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General Election – timing more uncertain than people realise!

Every commentator is confidently predicting that the General Election will be “in October or November”. Maybe. Maybe not. Political history suggests ‘not’. Why so?


Some weeks ago the commentariat was pushing the likelihood of a General Election in May alongside the local elections. The chance of this happening was precisely zero. But Labour, currently 20 points ahead in the polls, was desperately trying to push this message because it suited their purposes. And the media sucked it up because the speculation worked for them too.


Recently, the commentariat has been suggesting that a snap poll in June is possible. Again, it is Labour that has been pushing this message. And again the media has sucked it up.


So what is the evidence for an October/November election? Errrr…actually none. A vague suggestion that it would be nice to have it after the party conference season? The fact that Sunak has said “in the second half of the year“? A nice symmetry with the US Presidential election?


Unless the Tories are absolutely demented, it will not have escaped their attention that they are going to lose the General Election. What does recent history show us political parties and sitting prime ministers do in this position? Gordon Brown in 2010 went as long as he could, assuming he was going to lose. John Major in 1997 also went as long as possible, also knowing he was going to lose. And with inflation being more stubborn than had previously been forecast, with interest rate reductions consequently slower at coming through, and with the Tories’ flagship Rwanda policy inevitably going to suffer repeated judicial reviews, the REC team sees little incentive for Sunak to buck the historical trend and go to the polls any earlier than needed.


Moreover, there is a chaotic US Presidential election coming to a head during September/October, culminating in a potentially somewhat mad election day on 5 November. And there is possible looming chaos after this summer’s European Parliament elections where the result may well mean a stand-off between the 27 EU governments and a potentially newly elected anti-EU and anti-immigration hard Right Parliament locked in battle over who the European president and commissioners should be. So it may well be that October/November is not a great time to have a General Election at all.


And of course the Tories may like another deep winter election; old people (ie Tory voters) reliably turn up whereas the more youthful Left is much more flaky.


It is quite possible we end up with a December or even a January General Election. You heard it here first.

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