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Opinion: The Tories are heading for electoral annihilation, or are they?

If the opinion polls are anything to go by, the Conservative Party is staring down the barrel of the gun and looking at a heavy defeat in the upcoming election.

Failing to take Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone in the local council elections, they suffered big losses across the country last week.

The voting intention polls for the general election suggest the Conservatives are at risk of a catastrophic result when the nation takes to the ballot box.

I would be inclined to agree with this, the polls have been too consistent for too long and a surprise win in the East Midlands mayoral race shows that Labour is preparing to sweep the constituencies from underneath the Tories’ seats.

But, is this likely to happen in Kent? I don’t think so.

Coming out of the local elections, many in the Tory party suggested it was not as bad as looks.

One of those people was the Prime Minister (PM), Rishi Sunak, who went as far as to indicate that the country is heading for a hung parliament.

On the surface that may seem preposterous.

Labour’s defeat in the 2019 election pegged them back significantly and the party, led by Sir Kier Starmer, will have to overturn this if he is to govern with no help from other parties in the House of Commons.

Sir Kier Starmer
(Image Source- Wikimedia Commons)

I think that Labour will come out on top in the election, maybe not to the margin that polls would expect but a victory is likely.

The upcoming election, is echoing that of the 1997 general election.

After 18 years of Conservative rule, a re-branded Labour party under Tony Blair swept to a landslide.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Image Source- Flickr

While it does sound familiar, here in Kent, many didn’t swing completely to New Labour.

Judging by the stats, it doesn’t appear as if they will this time either.

At no point in the last 50 years has Labour received more votes than the Conservatives in Kent’s 17 parliamentary constituencies.

Even when support for Labour was at it’s highest, in 1997 and 2001, the Tories still had the edge.

Labour held eight seats in the late 90s and early 2000s but the then opposition held nine.

Support for the party has only been increasing in past few elections, and every Conservative MP elected in 2019 had majorities of over 10,000 votes.

All of Kent’s constituency returned Tory MP’s in 2019, with the exception of Canterbury which was won by Rosie Duffield.

Kent’s only Labour MP, Rosie Duffield (Image Source- Wikimedia Commons)

It doesn’t appear by looking at the previous results, that even when the wind blows in Labour’s direction in a national sense, Kent follows with the trend.

I think it could be a similar thing this time around, an increase in MPs for Labour but still overall, a Conservative stronghold.

There are a few threats to their dominance however.

In my opinion the biggest questions arising this election are that on the economy and on immigration.

Sunak and the Tories have marketed themselves as tough on immigration, headlined by their Rwanda plan as part of their ‘Stop the boats’ campaign.

(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I think Immigration will be the highest concern of the people in Dover along with the rest of the south east coast, and to those who voted UKIP in the 2015 election.

If they are convinced that the PM can get his plan to work and migrant numbers start to fall, then the region may cast their votes the Conservatives’ way.

But this could be a dangerous pitfall for them if they are seen not doing enough, they might lose votes to Reform UK.

If they go they other way, they are at risk at losing their middle ground voters who think they are moving too right wing.

Similarly, The Conservatives are taking the blame for the continuing cost-of-living crisis as they have been in power for 14 years and this isn’t completely unwarranted.

A protester in London
(Image Source- Wikimedia Commons)

Those voters who put the blame squarely on the government may place their votes towards Labour, or like in the Tunbridge Wells local election, the Liberal Democrats.

With that all being said, Labour will have to overturn a massive majority to secure the landslide victory they are hoping for and expect.

I think that they will win the election comfortably, although the majority will not be nearly as large as some predictions.

Even with the Tories languishing in the polls, a hung parliament seems unlikely to me and depends on how Labour conduct themselves and how Sunak and the Conservative party react to the drubbing in the local elections.

There might just be a twist to come, and Kent may have a part to play.

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