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Election Roundup: Week 5 – A look ahead to the incoming health experts and Labour’s first King’s Speech

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.

King's Speech Lookahead 👑

All eyes will be on the newly elected Prime Minister this time next week as the election campaign nears its end. With Labour expected to win a record majority and the King’s Speech taking place on 17 July, let’s look ahead to what could be on Labour’s legislative agenda in the new parliamentary session.

Before turning to potential legislation, it’s worth highlighting that Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a snap election meant a number of Bills were unable to complete their passage through Parliament and were subsequently shelved. However, Labour confirmed that it would reintroduce four of them, including: the Renters (Reform) Bill with plans to ‘immediately abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions’; the Smokefree Generation Bill to ‘ensure the next generation can never legally buy cigarettes’; the Football Governance Bill to establish an independent football regulator; and implement ‘Martyn’s Law’ to strengthen the security of public events and venues.

Improving the UK’s energy security is likely to be high on the agenda as Labour’s manifesto confirmed that an Energy Independence Bill would be introduced to establish the framework for its energy and climate policies, including the creation of a new publicly-owned energy company, Great British Energy; and reforming the energy system by strengthening the regulator so it can hold energy companies to account for wrongdoing and ensure there is automatic consumer compensation for failure. There’s also likely to be a focus on water companies with a potential Water Quality Bill, which would give regulators new powers to block the payment of bonuses to executives who pollute waterways, bring criminal charges against persistent law breakers, and ensure independent monitoring of every outlet.

Tackling the housing crisis is expected to be another priority for the new Labour Government, with plans to: end the feudal leasehold system and tackle unregulated ground rent charges; reform the planning system in order to build 1.5 million new homes, restore mandatory housing targets and strengthen planning obligations to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes; develop a new cross-government strategy to end homelessness; and improve building safety, including through regulation. A Take Back Control Bill (which due to parliamentary convention will not be its official title…) to transfer power out of Westminster and provide local areas with new powers over transport, skills, housing and employment support is likely to be included, as promised by Starmer in 2023.

A long-awaited Employment Bill is due to be announced as Labour has committed to introduce legislation within 100 days to: ban exploitative zero hours contracts; end fire and rehire; introduce basic rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal; strengthen the collective voice of workers, including through their trade unions; and create a Single Enforcement Body to ensure employment rights are upheld.

Other potential Bills include: a Social Care Bill to create a National Care Service; a Railways Bill to bring them into public ownership; a Border Security Bill to create a Border Security Command to tackle criminal gangs behind small boat crossings; a Small Business Bill to take action on late payments and reform procurement rules; and a Race Equality Bill to introduce the full right to equal pay for ethnic minorities and disabled people. For a full look ahead of what to expect, check out our latest briefing on our website.

PPC Insights - Doctor Doctor✒️

With the eleventh strike from junior doctors underway, the General Election is taking place amidst the backdrop of an NHS under strain and following the COVID-19 pandemic… so it’s timely that the number of doctors expected to be elected to Parliament next week looks likely to increase. With the number of patients waiting for routine hospital treatments in England rising to 7.57 million by the end of April and junior doctors striking in a five-day walkout that is expected to delay up to 100,000 patients in England, it is no wonder that doctors are looking to influence policy that could positively impact the health care system.

51 doctors ran for parliament in 2019, while this year at least 35 doctors are standing as candidates. However, despite this apparent drop in the number of candidates…  where the last parliament had 10 doctors sitting as MPs, this incoming Parliament could see up to 12 doctors winning a seat, according to the latest polls.

Of the 10 doctors who served in the last Parliament, eight are seeking re-election, with seven being Conservative and one from Labour. The Conservatives are fielding the highest number of doctors among all parties, with 14 in total. Two doctors are running in South West Wiltshire as Defence Minister Andrew Murrison is defending his seat against NHS doctor and Lib Dem Bret Palmer. Meanwhile, in Ilford North, Conservative candidate and doctor Dr Kaz Rizvi is challenging Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, who is projected to increase his majority of 5,218. Despite predictions doctors Ben Spencer and James Davies will lose their seats, the Conservative Party is still projected to have the highest number of medical doctors on the green benches, with two new doctors expected to hold Theresa May and Julian Knight’s former seats.

While Labour only has five doctors as PPCs, Rosena Allin-Khan can expect at the very least one other doctor to join her on the government benches. Stroud candidate Simon Opher looks the most likely of the four Labour candidates contesting Conservative seats, as he just requires a 2.03% swing for Labour to win. Meanwhile in Worthing West, Beccy Cooper is looking to unseat Father of the House Peter Bottomley, which would require a 13.23% swing – a feat current polls suggest she may achieve.

The additional medical professionals to Labour’s ranks could significantly bolster their health policy expertise if they are to form the next government, as none of the current members of Labour’s Shadow Health team have a background in medicine, except for Shadow Health Minister Karin Smyth’s experience as an NHS Manager at the Clinical Commissioning Group. Smyth originally joined the team in September 2023, after Rosena Allin-Khan resigned as Shadow Mental Health Minister in protest over the party’s health priorities. With a strong likelihood that Labour could see four doctors in parliament, we could see one of them being made a Minister soon after the election. 

According to a YouGov tracker, health has consistently been ranked as the second most important issue facing the country, and it’s no surprise the term ‘health’ is mentioned so often in this year’s manifestos: Labour used it 76 times, the Conservatives 49, and the Lib Dems 92. While the specialties vary among the doctors running for Parliament, 14 GPs are running and two of the Liberal Democrat’s 8 candidates are junior doctors. As the first General Election since the pandemic and with junior strikes an ongoing live issue, there is no doubt that health will be at the top of the next government’s agenda.

Candidate Deep Dive - Doctors we may see on the green benches 🔍

Dr. Simon Opher (Labour, Stroud) – Served as a local GP for 30 years and chairs the Stroud Locality NHS. He was awarded the MBE in 2016 for his work in healthcare and help in the delivery of the COVID vaccination programme in Dursley. He was also given a shout out for his work by Shadow Health Minister Wes Streeting in Parliament.

Dr. Beccy Cooper (Labour, Worthing West) – Worked as a Public Health Doctor, where she focused on helping people live well and healthy. She previously worked in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. She serves as Leader of Worthing Borough Council and is a Board Trustee on the Royal Society for Public Health.

Dr. Sally Johnston (Labour, New Forest West) – Led New Forest’s COVID vaccination programme and helped 80,000 vaccinations across the area. She also served as a BMA representative and chair of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight GP Committee.

Dr. Tania Mathias (Conservative, Maidenhead) – Served as a refugee worker for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip, and worked with patients in Africa who had HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis. She went on to work for the NHS as an eye doctor before becoming an MP in 2015 to 2017. While voting consistently on a number of issues, she voted differently from her colleagues on issues like allowing terminally ill people to end their lives.

Dr. Chandra Kanneganti (Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent Central) – Moved from India in 2002 and served as a GP in Stoke since 2007. He served as the national chairman and national president of the British Indian Doctors Association. While running three general practices, he also serves as a city councillor and served as mayor from 2020-2021. He was appointed CBE in March 2024.

Dr. Sandesh Gulhane MS (Conservative, East Renfrewshire) – Operated as a GP in Scotland since 2011 and was part of the medical staff of SPFL football club Queens Park F.C. He was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May 2021, becoming the first Hindu and first man of Indian descent in the chamber. He currently serves as the Scottish Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary.

Dr. Reva Gudi (Conservative, Feltham and Heston) – Worked as an NHS GP for over 20 years and serves as a governor of a local school. Born in North London, she spent in her childhood in India, where she would later go to medical school. 

Dr. Kaz Rizvi (Conservative, Ilford North) – Works as a GP in London and as a GP trainer. He went to school at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

On the Campaign Trail 👟

The Gambling scandal essentially took over the campaign news this week as it emerged even more police officers and candidates had placed bets on the date of the election and the Gambling Commission widened its investigation after compiling a list of hundreds of people who have placed large bets on the 4th July election date. On Tuesday, the Conservative Party announced their candidates Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr) and Laura Saunders (Bristol North West) would no longer have the party’s support – although as we’re so close to the election they will still be listed as the Conservative Party candidates on ballot papers. Conservative member of the Welsh Parliament, Russell George, is also reportedly under investigation, whilst it emerged outgoing Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told the BBC back in April that he had placed a number of small bets on the date of the election months ago. Labour were also forced to respond to the scandal after it emerged their candidate Kevin Craig (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) – now suspended from the party – had placed an arguably foolish bet against himself that he wouldn’t win the seat, something Conservative PPC and former MP Sir Philip Davies (Shipley) is also reported to have done…

Sunak and Starmer traded blows on the same usual subjects in the last TV debate of the campaign. Snap polls continued to give the Labour leader the win, but commentators unanimously seemed to agree that the embattled Prime Minister finally found his voice, getting increasingly exasperated with the Labour leader throughout. We’ll know next week whether the PM’s final push has had any effect on the result, but it all feels too little and too late to help close the monumental gap that appears to have grown between the two parties in the widely varying polls (see below for the latest).

Other party leaders universally rounded on Nigel Farage this week after he told the BBC’s Panorama programme last Friday that both NATO and EU expansion had played into Putin’s hands and given the Russian President “an excuse” to invade Ukraine. Sunak, Starmer and Ed Davey all criticised Farage, with Davey labelling him a “Putin apologist” on GB News. The week didn’t get any easier for the Reform UK leader after it emerged a Reform activist in Clacton had used a racial slur, called Islam a “disgusting cult” and suggested migrants should be shot on the beaches. The party also dropped its candidate in Basingstoke after he was revealed to have been a former member of the BNP.

This Week's Election Stats 📈

Over 50,000 – small boat crossings since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister.

439,411 – people waited for 12 hours or more in A&E following a decision to admit in 2023-24. This is up from 3,262 in 2018-19.

10 million – anticipated postal votes at this General Election, up 20% from the 2019 election, according to the Association of Electoral Administrators.

41% – of people say they have had a campaign leaflet through their letterbox.

£8,000 – the amount of money Conservative candidate Philip Davies reportedly bet on losing his seat at the General Election.

3 million – households will face a rise in mortgage payments when they renew within the next two years, including 400,000 whose payments are set to increase by 50% or more.

6 – days until the General Election.

Elections around the World 🌍

Peculiar elections took place for Thailand’s Senate, in which only independents were allowed to contest the 200-seat chamber. Each candidate was required to have 10 years of experience in one of 20 specific fields. It was the first election since reforms were made to the Senate in 2018 and was criticised for its opacity and potential for corruption and manipulation.

Iran has begun voting in its early presidential election, which was called following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on 19 May.

Meanwhile, France goes to the polls on Sunday in the first round of the high-stakes snap parliamentary election called by President Macron following his party’s dismal performance in the European Parliament elections. On current polling, the far-right National Rally and its allies are due to receive 35% of the vote; the far-left New Popular Front alliance will take 28%; and Macron’s centrist Ensemble block is on just 20%.

This Week’s Polls 📊

With 6 days to go, Labour hold a 23 percentage point lead (42% to 19%) over the Conservatives, according the Redfield and Wilton’s latest poll. Reform UK are in third on 18%, while the Liberal Democrats are on 11%. The only bright news for the Conservative Party is that this poll puts them ahead of Reform UK, compared to the previous poll from Redfield and Wilton.

Keir Starmer and Labour have a job to do in restoring trust in politics, after a survey from YouGov found that just 7% of people had a ‘fairly positive’ view of politics in Britain, compared to 75% who either had a ‘fairly negative’ or ‘very negative view’.

A majority of the public support the ongoing junior doctors strikes, finds new polling from Ipsos. 52% of those polled support the strikes, compared to 31% that oppose – a 6 percentage point improvement in support since May 2024. 60% of people also believe that the Government is doing a bad job at negotiating with trade unions – the highest proportion since Sunak became Prime Minister.

Campaign Gaffes 😂

If you have been lucky enough to miss Farage’s adoption of the Eminem’s hit Without Me throughout the Election Campaign, most recently at a rally in Blackpool, with lyrics including “guess who’s back, back again” and “Now this looks like a job for me, so everybody just follow me, cause we need a little controversy, cause it feels so empty without me”; then fear not… a new song has taken the Reform leader’s fancy. It was reported this week that Farage has changed tack, utilising Calvin Harris’ hit Acceptable in the 80s to walk out to before his “most important speech of the election so far”… leaving voters to draw their own conclusions.

After scrambling for a safe seat and upsetting the local Conservative vote, Tory Party Chairman Richard Holden found himself in hot water this week, as 2,500 leaflets for Holden went to households in Essex… only to arrive and be distributed in neighbouring Mark Francois’ constituency.

In another campaign blow this week, former Olympian and candidate in the Colchester constituency James Cracknell this week came out to say “Two weeks out from the Olympics, if we are competing against the Conservative party my teammates and I would be saying they are a shower of s**t”… NB: Cracknell is standing for the Conservatives.

And finally, don’t worry if you’re struggling to keep up with all the policy pledges being churned out, you’re not alone. This scoop from the Guardian explains the story of Labour candidate Karl Turner, who when out campaigning to defend his seat, being told by a voter in Hull that he couldn’t possibly vote for the Labour Party as he heard from the TV that Labour plan to tax condoms… only for Turner’s Parliamentary Assistant to work out the misunderstanding and explain that the policy was, in fact… to tax non-doms.


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