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And we're off

24 May 2024
| by Field Team

The Field team dives into the chaos of a snap election, capturing the immediate aftermath and what lies ahead.

For a brief few hours on Wednesday, politicians, businesses, journalists and lobbyists all found themselves in the same boat. You wake up in the morning with a plan of action for the days, weeks, and months ahead. When the first rumblings of an election announcement became apparent at 10am they were immediately dismissed. We’d all heard it before. By 6pm we were all cancelling holiday arrangements, returning to our offices, ripping up carefully made plans between now and July. Rishi’s strategy was to catch Labour off guard and he has - along with the rest of the country. 

The announcement itself didn’t go quite as planned, however. It went swimmingly, but only in the sense that by the time the prime minister retreated back into number 10, he looked like a man who had attempted a width of the Thames while fully suited and booted. Often Sunak comes across like a leader who exercises poor judgement but also suffers from a disproportionate amount of bad luck. 

As is always the case with snap elections, the first couple of days are something of a phoney war: as TWFW goes to pixel, the final business of the House is being concluded as laws are rushed onto the statute book, MPs are hastily standing down, party staff are dusting off the campaign machine, central offices are hurriedly appointing candidates to vacant seats. 

More importantly, what comes next? Expect extreme repetition. The main lines are already out: Rishi Sunak will say as many times as he can “Labour haven’t got a plan” and “Rwanda”. Keir Starmer will say “change”, “change”, and for those hard of hearing at the back, he will shout “change”. Richard Tice will say “I’m just as good as Nigel – and anyway Nigel is working for the UK by working for Trump”.

From here, the parties and their leaders will tour various battleground seats: watch out for a steady stream of football grounds, factories and hospitals, with smiling placard-clutching activists (or moonlighting councillors) asking easy half-volley questions for the cameras. The next real big bang moment will be the manifestos, likely to be coordinated to come out in successive days in a few weeks’ time. 

The traditional debate over TV debates is well underway: the PM is 20 points behind so he wants a debate every week. Can you imagine? One way or another they’ll frame the second half of the campaign. 

Relentless daily polling will show who is up and who is down. Look out for the Labour “wobble” that’s bound to be reported in about week 3. Watch for claims England winning against a second rate side in the Euros might save the PM. 

For the next six weeks, you can expect the substantial policy discussion to be put to one side and the political circus to take over. There will be slogans, speeches, own goals and gaffes; polls, protests, and an endless stream of lobby journalist tweets, reheated pledges, half-baked analysis and empty rhetoric. 

Most importantly the countdown is on. Polls will open at 0700 on July 4. By 0700 on July 5, we should know who the next Prime Minister will be – and not just be predicting it. 

If you have any questions about the general election, or how it will impact your sector, email us at In the meantime, enjoy the chaos.

(Photo provided by PA Wire)

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