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  1. Politics
3 July 2024

The Conservative Party faces devastation

The New Statesman’s final election forecast predicts a landslide for Labour.

By Ben Walker

If the forecast is accurate, this election will write history like no other. Britain’s Conservative and Unionist Party – perhaps the most successful political force in the Western world – looks like it will be punished as never before. Recovery might not be impossible but it could be improbable for the foreseeable future.

Our final Britain Predicts forecast shows the Conservatives on course to lose 277 MPs, falling to just 114 seats in the House of Commons. Keir Starmer – unlike David Cameron or Tony Blair – doesn’t enjoy vast personal support. But he is nonetheless set to achieve Labour’s joint best election result with 418 MPs, 237 more than in 2019 – coincidentally the same figure achieved by Tony Blair in the 1997 landslide.

The Liberal Democrats are polling well, benefiting mainly from the collapse in support for the Conservatives in the south of England. Britain Predicts has the party winning 63 seats, up 55 from their current total.

Reform, the insurgent force of this election, started the race with around 10 or 11 per cent of vote. It finishes it with 16 per cent. We show it on course for six seats. For Nigel Farage, it will be eighth time lucky in his bid to enter parliament as he enjoys a comfortable win in Clacton.

The SNP (bruised from the leaderships of Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and Humza Yousaf – not to mention the various scandals that occupied them all) looks set to lose more than half its seats in Scotland, falling from 48 MPs to 23. Pro-Union tactical voting may encourage many Scottish Tory supporters to go Labour, particularly in the central belt.

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And finally, the Greens. Following local election successes, they are on course to defeat Labour in Bristol Central. It’s not a done deal, but it’s more likely than not. At the same time, the Greens are set to secure narrow wins in two rural targets – Waveney Valley and North Herefordshire – while also fending off Labour in Brighton Pavilion.

But these numbers come with caveats. Error margins are hugely important and there are several ranges of reasonable probability in this election. More than 42 seats are almost too close to call, with one percentage point either way. That’s the equivalent of 300 votes separating first from second. We can’t forecast that. And there are 193 seats in which the winning party (whoever it might be in any given seat) will have a majority of 5 percentage points or less. That’s under 2,000 votes. In other words, these figures are not the full story, by any stretch.

Our forecast suggests the Conservatives could win as many as 174 seats and as few as 17. Similarly, Labour could achieve as many as 475 and as few as 368. The Liberal Democrats’ range here is between 45 and 83. For the Greens it’s between one and four. And Reform could take home none or as many as 39.

But for now, the election forecast from our Britain Predicts model looks like this: a defeat for the Conservatives on the scale of 1997; or something even worse – near total obliteration.

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