UK general election minus five weeks

A Labour landslide is the likely outcome of the UK election. Also: coverage of upcoming Indian, European parliament and US elections.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The UK general election will be held on July 4. The Guardian’s aggregate of UK national pols has Labour over 20 points ahead of the Conservatives, with vote shares of 44.7% Labour, 23.3% Conservative, 11.3% for the far-right Reform, 9.5% Liberal Democrats and 6.0% Greens. In the week since the election was called, Labour’s vote has improved about one point.

With the UK’s use of first-past-the-post, current vote shares imply a massive Labour landslide. The Electoral Calculus seat forecast as at May 21 was for Labour to win 479 of the 650 House of Commons seats, to just 92 Conservatives, 44 Lib Dems and 12 from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Two recent national polls from Opinium and JL Partners are better for the Conservatives with Labour leads at 12-14 points. But most polls have Labour leading by over 20 points.

At the December 2019 general election, the Conservatives won 365 of the 650 seats, to 202 for Labour, 48 SNP and 11 Lib Dems. Perhaps it was a mistake for the Conservatives to oust Boris Johnson as their leader and PM after he led them to this triumph. The Conservatives have governed in the UK for the last 14 years.

At the 2019 election in Scotland, the SNP won 48 of the 59 seats, to six Conservatives, four Lib Dems and just one Labour. Vote shares were 45.0% SNP, 25.1% Conservative, 18.6% Labour and 9.5% Lib Dems. Scottish polls suggest Labour has overtaken the SNP, which would give Labour a large seat gain at the SNP’s expense.

Conservative PM Rishi Sunak’s net favourability was at its highest at -19 soon after he became PM in November 2022. In January 2024, it dropped to -51, and has been at about that level since. Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net favourability has been between -23 and -17 since May 2023.

Other upcoming elections

The Indian election has been held in seven stages, with the final stage this Saturday. Votes will be counted next Tuesday June 4, and I will have a post to follow the counting. The 543 MPs are elected by FPTP. The right-wing alliance (NDA) of PM Narendra Modi, who is running for a third successive term, has a high-single to double-digit lead in polls over the opposition INDIA alliance, and is expected to win a decisive majority.

The European parliament election will be held from June 6-9, with vote counting starting once all countries have finished voting. The 720 seats are elected using proportional representation in each EU country. Far-right parties are expected to make gains. I will have a post on this on June 9.

The US general election will be held on November 5. In the FiveThirtyEight national poll aggregate, Donald Trump leads Joe Biden by 41.0-39.8 with 10.1% for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Trump’s lead has slightly widened from 0.8% four weeks ago. The best chance for a Biden win is to win all of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where he trails by two points or less. If he does this, he probably wins the Electoral College by 270-268.

South African election

The 400 South African MPs are elected by proportional representation without a threshold. The African National Congress (ANC) has won a majority of votes and seats at every election since the end of apartheid in 1994. I hoped to have results of Wednesday’s election, but only 0.6% had been counted at 12pm AEST Thursday, seven hours after polls closed. I will update this section when fuller results are available.

Update 11:50am Friday With 51% counted, the ANC is at 42.6%, down from 57.5% at the 2019 election, and looks set to lose the majority they have held since 1994.

27 comments on “UK general election minus five weeks”

  1. At the moment the focus of the election campaign appears to be on Diane Abbott.

    Diane Abbott has promised to stay on as an MP for “as long as it is possible”, setting up a clash with Keir Starmer after a deal for her to retire from parliament broke down.

    Abbott, the UK’s first female black MP, had been expected to make a “dignified exit” from parliament, after a near 40-year career, in an arrangement in which she was given back the Labour whip after an investigation into comments she made about racism.

    The deal appeared to collapse after an unknown Labour source briefed journalists that Abbott would nonetheless be barred from standing again in her Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency, prompting fury from her allies at her treatment.

    Starmer denied on Wednesday that she had been barred. Speaking to supporters outside Hackney town hall in east London, Abbott said she was not going to allow herself to be “intimidated or frightened”.

    She continued: “I promise you that, as long as it is possible, I will be the member of parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.” She tweeted earlier on Wednesday that she would be “campaigning for a Labour victory”.

    Diane Abbott has been controversial this past decade, mainly for gaffes and being the chief backer of Jeremy Corbyn in the parliamentary party, but she has been treated dreadfully by people on all sides.

    Honestly, it might be best for Labour to just let her run in her district without all this weird anonymous backgrounding. They’ve already disposed of Corbyn because of the distinction that he did not apologise for his remarks that got him suspended, while Abbott did apologise, so that should be the end of it.

  2. Also the deadline for nominations is Friday 7 June, 4pm UK time, so they have only a bit over a week to sort this out.

  3. Diane Abbott is the type of MP you really don’t want as She spends most of her time attacking her own party. Her past achievements as the first Black female MP in the UK will be overshadow by her inability to see that her time is up (she is 70).

    The article which she wrote was simply wrong – suggesting that antisemitism is a kin to anti-red headism – and as Labour has been spending a massive effort to repair the damage that Corbyn’s antisemitism caused I am not surprised they are not keen to have her as a candidate.

    However, the story if she is not allow will pass once the candidates have to be nominated (June 7th) as it will be overtaken by ever other candidate that is caught up in scandal. I am sure there will be a neo-nazi or two running for Reform, some rightwing crazy for the Tories and a Labour candidate who made some anti Israeli comments.

  4. @B.S. Fairman

    Yeah, that’s probably true. The usual moaners will moan if Abbott does in fact lose endorsement for nomination and I don’t think it’ll change much.

    I think Sunak’s National Service policy meanwhile is about as useful to the Tories as an anchor is to a sinking ship. What a disaster that was and likely will be for the rest of the campaign.

    There’s so many specifics to be ironed out, and none of them look good. Almost everyone asking questions like “Well my 16 year old son intends to become a bricklayer when he turns 18, is he supposed to do this National Service crap on top of his apprenticeship?” and “My granddaughter’s a high school rowing champion and wants to pursue a career in that once she graduates, is she going to have to put that on hold?”

  5. Oh, the National Service policy is just policy on the run from a desperate dying government. It won’t happen, but it is not an electoral winner either.
    If you want to do conscription, do conscription properly and they only really need to do it like the Scandinavians do…. they have it but the quotas are meet by volunteers from the population this being conscripted.

  6. In South Africa at 5pm AEST, 11.4% of the vote has been counted.

    ANC at 42.8% (-14.7)
    DA at 25.6% (+4.8)
    EFF at 8.3% (-2.5)
    MK at 7.8% (+7.8)
    PA at 4.9% (+4.9)
    VF+ at 2.1% (-0.3)
    IFP at 1.9% (-1.5)
    Other votes at 6.6%

    So it does look like the ANC has lost its majority.

  7. @B.S. Fairman at 4:52pm

    Yeah. I’ve heard that being selected for national service in Scandinavian countries is like a golden ticket to put on your CV, so it’s very much embraced at a societal level like that.

    Not like this knockoff brand proposed UK version which is very much marketed toward older Reform voters that are like “I hate young people and I want them to suffer.”

  8. Now about 17.5% votes have been counted in South Africa, and it seems that the ANC is floating around 43%, the opposition DA is around 25%, EFF is around 9%, MK is around 8%, PA is around 5% and the other parties are 2% or less.

    For those that are knowledgeable about this election, what’s the most likeliest outcome? I’m assuming it’s a minority ANC government, but which parties would be most willing to guarantee supply and confidence and how would that affect South Africa’s politics going forward?

  9. South Africa – The opposition parties are a mix.
    DA are mainstream opposition. They are seen as being more right than the ANC and are more focused on better relations with the Western world.
    EFF are close to being Marxist in their out look but oppose the corruption that the ANC governments have suffered.
    MK has a similar economic outlook as EFF but are backed by the former PM Jacob Zumba and are almost pro-corruption (if you get what I mean). They are new.
    PA are new and I think are more right wing than DA.
    IFP is a Zulu based Right Wing party. They were bigger in the past.
    VF plus is the White hard Right Wing party.

    The most likely outcome is the ANC does a deal with MK and EFF and the country moves further to the left and becomes the African version of Venezuela or becomes Zimbabwe 8 times bigger. Expect the reaction to bad on the markets etc. if that happens. Much of the pragmatic ANC is not going to like that either and it might actually result in a split in the party.

    The other real alternative is that DA props the ANC up and forces it in a more Western oriented foreign policy and cracks down on corruption.

    And the final is an attempt to create a united opposition who takes over and cracks down on corruption. This is fairly unlikely because they are such a mixed bag.

  10. I had to study the end of Apartheid in a history course about 25 years ago and since then I have paid too much attention to the place. That and oddly Malaysian politics which was the case study of how a party using its racial base was able to maintain power for so long (until 6 years ago).

  11. Regarding the state of the South African election, according to sources on Al Jazeera these early results will favor the ANC as the vast majority of the results already in are from the ANC rural strongholds. I would personally expect the ANC’s national vote share to drop between 38-41% from here and the DA to rise to around 27%. With these numbers it could mean that the Multi-Party Charter seat count exceeds that of the ANC. If that happens there could be a shocking turn of events that sees the DA form Government. This is looking more and more likely, as the ANC (as it stands) will have to make major concessions to the Zuma run MK party (Who would force Ramaphosa to drop all corruption charges) and the EFF who will swipe the Vice President position and give it to the radical Malema in order to stay in power.

    On the other hand, there is still a possibility of a ‘grand coalition’ where the ANC decide to work with the DA and possibly install Steenhuisen as Vice President, which would set up a highly contested battle between the President and VP in 28.

    This election could very much go down to the wire, and is one of the more fascinating global elections in recent memory.

  12. Wallace

    No, the DA always loses % as the count progesses.

    Their growth from last election will be minimal, they will probably end up on c. 22%.

    It would be very interesting (symbolically and politically I guess) if ANC fall below 40%, even after the highly questionable legality of the President’s prime-time speech on the eve of the election.
    I guess ANC will stay more like 41% but agree it’s not certain yet.

  13. If DA doesn’t join ANC in government somehow, SA ends up with an even more left-wing extreme government than the relatively stable (albeit corrupt) ANC.

    Corruption obviously will be even worse if Zuma’s party MK becomes part of the government, and I doubt in practice it would improve if the very militant virtual-communist EFF formed a coalition with ANC.

    So DA somehow bridging the gap to ANC certainly looks the best way to avoid SA slipping even faster into catastrophe, and may even improve things for a while.

  14. Another Tory has defected to Labour. Mark Logan, MP for Bolton North East with a majority of just under 400. Labour already has a candidate for this seat.

  15. Voting is a bit over 98% counted in South Africa and the numbers are as follows. (difference from last election)

    ANC: 40.2% (-17.3)
    DA: 21.7% (+1.0)
    MK: 14.8% (+14.8)
    EFF: 9.4% (-1.4)
    IFP: 3.9% (+0.5)
    PA: 2.0% (+2.0)
    VF+: 1.4% (-1.0)
    Other: 6.6% (+1.4)

    Both the ANC and the DA’s vote decreased in counting while MK’s vote increased substantially. It will probably be a while longer before seat allocations are made.

  16. It’s looking like the KwaZulu-Natal region has swung very hard against the ANC. That may be a region South Africa as a whole may be concerned about, since at a first glance it looks like it’s ripe for an independence movement.

  17. Kirsdrake – The real independence movement is in the Cape. The “coloured” and white population is much larger in that area.
    Zuma is a zulu so that explains the MK result in KwaZulu-Natal. KwaZulu-Natal has areas where the Zulu population would happily be independent (Their Bantustan of KwaZulu was more successful than some of the others) but the population of Durban might not be as happy – it has a lot of the South African Indian population. Oddly, because there is still a Zulu king in place, KwaZulu-Natal is a constitutional monarchy within a republic (one of the few places in the world like that).

  18. @B.S. Fairman

    Ah, I see. And that lines up with the results in the Western Cape, where the results are 53% to DA, 21% to ANC and the rest in single digits.

    Again I can’t claim to know much about South African politics, but this does look like a pretty significant election that will shake things up there.

  19. Kirsdarke at 6.30 and 10.38 pm

    “Voter turnout stands at nearly 59%, the lowest in South Africa history”.

    South African ballots don’t allow a “vote against all”, as used to exist in Russia (Putin abolished it).

    Hypothetically, if such a possibility existed, it may have gained significant support, because there was no unity and little vision among the opposition parties.

    Yes, the ANC lost its majority, so that is historically significant, but the support that it lost went, in political terms, “to nobody in particular”, to borrow an AFL phrase. Much support for the corrupt former President Zuma may have been very superficial, based on his party choosing the name of the anti-apartheid era ANC’s military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe. Zuma has less vision than T. Abbott.

    In other words, the ANC loss is not as significant as it appears. The problems in S. Africa, especially economic problems for very many youth among others, are huge. No solutions have been proposed.

  20. So out of 400 seats, it is likely to be roughly:
    ANC 161
    DA 87
    MK 58
    EFF 38
    IFP 15
    PA 8
    VF+ 5
    ActionSA 5
    And the rest will be scattered amongst some of smaller parties. This only a back of envelope calculation and could be out either way by a few seats here and there.

    The most likely course of action or ANC would be to do a deal with EFF. There is too much bad blood with MK leader Zuma, and there is a loathing of the “white” DA. EFF will force the ANC to adopt Zimbabwe style policies towards the white owned farms and mines – this is probably not going to end well.

  21. You were close, actual results next to your ‘back of envelope’ calculation below (changes from last election in brackets):

    So out of 400 seats, it is likely to be roughly:
    ANC 161 159 (-71)
    DA 87 87 (+3)
    MK 58 58 (+58)
    EFF 38 39 (-5)
    IFP 15 17 (+3)
    PA 8 9 (+9)
    VF+ 5 6 (-4)
    ActionSA 5 6 (+6)

    ActionSA got 1.2% of the vote. Everyone below that was 0.6% or lower (but still got a total of 19 seats as there’s no threshold in SA for winning seats, using proportional representation).

  22. Back to the UK, there is no positive change in the polls for the Conservatives thus far, leaving Labour currently on course for a landslide win that would smash all previous records for any party in modern history.

    TV debates between leaders start this week, though it seems Starmer is ducking out of them where he can. If they don’t move the needle, it’s hard to see what else will – short of Sunak resigning and making way for some kind of strong unifier candidate (Penny Mordaunt the only one that springs to mind that would mitigate some of the electoral damage and take the fight to Labour; possibly David Cameron but he comes with baggage plus, although he’s currently in the cabinet, he’s a Lord not an MP so it’s complicated).

    Not that Sunak’s likely to resign, but you never know – maybe he reads the polls, or maybe he cares about the Conservative party a little bit, I don’t really know.

  23. The Diane Abbott issue is a minor blip. The Tories have their own issues with candidates.

    The Tories still have approx 150 candidates to either find or have their selection confirmed. The deadline for nominations is 4PM BST this Friday.

    At one point last week it was 200. I wonder if Sunak knew that when he called the election? Even though most of those seats are in the “unwinable” category it’s bad for the party not to stand candidates in every seat in Great Britain.

    As of Monday night UK time the party chairman still didn’t have a seat to stand in. His old seat in the north east was abolished in the boundary review and he declined to stand in the next door seat where he would have been ‘slotted in’ as the Tory there decided not to stand. Mind the way things are going he’d lose that seat anyway as it was only won by the Tories in 2019

    Apparently he’s not getting a good reception by constituency associations as party members don’t like MPs who do the “chicken run” to try and get a better seat.

    The other big news is Farrage saying he would stand for “Reform” in Clacton. Of course the announcement was all about him. It may boost the reform vote which will damage the Tories even more.

  24. Latest on the Tory Party Chairman is that he’s being imposed on a constituency but he might not have anyone to campaign for him.

    Yesterday’s big news was a milk shake being thrown over Farrage.

    Tuesday nights Sunak-Starmer debate was a bit intemperate at times – more on the part of Sunak who regularly talked over just about everyone. Still the audience laughed and then booed him over his response on NHS waiting lists. He maintained the lie over a supposed £2k tax rise by Labour that he said had been costed by Treasury civil servants.

    Labour released a letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Treasury which basically said “these costings were nothing to do with us”

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