Theresa May has once again ruled out a snap general election but that doesn’t mean the temptation to hold one will go away. Today’s ICM poll shows why: the Tories, on 45 per cent, have a 19-point lead over Labour. This pushes the Government’s poll lead up by three points following a fortnight dominated by Philip Hammond’s Budget debacle, his subsequent u-turn over hiking national insurance rates and Theresa May coming under pressure from the SNP.
With Jeremy Corbyn in charge of the Labour party, the usual rules that a government would be punished for a bungled budget need not apply. In fact even after a raft of dismal headlines for Philip Hammond, the Chancellor actually enjoyed a one per cent bounce on the question of who is better able to manage the economy. Meanwhile, youngsters are also deserting Labour in their droves: the Tories now hold a 13 point lead over Labour among 18-to-24 year olds.
All this makes dismal reading for Labour supporters already somewhat inured to misery. It’s also depressing news for the party’s MPs who are likely to bear the brunt of this exodus in Labour support at the next election, whenever that might be. So how would this extraordinary polling lead be reflected at the ballot box? A 45 per cent share of the vote nationwide would give the Tories a landslide 140 seat majority with 395 seats – eight times the wafer-thin cushion the Government is reliant upon at the moment. The Tory gains would almost exclusively come at the expense of Labour, who would end up with only 169 seats: only a handful more than the Tories were left with after Tony Blair’s decisive victory in 1997.
Among the more high-profile casualties would be Gisela Stuart in Birmingham Edgbaston; Ivan Lewis in Bury South; Wes Streeting, a staunch critic of Corbyn; and Paul Flynn in Newport West. Such a tumultuous swing to the Tories would also reverse recent successes for Labour. In Tooting, for instance, the party’s 6,357 majority in last year’s by-election would vanish overnight.
If the Tories really did win a 45 per cent share of the vote overall, there’s no doubt that previously solid Labour seats would also fall. Luton South, held by the party since the 1980s and which voted in its Labour MP Gavin Shuker with a majority of over 5,000 in 2015, would go the Tories’ way. And while Labour held on in Stoke Central last month, Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t be so lucky in the neighbouring constituencies of Stoke on Trent North or South, where both its Labour MPs – Ruth Smeeth and Robert Flello – would face the boot. (There’s good news for many of the Labour leader’s closest allies, however, with the likes of Diane Abbott, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner easily clinging on.)
It’s not only Labour who would suffer. Much to the delight of Arron Banks, Douglas Carswell would also see his majority vanish with the Tories snatching back their seat in Clacton. But much of the bad news would inevitably belong to Labour. Here’s the full list of the seats the party would lose, according to Electoral Calculus, if the Tories won 45 per cent of the vote nationwide:
Alyn and Deeside; Barrow and Furness; Batley and Spen; Birmingham Edgbaston; Birmingham Northfield Bishop Auckland; Blackpool South; Bolton North East; Brentford and Isleworth; Bridgend; Bristol East; Bristol South; Bury South; Chester; Chorley; Clwyd South; Coventry North West; Coventry South; Darlington; Delyn; Derbyshire North East; Dewsbury; Dudley North Ealing Central and Acton ; Edinburgh South; Eltham; Enfield North; Exeter; Gedling; Great Grimsby; Halifax; Hampstead and Kilburn; Harrow West; Hartlepool; Hove; Hyndburn; Ilford North; Lancaster and Fleetwood; Luton South; Mansfield; Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East; Newcastle-under-Lyme; Newport East; Newport West; Oldham East and Saddleworth; Penistone and Stocksbridge; Scunthorpe; Southampton Test; Stoke-on-Trent North; Stoke-on-Trent South; Tooting; Wakefield; Walsall North; Westminster North; Wirral South; Wirral West; Wolverhampton South West; Workington; Worsley and Eccles South; Wrexham