Despite Rishi Sunak’s attempts to quell talk of it, right now what is on everyone’s lips is the next general election which looms sometime in 2024. Labour sit 20 points ahead in the polls and will be looking for a large majority but if they want to get it, there are going to be some tough seats to crack. And one of these seats is Labour’s traditional northern thorn: Altrincham and Sale West – held by the Conservatives ever since its formation back in 1997. 


Despite being located inside the Labour hotspot of the North-West, even before many seats swung to the Tories in 2019, Altrincham had always been a Conservative seat, held for the last 27 years by Chairman of the 1922 Committee – Sir Graham Brady (a regular writer for the Messenger). Perhaps one of the reasons it has stayed Tory for so long is due to its odd demographics compared to the rest of the North-West region. As anyone who has been in Altrincham for over a period of 5 minutes will know, it's a pretty wealthy place, significantly more affluent than most other surrounding towns. These characteristics traditionally play into Conservative hands, the general rule being that wealthier regions vote Conservative, and this hypothesis has been proved correct over the years. However, Labour haven’t completely dropped the ball and have managed to pull themselves closer in the polls since the 2017 elections with Andy Western (now MP for Stretford and Urmston) running. 


Now with the Conservatives seemingly in electoral freefall and Sir Graham Brady’s retirement, Labour will be smelling blood coming into the next election. Despite failing to win the seat even in the dominant Blair years, they appear to have a great shot now, with Electoral Calculus predicting they have an 84% chance of winning. This time round they are fielding Ashton-upon-Mersey councillor Ben Hartley hoping to become the MP of the constituency he grew up in. To do this he will need to beat the only other candidate with a reasonable chance of winning barring any severe antics – the Conservatives’ Oliver Carroll who would become one of the youngest MPs in the country at just 29 years old if elected. 


And while they have a nominal chance of winning, the other parties will still be of interest through their ability to split the vote of the major two parties. Vote splitting has been talked about a lot in reference to Reform UK splitting the Tories’ vote across the entire general election and they could be set to do the same here too which could scupper the Conservatives’ hopes of holding the seat. The Greens too will be looking for more vote share, having secured all 3 of the councillors in Altrincham including the candidate, Geraldine Coggins. 


Although Sunak still refuses to announce the date of the next election, even now it's clear it will be a long slog of campaigning and debating to see who will win this crucial seat.