Utility Week

UTILITY Week 2nd June 2017

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12 | 2ND - 8TH JUNE 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Budget / Brexit Policy & Regulation Return of the big two The decades-long trend of increasing political plurality has snapped back fiercely in this election to a straight battle between the two big beasts. I t's long been conventional wisdom in political circles that the two-party sys- tem's day is over. The evidence of recent elections indicates that modern society's increasing diversity can no longer be contained within the walls of the traditional two main parties. However, so far 2017 has seen the ancien régime reinforced with a vengeance. We're a long way from the peak of the two-party system's dominance in 1950 when Labour and the Conservatives secured 98 per cent of the vote between them. But if current polls are replicated on election day, Labour and the Tories will grab 78.8 per cent of the total. This would represent the biggest combined vote share for the two biggest parties since 1979 when Margaret Thatcher won the first of her three general election victories. Of course, this year's contest is looking like a much less even contest than 1979 when a consistent 7 per cent separated Thatcher's party from Jim Callaghan's Labour. A You- Gov poll last weekend put the Tories just 5 percentage points ahead of Labour, and the weekend following the botched launch of the Conservative manifesto saw the party's lead at 9 per cent according to a Survation poll, but these two are outliers. The average puts the Conservatives a mile out in front. It's a different story in Scotland, of course, where a very different two-party race is emerging with the Conservatives supplant- ing Labour as the main opposition to the Scottish Nationalist Party. South of the border, energy policy has had a higher profile than usual in the cam- paign. Conservative support hit its seven-day average peak of 47 per cent in the week fol- lowing the publication of Theresa May's Sun column in which she pledged to cap stand- ard variable tariffs. Crucially, the policy appears to have helped bolster Conservative support among the working-class voters it was clearly tar- geted at. Among the C2DE group, the Tories were outpolling Labour by 12 per cent. Part of the reduced poll lead is a recov- ery in the Labour vote. The party's support troughed at 25.9 per cent on the weekend following May's general election announce- ment, according to a seven-day average poll tracker carried out by the Britain Elects website. "We have enor- mous pride in our people and the people in our region that we serve. No words can explain our sadness at this time." VOTING INTENTIONS, 2016-17 Lab Lib-Dem SNP Ukip Green Con 8 June general election source: BBC 60% 45% 30% 15% 0% 2016 2017 THE GENERATIONAL DIVIDE 18-25 year olds Labour 59% Conservative 19% 65 or older Conservative 67% Labour 19% Peter Emery, chief executive, Electricity North West Source: YouGov 26 May 2017

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