It’s the final countdown

28 May 24

While some of us were sheltering from the torrential rain in Leeds last Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decided to call a General Election from an equally drenched Downing Street. 

Aside from the distractions of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ blaring from a boombox and viewers wondering why someone didn’t just offer Rishi an umbrella, the election announcement ended months of speculation and sparked the beginning of what has already become a fast-paced and memorable campaign season.  

At the time of writing, an extraordinary 127 MPs have already announced that they will not be standing again, with the number growing by the hour. Former Prime Minister Theresa May and Former Deputy Dominic Raab are both standing down, as are long-time Labour Ministers Harriet Harman and Dame Margaret Hodge. With Michael Gove amongst the latest to announce that he will not stand, the Conservatives have now reached a rather dubious post-war record-high in the number of MPs who have decided to call it a day. 
 
Current polling by YouGov shows strong leads for Labour of more than 20 points over the Conservatives, whilst other polls such as Opinium show a more modest gap of around 14 points (Source). Meanwhile, Conservative election expert Robert Hayward has predicted that the polls may be overstating the extent of Labour’s lead at a national level (Source).  

The country’s national sentiment is often echoed in local elections, and when those were held just 27 days ago, we saw some dramatic changes with Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent making gains against a backdrop of considerable Conservative losses.  

This has all set the scene for some serious election fever.  

Rishi has been campaigning across the UK to a mixed reception, but with Parliament due to dissolve on 30th May, some pieces of legislation have been rushed through but others have not been so fortunate. This includes the much-anticipated Renters Reform Bill, which is likely to be shelved as there is just not enough time for it to be approved. 

Keir Starmer believes his biggest threat here is complacency. With that in mind, he, Angela Rayner and Rachel Reeves have taken the strategy to divide and conquer, getting out in force with appearances at events and workplaces across the country aimed at driving support from businesses, workers and families.

With promises and pledges being hastily concocted on all sides, we will be eagerly awaiting the manifestos to see the real detail of the policies that sit behind initiatives such as the Conservatives’ 250,000 new homes for Cambridge or Labour’s plans to build a series of New Towns. Ultimately, the planning system needs some serious work in order to even begin to deliver on any of these big ideas in an electoral term.  

We will share more of that insight when we have it, but with the past week already proving to be so eventful, we think both parties still have plenty to play for over the next five weeks.

Place your bets now please… 

Gemma Gallant Director,Engagement
Sian Buckley Consultant,Engagement