The finish line is in sight

We are heading towards the finishing line in this marathon election campaign. But, to mix my sporting metaphors, I don’t think there is going to be a late goal to rescue Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party from the jaws of defeat. Not that I’m sure that Sunak wants rescuing. Yes, he has been out on the campaign trail every day, but with little enthusiasm or vigour. He looks miserable and probably can’t wait for it all to end on Friday.

He is working on the assumption that Labour will win a big majority. We will see the Conservatives double down on their warning of the dangers of a Labour “supermajority” and the shock news that once in power the Labour Party will try to win another term. They are focusing their attention and resources on their heartlands to ensure they secure at least 100 seats and protect the likes of Jeremy Hunt, Gillian Keegan and Penny Mordaunt whose hitherto safe seats are looking vulnerable.

Conservative Strategy

Some of those Conservative big players are being threatened by the Liberal Democrats who will be outright winners of the “how many times can we drench the leader” award of the national campaign, but who have been playing very effective campaigns locally. They have run carefully targeted campaigns in Conservative-held seats in the south and south-west of England, picking up support from Labour voters by being explicit on the need for tactical voting. We should expect them to oust a few major players on Thursday.

Reform UK

Reform UK is also expecting a Labour win and will be using the next few days to woo Conservative voters with the message that the party is a spent force and Reform will be the most effective opposition. While this may appeal to some Conservative waverers, others will be put off by yet more revelations of racism and misogyny among candidates and activists.


In Scotland, where boundary changes mean the number of seats in Westminster goes from 59 to 57, the Scottish National Party, which held 43 seats, is also assuming it will lose seats to Labour (which had just two). It is now campaigning on the basis that if wins 29 seats, it would be a mandate for independence. Some might say that losing 14 seats wouldn’t be a mandate for anything, let alone independence.

In fact, the only party not assuming a Labour victory is the Labour Party. Keir Starmer and his team are determinedly not counting any chickens. Many of them will have still be haunted by the memory of 1992 (when Labour under Neil Kinnock unexpectedly lost), but for all of them it is about keeping clear heads and sticking to their plan. It may be a little dull, but it is this approach that has been responsible for the huge change in the party since the time of the last general election when big promises made by a populist leader were not believed by the electorate. So, don’t expect any changes in strategy from Starmer and co.

What we will see is them urging people to vote, not to assume that it is a done deal. Contending with voter apathy has always been an issue across parties, but now with record low levels of public trust in politics, getting its vote out is going to be its biggest challenge over the next few days if Labour is to secure victory.