Marginal seats

Could Labour actually lose seats at the election?

Of course it could. Anything’s possible. A more pertinent question would be: which seats might Labour lose at the election?

The party has 16 seats in which its majority is under 1,000. That’s one less than the Tories, but I’ve added a 17th seat to the following list, because it’s of particular interest:

Labour marginals

That final seat of Morley and Outwood belongs to none other than Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor. It’s easy to forget he’s actually the MP for a marginal seat, and one that the Tories thought they might actually win in 2010.

His profile is much higher now than four years ago, so I have no hesitation in saying he will not lose his seat.

The constituencies in the list that are marked with an asterisk are those where the Lib Dems are in second place. I also have no hesitation in saying that none of these seats will change hands next year.

That leaves nine seats where the Tories are the next largest party, and for whom these are all key targets.

In three of the nine, the sitting Labour MP is retiring: Glenda Jackson in Hampstead & Kilburn; John Denham in Southampton Itchen; and Austin Mitchell in Great Grimsby.

Hampstead & Kilburn is a genuine three-way marginal: in 2010 Labour got 17,332 votes, the Tories 17,290 and the Lib Dems 16,491. There’s simply no way the Lib Dems will do as well next year, so it’ll be a question of where those votes end up. I’d wager with Labour.

Southampton Itchen and Great Grimsby are harder to predict, but only thanks to the Ukip factor. If Labour does lose either of them, however, it won’t be to Ukip. All Nigel Farage’s party will achieve is to suck enough votes away from Labour to tip the seat into the hands of the Conservatives.

Of the other six seats where the Tories are in second place, three have Labour MPs who were first elected in 2010: Bolton West, Wirral South and Derby North. These might be vulnerable, but again only if Ukip disrupts the two-party dynamic.

The other three have more seasoned hands in place: Ian Austin in Dudley North (an MP since 2005), David Wright in Telford (an MP since 2001) and the veteran David Winnick in Walsall North (first elected in 1979).

I’d say incumbency will help this trio to hold on, despite any rise in support for Ukip (which may well happen in Dudley, where Ukip gained seven seats in May’s local elections).

Of that list of 17, then, I’d say at the very most five may be vulnerable. But none are lost causes, like many of the Lib Dems marginals. On paper, Labour should hold all of these seats easily. There again, on paper Labour should have gained a great deal more council seats last month than it actually did.

As I said, anything’s possible.


4 responses to ‘Could Labour actually lose seats at the election?

    • I think the likely collapse of the Lib Dem vote would be large enough to compensate for any Labour supporters switching to the Greens. It’ll be interesting to see how the Greens do, though. They might even push the Tories into fourth place.

      • Well, might dissaffected Lib Dems defect to the Greens rather than turning to Labour (or staying at home)? And might UKIP reduce the Conservative vote?

        How did they win in Brighton? I wonder where they consider their best chance of a second seat might be…

        • That’s a very good question – and one which I might take a look at in a future blogpost!

          I doubt Ukip will do very well in Sheffield (the same goes for other large, student-dominated cities), but I take your point about Lib Dems switching to the Greens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s