26 Jun 2024

MHP’s State of the Election event – five key takeaways

What we learnt about the state of the election campaign from our esteemed panellists: Iain Dale, Rachel Wearmouth and Lord Robert Hayward.

MHP election event, Iain Dale, Rachel Wearmouth, Lord Robert Wearmouth

Yesterday, MHP’s Head of Public Affairs, Tim Snowball, was joined by the following guests to discuss the state of the election campaign ahead of polling day on 4th July:

  • Iain Dale – LBC presenter, political commentator and editor of ‘The 50 General Election Campaigns that Shaped our Modern Politics’.
  • Rachel Wearmouth – reporter for The I Paper, formerly the New Statesman deputy political editor and previously worked as senior political correspondent at the Daily Mirror and political correspondent at HuffPost UK.
  • Lord Robert Hayward – polling and election guru, with a track-record of predicting the outcome of major political events.

Here are our top five takeaways…

1. The campaign has not gone well for the Conservatives while Labour’s ‘Ming vase’ remains unbroken

It has been some time since the governing party oversaw such a shambolic re-election campaign.

From the D-Day debacle to the betting scandal, the number of self-inflicted errors was almost without parallel. That campaign resources are now being diverted to shore up the vote in nominally safe seats spoke volumes to the dysfunction at CCHQ.

In sharp contrast, Labour’s ‘Ming vase’ approach to the campaign appears to be working and remains unbroken, for the moment.

Nevertheless, Labour’s hyper-cautious approach has led to something of an enthusiasm deficit amongst the electorate.

2. Polling may be distorting the picture

The wide range of outcomes predicted by a variety of MRP polls has been one of the defining features of this election.

Such has been the scale of the three figure majorities they have predicted for Labour, there is every chance that if the actual result is tighter than expected a perfectly respectable 80-seat majority could end up being construed in the press as a disappointment for Labour.

Labour’s lead in the polls may affect the overall election result, with some people seeing little point of voting given the apparent certainty that Labour will win the election. The success of Labour’s campaign in Scotland and whether it will lose some support to the Greens or other left-wing candidates over Keir Stamer’s stance on Gaza will have a direct influence on the size of their majority.

3. We have seen a different side to Farage

Just as we have seen Reform UK taking up a lot more space in recent polls, they have also been dominating the headlines.

The return of Nigel Farage as disruptor-in-chief has undoubtedly added some pep to an otherwise soporific campaign.

The campaign has also shown a different side to Farage; in debates he has come across as calm, controlled, measured and even polite, though his recent comments on the Ukraine war may have put off some potential backers.

Farage – who has previously said he never really wanted to become an MP – could be one of the most consequential figures of the new parliament provided he is elected. This campaign has shown he can be a nuisance for both Labour and Conservatives.

4. Tory leadership race will be defined by who is left on 5th July

Kemi Badenoch seems to be a strong contender to pick up the pieces for the Tories after the campaign. Tom Tugendhat and Robert Jenrick will likely throw their hats into the ring, as will Penny Mordaunt, assuming she holds onto her seat. The battle to define the future of the Conservative Party between its One Nation caucus and right-wing looks set to be a ferocious struggle.

5. Problems and traps await for the new government

The honeymoon period for a new administration will be short. With the small boats crisis firmly on the agenda as a result of better summer weather, any new Labour administration will face an immediately challenging in-tray.

With criticism also ramping up from think-tanks such as the IFS about the gap between their policy aspirations and the UK’s fiscal reality, the first 100 days will be crucial for Labour to show they are putting the UK on the road to change. Can they do it?

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