General Election: What went wrong for Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats?

The first Winter General Election since 1923 has not been kind to Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats, who leave the polls with 11 seats: one fewer than during Tim Farron’s leadership in 2017.

Swinson claimed that this election would be ‘a moment for seismic change’ before the election, but failed to retain her seat in Dunbartonshire East, with only 149 votes between her and the SNP’s Amy Callaghan.

After the result, Swinson said: “I still believe our country can be warm and generous, inclusive and open, and by working together with our closest neighbours, we can achieve so much more.”

No candidate that defected to the party earlier this year managed to gain a seat at Westminster, including Angela Smith, Chukka Umanna and Philip Lee.

The ‘Party of Remain’ were also unable to take the majority of their target seats, with Sheffield Hallam being held by Labour’s Olivia Blake, who won by only 712 votes.

So what went wrong? The outstanding policy under fire throughout Swinson’s campaign was the pledge to revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU, should they gain a majority government.

Despite gains in Fife North East, St Albans and Richmond Park, the party lost all of its Leave-voting constituencies of Norfolk North, Eastbourne and Carshalton & Wallington.

There is also the question of Jo Swinson herself, whose approval rating had been in free-fall throughout the election campaign. Swinson fell from a rating of -8 in October to -30 a week ago following election appearances and a criticism of her previous voting record.

Lastly, the current First Past the Post electoral system has come under scrutiny following last night’s result. Despite losing seats in the election, the Lib Dems gained over 1.3 million votes nationwide: a success left unrecognised by current voting methods.

Regardless of blame, Swinson’s resignation and a majority Tory government will demand, once again, a revision of the Lib Dem agenda and progressive politics as a whole.