Where will the general election be won and lost?

Joe Waters, 06 June 2024

The race has begun for this year’s much-anticipated general election campaign. Between now and 4 July, political leaders will make their case to voters to be the party that forms our next government. With a widespread expectation of political change, it’s worth reflecting on where the contest could be won and lost.

A total of 129 MPs have announced that they will not be seeking re-election, including a record number of Conservatives. For context, an average of 87 MPs stood down at each election from 1979 to 2010. So, regardless of the result, we are sure to see a lot of new faces when the new Parliament first sits on Tuesday 9 July.

If the last 10 years have been a remarkably volatile period in British politics, the last 12 months of polling data have bucked this trend, showing a strong and consistent polling lead for Labour. At the time of writing, all polls point to a landslide Labour victory – with some even suggesting the largest ever majority in the history of modern British politics.

But while there has been little evidence of it so far, history tells us that polls traditionally narrow during an election campaign. The task facing Labour is huge: for a majority of one, Keir Starmer needs to overturn the largest seat deficit since Clement Attlee in 1945. So where might we expect these seats to change hands?

In England, four regions stand out for their potential to decide the outcome. Labour hopes to win back the 40 ‘red wall’ seats it lost to the Conservatives in 2019, a stretch of constituencies which roughly fall along the M62 between Liverpool and Leeds.

In the West Midlands, Labour will hope their recent mayoral victory bodes well for the 60 or so marginal seats scattered across the region. The Liberal Democrats come into play in the South West. The last time Labour won a landslide victory in 1997, the Liberal Democrats won 14 seats in this region – a figure they will hope to replicate.

The most recent polls even indicate a swathe of seats in the South and South East – sometimes dubbed the ‘blue wall’ – could be vulnerable for incumbent Conservatives.

What does this mean for housing associations?

Big polling and personnel changes mean that relationship-building is critical during this campaign. The first few months after an election are a very busy time for new MPs and they’ll be managing lots of other requests, including constituency casework, new legislation, and ministerial responsibilities in some cases. Now is the time to reach out to candidates and establish strong local relationships with future decision makers.

To support our members and key stakeholders to organise visits and support our #PlanForHousing campaign, we’ve created a digital toolkit you can access on our website.