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Election Daily

Could Sunak lose his seat?

plus what's going on in the Scottish and Welsh battlegrounds?

8:02 AM GMT+1 on June 20, 2024

    Sometimes setting records is great, like when an Aussie baby broke the world record for water skiing a couple of days ago. That's ace. At other times, setting records can be less than brilliant, like the one Rishi Sunak is in line to set in a couple of weeks when he becomes the first sitting British prime minister ever to lose his seat at a general election.

    That is the prediction of a poll by Savanta and Electoral Calculus for The Telegraph today which also sees the Tories slumping to just 53 seats and three-quarters of Sunak's cabinet also being voted out. Meanwhile, Labour is predicted to surge to 516 seats which would give them a House of Commons majority of 382 – double that won by Tony Blair in 1997.

    If I were Sunak at this point, I think I would aim to set a new record by being the PM to engage with the least media, polling and public commentary in the lead-up to an election. Instead I would enjoy my final days of access to the facilities at No. 10, having long baths, calling for room service at midnight and running my fingertips along Boris and Carrie's fetching golden wallpaper.

    Meanwhile, of course, the media barrage would continue, I just wouldn't be listening. Here is what the news podcasters of Britain have contributed to that barrage over the past day or so:

    The Daily T: The Telegraph got the story about Sunak potentially losing his seat, so it is only fair that they should go first this morning. Savanta's political research director Chris Hopkins joins hosts Camilla Tominey and Kamal Ahmed to unpack the data, including those all-important undecided voters, and why Rishi Sunak is still struggling to move the polls. Plus, former justice minister Sir Robert Buckland joins them to explain why he is calling for an amnesty for 29,000 people given criminal convictions for breaking Covid lockdown rules. Election Daily is in favour of this idea, generally, as long as the perp in question wasn't involved in making the Covid lockdown rules as well as breaking them.

    The Election Shortcut with Kate McCann: Some people in Sunak's party are definitely looking at the polls. As more senior Tories seem ready to admit defeat, Times journo Lara Spirit speaks to the paper's chief political correspondent Aubrey Allegretti about where all this leaves the party.

    Political Currency: Ok, so if it is all going wrong for Sunak, how should he stem the bleeding? Some advisors have suggested the answer may lie in ramping up negative attacks on Keir Starmer. But Political Currency co-host George Osborne thinks that approach would be a "disaster". The prime minister "needs to stay above that", he says. Because anything negative you come out with "says as much about you as it does about the person you are trying to attack", Osborne explains. Good cynical politicking right there, George. But probably bang on too.

    Media Confidential: With two weeks of campaigning to go, is there any chance that media coverage could still help to bring the Tories back into office? Who better to ask than former editor of the FT Lionel Barber and former Guardian supremo Alan Rusbridger. They also speak to election reporting veteran Michael Crick and Ros Taylor from the political podcast Oh God, What Now? about Ed Davey’s capers, Sunak's gaffes, Starmer's "safe pair of hands" and the unstoppable rise of Nigel Farage. 

    The Political Fourcast: Krishnan Guru-Murthy is joined by the SNP’s Mhairi Black, Scottish Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy and chairman of the Scottish Conservatives Craig Hoy to discuss the SNP manifesto. The party is still promising to make Scotland independent – even popping that promise on the first page of the manifesto. But with all this polling suggesting that Labour are heading for a landslide victory, including a majority of the seats in Scotland, could this be the end of the independence cause? Or, this group of thoughtful speakers asks intriguingly, might it paradoxically end up being the best thing for the independence campaign? 

    Talking Politics: ITV's Tom Bradby, Robert Peston and Anushka Asthana ask whether the SNP's claim that they'll pressure Westminster for another independence referendum is actually credible. One of the broadcaster's more excellent journalists, Peter Smith, sits down with SNP leader John Swinney to find out. "Is this effectively an uncosted pledge?" he asks him for starters. "You're writing cheques that the SNP can't cash," he continues, before delivering his knockout blow: "You may as well have as line one, page one of your manifesto read 'a vote for the SNP is a vote for Scotland to win the Euros.'" Ouch.

    BBC Newscast: Also looking at the SNP manifesto launch are the BBC Newscast team. Plus on today's show host Adam Fleming also went to Birmingham with Newsnight’s Victoria Derbyshire and Nick Watt to discuss Newsnight's focus on the NHS, plus the news that Rishi Sunak's protection officer has been arrested over alleged election date bets. What an astonishing story this is turning out to be. Are there going to be more people in Sunak's circle who had a little flutter on the election date? Let's all place bets on how many and who.

    Pod Save the UK: Not everyone is keeping a close eye on Northern Ireland and Wales, but the good people at PSUK sure are. First they get in Welsh Journalist Will Hayward to discuss the recent vote of no confidence in First Minister Vaughan Gething. Then host Coco Khan chats to Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth to learn more about Plaid’s ambitions for Wales and how they intend to "turn up the heat" on Labour. Then Khan and Nish Kumar chat with journalist Amanda Ferguson about all things Northern Irish including the stakes of the next election and whether allegations about former DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson will have any bearing on the election.

    The Today Podcast: Amol Rajan and Nick Robinson take a look at why politicians are so keen to talk about economic growth in this election campaign – and whether any have the right policies to deliver it. They speak to professor of economics at the LSE, Tim Leunig, who worked as an advisor to the Lib Dems during the coalition government and went on to formulate the furlough scheme for Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor. Kelly Beaver, chief executive of pollsters Ipsos UK, also comes in to discuss and analyse the latest polling. Rishi, do feel free to block your ears now. 

    And now for something completely different…
    Cocaine Inc.: This great show from True Crime Australia and The Times and Sunday Times is precisely halfway through its first series, digging into how cocaine has become a global enterprise where, as the show says, "the profits are in the millions and the losses are measured in murders". It is all very sobering stuff. Anyone who has ever bought drugs knows that at least some criminality is involved given they have to buy it from, well, a criminal. But probably very few illicit drugtakers stop to think about all the steps that have brought those drugs to their door. What is great about this show is that the hosts speak directly to those involved: the money mules, corrupt dock workers, and the police and border force officers trying to stop the steady flow of cocaine around the world. It all seems so futile in a way. Global cocaine production reached record levels last year as demand rebounded following Covid lockdowns. So this is a very timely series. Also, the artwork is great. Give it a listen!

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