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05 July 2024

Leading experts and commentators join academics for King's Election Night 2024

Policy experts, commentators, journalists and academics took part in an evening of analysis and discussion at King’s Election Night 2024.

Panel 2 at King's Election Night 2024

The event on 4 July was hosted by the Policy Institute, UK in a Changing Europe, Strand Group, King's Global Institute for Women's Leadership, International School for Government and the NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit.

Professor Shitij Kapur, Vice-Chancellor & President of King’s College London, welcomed guests and the speakers to the event in Bush House, saying “I am sure this is a night you will remember” and pointed out that “universities are still and can be the centres of meaningful public debate.”

Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of the Policy Institute and Professor of Public Policy, introduced the panel discussion participants and the two keynote speakers Lord David Willetts and Baroness Louise Casey.

Lord Willetts, a Conservative peer and Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute, predicted the shock for Labour of moving from being in opposition to being in government would be like going from "economy class to business class".

Baroness Louise Casey, a crossbench peer and Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute, told the attendees that “Britain needs fixing”, citing rising living costs, worsening maternity care, long NHS waiting lists and the rise of the working poor.

When asked what the new government needs to address to make a real difference for people, Baroness Casey said growth was vital and also called for action to address violence against women and girls.

I’d rather people to do a few things really well than pretend they can do everything and spin.”

Baroness Louise Casey, a crossbench peer and Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute

In a panel hosted by Professor Anand Menon, Director of UK in a Changing Europe, the journalist and author Marie Le Conte reflected on the campaigns, describing them as “funny but not fun”. On the launch of manifestos, she spoke about the bad mood from Conservative insiders, and how Labour was so tightly held together it was hard to report on.

Sophie Stowers, Research Associate from the UK in a Changing Europe, said the election campaign felt low-stakes as “from the start we knew what was going to happen.”

Attendees also heard from journalist and author David Aaronovitch who discussed the Conservatives' record in office and what might happen following the election.

“There’s going to be a new Tory leader, and the big question is whether or not there is such a thing as a Tory moderate fightback."

David Aaronovitch, journalist and author

The second panel discussion reacted to the exit poll which predicted a Labour landslide victory.  Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos, which oversees the BBC/ITN exit poll, said if it proved correct, when the votes were all counted, the Conservatives would have fewer MPs than from their worst defeat in 1906.

Looking ahead, Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, set out some of the challenges for the incoming government.

Paul Johnson tweet Election Night

Attendees also heard from Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's, who outlined some of the immediate foreign policy issues that Keir Starmer will face as he become Prime Minister. He also explored how the Conservative Party might be affected by the predicted losses and Reform UK gains.

Hannah White, Director of the Institute for Government, suggested that although there could be a new cabinet on Friday and the rest of the ministers of state on Saturday, the new government would need time to get the legislation that they want drafted, introduced and through parliament.

Watch the full event here.

The full list of speakers on the panel discussions

kcl election night

Panel 1: Reflections on the campaign

  • David Aaronovitch, Journalist and author
  • Marie Le Conte, Journalist and author
  • Rob Hutton, Political Sketchwriter, The Critic
  • Professor Anand Menon, Director, UK in a Changing Europe, and Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, King's College London (chair)
  • Sophie Stowers, Research Associate, UK in a Changing Europe

Panel 2: Exit poll reflections & challenges for the new government

  • Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies, King's College London
  • Paul Johnson, Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Ben Page, CEO, Ipsos, and Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute
  • Jill Rutter, Senior Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe (chair)
  • Hannah White, Director, Institute for Government

Want more on elections?

This year, 1.5 billion people in more than 50 countries will be going to the polls and King's experts will be continuing to provide analysis and insight through our Poll to Poll 2024: A year of elections around the world series.

You can also see how our King's experts shared their expertise throughout the UK General Election campaign in our week-by-week tracker of election activity.