Not in poll position: Tory edu MPs facing election wipeout

How the polls are shaping up for the current education politicians and those hoping to take their jobs

How the polls are shaping up for the current education politicians and those hoping to take their jobs

Former Conservative strongholds hang in the balance as Labour’s lead in the polls holds. But what does this mean for former MPs who have made names for themselves in further education and skills?

FE Week has delved into YouGov’s most recent MRP model to find out…

  

Potential wipeout for Tory education MPs

Education secretary Gillian Keegan is facing a tough battle against the Liberal Democrats in her Chichester constituency where she is defending a 21,490 majority. YouGov’s latest MRP poll predicts Keegan’s vote share could fall from 58 per cent to 27 per cent, leading to a likely Lib Dem win.   

Current skills minister Luke Hall, who was hurriedly appointed this March after the sudden resignation of Robert Halfon, is also predicted to lose his Thornbury and Yate seat to the Lib Dems. Hall had a 12,369 majority at the 2019 general election, but the poll currently puts the Lib Dems eight points ahead on vote share.     

Meanwhile, bad news too for children and SEND minister David Johnston whose Didcot and Wantage seat is also currently leaning Lib Dem.   

Another MP to have only briefly served in office was Andrea Jenkyns, who is facing a likely loss to Labour in the newly formed Leeds South West and Morley constituency. The sweary skills minister (infamous for putting her middle finger up to a crowd outside Downing Street as she was appointed) has been taking to social media to plead with Nigel Farage not to stand a Reform candidate against her because “we’re singing from the same hymn sheet”.  

Labour is polling with a predicted 47 per cent of the vote share in the constituency, with Jenkyns on 25 per cent and Reform on 19.  

  

Other former education secretaries face battles too

Kit Malthouse is the only former education secretary since the last general election who looks set to be re-elected, YouGov’s model shows. 

The Tories are 13 points ahead in his North West Hampshire seat. Malthouse served for just over a month in 2022 under the Liz Truss premiership.  

James Cleverly, who served as education secretary for two months before Malthouse, and Gavin Williamson, education secretary during the Covid years, are both classed as “toss-ups”, meaning too close to call.  

Williamson, standing in the new seat of Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge, is polling three points behind Labour, while Cleverly is just three points ahead in Braintree, Essex..  

Michelle Donelan, the education secretary for 35 hours, is also fighting for her seat, with just one point in it between the Tories and Lib Dems in Melksham and Devizes.  

Others have jumped before they were booted.  

Nadhim Zahawi has stood down as the MP for Stratford-on-Avon. He was sacked as Tory party chairman after failing to disclose that HMRC was investigating his tax affairs. His former constituency is currently considered a “toss-up” with just three points between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.  

Even Michael Gove’s once-safe Surrey Heath seat is now polling towards the Lib Dems.   

Robert Halfon,who was skills minister twice under the Tories, suddenly stood down earlier this year. His Harlow constituency is a close race but is currently “leaning Labour.”  

Robin Walker, chair of the education select committee and a former schools minister, is also not standing. The poll gives Labour a comfortable lead in his former Worcester constituency. 

  

All smiles for Labour education team 

Given the Labour party’s storming lead in the polls, it is no surprise that its shadow education team members are all in seats now classed as “safe” Labour wins.   

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson is 31 points ahead in Houghton and Sunderland South, while her shadow skills minister Seema Malhotra is ahead by 36 points in Feltham and Heston. 

  

Blast from the past   

Tory stalwart John Hayes, the first FE and skills minister after the 2010 election, is facing a struggle. His South Holland and The Deepings seat was the second-safest Conservative constituency after the last election, but YouGov places his race against Labour as too close to call.  

Apprenticeships APPG chair Jonathan Gullis is polling third in Stoke-on-Trent North behind Labour and Reform.   

It’s better news for Alex Burghart (skills minister Sept 2021 – July 2022) who should retain his Brentwood and Ongar seat. 

  

NERD NOTE:    

We used YouGov’s second MRP, published last week. MRP stands for multilevel regression with post-stratification models. They are based on aggregating online opinion polling data to work out how different groups of people might vote, and then applying that to the make-up of local areas to estimate the voting intention in each constituency.    

YouGov says its results are an estimate of the range of possible results if the election took place today, as opposed to a prediction for July 4.  

  

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