Conservative party faces record-breaking defeat in historic UK election

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Final opinion polls have confirmed Britain’s Conservative Party government is on course for a record-breaking defeat after all but conceding defeat a day before the election (tonight, Australian time).

YouGov’s final seat projection published on Wednesday (UK time) put Labour on track to win a majority of 212 seats, the largest of any party since 1832.

The Murdoch family’s tabloid, The Sun, called for a vote for Labour, the first support for the party in more than a decade.

“It’s time for a change,” the paper said.

“The insurmountable problem faced by the Conservatives is that, over the course of 14 often chaotic years, they have become a divided rabble, more interested in fighting themselves than running the country,” said the newspaper, which has backed the Conservatives at every election since 2010.

The historic election might be dramatic for the UK, but it will have little impact here in Australia and on global financial markets. London might still be a major source of financial services, but it no longer has the importance that the EU, US, and Chinese financial markets have, especially for currencies, commodities, and bonds.

Even the panic and sell-off during the brief prime ministership of Liz Truss in late 2022 was confined to UK markets.

Such a large electoral wipeout will end 14 years of Conservative government, with ministers like Jeremy Hunt (current UK Chancellor or Treasurer) losing their seats, and hand Opposition leader Keir Starmer the keys to Number 10 Downing Street from Friday (UK political convention calls for an immediate change of government the day after the poll if the result is clear-cut, as this one will be).

John Curtice, one of Britain's most highly regarded polling experts, told CNBC that the Conservative Party’s demise will be down to two irreparably damaging events in recent years.

“This is not an election about the ideological position of the parties, this is an election about competence,” Curtice told CNBC this week.

“The reason why we are where we are is because a) the Conservatives were dealt a bad hand and b) they played it badly.”

Curtice said “Partygate,” the shocking revelations that the government led by Boris Johnson broke social gathering rules during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the short-lived Liz Truss government of late 2022, whose poor economic policies caused market panic (including the collapse of the pound), were the origins of the party’s looming election downfall.

“These are the two defining events of the election, and everything else is variation and embellishment,” Curtice said. He is a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde and senior research fellow at the National Centre for Social Research.

“No government that has presided over a market crisis has survived in the ballot box. It is a death knell,” he added.

And that’s the lesson for incumbents and challengers around the world.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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