The Conservatives are on course for their worst showing in modern electoral history, according to the latest predictions.
Since their landslide win in 2019, the Conservatives have been fighting to reform their appeal. A new ‘poll-of-polls’ confirms that such efforts have been in vain, as the party continues to lose the support of the people who voted it in the last election. The Tories are likely to win just 120 seats, equating to the worst showing in modern electoral history, according to the projections.
The research was conducted by the Electoral Calculus, a quantitative political consultancy which specialises in analysis for electoral projects. Its poll-of-polls predicts what would happen if there was a general election tomorrow. The latest prediction is based on opinion polls from November 1 to November 27, 2023, sampling 19,351 people. The predictions show that the Conservatives would win 120 seats, Labour 429, Lib Dems 31, the SNP 17, Reform 0, Greens 1, and Plaid Cymru 4, marking a Labour majority of 268.
In his analysis of the poll, Professor Richard Rose, a leading UK psephologist and expert on party government, describes how former Conservative voters have gone in three different ways.
The largest bloc, a fifth of ex-voters, are ‘disorientated’ and unsure about who they will vote for in the next general election. This implies, Professor Rose notes, that if Sunak revived the appeal that won the party its large majority in 2019, then the Tory vote would increase by three-quarters. However, this is impossible, as the electoral appeal then was to get Brexit done, and other issues, such as the cost of living, are “now of greatest concern.”
A second strategy would be to gravitate back to the centre, to appeal to former Tories who are now supporting Labour or the Lib Dems. But this may prove problematic, according to the researchers, as Keir Starmer’s Labour has moved to the centre, and a lurch to the centre would lose the Tories support from those on the right.
The professor informs of a third strategy – the Tories regaining the support of ex-voters who now say they would vote Reform UK, which prioritises zero net immigration and lower taxes. A shift to the right, would add the 8 percent of Reform supporters to the current Tory support. As such, it would save 89 seats that the Tories are likely to lose in present circumstances, says Professor Rose.
At best, a shift to the right would “reduce an electoral bloodbath to a major haemorrhage, since it would not stop Labour from winning control of government,” he writes.
“Seats gained with Reform supporters in the Tory fold would give it only 210 MPs and leave Sir Keir Starmer occupying Downing Street with a comfortable majority and 381 Labour MPs. If the Conservative gain dropped to two-thirds of Reform voters, the Tories would have 193 MPs on opposition benches facing a horde of Labour MPs more than double their size.”
The Professor continued that how under any set of assumptions; the first-past-the-post electoral system appears likely to keep Reform from winning seats. However, a lack of seats doesn’t mean to say the party would not have political influence, he warns.
“If Nigel Farage returned from the Australian jungle with a taste for English red meat, he could give the Reform Party a single MP who offered the Tories a proven right-wing leader,” the Professor concluded.