Matthew Turner has assembled an interesting diagram here (inspired by this Chris Lightfoot effort here), plotting the results of British general elections since 1945. It’s a bit rough round the edges, but that’s not important.
What I’m struck by, after eyeballing it for a short while, is the way in which the vectors separating the 1983 and the 1987 elections are about the same length as those separating the 1997 and 2001 elections, yet whereas quite a lot of seats changed hands in 1987 (such that the election can now plausibly be viewed as Labour’s first step on the long road from the nadir of 1983 to electability), the election of 2001 was, in terms of seats, a rerun of 1997.
Which says something about (i) the funny mechanisms we have in this country for translating votes into seats, (ii) the role of the Liberal Democrats in the current set-up and (iii) the kind of hole the Conservatives have dug themselves into.
(And are they now today passing up the spade?)