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Election Roundup Week 1 – Record number of women predicted to win | Who to Watch

Welcome to Navigate Politics’ new weekly election roundup, bringing you all the new policy pledges, stats, polls, insights, and candidates to watch – right up until polling day. If you know somebody who would find this briefing useful, please do forward it on so they can subscribe and get it direct to their inbox each Friday.


This Week's Pledges 📜


The Conservatives hit the campaign ground running over the long weekend announcing plans to introduce a new National Service requiring 18 year olds to spend a year in a full-time military position, or to dedicate one weekend a month in a volunteering role in the local community, funded through money previously set aside for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund; and announcing the ‘Triple Lock Plus’, adding to the current Triple Lock by ensuring that the state pension is always below the tax-free threshold, funded through better tax collection and cracking down on tax avoidance. Campaigning continued throughout the week as Sunak announced on Wednesday plans to create 100,000 more apprenticeships a year, funded through his pledge to ‘scrap rip-off degrees that make people poorer.’ On Friday, the Tories announced plans to instil Pride in Place, including new rules and tougher stances to crack down on antisocial behaviour, and town regeneration to ‘give high streets a new lease of life.’


Over in the red corner, the Labour Party pushed its five missions to change Britain: [1] get Britain building, [2] switch on GB Energy, [3] get the NHS back on its feet, [4] increase safety on streets and [5] break barriers to opportunity; and its six first steps for change to build towards these missions: [1] economic security, [2] cut NHS waiting lists, [3] launch a new Border Security Command, [4] set up GB Energy, [5] crack down on antisocial behaviour, and [6] recruit 6,500 new teachers (and breath…). Thursday’s campaigning saw a focus on its plans to ‘take back the streets from thugs and thieves’, with plans to appoint 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs, and give the police the power to use ‘respect orders’, a rehashed version of the ASBO. The party then highlighted its plans for GB Energy on Friday, pledging to ‘fix the cost-of-living crisis with clean power.’ Labour over the weekend also announced it had received the endorsement of over 120 leading business figures as the ‘Party of Change’.


Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey launched his party’s campaign in Cambridgeshire, with pledges this week including: hiring an extra 8,000 GPs to ensure patients can see a medical practitioner within 7 days; reforms to dentistry including free check-ups for children and young mothers and removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste; free school meals for all primary school children funded by a new share buyback tax; delivering a Burglary Response Guarantee to ensure all home burglaries are investigated properly; creating a new Online Crime Agency; boosting the farming budget by £1bn and fixing botched trade deals that negatively affect farmers; and trebling the tax on social media platforms to pay for mental health provision in every school.


In Scotland, the SNP’s campaign kicked off focusing on protecting the NHS, tackling the cost of living and escaping Brexit. Party leader and First Minister John Swinney MSP also called for an emergency budget straight after the election, to deliver more funding in priority areas for Scotland, such as the NHS and green energy, and to ‘reverse the Tory austerity cuts.’


Navigate Politics' Industry-Leading PPC Data 📨


Over the last 6 months we’ve been working on one of the most in-depth studies of candidate data ever produced ahead of an election, and over the next 5 weeks we’ll be bringing you insights on particular key themes, insights and who to watch.


Today we launched CompassTM – our new database and stakeholder management platform where, in the run up to the election, we’ll be providing clients with detailed biographies of PPCs likely to win, as well as policy trackers for all the major parties as they’re announced. For more information or if you’d like a free trial of our services, please get in touch.


PPC Insights - A Record Number of Women ✒️


Women make up approximately one third of candidates standing at the next election, however if the aggregate of polls is to be believed and Labour romp home with a thumping majority, the next Parliament could be 40% female with as many as 260 women currently predicted to win.


Since 1918, 564 women have been elected to the House of Commons – but should the latest polls prove true, 115 new women will take their seats on the famous green benches, alongside a handful of former MPs returning to the corridors of power. To put that in context… Margaret Thatcher was only the 75th woman elected to Parliament…


However, whilst the number of women is expected to increase – entirely due to an increase in Labour MPs elected – perversely, three of the four main parties are predicted to have a lower proportion of women in the Commons when Parliament returns in July.


Whilst Labour is predicted to win a landslide majority, their proportion of female MPs is actually expected to decrease slightly, dropping below their current, historic 52% level to 45%. The Lib Dems could be set to make significant gains and triple their number of seats at the election, but in doing so reduce their proportion of female MPs from 66% to 40%. In Scotland, the SNP’s female candidates are likely to be disproportionately affected by the party’s changing fortunes. 37% of the party’s candidates are women, but if recent polls prove to be correct, the current 15 female MPs could be reduced to just 5 – dropping from 37% of their current number to 26% - the lowest proportion of the four main parties in the next Parliament.


Perversely, should the Tories dramatically lose swathes of seats as is been predicted, their proportion of female MPs is actually likely to increase slightly - albeit from 25% to 27%.


Candidate Deep Dive - Women to Watch 🔍


Monica Harding (Liberal Democrat, Esher and Walton) – Finished a close second in 2019, nearly unseating then Deputy-PM Dominic Raab on a swing of 18.5%, while she was also endorsed by (Ex-Prime Minister) Hugh Grant. Previously CEO of the Industry and Parliament Trust, Refugees International Japan and currently Director of the Britain Project.


Aphra Brandreth (Conservative, Chester South and Eddisbury) – Daughter of former City of Chester MP (and regular on The One Show) Gyles Brandreth. Economist and former Adviser to Defra, before setting up and running a set of veterinary clinics. Host (with her dad) of Commonwealth Poetry Podcast.


Tania Mathias (Conservative, Maidenhead) – MP for Twickenham from 2015-17. Doctor who worked for the UNRWA in Gaza and Africa, and in Ophthalmology for the NHS. In 2015 was one of three Quaker MPs elected, the Quaker MP for a decade.


Hannah Ellis (Conservative, Harlow) – First worked for previous Harlow MP Robert Halfon at the age of 16, before going on to work in law, policy and most recently as a Government adviser. Recently elected as a local councillor.  


Yuan Yang (Labour, Earley and Woodley) – Financial Times Europe-China correspondent and formerly the deputy Beijing bureau chief for the paper. Co-founded the ‘Rethinking Economics’ campaign, which calls for a more relevant economics curriculum.


Miatta Fahnbulleh (Labour, Peckham) – Family fled civil war in Liberia and sought asylum in the UK. Director of the New Economics Foundation and formerly worked as the Head of Cities in the policy unit at the Cabinet Office from 2011-13.


Abtisam Mohamed (Labour, Sheffield Central) – Defeated Eddie Izzard during selections. Left school with 4 GCSEs before ultimately studying law and founding her own law firm focused on asylum and human rights.


Harpreet Uppal (Labour, Huddersfield) – Current acting Head of Staff for Debbie Abrahams, she served on Kirklees Council for 4 years and was the first female Sikh on the council. Backed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, whom she worked with during his Mayoral Campaign in 2017.


Satvir Kaur (Labour, Southampton Test) – Previously Leader of Southampton City Council and first person of colour to lead the Council as well as the first female Sikh council leader in Britain. Made her debut at the Labour Conference in 2022 to introduce Labour leader Keir Starmer, where she highlighted how she grew up on free school meals. 


Emma Foody (Labour and Co-Op, Cramlington and Killingworth) – Former 999 call handler and North East Ambulance Service volunteer. Held various roles in organisations like the National Housing Federation and EMH Homes. Previously worked at the Magistrate in Nottinghamshire and was Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire from 2020 to 2021.  


On the Campaign Trail 👟


Rachel Reeves delivered her first speech of the campaign, in which she: labelled the “changed” Labour Party as the “natural party of British business”; stated that she wants to lead the “most pro-growth, pro-business Treasury that our country has ever seen”, adding there would be a “laser focus” on delivering for working people; confirmed that every policy in the manifesto would be fully costed and fully funded, noting they would introduce “robust fiscal rules” to get debt falling by the end of the next Parliament; confirmed Labour would publish a Business Tax Roadmap within six months of forming a Government; and also confirmed that Labour would introduce a New Deal for Working People, as well as seeking a closer relationship with the EU to “ease the burden of bureaucracy and red tape on British businesses”.


Keir Starmer set out Labour’s six steps for change in Wales, thanking Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething for his leadership after it was announced on Wednesday that he will face a vote of no confidence in the Senedd next week. Starmer stated there would be “no more conflict between the First Minister here and the Prime Minister in London” were Labour to win power in Westminster, adding “this is a huge prize to elect a government that wants devolution to work”. Broadly similar to those already announced for the rest of the UK, the pledges include delivering economic stability with tough spending rules, cutting waiting times and launching a new Border Security Command.


The focus then turned to Labour’s plans for green energy as Starmer addressed Scottish voters. Marking the launch of the logo and website for GB Energy, he outlined that the publicly-owned “investment vehicle”, which would be headquartered in Scotland, aims to help the transition to net zero and ensure jobs for this generation and the next. He said that Labour was not “turning off the taps” on oil and gas but that a transformation is coming, with early investments expected to include wind and solar projects across the UK. He also railed against the “absolutely shocking” challenges facing the NHS in the country, reiterating that he would improve waiting times; and said Labour would work with Donald Trump if he was re-elected as US President following his historic criminal conviction.


Scottish First Minister John Swinney slammed Starmer’s plans, warning that GB Energy would be a “body blow” for the Scottish economy. The SNP leader argued that Labour’s economic plans would deliver “austerity on steroids” and called for an “emergency Budget” if the party is elected. He also accused the Conservatives of inflicting 14 years of austerity on Scotland, asserting the best way to remove them was to vote SNP.


Other Campaign News 📰


The Green Party and Plaid Cymru also launched their campaigns, with the Greens announcing the four constituencies and candidates where they will be prioritising campaigning (Sian Berry in Brighton Pavilion, co-leader Carla Denyer in Bristol Central, Ellie Chowns in North Herefordshire, and co-leader Adrian Ramsey in Waveney Central); and Plaid Cymru revealing that they would support a vote of no confidence against First Minister Vaughan Gething.


After confirming he has no intention to stand in the General Election, Nigel Farage delivered a speech in Dover this week, proposing a tax on businesses for employing overseas workers and criticising both the Conservative and Labour’s position on immigration. Farage also demanded that the Prime Minister debate him on the issue, stating that a refusal would prove that he can’t stop the boats.


And following days of confusion over Diane Abbott’s future, Starmer confirmed that she is “free to go forward as a Labour candidate”. On Wednesday the veteran MP vowed to stay on for “as long as possible”, having been handed back the whip after a year-long investigation into her conduct, but said she had been banned from standing for Labour. Starmer responded that “no final decision” had been taken. This was followed by a major intervention by deputy leader Angela Rayner, who argued that she could see no reason why Abbott should not be allowed to stand as the party’s candidate, with Starmer ending the speculation 24 hours later. He also denied that Labour is blocking left-wing candidates, as this week saw the MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Labour’s candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green Faiza Shaheen banned from running after complaints about their behaviour, stating he wanted “the highest quality candidates” to stand.


The Election Timeline 🗓️


With Parliament now officially dissolved, here’s a quick guide to stay on top of what’s going to happen and when, as well as all the important deadlines…


4 June – The first debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer takes place at 9pm on ITV1. So far they have agreed to two head-to-head debates. In previous years, debates have also taken place with leaders of other parties, though it’s often the case that the Labour and Conservative leaders send understudies for these…


7 June – Deadline for Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) to declare that they are standing in the General Election. Yes, there is still time for more people to confirm they won’t seek re-election… or for more left-wing Labour candidates to be told they can’t stand.


8-16 June – Expected timeframe in which the manifestos will be published, setting out each parties’ plans for if they were to form the next government.


18 June – Deadline to register to vote.


19 June – Deadline to apply for a postal vote.


26 June – Deadline to apply for a voter ID; Deadline to apply for a proxy vote.


4 July: Polling Day – Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm. No broadcaster is permitted to report details of campaigning or election issues until the polls close.


4 July: Exit Poll – 10pm. This will give us a good idea of how the results will turn out. In 2019 the Exit Poll forecast the Conservatives to win 368, Labour to win 191, SNP to win 55 and Lib Dems to win 13. The actual results were 365, 203, 48 and 11. 


4 July: First Constituency to Declare – c.1100pm-1130pm. The Tyne-Wear Derby hots up as constituencies in Newcastle and Sunderland race to be the first to declare. Newcastle upon Tyne Central was first in 2019, at 1127pm, and will be seeking to hold this crown under the new name of Newcastle upon Tyne Central and West. 


5 July: Full Results – Results will then continue to come in throughout the early hours of 5 July, first at a trickle before coming in thick and fast. By about 5-6am we should have a pretty clear idea of who will be forming the next Government… as long as it isn’t too close to call.


5 July: Forming a Government – If the winner is clear, the leader will meet King Charles III at Buckingham Palace to agree to form a Government. If Labour win, Rishi Sunak will first go and tender his resignation as Prime Minister.


5 July: Cabinet – A Cabinet will then be appointed, with junior ministerial appointments also being made, although these could potentially be spread over the following days.


9 July – The new Parliament will meet for the first time, with the election of the Speaker (likely to remain Lindsay Hoyle) and the swearing-in of new Members of Parliament. The swearing-in of Members will take a few days.


17 July – The State Opening of Parliament and the King’s Speech will take place. After this, MPs will debate the King’s Speech. Although this debate only lasted for one day after the General Election in 2019, it usually lasts 4-5 days.


25 July – Summer Recess is due to begin at the close of business on Thursday 25 July, although Labour are yet to confirm this will happen if they form the next Government.


The Aftermath…


The leaders of parties deemed to have underperformed or to have lost control of Downing Street will likely resign, with leadership contests ensuing. Interim leaders may be installed while the leadership contests go on, as Harriet Harman did for Labour after both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband resigned as Labour leader.


Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has said she will not deliver a Budget/Fiscal Statement without a forecast being produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). As this takes 10 weeks, it is expected that no such statement will be delivered until the week beginning 16 September at the earliest.


This Week's Election Stats 📈


30,000 – The number of places available in the military under the Conservative’s National Service proposals.


140 – Candidates still required by the Conservatives.


£46k – The amount the Conservative Party spent on Meta ads on 28 May, compared to Labour’s £22k.


136 – The number of MPs who have confirmed they would be standing down, with 79 of them being Conservative.


5 – The number of days junior doctors are set to strike, starting a week before the election.


34 days until the General Election (fewer if you’re catching up over a weekend coffee).


Elections around the World 🌍


The African National Congress (ANC) is set to lose its majority in South Africa for the first time since 1994. With two-thirds of results declared at the time of writing, the ANC has received 42% of the vote, while the main opposition Democratic Alliance is second with 23%. MK, a new party founded by former president Jacob Zuma, gained 12%, while the far-left EEF has taken nearly 10%. It means the ANC will now seek to establish a coalition government, marking a new era in South African politics.


Gitanas Nausėda has been re-elected as president of Lithuania, defeating Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. He received over 75% of the vote in the second-round contest while Šimonytė took 24%, the largest margin of victory for any presidential candidate in Lithuania’s history. National security, in the context of Lithuania’s proximity to Russia, dominated the campaign. 


This Week’s Polls 📊


The pollsters have been releasing their first set of voting intention polls since the General Election was called…with very little change in opinion. YouGov has Labour at 46% (-2) and the Conservatives at 21% (+1); Survation put Labour at 47% (-1) and the Conservatives at 24% (-3); and Redfield and Wilton Strategies has Labour at 46% (+1) and the Tories at 23% (-) of the  vote. Meanwhile, both Reform and the Lib Dems are each polling at around 10% – although YouGov and Redfield & Wilton have Reform as the third most popular party, whilst Survation has the Lib Dems in third.


Ipsos published their first Campaign Tracker of the 2024 General Election, asking the public which issues will be most important in deciding their vote, and which party has the best policies on them. It identified the key issues people deem to be the most important in influencing their vote, with the top four being: the NHS (64%), inflation/cost of living (55%), managing the economy (43%) and immigration (42%). The first two are the key issues for 2019 Labour voters, whilst the NHS and immigration are the priorities for 2019 Conservative voters. Labour are seen as having the best policies on all four of the issues – by a 23% margin on the NHS, but only a 6% margin on immigration. Housing also appears in the top three most important issues when looking specifically at 18-34 year-olds. And to top it all off, 4 in 10 respondents think the Conservatives are having a ‘bad campaign’ so far.


YouGov carried out polling on some of this week’s pledges from the major parties. Following the announcement of the ‘triple lock plus’ by the Conservatives, just 12% of people believe the Conservative plans to help pensioners go ‘too far’, compared to 36% who believe they ‘don’t go far enough’ – and this rises to 54% among those aged 65 and over (surprise surprise). On Sunak’s national service plan, 47% of respondents said they would support this, whilst 45% were opposed. And (believe it or not) this split is generational, with 18-24 year-olds opposing the plans by 65% to 27%, compared to over 65s supporting the policy by 63% to 31%.


Campaign Gaffes 😂


It wouldn’t be a UK general election without a steady stream of gaffes and nonsense, and so far, this year has been no different. This week we give you, in no particular order: the Conservative Party unveiling a National Service policy two days after the Government declared it had ‘no current plans to reintroduce’ it on the grounds it could ‘damage morale, recruitment and retention and would consume professional military and naval resources’…


…Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker immediately distancing himself from the policy (perhaps on the grounds that he didn’t fancy inducing teenagers in Northern Ireland to work for the British Army), before unrepentantly admitting that he was on holiday in Greece (FWIW, he has a majority of just over 4,000)…


…Ed Davey taking a tumble into Lake Windermere, in the first of several stage-managed ‘chaotic’ events…


…and Conservative backbencher and one-time PM wannabe Rehman Chishti posting a clip of himself absolutely hoofing a football, mere hours after the Prime Minister demonstrated some somewhat lacklustre dribbling. 


Well done for surviving week one of the campaign… See you back here next week.

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