started. Time will tell what Labour will do on this front.

Perhaps the bigger policy area is house building. They have promised to building more than 300,000 new homes per year, as all parties did. If they can manage to unlock the housing market, build those homes and get that part of construction moving again then that would be a great result. If we can build 300,000 new homes per year on a regular basis that is a lot more new windows and doors that need to be made. Then you have the house movers. New home supply will let people move around more freely, and when people move house we know they spend on home improvements – again a boost for our sector.

But, and perhaps most crucially, we are yet to see any plans whatsoever to remedy the chronic skills shortage that has plagued both the fenestration sector and wider construction sector. You can have all the targets in the world, but without the skilled people to build the things we need building, targets are utterly pointless. What I hope is that they understand this, listen to industry and put those plans in place as soon as possible so we can get the housing market moving.

The dust is still settling on the mammoth results of the night before. Impacts are yet to be known and the future is perhaps as uncertain as ever. Taxes are likely to rise and public spending is likely to stay stagnant or even be cut. Times will remain tough, but there will be many hoping that we can now finally turn a corner.

View all the results around the UK here:

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