Starting gun fired on General Election!

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Why now?

With falling inflation and progress made on flights to Rwanda, Sunak and his team believe this is the best chance of turning around the Labour Party’s strong lead in the polls. While this may seem a surprise to many, the Conservatives have been working to draw clear dividing lines between themselves and Labour in the last couple of weeks, notably on taxes and economic stability.  

Additionally, Sunak is said to be feeling confident following the Government’s success in addressing both the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry and the Infected Blood Inquiry. Moreover, Sunak would like to avoid higher levels of migration expected over summer and challenges in cutting tax in the next Autumn Statement. 

What next?

Ahead of the General Election taking place, there will be a ‘wash up’ period where the Government and Opposition will reach agreements on the bills that should be hurried through their remaining parliamentary stages to reach the statute book before dissolution (likely 30 May).

The Prime Minister confirmed he spoke with the King earlier today and His Majesty agreed to dissolve Parliament. The Conservatives will hold their first campaign event this evening at the ExCel Centre. Labour have summoned a group of party activists to Labour HQ and it is expected that there will be a similar campaign event this evening. 

Is a Labour win a foregone conclusion?

No. While the Labour Party have planned for a general election over the summer, there was a false sense of security that it a summer election was highly unlikely. Despite Labour being the favourite to win, they will face numerous challenges over the course of the general election campaign, including:

  1. Candidate management. The party has still not selected over one hundred parliamentary candidates for the general election. Though the party has processes and a shortlist of each seat, there may not now be time to go through selection processes. Imposed candidates in several contentious areas can be destabilising for local parties and provides challenges for Starmer who will be looking to prove that Labour has changed under his leadership.
  2. Party unity. Escalations in the conflict in the Middle East are placing further strain on Labour’s party discipline. This could be seen in the recent local elections where the conflict was seen as a dividing issue, with some Labour voters shifting their support for Independent or Green candidates.
  3. Public support. Recent polling shows that while the public endorses the recently announced “first steps” towards change, only just over half of the public believe that Starmer would be able to deliver on these promises in the first term of a Labour government. 
  4. Policy development. Labour’s manifesto is ready to be published, though it is incredibly light on detail. Labour Party process dictates that the manifesto will be ratified by the trade unions and the National Executive Committee at what is known at the “Clause IV meeting”. This meeting can often see policies added in or removed from the manifesto at the last minute. 

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