As the dust settles following a pretty abject night for the Conservative Party at the Local Elections, we take a look at the betting markets to see what might be next with a General Election likely for autumn 2024…
Tory talking head after Tory talking head went on TV on Thursday and Friday last week to say that losing 1,000 councillors for a party of government was normal and nothing to worry about. It was like living in some strange reality where spinning mistruths was normal and despite TV anchors trying to push back, they weren’t budging from their position.
As the day went on however, that 1,000 mark was surpassed as the Conservative Party saw a legitimate meltdown, particularly in their heartlands. Whilst they did have a handful of solid performances against Labour in the Midlands, it was overall a pretty catastrophic set of results for Rishi Sunak.
The model that suggests we are on course for a Hung parliament that Sky News put out on Friday evening has quite a few caveats. They are assuming that all independent voters from the Local Elections will vote the same way in a potential General. We know that will not happen and of course people do vote significantly differently for their local council compared to how they vote nationally. Last week also didn’t see polling stations opened in London for example, a city that looks likely to vote heavily Labour/Lib Dem in many areas. So take that forecast with not just a pinch of salt but a good handful.
Sir Keir Starmer stood on the banks of the River Medway on Friday morning and declared that his party were on course for a Labour majority at the next General Election. I do not disagree. Not much in these results suggests otherwise. His party did not hit it out of the park as it were but they did well enough in key areas to indicate that they can take plenty of swing seats back from the Tories whenever the country goes to vote for their next government. Don’t be expecting a 1997 style Labour landslide but the unpopularity of the governing party quite simply cannot be understated.
True blue councils went yellow and not by a councillor here or there but in landslides. The first big surprise of the night came in Theresa May’s backyard when Winsdor & Maidenhead Royal went to the Lib Dems. That wasn’t even on their top target list. At that moment, you knew it was going to be quite a night as the suburbs sent out a clear message that they were going to vote for whichever party was best placed to get the Tories out.
Lewes is a great example. The Sussex constituency has a Conservative MP but now not one councillor wears a blue rosette. Stockport is represented by two Tories along with one Labour Member of Parliament but now at council level, you won’t find a single Conservative in the chamber.
It should also be noted that it was a fantastic night for the Green Party. How that translates into the General Election is unclear as their only MP is facing a battle to keep her seat against a resurgent local Labour party in Brighton Pavilion although a 20,000 odd majority should be good enough to ensure her party are represented in the next parliament.
The latest odds as of Tuesday 9 May are that Labour are 4/5 to get an overall majority with 13/8 available on the hung parliament. If you fancy the Tories to get beyond the number required then 13/2 is available. Sir Keir Starmer’s party are also as short as 1/5 to have the most seats with Sunak’s side 7/2 in the same market. I don’t see any reason not to fancy the two odds-on prices quoted.