What follows isn’t a prediction about what is going to happen in 2024. It’s just trying to gauge where the parties are at present and to that end, attempting to take a stab at what might happen if there was a general election that took place in the next couple of months’ time.
Several things to note: there won’t be an election called anytime soon, that is almost certain. Also, things can change drastically over the course of several years, it’s so obvious to say it’s almost redundant to point out. Boris Johnson could screw up in some manner that voters actually register and care about, for instance. Anger at the Brexit deal could rise quicker than anyone reasonable currently expects (although I doubt it, unfortunately). But if things don’t change over the next three years – if minds have settled on Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson and won’t be moved by events to come – then this is where I think we end up in 2024.
I believe that in a snap 2021 general election, the Tories would get a vote share of somewhere between 43 and 46%. Reform isn’t threatening them in any meaningful sense, and that’s when we’re still in the middle of a lockdown large portions of the right hate. I think Labour would get somewhere between 35 and 40%, although I actually think they’d land somewhere on the higher end of that scale.
The Lib Dem vote would almost certainly be further cannibalised, by Labour mostly, but also the Tories when many of those who voted Lib Dem in 2019 return to the fold, no longer casting their ballot on that issue. The Green surge, as it always does, will melt down to 2 or 3% come polling day.
I think the Tories would end up with something that looked a lot like Cameron’s majority in 2015. So, somewhere between 330 and 340 seats. A slim but workable majority. Labour would end up in Ed Miliband territory – 230 to 245 seats. An improvement on 2019, certainly, but nowhere near winning.
The Lib Dems would be crushed if there was a general election right now. No major issue to run on that is passionately loved by a significant minority, an election that would be seen as life or death between the two major parties by almost every voter, all in addition to having made a vote for the party in 2019 seem wasted, I don’t see how they wouldn’t get squeezed every which way. I think they might end up with no seats, or at best three or four.
The Greens will hold Brighton Pavilion so long as Caroline Lucas is there. The SNP would get every seat in Scotland bar maybe one or two – although that could be in the midst of changing. Will be interesting to see if the scandal enveloping the party has any effect on their electoral fortunes in May. That will tell us a lot about not only how the SNP would do in their Westminster seats at a general election, but the future of the United Kingdom.
Anyhow, as I said, things change, particularly over three years time. Labour people can hold onto the hope that anything can happen – and over the last decade in politics, usually has. Having said that, I am starting to fear there is nothing Starmer can do to break through and that the Tories are destined to win the next election. It always seems to work out for Boris Johnson in the end, somehow.