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Spotlight Newsletter

General Election News & Insight

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Written By:

Daniel Fryd


5th June 2024

Welcome to Spotlight

Luminate’s guide to the news, views and insights shaping the Development, Infrastructure and Energy sectors. This week – as part of our series of pre-election specials – we’re recapping on the announcements you might have missed, reflecting on Tuesday’s TV debate and looking at what the polls are signalling for the campaigns over the coming weeks.

Spotlight will be landing in your inboxes weekly as we head into the election, and you can book your free online General Election Briefing with us today to discuss what the GE campaign means for your organisation, and to refine your strategy for life under the next Government.

4 weeks to go…

It’s two weeks down since the PM announced the 4 July election and we somehow have a full four weeks of campaigning to go. Here’s our top picks for your enjoyment this week:

ITV Debates bring sound and fury, but little light

In a debate format which left us hearing as much from ITV Chair Julie Etchingham calling for order as we did from Starmer and Sunak, there were no knockout blows but a few stiff jabs which did sneak through the guard.

Snap polls suggest Sunak performed slightly better, and it was always likely to be so: Sunak finds the Conservatives polling an abject 24% against Labour’s 42%, and he could afford to bring the fight to Starmer. Arguably he’s a more effective TV debater too, with Starmer often coming across as stiff, and slow to react to accusations of Labour raising taxes by £2,000 (the message which seems to have landed).

You can’t help but feel if Angela Rayner was there she would have cut a more engaging figure to land Labour messaging on the cost of living.

IS the plan working?

It wasn’t all roses for Sunak of course: his insistence that the ‘plan is working’ despite multiple ongoing crises and an early election; that he ‘understands’ what people on the poverty line are experiencing; and that striking NHS staff were to blame for rising NHS waiting lists all brought laughter from the crowd. And not the good kind.

While there will now be hours of ‘lessons learnt’ sessions with Special Advisors to refine their approach ahead of the next debate, expect a very similar contest to play out between their contrasting personalities next time.

Slapstick Davey’s misjudged high jinks?

Like it or loathe it, Ed Davey’s recent paddle-board/waterslide/biking antics have put the Lib Dem leader in the headlines over the past week in a way the Lib Dem party machine has found difficult in recent years.

Whilst these have all been brief moments in the sun – on the mantra of ‘all publicity is good publicity’ – Davey’s campaign will regard these attentions as  a success. And after watching Sunak and Starmer’s bitter debate, it’s easy to see why.

…Or the beginnings of a messaging masterstroke?

Recent polling suggests a small increase in voter recognition of who the Lib Dem Leader is, and perhaps we’re seeing the first stage of a wider Lib Dem strategy to gain the leader airtime, and a platform on which to pitch his policies. But is it actually working? And do the Johnson-esque tactics and clownish photos play well for a serious politician such as Davey?

On the evidence of the campaign so far there’s been pretty minimal cut through for flagship Lib Dem policies around free personal care. And with the party polling 9% nationally (less than Reform) in the most recent polls, Davey will be looking to harness media attention to more clearly land his key messages in the coming weeks.

(Milk)Shaking it up

Whatever you think about Nigel Farage, no one can say he’s not a tryer. Despite running unsuccessfully for office seven times, Farage has chosen the Essex seaside town to run as the Reform candidate. The Clacton seat formerly voted in a UKIP candidate back in 2015, and a whopping 79% of residents voted Leave back in 2016. So the base support is there.

But the question now is whether any of those 79% of people who voted Leave have actually seen any benefits of Brexit. If not, will they turn away from Farage?

Or, more likely, will Farage ignore that question entirely, fall back on dog-whistle populism, and turn the conversation to immigration? The Tendring Independents already took power away from the Conservatives on a local level in Tendring based on these issues, and it is increasingly likely now that Reform are in with a solid chance too.

SOS for the SoS

Education Secretary and Tory MP for Chichester Gillian Keegan MP turned up to endorse her fellow candidate in Winchester, only to find the campaign launch was taking place the following day…..

Would this be described as the “f&$*ing good job” that followers of Ms Keegan are accustomed to? Probably not. But to give credit where it’s due, she used the time to sing her colleague Flick Drummond’s praises, proving a good campaigner can make the most of any sticky wicket.

(Literally) Parachuted into East London

Ex-RAF officer Calvin Bailey has been parachuted in as the PPC for the Leyton & Wanstead seat in East London, where John Cryer MP will be standing down this year. John held a meeting with the Constituency Labour Party the week before and gave no indication of wanting to stand down, so there are a lot of disgruntled local activists who face campaigning for a candidate with no connection to the area.

Things are little better in the nearby Chingford & Woodford Green seat where the accomplished Brent councilor Shama Tatler is standing for Labour after Faiza Shaheen was blocked from standing and resigned from the party. The constituency is on a knife-edge, and Iain Duncan Smith MP will be relishing the Labour infighting there as it offers him a lifeline to stay in power.

Next week

We hope you enjoyed our very first edition of Spotlight.

And ahead of next week:

  • Let us know what you’d like to see included in next week’s edition
  • Get election-ready and book your General Election Briefing in today, to discuss with our expert team what the GE campaign, and life under the next Government, will mean for your organisation

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