General Election

May 29, 2024

Since Rishi Sunak announced the date of the General Election (or Genny Lex if you prefer to keep up with the latest terminology), the commentary on who the eventual winner will be has intensified. Given the Labour Party's significant lead in the opinion polls and the poor performance of the Tory Party in recent elections, many see the outcome as a foregone conclusion. 

Indeed, at a recent conference I attended, various speakers commented on the policies a Labour Government would implement as if this were a certainty. 

Politics is not my specialist subject, but I observe that, just as in economics, crowded consensus views often turn out to be wrong. 

Here are just a few facts to remember before the big day in early July.

  1. Tony Blair's victory in 1997 saw a massive swing to Labour. If Sir Keir Starmer is to get a working majority, he will have to see a bigger swing than Tony Blair achieved.
  2. Tony Blair started that 1997 campaign with approximately 70 more seats than Sir Keir Starmer.
  3. The UK's first past the post political system means that vote share is less closely correlated with seats won than you might think. Indeed, a 40% plus share of the vote delivered over 400 seats to the Labour Party in the 1997 election but just over 250 in 1959.
  4. Vote share is important, but then so is where a party wins those votes.
Vote share is less correlated with seats won that you might think. 43% of the vote for Labour in 1959 yielded 258 seats while in 1997 the same vote share gave 418 seats.

My conclusion is that the result is not a foregone conclusion. Clearly, Labour can win and is most likely to do so given its lead in the opinion polls, but this outcome requires a huge and unprecedented shift in the political preferences of UK voters across the country. Something to bear in mind if you are minded to place a bet.

Disclaimer: These articles are provided for information purposes only. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

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