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When Will The Election Be? Scenario Four: January ’25

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The right to choose the General Election date is one of the few residual advantages that Rishi Sunak enjoys as we approach the coming campaign. In this post, we consider Sunak's final option, a January 2025 election.

CONSERVATIVE ELECTION THEME: “BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW”

This really is ‘last chance saloon’ for the PM. It will be obvious to anyone who pays the slightest attention to politics that the PM has held on until the last possible moment, and the public mood may be even more mutinous towards the Conservatives. In the scenario where nothing breaks in Sunak’s favour over the course of 2024, he does have this option of a January 2025 election. In this scenario, Sunak and his government would essentially be holding on to the bitter end waiting for good news – but they would also be playing for time on the hope that Labour lacks the self-discipline to hold on to a major poll lead for three years.

Economic Considerations

If No.10 hasn’t called an election by now, any tail-end-of-the-parliament good news may come too late for a Conservative reprieve. A final Monthly GDP Estimate on 12th December and a pre-Christmas Bank of England interest rate call on 19th December would be the final economic stats that may conceivably impact the election. Current projections suggest that inflation may continue to slowly decrease throughout the year, so waiting until December to call the election may provide for the Conservatives’ self-proclaimed economic medicine to take effect. But will an unsettled public – perhaps after the re-election of Trump – notice any tentative UK recovery in the gloom of the winter evenings?

Source: Office for Budget Responsibility Economic and Fiscal Outlook

The State of the NHS

As mentioned before (and displayed in Figure 3), NHS waiting lists tend to decrease from September, and this trend often continues well into December. However, while the stats may suggest one thing, the public experience may be significantly different. The NHS could be in the midst of its now regular ‘winter crisis’ where many people fail to get timely treatment.

Source: BMA analysis of NHS England Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times statistics

Small Boat Crossings

A quarterly immigration statistics release on 28th November would be critical in determining whether Sunak has had a meaningful impact in ‘stopping the boats’. While crossings reduce in the winter months, the stats released in November cover the previous quarter which may include periods of benign weather conditions in the Channel. And by this point will the PM be able to send some of those who arrive to Rwanda?

Other Factors

By January 2025, with the Conservatives entering their fifteenth year in power, the public’s mood may best be captured by one of Parliament’s most infamous one-liners. It has been so powerful across the ages that it’s been deployed on at least three occasions. Cromwell was first to use it, while Chamberlain and Johnson were both confronted by their respective critics with the same line; “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.”

If the PM postpones electoral judgement until January 2025, he may tacitly have internalised that this is the prevailing mood of the nation, and that perhaps little can be done in any election campaign to assuage it.

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