On Air Now
Night to Morn Thursday
02:00 - 05:00

SPECIAL REPORT: PM announces General Election on 4 July 2024

22nd May 2024

By Elle Lindsay

Battling a carefully chosen soundtrack of “Things Can Only Get Better” being boomed by protesters at the gates of Downing Street, Rishi Sunak has this afternoon announced that the general election will take place on Thursday 4th July.

The Tories are currently 20 points in the polls, so the decision to call the general election early (he needn’t have called it until January 2025) has surprised many.

Waiting until later in the year might have allowed inflation to lower, flights to take off to Rwanda, or provided some distance from the weak byelection results that have been plaguing the government. On the other hand, the calculation that was made was likely that there are no guarantees that things will get better.

Rishi Sunak is no fool: the date will have been carefully considered and he must believe that July offers him and his party the best chance to retain power (they currently have a large majority in the House of Commons). It also probably helped that it was today announced that inflation has come down to “normal” levels (though it is worth noting that whilst the Conservatives suggest global factors caused such high inflation, they are all too eager to take the credit for inflation reducing).

Rishi Sunak set out the basis of his party’s general election campaign whilst getting drenched in the rain at the lectern outside Number 10. His pitch is that the government knows there is still work to do but that the country can build on the progress it has made. There were two main aspects to his speech:

  • The Conservatives have done well under the circumstances, and they can continue to build on progress we have made (i.e., why we should vote for the Tories; he even managed to insert the furlough scheme into his speech)
  • We live in an increasingly dangerous world, and it is only continuation that will provide security (i.e., why we shouldn’t vote for labour)

Given the cost-of-living crisis and the state of most public services nationwide, some may consider this first point to be a little tone deaf. Moreover, it is increasingly grating to be told why we shouldn’t vote for the opposition instead of why we should vote for a given party. Nonetheless, Rishi Sunak made it clear that he believes the Conservatives have a plan to move forward, and argued labour have no plan.

Regardless, Rishi Sunak’s speech fired the starting gun for the upcoming election. Many voters will be asking what the opposition offer, and making calculations about whether it is ‘better the devil you know’. The Conservatives will say there is too much global uncertainty to change the government now; however, opposition parties will cite change as being highly necessary. Within an hour of Rishi Sunaks announcement, leaders from opposition parties were in the media setting out their election campaigns.

In Scotland, where Conservative seats have always been low in numbers, Labour have made gains locally, including wins in byelections. Polls would suggest that Labour have become more competitive north of the border, which will make for a different electoral landscape. An election date of July 4th is poorly timed for Scottish voters as some schools will already be on holiday.

It is yet to be seen if this will have a detrimental impact on voter numbers and it may be naïve to believe that this was simply overlooked by Downing Street (since Scottish votes rarely benefit the Tories). The electoral landscape in Scotland is likely to be incredibly different to what we have grown used to.We will see what unfolds over the next few weeks, but it is likely that the economy and independence is what the SNP and unionist parties will focus their attention on.

Love or hate politics, elections provide voters the chance to express their feelings. Unfortunately, voter apathy is likely to reduce the overall number of votes, which only serves to benefit the major parties. It is therefore important to encourage everyone to use their vote. Notably, recent legislative changes mean that voters will need to provide photographic ID, providing yet another barrier that might impact voter numbers.

So, the political parties now have 6 weeks to convince you to vote for them, but you have 6 weeks to ensure you will be able to vote.

Follow Us

Listen live