2024 – General Election – Week 4

Week 4

Welcome to JBP’s weekly 2024 General Election update. Each Friday, we’ll give you a rundown of the latest updates. See below for: 
  • An overview of the week that has been
  • An update on polling
  • Key moments of the week and upcoming dates
  • Who’s who in Labour back office
  • The latest gossip from Westminster
  • And our pick of the week’s news stories 

Manifesto Week

This week saw the launch of five political manifestos, leaving just those of Reform UK and the SNP to be revealed. The first of these was the launch of the Liberal Democrat’s ‘fully costed’ manifesto on Monday, with a set of policies designed to appeal to Tory voters in the ‘blue wall’. The centrepiece being an £8.4 billion package to improve the NHS and social care. In order to pay for this, the party plans to raise about £5 billion through reforms to capital gains tax.

Meanwhile the following day, Rishi Sunak made a last-ditch appeal to turn the tide of his disastrous election campaign at the Tory manifesto launch at Silverstone. The document promises £17 billion worth of tax cuts and £1 billion of extra spending in an attempt to dent Labour’s commanding poll lead. Central to it, is a commitment to increase UK defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP a year by 2030, which would be funded by shrinking the size of the civil service by 70,000.

Labour launched their manifesto on Thursday, with a relatively unsurprising document that included no significant new policy announcements and focused on his ‘five missions’ for government. Kier Starmer can afford to be ‘Captain Caution’, as Sky News political editor Beth Rigby dubbed him, due to his party’s position in the polls.

The Greens and Plaid Cymrumanifestos can be found linked.

More Debate…

The onslaught of TV debates continued last Friday night as seven representatives of the parties, including Penny Mordaunt, Angela Rayner and Nigel Farage, clashed live on BBC 1. Proceedings were dominated by the Prime Minister’s controversial decision to leave the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations early. A snap YouGov poll suggested Farage ‘won’ the debate, with Rayner a close second.

Whilst on Wednesday Sunak and Starmer individually faced a series of questions from an audience in Grimsby Town Hall. Sir Keir defended backing Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 general election by saying he knew Labour was going to lose, whilst Sunak said he appreciated people’s frustrations with the government as he acknowledged that levels of tax and immigration were “too high”. Polling suggested Starmer was the more convincing of the two.

Polling Update

The major story here is that Reform UK have overtaken the Tories following Nigel Farage’s return to lead the party last week. It will be interesting to see whether the ‘Farage bump’ is just a temporary phenomenon or continues to gain momentum. YouGov have stressed this one-point lead is within the realm of the margin for error; the lead needs to be sustained for some time to be sure. Instead, YouGov have aptly labelled the Conservative and Reform parties to be ‘neck and neck’.

All data suggests that the walls appear to be closing in on Rishi Sunak, as the Tory campaign fails to kick into gear. This has drawn fears from some quarters of a Canadian-style Conservative wipeout. Here in 1993, the governing Progressive Conservative Party lost all but two seats and spent years in the political wilderness. Whilst such an outcome remains unlikely, Sunak will know that he needs to control the Reform surge.

Key moments of the week and upcoming dates

  • On Wednesday evening it was revealed the Prime Minister’s former Parliamentary Private Secretary, Craig Williams had placed a bet on the general election taking place in July, just days before it was called. Williams, who is the Tory candidate for Montgomeryshire & Glyndwr, has said he will cooperate with a Gambling Commission probe.
  • Reform leader Nigel Farage was again the subject of violence on the campaign trail, as he had at multiple objects thrown at him by a protester in Barnsley. South Yorkshire Police says it has arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of public order offences. Farage wrote that he would not be intimidated ‘by a violent left-wing mob who hate our country’.
  • Douglas Ross announced this week that he will resign as leader of the Scottish Conservatives and after the general election. This follows a row over Ross’ decision to stand as a candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East instead of David Duguid, who was in effect de-selected. Mr Ross said he originally thought he could continue to serve as an MSP and MP as well as party leader, but on reflection noted that this was not feasible.

Looking ahead, Reform UK are set to be the last of the major players to launch their manifesto, next Monday 17thJune. Meanwhile there are two election debates still scheduled to place, both of which will be shown on the BBC. The first of these take the form of a Question Time Leaders’ Special live from York at 8pm on Thursday 20th June. Whilst on Wednesday 26th June, Sophie Raworth will host another iteration of Sunak v Starmer as the two front runners go head-to-head for the third time this campaign.

Who’s who in Labour back office

With a Labour Government edging closer, this section will introduce you to the people who are shaping the future of Labour behind the scenes.

This week, we take a look at Matthew Doyle.

This week we focus on Starmer’s Deputy Director of Policy, Stuart Ingham. Stuart has had an entire career in politics and parliament, starting as a junior staffer for former MP Michael Foster. Between this time and his current position, Stuart has also moved into the academic sector, lecturing at both the University of Exeter while studying for his doctorate and the University of Oxford on the topic of political theory and political philosophy.

On his return to parliament, Stuart worked firstly as a select committee researcher before moving to work for Lyn Brown MP, and then Starmer. As head of policy for Sir Keir’s leadership campaign, he has stayed on with Starmer throughout his role as Leader of the Opposition.

Stuart commands trust from a personal point of view. He has a good grasp of what Starmer feels on policy issues and is often seen as a barometer for the Opposition Leader’s views. As Deputy Director of Policy, Ingham wields considerable influence inside the leader’s office despite having a negligible public profile. Stuart’s focus in the Opposition offices is to develop policy content in line with Labour’s strategy and goals.

The stories that don’t make the papers

  • It is rumoured from both major parties that Conservative seats with majorities less than 2000 are being abandoned. Labour is sending resources to neighbouring target sets with majorities between 3000-5000 while the Conservatives are also shoring up support in safer seats. This has caused friction in both parties with candidates being left on their own.
  • Labour MPs who stood down from the commons after being promised peerages have been blindsided by Labour’s plans to put an age limit of 80 on Members of the House of Lords.
  • Nigel Farage has indicated he would be happy to lead a Conservative-Reform merger.

Press and media releases

Here is a snapshot of the articles the JBP team have found interesting this week.


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