• Development Intelligence

The next General Election

On Sunday 20th March something important happened which none of you will have noticed. Her Majesty The Queen, sitting quietly at her desk in her study at Windsor Castle, signed the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, giving it Royal Assent, which effectively repealed the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

This means the Tories can now call the next General Election whenever they want before Friday 24th January 2025.

The date

Prior to partygate and the now painful reality of the cost of living crisis, May 2023 was where all the smart money was for the likely date of the next General Election, the logic then being the Tories would want to go early. But that line of thinking has been stood on its head. The likelihood now is that the Tories will want to run for as long as they can to see if they can get beyond the immediate pain of the cost of living crisis. Thus, in the DI team’s estimation, late 2024 is the most likely new timeline for the next General Election. [There is a fringe school of thought that Boris might go mad and just call one this year in a final act of ‘do or die’. We struggle with that one. Mostly politicians hate elections, not least as his own seat of Uxbridge is under pressure, so they are usually seduced by arguments for delay].

Boris impact

And if the 2024 logic holds, then that is not great news for Boris. The May 2023 date meant his supporters could run the argument that ‘now is not the time’ as it would have been too close to the next General Election to remove him from office, run a leadership election, install his successor, give them enough time to settle in and then establish their new agenda. With the potential General Election date now pushed out to the back end of 2024, that argument becomes harder to make and increases the freedom of the 50-odd potential Tory backbench letter writers, thus increasing the immediate threat to Boris.

Labour and the SNP

Whoever ends up leading the Tories, the next General Election will be much closer. But the Starmerbot needs to massively up his game to get anywhere close to properly challenging for the premiership looking at where his personal and Labour’s polling numbers are more generally. If these numbers don’t massively improve, then all the talk in the lead up to the next General Election will once again centre around the potential for some sort of SNP/Labour pact, formal or informal. The Tories will dust down their election campaign literature from 2015 with images this time of Starmer not Miliband in Sturgeon’s rather than Salmond’s top pocket.

Putting campaign literature to one side, in truth this is probably a deal the Starmerbot cannot do in any case. Whilst Jeremy Corbyn could have been drawn to giving Nicola Sturgeon her much prized second independence referendum in a desperate attempt to lever himself into office, the Starmerbot would most likely shy away from such a toxic deal.

The result

From our political vantage point right now, and despite Paddy Ashdown’s famous assertion “only a lunatic tries to predict an election”, we could be looking at a small majority Tory win, à la Major or Cameron, squeaking over the line with a new leader who once again – like Cameron, May and Johnson before them – bamboozles the electorate into thinking that this is in fact an entirely new (Tory) Government.