The 1920s are often thought of historically as the calm between two storms; the jazz era that was a brief flicker of stability between the First World War and the Great Depression. However, in Britain it was a very politically turbulent time, with three general elections being called in the space of two years.
The Conservatives came into the 1922 general election with a small majority, but facing a fractured opposition made up of split parties, nationalists, and emerging third entities. The election was fought under new boundaries which reduced the number of MPs from 707 at the 1918 election to 615. As a result, the Tories lost seats but retained their majority. Labour gained 85 seats to become the second party (it has never since been lower than second in national vote share at a general election), while the split Liberals became the third and fourth parties respectfully. Less than a year after the election, Bonar Law, the Tory prime minister, fell ill and resigned. The new Conservative leader, Stanley Baldwin, felt he needed a mandate of his own and called an election. It was a mistake: the Tories remained the largest party but lost their majority, with both Labour and the newly united (for now) Liberals picking up enough seats to form enough seats to form a government, albeit not a formal coalition.
This minority Labour government under MacDonald wasn’t stable and so came the 1924 election. This one crushed the Liberals, this time for good, and the Tories reaped the rewards, ending up with over 400 seats and a massive majority.
There wasn’t another general election until 1929, which resulted in another hung parliament. Cue another minority Labour government led by Ramsay MacDonald, again with the Liberals in support. Once more, this wasn’t to last and another general election was called in 1931: resulting in, you guessed it, a massive Tory majority (in fact, a much larger one than in 1923).
I suppose the parallels I’m drawing between then and now is that we could be in for a topsy turvy political ride over the next decade or so as the bugs shake out of the system. Huge Tory majorities (like the one we’re inevitably heading for) followed by hung parliaments when things don’t go quite as planned. New parties emerging and then dying; splits followed by reformations; Tory governments facing a heavy fractured opposition on the benches opposite; at the end of it, a new, hopefully stable order. In other words, whatever is coming our way, I think it might be a little messy.