What are the odds? Cornwall’s Tories are pressing the general election panic button, but the bookmakers could be in for a shock if they believe the national opinion polls

Posted By on 16th May 2024

By Julia Penhaligon

The Conservative Party has put at least four of its six Cornish constituencies on a “danger list” of seats where sitting Tory MPs need extra help.

The party plans to divert cash and election campaign resources into all constituencies where it has a majority of less than 15,000.

Cornwall Reports understands that St Austell and Newquay, where Steve Double had a 2019 majority of 16,525, is also on the list because of boundary changes.

The 2019 Tory majorities were:

South East Cornwall 20,971

St Austell and Newquay 16,525

North Cornwall 14,752

Camborne and Redruth 8,700

Truro and Falmouth 4,561

St Ives 4,280

According to UK Polling Report, if an election were to be held now, and assuming a uniform swing, Cornwall would record the following results:

South East Cornwall: Con hold

St Austell and Newquay: Labour gain

North Cornwall: Con hold

Camborne and Redruth: Labour gain

Truro and Falmouth: Labour gain

St Ives: Liberal Democrat gain

Many readers have asked Cornwall Reports to forecast the result – reminding us that we accurately predicted (to within three seats out of 87) the 2021 Cornwall Council elections.

We have a healthy disregard for national opinion polls which often fail to appreciate significant local factors – eg, at the moment there is no Reform UK candidate in Truro and Falmouth, which greatly increases the chances of Conservative MP Cherilyn Mackrory holding her seat.

Reform UK did have a candidate for St Ives, who has since withdrawn, similarly bringing faint hope to Conservative Derek Thomas.

But we remain unconvinced that any Reform UK candidates will actually stand at all – just as they all withdrew, in Cornwall, as Brexit Party candidates, in 2019, once the election was called.

The Polling Report “national swing” model also fails to take into account the near-total collapse of Labour’s rank-and-file campaigning membership in Cornwall since 2019, or the growth of the Green Party – these two phenomena, to some extent, being two sides of the same coin.

The Liberal Democrats’ failure to come even second, in Cornwall, in the recent Police and Crime Commissioner election, underlines that party’s continued slide towards irrelevance.

It is also still not clear if Mebyon Kernow will field general election candidates.  Possibly party leader Dick Cole might again stand in St Austell and Newquay, searching for that elusive “deposit saved” moment.  We are not holding our breath.

If MK does enter in St Austell and Newquay, but then still gets beaten by the Green Party, that is likely to be MK’s final foray into national politics.  MK will continue to be a force in local elections.

However, and with all of those caveats, were any bookmaker prepared to offer sufficiently generous odds at this stage, we would place our very modest investment on an accumulator which called it thus:

South East Cornwall: Con hold

St Austell and Newquay:  Con hold

North Cornwall: Con hold

Camborne and Redruth:  Con hold

Truro and Falmouth: Labour gain

St Ives: Liberal Democrat gain

Even more generous odds ought to be offered, eventually, on contests for second, third and fourth place.

We suggest:

South East Cornwall: Labour second, Liberal Democrats third

St Austell and Newquay: Labour second, Liberal Democrats third

North Cornwall: Liberal Democrats second, Green Party third, Labour fourth (lost deposit)

Camborne and Redruth: Labour second, Liberal Democrats third

St Ives: Green Party third, Labour fourth (lost deposit)

Beware: these forecasts are even less credible than a Cornwall Council business plan.  Cornwall Reports will have an update on this article once all of the candidates are known.

juliapenhaligon@cornwallreports.co.uk

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