The UK General Election - 4th July 2024


PLMR Insights: General Election Update Week 1

8 Days in, 35 days to go.

Welcome to the PLMR Insights General Election Insights update. These will be weekly updates looking over trends and themes across the campaign and bringing you opinions and intel from our expert consultants.

Spotlight 1: Party Updates – Week One

Conservatives – The Tories have been largely focused on the economy, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hinting at tax breaks for higher earners, and Sunak announcing a “triple lock plus” for pensioners. Their announcement on bringing back mandatory National Service splashed the newspapers across the weekend. Most recently, they have announced their plans for 100,000 new apprenticeships every year, which will be funded through cuts to what they call “rip off” university degrees.

Labour – Both leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves have given speeches with a strong economic focus, Reeves promising financial stability and “sound money” and calling Labour the “natural party of British businesses”. This comes after 120 business leaders signed a letter supporting Labour. Their attention then turned to health on Tuesday, with a pledge to tackle the backlog in NHS waiting lists and hit their target to start treatment of within 18 weeks inside five years of government.

Liberal Democrats – Leader Ed Davey launched the party’s campaign on Sunday in front of a new battle bus in a marginal Blue Wall constituency, with a call to “Save the NHS”, and unveiled their pledge for a 10-year rolling repair programme for hospital buildings. He then appeared in Windermere on a paddleboard with former leader Tim Farron, where he “intentionally” fell into the lake several times to announce the party’s plans to fix the sewage crisis.

SNP – The party’s “day of action” on Saturday focused on the SNP’s ending of tuition fees, doubling of NHS funding, the Scottish child payment, and free bus travel for young, and disabled and elderly people.

Greens – At their campaign launch this morning in Bristol, the Greens called for “bold action” and outlined their priorities on the NHS, housing, climate and nature, public services, and water quality. They are likely to prove more of a threat to Labour as they will target four seats including Brighton Pavilion, Bristol Central, North Herefordshire and Waveney Valley. Senior Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire is the incumbent MP for the Bristol Central seat.

Reform – Writing in the Telegraph, Nigel Farage decried the Government’s record on immigration and challenged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to a televised debate on the issue. Elsewhere, leader of the party Richard Tice insisted that this election is an “immigration election”. The party have also released several other key policy announcements, including the introduction of proportional representation to the House of Commons, scrapping net zero pledges, and freezing non-essential immigration. They have also said they will mount a legal challenge should Labour win the election and introduce VAT on the fees parents pay for choosing to send their children to an independent school

Spotlight 2: MPs standing down, a Parliament of fresh faces?

A number of high-profile MPs such as Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom are standing down ahead of the election, with Gove insisting that this was to allow a “new generation” of Conservative MPs to lead.

Currently, 78 Conservative MPs are not standing in the next election, beating the previous record of 72 in 1997. The party now has at least 160 seats and rising where there is no Conservative candidate, giving CCHQ a lot of work to fill these seats before the 7th June deadline, and wasting precious campaigning days.

However, since the announcement the Labour party also saw several key MPs stand down, including three Shadow Ministers:

  • Shadow Minister for Music and Tourism, Barbara Keeley
  • Shadow Minister for Victims and Sentencing Kevin Brennan
  • Shadow Minister for Veterans Steve McCabe

This has created vacancies in key safe seats for Labour, which have quickly been filled by the National Executive Committee with Starmer allies.

Advice note: Engaging with Parliamentary candidates – How can PLMR help?

Creating set media pieces and key moments that can be highlighted across social media channels is a priority for parties and political candidates and their teams during the campaign. Therefore, offering a site visit can be an impactful way to engage with the political discourse of the election, allow direct engagement with key targets and position your organisation as a key local and national stakeholder.

PLMR can offer unique expertise and strategic advice to ensure your candidate visit is successful. This includes:

  • Strategic Planning – PLMR will audit Parliamentary candidates to identify the right individuals aligning with your goals and sector interests. We have links into all the major party visit teams and can submit opportunities on your behalf. If your visit incorporates a key battleground seat, this will be more attractive. It is also essential that these visits are offered as soon as possible, as candidates’ campaign calendars get booked up in advance well ahead of polling day.
  • Event Management – Due to the nature of the campaign, these visits tend to be organised very last-minute. If it involves a frontbench politician, this will often involve a “recce” from a party official to run through any issues and logistics on the campaign. PLMR can liaise with the campaign team to providing extensive briefing materials and logistical support on the day, we will ensure that your team is fully prepared ahead of the visit.
  • Key Messaging – Ensure that your key asks, and messaging framework, is finalised ahead of the day to maximise the impact of your engagement.
  • Media Management – We provide strategic and tactical media relations work to ensure positive coverage and manage any potential challenges. This includes drafting press releases and social media posts, and monitoring press lines.
  • Relationship Management – PLMR will advise on follow up with the candidate’s office to ensure your organisation is kept at the forefront of their minds and positioned as a potential partner for future engagement.

Engaging in the electoral process is a powerful way to make your voice heard and influence future policymaking. If you are interested in hosting a candidate visit, please contact your account team.

Poll of Polls

Labour: 45% | Conservatives: 23% | Reform UK: 10% | Liberal Democrats: 9% | Greens: 10% | SNP: 3%

A week into the campaign and the polls show Labour still leading the Tories significantly. Some, including YouGov’s poll, have put Labour in front by 27 points. There are a few anomalies, including the recent JL Partners poll which narrows the gap between the two to just 12 points. However, the overall average puts Labour 21 points clear of the Conservatives, with little change since the election was announced last week.

Whilst these results will no doubt concern CCHQ, we are only one week into the campaign trail and there is still much time for things to change. In the 2017 election, when Theresa May called the election in April the polls indicated it would be an overwhelming Conservative victory, with Labour trailing the Tories in the polls by almost 20 points. Things turned out to be much tighter.

📅 Key Dates 📅

  • 9pm, Tuesday 4th June: First televised debate between Sunak and Starmer on ITV.
  • 4pm, Friday 7th June: The close of nominations for candidates in the 2024 general election.
  • Mid-June, Date TBC: Manifesto launches – Political parties will release their manifestos usually three weeks before polling day. We can therefore expect this to happen around Monday 10th June (TBC), though it should be noted that the parties co-ordinate so they do not release their manifestos on the same day.
  • Tuesday 18th June: Deadline to register to vote.
  • Thursday 20th June: The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to announce the Bank Rate, a key economic moment for the campaign.
  • Thursday 4th July: Polling Day
  • Tuesday 9th July: The new Parliament will sit for the first time and new members will be sworn in.
  • Wednesday 17th July: The State Opening of the next Parliament will take place.
  • TBC – summer recess – suggestions that a future Government may look to cut this short and for Parliament to return after the August bank holiday on 26th August.

PLMR Insights Events

Q&A with Prof Marc Stears, Director of the UCL Policy Lab

Tuesday 4th June 2.30-3.30pm – PLMR London Office (Church House, Westminster) and online

Prof Marc Stears is Director of the UCL Policy Lab, described by the New Statesman as the closest thing to a ‘Starmerite think tank’. Marc will discuss his new book: England: Seven Myths That Changed a Country – and How to Set Them Straight written with Tom Baldwin, biographer of Sir Keir Starmer, and discuss what a new Labour government could look like.

Q&A with Rhys Clyne, Associate Director, Institute for Government

Wednesday 19th June, 2.30-3.30pm – PLMR London Office (Church House, Westminster) and online

Rhys works on civil service and wider government reform, including the Institute’s annual Whitehall Monitor. He will share his insights on what a transition to a new government will look like for the civil service, and the key issues on the mechanics of government facing the next Prime Minister.

PLMR Blogs

Degree or not degree? That is the question. As parties launch their campaigns to secure an electorate victory on 4th July, the Conservatives have already generated a tidal wave of noise across the further and higher education sectors following their announcement to replace “rip-off degrees” with 100,000 new apprenticeships by 2029 at an estimated cost of £885 million.

Read the blog

PLMR Insights: The General Election Manifestos – who designed it best?

Green Horizons: The Rise of Sustainable Tech

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