Conservatives forecast to lose 11 Kent seats in General Election 2024, says pollster

Damian Green is disappointed to have been snubbed as the Tory party’s candidate for the newly created Weald of Kent constituency
-Credit: (Image: Yui Mok/PA)


Latest opinion poll analysis suggests that the Conservatives could see a series of sizable defeats in Kent at the 2024 General Election on July 4 with the Labour party set to make sizeable gains.

According to data put together by the respected Electoral Calculous thirteen of the 18 seats being contested in 2024 are set to go to Labour including some in previously solid Tory heartlands.

Among MPs to lose under the current forecast would be Damian Green (Ashford), Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe), Laura Trott (Sevenoaks) and Gareth Johnson (Dartford), according to Electoral Calculus (EC).

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EC analyses all polling and voting trends in the UK but does not take into account hyper-local matters such as a controversial house-building proposal or loss of a public amenity. But it does attempt to account for attitudes to sensitive issues such as immigration.

The Tories currently hold 16 of the 17 existing seats in Kent and an 18th, Weald of Kent, has been added in boundary changes and will contested in the 2024 General Election.

Nationally, the latest predictions put Labour on 479 seats, the Conservatives on 92 and the Liberal Democrats on 44. The Green Party would pick up two.

The Reform UK would not win any but, with more than 11% of the popular vote forecast, could cost the Conservatives seats in marginals.

For instance, Helen Whately’s Faversham and Mid Kent constituency would, if the EC calculations are correct, see her majority plummet from 43% (21,000) to just 2.5%. A strong Reform vote might affect her chances.

In Tunbridge Wells, the Liberal Democrats are widely seen as the main contenders to unseat Tory Greg Clark but EC places Labour in second place. Mr Clark’s decision to stand down further enhances the challengers.

Even a strong showing by the Lib Dems in the local elections on May 2, when they took control of the local council, has not shifted their position in the EC predictions.

In Folkestone and Hythe, Conservative MP Damian Collins (majority 14,500) is on course to lose the seat the Conservatives have held for decades.

Labour is predicted to have an 81% chance of winning, although local observers say that position is more nuanced.

One said: “When Michael Howard was the MP here, his majority was small at around 6,000 but it was a rock solid majority.

“He knew that but, even so, he really worked hard at being a very good constituency MP despite holding several high offices in government and in opposition.

“But the demographic has changed. A lot of people have moved out of London to live here and voting habits are a lot more fluid than they were in those days.”

The left of centre vote is strong – the Green Party now runs the local council – but could split in the general election.

However, EC founder and CEO Martin Baxter claimed tactical voting could come into play in any number of the Kent constituencies.

He added: “We have found evidence to support the idea that the centre left, particularly the Greens and Lib Dems will vote tactically to keep the Tories out.

“Equally, there are situations where Conservatives will vote for the Lib Dems to keep the Labour Party out.”

Mr Baxter said his company is currently carrying out a study into tactical voting in the 2024 general election using “fairly large” samples.

He added: “The Tories are about 21% behind in the polls and Tony Blair was 13% ahead in 1997, so it gives you some indication of the state of things as they are at the start of the election campaign.

Tory MP for Tonbridge and Malling has been banned from driving
Tom Tugendhat is one of the Kent MPs forecast to retain his seat -Credit:PA

“Things can change, as they did for Theresa May in 2017 when she had a 20 point lead and ended up failing to win.”

A well-placed Labour source said: “Six weeks out from a general election, the idea we’d get 479 seats seems a bit ridiculous.

“It’s not how it sounds out on the streets. We’re doing well and we’re in a much better place than we were in 2019, no doubt about that.

“But that sort of result would be beyond what has gone before. We’ll have another look when we’re one week out and perhaps it will be more realistic.”

The data below lays out the seats, the current MP and the party they were elected for, the predicted winner in 2024 and the predicted percentage chance of the result.

LATEST ELECTORAL CALCULUS PREDICTIONS FOR KENT

  • Ashford – Damian Green (Con) – LAB GAIN (67%)

  • Canterbury – Rosie Duffield (Lab) – LAB HOLD (98%)

  • Chatham & Aylesford – Tracey Crouch (Con) – LAB GAIN (56%)

  • Dartford – Gareth Johnson (Con) – LAB GAIN (77%)

  • Dover & Deal – Natalie Elphicke (Con) – LAB GAIN (92%)

  • Faversham & Mid Kent – Helen Whately (Con) – CON HOLD (55%)

  • Folkestone & Hythe – Damian Collins (Con) – LAB GAIN (81%)

  • Gillingham & Rainham – Rehman Chishti (Con) – LAB GAIN (75%)

  • Gravesham – Adam Holloway (Con) – LAB GAIN (73%)

  • Herne Bay and Sandwich – Sir Roger Gale (Con) – LAB GAIN (50%)

  • Maidstone & Malling – Helen Grant (Con) – LAB GAIN (63%)

  • Rochester & Strood – Kelly Tolhurst (Con) – LAB GAIN (80%)

  • Sittingbourne & Sheppey – Gordon Henderson (Con) – CON HOLD (58%)

  • Sevenoaks – Laura Trott (Con) – LAB GAIN (49%)

  • Thanet East – Crain Mackinlay (Con) – LAB GAIN (98%)

  • Tonbridge – Tom Tugendhat (Con) – CON HOLD (69%)

  • Tunbridge Wells – Greg Clark (Con) – CON HOLD (48%)

  • Weald of Kent – New Seat – CON GAIN (84%)

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