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Polls, polls, polls

Polling 2024
Planning Communications and Consultation
Public Affairs
general election 2024

Polling day is now two weeks today. If Sunak was hoping for a bounce from his manifesto launch and the focus on the threat of tax increases from Labour, he hasn’t got it. If last week was manifestos week, this week was one of the polls. And it isn’t pretty reading for the government. Seats from best to worst for the Conservatives:

More in Common: Lab 406; Con 155; Lib Dem 49; SNP 18; Reform 1; Green 1
YouGov: Lab 425; Con 108; Lib Dem 67; SNP 20; Reform 5; Green 2
Electoral Calculus: Lab 461; Con 80; Lib 63; SNP 20 Reform 1; Green 2
Savanta: Lab 516; Con 53; Lib Dem 50; SNP 8; Reform 1; Green 0

All but the first of these give Labour more seats than even its 1997 majority.

What’s been the impact? Early in the week, Labour was pulling support and funding from seats with a Conservative majority of under 3,000 – no need to waste effort when they are clearly going to win. By mid-week the opposite was happening for Conservative candidates: support is being withdrawn where the candidate is judged to have no chance. This judgement is falling particularly on the Red Wall seats. Finally, with the Savanta poll predicting Rishi could lose his own seat, CCHQ staff are apparently being bussed into Richmond, Yorkshire, to save Sunak. Losing Richmond, which has been Conservative since 2010, would make Sunak the first Prime Minister to lose his seat. If not Sunak, who will be the Portillo of 2024? Jeremy Hunt and Grant Shapps are certainly in the running. There is no such thing as a safey now.
Meanwhile, the Green and Reform honeymoon with the media continues, with much talk of breakthroughs. Bristol Central MP Thangam Debbonaire was a notable shadow cabinet absentee at the Labour manifesto launch last week; we conclude that one day away from the constituency is too much to spare as the Green are increasingly likely to take the seat.
Although most voters like to vote for the winning party, we are finding that the polls are not helping the Labour candidates where the Greens (or Jeremy Corbyn) is the main opponent. Voters more ideologically inclined to the left on Green issues can “vote with their heart” safe in the knowledge that the Tories will lose anyway. Green campaign literature is explicitly about keeping a rampant Labour government “honest”. This argument does seem to have some traction, certainly where SEC Newgate team members were out campaigning this week in Islington and the south coast.
According to polling, Clacton is emerging as a genuine three-way marginal. The last one of these I can remember was Hampstead and Kilburn in 2010, when Glenda Jackson held on by 43 votes. But Clacton is also a sartorial battle: The urbane jumpers and trench coats of Labour’s Jovan Owusu-Nepaul versus Nigel Farage’s “shooting weekend” clobber. And what of Giles Watling, the Conservative MP there since 2017? Well, he played a vicar in the 1980s TV series Bread. He could always don the dog collar again for a third contrasting style...