General Election 2024: Seats to watch

As we gear up to the 2024 general election, Harry Johnson-Hill, a psephologist (electoral analyst) has written this blog post to discuss the seats to watch at the election, along with some trends in the campaigns so far.


Since going to the country on 22nd May, Rishi Sunak has not found the election bounce he had been looking for. Polling shows that the Conservative vote has stagnated while the Reform vote is beginning to catch up. Labour has dropped slightly but still dominates the polls; it is very clear that it is their election to lose.

For the first 10 days, little had changed. It seemed by many in the media to be one of the more boring elections: parties were slowly leaking policies, the leaders of the top two parties appeared suddenly more presidential, and the Lib Dems did their own ‘activity-based’ campaigning. This was, of course, until Nigel Farage arrived on the scene with his infamous wrecking ball approach.

On Monday 4th June, Farage announced an ’emergency announcement’, becoming the new leader of Reform UK for the next 5 years and then declaring that he would stand in the Essex constituency of Clacton. Since then, as nominations have closed, senior MPs have been running around the country to find their safe seat, some successfully, while others have undone their entire career.
This short post will review the seats to watch, assessing where and why they are being raised to our attention. Remember, this could change completely from now until election day on 4th July.

Seats to watch

Clacton: A Reform super-target.

Everyone has suddenly heard about this Eurosceptic town where Nigel Farage is challenging incumbent Conservative Giles Watling. It will be a challenge, as Watling currently has a majority over 25,000 votes. However, this was the only seat UKIP ever won in a general election, holding it from 2014 to 2017. This seat has now become Reform’s Number 1 target, but they will also hope to hold Lee Anderson in Ashfield. They are also seeking to gain Boston & Skegness in Lincolnshire to send party chairman Richard Tice to parliament. They have also set their sights on the two seats in Barnsley, North and South, where the ‘Brexit Party’ performed best in 2019.

Wimbledon: a three-way race?

The Conservatives hold Wimbledon in South London by just 628 votes, however with the recent boundary changes, the seat gains a Lib Dem ward from Kingston & Surbiton, and a Labour ward from Mitcham & Morden. In addition, another negative impact on the Conservatives is that the longstanding incumbent Stephen Hammond is standing down. This means it is all to play for; Labour and the Lib Dems have offices here next door each other and the questionable bar charts are in full force. This is one of the few instances where the Conservatives have not been aided by boundary changes, and the area has been moving to the left since Brexit. The neighbouring constituency of Putney was the only seat in the entire country that Labour gained in the 2019 general election.

Basingstoke: the potential decider.

This is the seat the media is using to decide the election, the swing required here for Labour to gain it from the Conservatives matches the same that it would need for a majority, it is also a Brexit voting seat by the matching national 52% leave to 48% remain. A win here would demonstrate that Labour has managed to win back the leave-voting seats that it needs to form a government, something it has been determined to do since losing so many ‘red-wall’ seats in 2019. Winning areas like this would be eating deep into the Conservatives’ heartlands.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar

The final seat to look at this week is the Outer Hebrides seat of Na h-Eileanan an Iar. This is the longest serving SNP seat, but is predicted to be gained by Labour. This has been SNP held since 2005 in the midst of a strong Labour government, but it is one of many seats in Scotland it will need to form a majority all those miles away in Westminster. While this may be a reasonably easy pickup for Labour due to the SNP polling collapse and an MP embroiled in scandal, it is a must for Labour on July 4th and strong campaigning here will be essential.

Table of Contents

Seats to watch at the 2024 general election

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