Rishi Sunak meets members of the Market Bosworth Bowls Club during a general election campaign event
Rishi Sunak meets members of the Market Bosworth Bowls Club during a general election campaign event © Getty Images

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Good morning. The FT has launched a cool new toy: a model that lets you adjust the figures you think the various parties will get, and then spits out a constituency model. Jonathan Vincent explains how it works here. Some thoughts from me about the two main parties’ assumptions about this election.

Inside Politics is edited by Georgina Quach. Read the previous edition of the newsletter here. Please send gossip, thoughts and feedback to insidepolitics@ft.com

Lead the way

Are the polls exaggerating Labour’s lead? Matt Singh, the pollster who called the 2015 poll miss, ponders this question in his newsletter. He concludes that there are no “red flags” similar to that in 1992 or 2015, and that at most the Labour lead is only in the lower end of what pollsters are predicting. Still, this points to a landslide defeat, and as James Kanagasooriam explains over on FocalData’s blog, Labour doesn’t need that large a lead to win comfortably, as its coalition is now pretty electorally efficient.

I agree with James and Matt, and have little to add on this topic, other than that if we look at what Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer are doing, it is pretty clear that they don’t think the polls are wrong.

Starmer is campaigning like a man who has a large opinion poll lead and whose focus is on reassuring voters and not doing anything to mess it up.

Sunak, meanwhile, is campaigning like someone who doesn’t really believe that he can win the election but just needs to get enough Reform voters back into the Tory fold to avoid a disaster. See, for instance, his latest set of proposals. First, a commitment to keep raising the threshold on which pensioners start paying tax so they will never pay tax on the state pension, a so-called quadruple lock. This will keep the tax base narrower than it needs to be, but the commitment is made safe in the knowledge Sunak won’t actually have to keep it. His policy of bringing back national service is similarly riddled with holes. And today the Tories have pledged that funding towards the degrees that are “not performing well” would be diverted towards apprenticeships (under the promise, about one in eight undergraduate degrees would be shut down, the Tories estimate).

What these all have in common is that they are squarely focused on people who voted Tory in 2019, but are currently saying they will vote Reform, or not at all.

Our polling toy will gradually update to include more assumptions about tactical voting — which we can assume will increase the Liberal Democrat seat total. But for now, it is a good way of gauging the Conservative-Labour battle and a reminder that as it stands, both parties are assuming that the polls suggesting Labour are on course to win are about right.

Now try this

I had a marvellous time at the Barbican Centre last night, taking a break from the election campaign and seeing Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason play a series of pieces for cello and piano.

I was reminded of one of my favourite episodes of my go-to radio series, Radio 3’s This Classical Life, in which Laura Misch talked about how old music links us to the past. Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays a cello made in 1700 — those who first heard the instrument, and those who heard last night’s pieces for the first time, are now dead. In addition to being beautiful, classical music is a link to a past that is otherwise hard to comprehend.

I’ve added some of my favourite recordings of last night’s pieces to the Inside Politics playlist.

Top stories today

  • Whip restored to Diane Abbott | Veteran MP Diane Abbott was readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour party yesterday following her suspension for remarks about Jewish people. Abbott confirmed today that she has been banned from standing for Labour in July’s election.

  • Battle pavilions | For Keir Starmer to win a House of Commons Labour majority of just one, he must gain about 125 seats on July 4. Given the party’s record postwar defeat in 2019, that would be a big achievement. In Scotland, Labour is locked in a fight with the Scottish National party, in what will be a pivotal election north of the border. Here are the places where the election will be fought and won.

  • Neutral tones | Some of the UK’s biggest companies are refusing to back either of the main parties ahead of the country’s general election, as businesses attempt to avoid being drawn into partisan politics.

  • Right as Rayne | Angela Rayner will face no further action from Greater Manchester Police or Stockport council following claims that she broke electoral law by failing to properly disclose her main residence in official documents.

  • Tory promise to cull degrees | Degrees that do not help graduates get well-paid jobs face being banned under plans by the Conservatives to spend less on higher education and more on apprenticeships, reports Hugo Gye at the i. About one in eight undergraduate degrees would be shut down by the regulator, the Tories estimate.

Below is the Financial Times’ live-updating UK poll-of-polls, which combines voting intention surveys published by major British pollsters. Visit the FT poll-tracker page to discover our methodology and explore polling data by demographic including age, gender, region and more.

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