• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Why UK Tories are still heading for ‘A Pasting’ despite what PM Rishi Sunak says

Who is the longest and shortest-ruling UK prime minister?

The UK prime minister’s claim that the country is heading for a hung parliament has been rinsed by polling experts who point to a massive Labour majority in the upcoming polls.

On Monday, Rishi Sunak revealed to the nation what his big takeaway was from the local elections, in which the Tories lost 500 councillors and all but one of the 11 mayoral contests.

“These results suggest we are heading for a hung parliament,” the prime minister told The Times.

Just three days later, the same newspaper revealed that the latest YouGov poll had put the Conservatives 30 points behind Keir Starmer’s party.

According to the Electoral Calculus website, if those results were mirrored at the general election later this year, the Tories would be left with 13 MPs and the Labour would have a majority of 452.

While no one seriously expects things to be as bad as that for the Conservatives, very few share the PM’s view that the result remains in the balance.

To be fair to Sunak, there was some psephological evidence to back up his seemingly far-fetched claim.

In their analysis of the local elections, polling gurus Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher said that based on the results, the national equivalent vote share (NEV) put Labour just seven points ahead of the Tories.

If that was repeated at the general election, they said, it would leave Labour as the largest party but short of an overall majority.

Like a drowning man desperately clinging to a piece of driftwood, the prime minister tried to present their forecast as proof that the Tories are not heading for electoral oblivion. The problem for the PM, though, is that no one believes him, least of all a host of other polling experts.

Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta, said: “Nothing has happened in the past week to change our view that Labour are on course for a substantial majority. The Tories areon for a pasting.”

He said the PM’s hung parliament claims were “frankly a wilful misunderstanding of how these things work”.

“There is limited potential for a change in the polling and it would take something monumental, like a Labour imposion,” Hopkins added.

“A hung parliament is the best the Conservatives could hope for and they would need some sort of miracle to achieve that.”
Ben Page of Ipsos said talk of a hung parliament was “for the birds”, while Luke Tryl of More in Commons also dismissed the idea.

He said: “My view is you can’t conclude from this set of election results that we are heading to a hung parliament. The best estimate we can make … suggests current voting intention is closer than some of those 25-point leads, but would still be at Blair majority levels.”

Tory MPs are equally dismissive of the PM’s apparent optimism.

“All he’s doing is giving people more of an excuse to vote Labour to kick us out,” said one former minister.