The result was not the Remainers' revenge and Labour did not win © FT Montage

Myths are powerful things. The political narratives of this election are already being fixed and truths are being created.

Some are being formed for political advantage, others because there is superficial evidence for them.

All of these narratives have some basis in fact, but they often mask more complex facts and careful analysis will temper the conclusions being drawn. Sometimes contests just come down to who looks like the best leader.

It is always risky to ascribe broad motives to the way people vote and blind acceptance of these narratives may sow the seeds for misjudgments in the future.

Here are six notions being widely touted about the election and the reasons to treat them with care.

1) The result was revenge for Remainers and a vote for soft Brexit

For some people certainly, but the exit poll data suggests this argument is being seriously overstated.

On-the-day polls by Michael Ashcroft show Brexit was the most important issue for 70 per cent of those voting Conservative.

But those voting Labour were much more likely to cite the NHS and spending cuts as the main reason for their vote. It was not an accident then that Labour did not talk much about Brexit.

For some, Brexit will have been a defining issue but while Labour’s tone was softer, it did not commit to remaining in the single market before the election and has been ambiguous on the subject since. The very substantial Labour gains in London give credence to suggestions that it was a factor in the capital.

Supporters of a soft Brexit can point out that the combined vote share of the pro-Brexit parties is just over 45 per cent. That is still less than the 52 per cent who voted to leave.

But — and it is a big but — even assuming that everyone else voted specifically on Brexit the country remains split down the middle. Add the Labour vote and 85 per cent of the country voted for parties promising to respect the Brexit referendum result.

2) Young voters made the difference

The notion has taken hold that Jeremy Corbyn’s success in mobilising student and youth turnout (defined as 18 to 24-year-olds) was what swung things in his favour.

It undoubtedly helped and will have been crucial in some seats but this is exaggerated unless we take the young to mean anyone under 45.

Labour enjoyed huge leads among the 18-24 cohort and there were definitely places where they made a big difference but the full extent of this will not be known until the British Electoral Survey is published.

The information from the polls by Lord Ashcroft suggests that in age terms at least two other groups were at least as, and possibly more, important. The 30-45 vote also broke strongly for Labour and here the gap is more striking. In 2010 Labour was about 3 per cent ahead among this group of voters. By 2015 it was nearer 14 per cent. In this election the gap was 36 per cent.

Jeremy Corbyn is highly popular among the young, but Labour generally polled well among the under-45s © PA

The Tories also lost further ground in the 35 to 44 age group where the gap is now 20 per cent. These were likely to be more decisive than the 18-24 group. It is only once people turn 45 that the Tories begin to re-establish a lead. So the group on which to focus is less the under 24s than the under-45s. It was the lead built up in this group that was decisive in denying Theresa May a majority. Interestingly there is some polling evidence to suggest that the older vote fell, which may help to explain some of the Conservative losses.

3) Labour won

Morally this argument has some force. Numerically it does not.

Though Mr Corbyn defied critics and far exceeded expectations with a very impressive 40 per cent share of the vote, Labour still lost this election. It is still 56 seats behind the Conservatives.

In the battle for control of Labour, Mr Corbyn can claim a decisive victory and the party does, however, undeniably have the momentum so if there is another election soon Labour would start as favourites. Then again that is how the Conservatives started this time.

4) A different Labour leader would have won

There is simply no evidence to support this and it is notable that even among his longstanding Labour critics few are making this argument.

While it must be correct that Mr Corbyn’s leadership cost some support, there is every reason to believe this was more than compensated for by the voters he attracted. He secured more than 40 per cent of the vote.

There is no gainsaying that. This does not mean there are not areas of weakness for him and it is not the same as saying the Labour vote was all an endorsement for the Corbyn agenda.

People vote for a wide variety for reasons and the huge shift in polls in the final month of the campaign suggests a slice of the Labour vote that had been lost but “came home” because it was repelled by Theresa May.

5) The Tory defeat shows the party must become more socially liberal and pro-business

The Conservatives lost seats and Mrs May was certainly damaged so at one level this seems like a fair assessment. The sense of defeat is magnified by how far they fell from the start of the contest. But even here there is a need for nuance.

The Conservative vote increased hugely, winning more support even than Tony Blair in 1997. They did not get everything wrong here and parts of their appeal clearly resonated in spite of Mrs May’s manifest failings as a campaign leader.

While the Conservatives may want to recalibrate a little and try to recapture some of those it derided as the metropolitan elite, the numbers do not make the case for simply ditching the May agenda and again chasing society’s winners.

There is, however, a corollary to this for both Labour and the Conservatives. The election shows a nation that is sharply divided politically so there are very big potential returns for the side that manages to reach across to the other side without ditching its core appeal. A small readjustment — especially for Labour — could reap major rewards.

6) Scottish independence is dead

Campaigners for Scottish independence © PA

It’s not; it’s just resting. That the prospects of a second independence referendum have receded is undeniable. The Scottish National party’s decline has probably stopped the immediate moves towards a second referendum in their tracks.

On balance it seems a reasonable bet both that the SNP is on the wane and that independence has received a very serious setback.

But the SNP remains the largest party in Scotland by some margin and — more importantly — if the last decade has shown us anything it is that things can change very fast. The battles keep having to be fought and the moment one side takes the electorate for granted it gets a rude awakening.

Letter in response to this article:

Ukip’s losses brought about election outcome / From Raymond Weir, Carberry, E Lothian, UK

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