Mapped: How Nigel Farage is taking the Reform fight to Labour on the campaign trail

mapped: how nigel farage is taking the reform fight to labour on the campaign trail

Nigel Farage meets Labour candidate Jason Owusu-Nepaul during a walkabout in Frinton-on-sea on Saturday - Steve Finn /Steve Finn Photography

With just three weeks to go until election day on July 4, Nigel Farage, the leader of Reform UK, appears to have written off the Conservatives.

With Mr Farage at the helm, YouGov polling now puts his party in second place nationally. Other than Clacton, where he is hoping to become the MP, all three of the seats he has visited are predicted to go to Labour.

A heatmap of the campaign trail, which will be updated until election day, reveals that, as of Friday, Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Ed Davey, Richard Tice and Mr Farage had visited 82 constituencies between them.

Of those, 69 are seats the Tories won in 2019, six are Labour, four are SNP and one is Green. These tallies are excluding public appearances for manifesto launches, TV debates and D-Day memorial services.

Reform was always going to pose a major threat to the Conservatives’ electoral chances. But since Mr Farage traded nightly GB News hosting duties for the party leadership, the situation for Mr Sunak has gone from bad to worse.

The latest YouGov poll puts Reform ahead by 19 to 18 points, relegating the Tories to third place for the first time in this Parliament.

Mr Farage has spent far less time on the campaign trail than his peers, instead banking on strong televised debate performances to boost his party’s popularity – a strategy that appears to be working. He has now challenged the Labour leader to a head-to-head debate.

With the Reform manifesto launch pencilled in for Monday in the Welsh valley Labour heartlands, all evidence suggests Mr Farage has got Sir Keir in his sights.

After all, the latest YouGov MRP forecasts Reform winning no seats, but coming second in 27, every time behind the Labour candidate. In order to be a force to be reckoned with in Westminster, Labour’s candidates will be the ones to beat.

What the analysis shows

The Prime Minister has held campaign events in 28 constituencies – of which 26 have been Conservative.

The choice of tack has been clear. Rather than doing the rounds of marginal seats that the polls suggest could slip into Labour’s hands, he has favoured cementing the Tory party’s commitment to its heartland. The 2019 majorities in some of these constituencies are massive.

These seats include Hinckley and Bosworth, which has a 46.5 percentage point majority, and Honiton and Sidmouth, where the Conservative candidate came out ahead by 26,229 votes. On average, the seats he has visited have majorities of 24.2 percentage points.

He has only dropped in on one Labour seat, Blyth and Ashlington, a newly created constituency largely made up of an area that sided with the Labour candidate five years ago, and on one held by the Liberal Democrats since 2017 – Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

Sir Keir has visited 21 constituencies, of which 16 are Conservative-held. On average, they need a 9.4-point swing to Labour from the party that holds them.

The most marginal constituency he has visited so far is Bury North, a Greater Manchester “Red Wall” Tory conquest in 2019, which the Labour leader will be keen to reclaim. The Conservative majority there was just 105 votes – the slimmest in the country – and would require a swing of just 1.2 points to overturn.

Labour would have needed only a 1.3-point swing in Bolton North East, had not Mark Logan, the sitting MP, defected to the party in May.

Sir Keir’s most ambitious stopovers include Brighton Pavilion, which needs a 17.2-point swing from the Greens to turn Labour, Tory-held Gillingham and Rainham, which needs a 16.5-point swing, and Mid Derbyshire, which requires a 16.3-point swing from the Tories.

The majorities in the two central London Labour seats Sir Keir has passed through – Queen’s Park and Maida Vale and Holborn and St Pancras, where he is himself on the ballot – are enormous, to the tune of 42.1 and 51.1 points respectively.

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, has made his way across 23 constituencies, 20 of which are Tory-held and high on the Lib Dems’ target list.

His appearances have made quite the splash – engaging in a series of headline-grabbing stunts from paddleboarding on Lake Windermere to an assault course in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

South Cambridgeshire, held by Anthony Browne, the technology minister, would need just a 1.2-point swing to turn yellow. Cheltenham, held by Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, needs a 1.3-point swing, and Eastbourne, held by Caroline Ansell, needs a 2.2-point swing.

North Shropshire, for its part, was won by the Lib Dems’ own Helen Morgan in the 2021 by-election.

Since announcing his eighth run at becoming an MP, this time in the Essex coastal seat of Clacton, Mr Farage has only held events in Barnsley North, Great Yarmouth and Ashfield.

While all are expected to go Labour in 2024, according to YouGov’s latest MRP, only Barnsley North did so in 2019. Yet support for Reform in the constituency today is higher than anywhere else in the country, at 23 per cent.

Mr Farage was seen in Ashfield out in support of Reform’s only current MP, Lee Anderson, who defected from the Conservatives in March. He is expected to pick up 20 per cent of the vote in the constituency – 15 points short of the Labour candidate.

Clacton’s Giles Watling, meanwhile, took 71.9 per cent of the vote for the Tories in the 2019 general election. Despite this, polling by Survation earlier in the year showed Mr Farage besting the incumbent by a 10-point margin.

Age trends

It comes as no surprise that Mr Sunak is focusing on constituencies with relatively higher proportions of retirees. The Telegraph’s tracker shows over-65s to be the only demographic where the Conservatives maintain a polling lead over Labour.

Pensioners make up just over one in five voters (20.9 per cent) in seats visited by the Tory leader so far, armed with the “triple lock plus” among his policy pledges.

For Sir Keir, this average falls to 19.6 per cent, although he leads the way for the under-50s. Younger voters are considerably more likely to vote Labour. They are also the target beneficiaries of the party’s “freedom-to-buy” scheme of mortgage guarantees.

Indicative of their desire and capacity to poach votes from the Tories, the voters in areas where Mr Tice and Mr Farage have held events so far have a median age of 46 – higher than anyone else.

Muslim vote

The rising civilian death toll in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military is keeping the crisis at the forefront of UK political discourse – in a country home to some four million Muslims.

As humanitarian catastrophe looms, all major parties have voiced support for a ceasefire and the return of the remaining Israeli hostages. Sir Keir’s hesitancy on the issue, however, cost him the support of many traditionally Labour-leaning Muslim communities in the local elections.

Some 6.8 per cent of voters in the constituencies the Labour leader has visited so far identify as Muslim – just above the 6 per cent national average. This ratio falls to 2.8 per cent for Mr Sunak, and just 0.8 for the Reform frontmen.

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