Carol Vorderman says tactical voting at the next election could wipe the Conservatives off the map, resulting in Rishi Sunak’s party not even having enough seats to form an opposition.
Opinium’s latest poll reveals Labour’s lead has increased to 18 points over the Conservatives, from a 16-point lead a fortnight ago.
Labour has seen a two-point increase in Opinium’s last three polls.
Labour’s vote share sits at 43 per cent, whilst the Conservatives drop to on 25 per cent (-2). The Liberal Democrats rose to 11 per cent (+1), SNP remain on 2 per cent (n/c), the Greens on 6 per cent (+1) and Reform UK remain on 10 per cent (n/c).
How does tactical voting work?
But if voters side with the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives at the next election, support for the party in terms of seats could potentially collapse.
In a general election, tactical voting takes place when a voter chooses a candidate whom they wouldn’t normally support, in order to prevent another candidate from winning.
For example, if you want to vote for a party that is unlikely to win in your constituency you might pick your preferred of the other candidates with a greater chance of winning.
As Vorderman points out here, it could be terminal for the Conservatives.
Tactical voting has come into focus due to boundary changes that have come to effect this year.
Leigh & Atherton, Bangor Aberconwy and Wolverhampton West are all examples of new seats at the next election.
They have been created as part of a UK-wide redrawing of constituency boundaries, which has been done to reflect changes in the size of local populations.
This is also why Bury South will be treated as a Conservative defence at the next election, even though its present MP, Christian Wakeford, defected from the Tories to Labour halfway through the current parliament.
The last time a major redrawing of boundaries took place was ahead of the 2010 general election.
In order to identify which seats on the new electoral map will be the parties’ top targets, and to work out the swing needed for these seats to change hands, a set of notional results for the last general election has been calculated to show what would have happened if that contest had taken place using the new boundaries.
These notional results have been compiled by Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of the University of Plymouth, on behalf of BBC News, ITV News, Sky News and the PA news agency – all of whom will use the figures as the basis for reporting the gains and losses at the next general election.
For example, Burnley, Labour’s number one target, had a notional result in 2019 of the Tories on 40.46% of the vote and Labour on 40.19%, while Warrington South, the Tories’ top target, was 44.47% Labour and 44.35% Conservative.
This is why Warrington South will be treated as a Labour defence at the next election – and is considered the Conservatives’ top target – despite it being currently represented by the Tory MP Andy Carter.
Key Labour and Conservative contests
The data shows that, of Labour’s top 50 targets, 10 are in north-west England, seven in Wales, six in the East Midlands and five each in the West Midlands and Yorkshire/Humber, with the remainder spread across the rest of the UK.
All of these will be treated as Conservative defences at the election – and all would fall on local swings from Tory to Labour of up to 5.4 percentage points.
Labour would need to perform much better to stand any chance of forming the next government, however.
The party needs a uniform nationwide swing from Conservative to Labour of 8.3 points to become the largest party in a hung parliament, and an even bigger swing of 12.7 points to gain an overall majority – more than the 10.2-point swing achieved by Tony Blair in 1997.
Two key constituencies to watch will be Chelsea & Fulham in London, which Labour would gain from the Conservatives on a local swing of 8.3 points, and Buckingham & Bletchley in Buckinghamshire, which the party would gain from the Tories on a local swing of 12.7 points.
Of the Conservatives’ top 50 targets, 11 are in Yorkshire/Humber, seven in north-west England and five each in the West Midlands and Wales – all areas that appear high on Labour’s list.
An exception is north-east England, which holds only two of Labour’s top 50 but nine of the Tories’ top 50, all of which are being defended by Labour.
Along with Warrington South, the Conservatives’ top 10 are all Labour defences and include two other seats in the North West: Wirral West in Merseyside and Heywood & Middleton North in Greater Manchester.
Three are in the West Midlands: Coventry North West, Coventry South and Warwick & Leamington; one is in Wales, Alyn & Deeside; and three are in London: Kensington & Bayswater, Beckenham & Penge and Dagenham & Rainham.