So much has happened in this Parliament that time seems in retrospect to telescope rather. But a look back through our previous updates on our panellists’ expectations of the next election really is a time capsule.
Just two years ago, in October 2021, 83 per cent of respondents expected some sort of Conservative-led government in the next Parliament. A couple of months later we reported such expectations were at their “lowest this year” after a slide to… 78 per cent.
Then we averted our eyes for a while, and when I next checked in: “expectations of any sort of Tory-led government in the next parliament have collapsed.” By March 2023, more than half our panellists expected a Labour majority; just 20 per cent anticipated any form of Conservative victory.
Six months on, nothing has changed. More than half our panellists still think Labour will win outright (it’s perhaps surprising it isn’t more, given the polls). Meanwhile just over 18 per cent expect some form of Tory-led government following the election, with only a doughty seven per cent of true believers thinking there will be a Conservative majority.
Given the polls, and the torrid time the Party has had over the past few months, it may be that this represents some sort of floor in terms of expectations. But then this survey preceded the reshuffle and the Government’s defeat in the Supreme Court over the Rwanda scheme, and the latest bout of Tory bloodletting those events have unleashed. So we’ll see.
As per usual, here is the total percentage figure (rounded to the nearest whole number) expecting some sort of Conservative-led government after the next election for each month since we last looked in on this data set:
This is interesting, because it belies the almost perfect continuity of this month’s total with that of February’s survey, when we last checked in. In fact, members’ optimism about the next election has fluctuated considerably over the past six months, peaking at a relatively respectable 37 per cent in April, amidst the buzz of the coronation.
Yet whatever the individual changes, the salient point is surely that at no time has the panel, which a couple of years ago was so (understandably) confident of a Conservative victory at the next election, thought on balance that the Tories were going to win in 2024.
Imagine trying to explain that to someone in 2019. Or even 2021.