UK Election 2024: A Crucial Turning Point in British Politics

A polling station in the 2024 UK election

Story by Kate Devine and Kaleb Anderson (University of Missouri)

The upcoming British election draws much attention because it could significantly change the UK’s political scene. Major parties, including the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the Labour Party led by Keir Starmer, and the Liberal Democrats led by Ed Davey, are all campaigning hard to win votes. 

While polls show a tight race, projections are finding vote shares of 22% for the Conservatives, 39% for Labour, 15% for Reform UK, 12% for the Liberal Democrats, and 7% for the Greens per YouGov polls. These would result in 431 seats for Labour, 102 for the Conservatives, 72 for the Liberal Democrats, 2 for the Greens, and 3 for Reform UK and would make Keir Starmer the next Prime Minister.

A video guide to the election, made by students from the University of Missouri.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party focuses on economic stability, Brexit, and national security. However, public opinion is split. Some predict the Conservatives will keep a majority, while others think they will lose seats due to internal conflicts and recent scandals.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party emphasizes healthcare, education, and social justice. It is gaining support among younger voters and in urban areas, which might lead to more seats. Labour’s focus on public services and social equity appeals to many who are unhappy with the current situation, giving it a slight lead in the polls.

Keir Starmer (left) is on course for a landslide win while Rishi Sunak (right) hopes to maintain the title of Prime Minister. 

The Liberal Democrats, led by Ed Davey, support pro-European policies and civil liberties. They hope to gain votes from those unhappy with the major parties, especially in areas that favored remaining in the EU. Their firm stance on European integration and civil rights attracts a specific group of voters.

Sir Ed Davey and the Liberal Democrats could shake up the polls on July 4.

Public opinion varies widely across different groups and regions. Economic issues are a top concern for many, especially after post-Brexit challenges and the cost-of-living crisis. In comparison, the Conservatives are seen as better at managing finances; scandals and internal conflicts have hurt their image. Healthcare is also a significant issue, with many voters favoring Labour’s promise to increase NHS funding.

Brexit opinions continue to influence voting. The Conservative Party’s strong Brexit stance appeals to Leave supporters, while the Liberal Democrats and Labour attract Remain supporters. With Sunak’s polarizing approach and Starmer’s fresh perspective swaying opinions, leadership styles also impact voter preferences.

Critical issues in this election include the economy, healthcare, climate change, and education. Parties offer various solutions, from tax cuts to more public investment. The future of the NHS, staff shortages, and funding are major concerns, with Labour proposing significant reforms. Climate change is also becoming more critical, with parties outlining plans to meet climate targets and promote sustainability. Education reforms to improve quality and access are another priority.

Public opinion constantly changes, influenced by economic conditions, party policies, and leadership effectiveness. Voter turnout and last-minute changes in sentiment could determine the outcome, making this election a crucial moment for the future of UK politics.

A dog outside a polling station this morning (picture courtesy Charlotte Hudson).

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