Election campaign

Labour’s most vulnerable seats outside Scotland

A small number of political journalists, such as Dan Hodges and John Rentoul, have started suggesting that the Tories won’t merely end up the largest party at the election, but will actually go further and win enough seats to have a majority in parliament.

When I asked Hodges about this on Twitter, he said he thought the Tories might win seven or eight seats from Labour, including a couple in London.

The website Elections Etc currently forecasts a 10% probability of a Tory majority. It’s an outcome that has yet to gain much support among a majority of pundits or pollsters, and at the moment I don’t think it will happen. Yet if it does come to pass, it won’t just be down to the SNP taking seats from Labour. It will be thanks in particular to Labour’s vulnerability in seats outside Scotland.

I’ve identified 10 constituencies where this might prove to be the case. Nine are vulnerable to the Tories; one to Ukip. I’d love to hear any other suggestions.

Southampton Itchen

John Denham’s majority in 2010 was just 192, but he’s standing down this year, leaving the job of defending his wisp of a lead to Rowenna Davis. A swing of 0.2% would see the seat fall to the Conservatives. This has to rate as Labour’s most vulnerable seat in England. The party needs the 20.8% of the constituency who voted Lib Dem in 2010 to crumble in its direction, not just to ward off any Tory advance but also offset its own supporters drifting to the Greens.

Hampstead & Kilburn

A swing of less than 0.1% would see the Tories take this London seat from Labour. Glenda Jackson managed a majority of only 42 in 2010: a precarious inheritance for her hopeful successor Tulip Siddiq. There’s a hefty 31% of the electorate who voted Lib Dem in 2010 from which Labour will almost certainly attract support. However this is a seat in which the Conservatives have already been whipping up controversy over Labour’s plans for a supposed “mansion tax”. Might this turn into enough of a toxic issue for Labour to see this seat defy the likely trend across the rest of London and turn Tory?

Plymouth Moor View

Alison Seabeck has a majority of 1,588. The Conservatives would need a swing of 1.9% to defeat her. It’s a swing bigger than that needed to unseat Ed Balls in Morley & Outwood, but the south-west of England is likely to behave in a very different fashion to the north-west. It’s also another seat where an intervention by the Greens could help tip the balance in the Tories’ favour.

Eltham

Clive Efford’s majority in this London seat is 1,663. The Tories need a 2% swing to win it, and I’m including it here as another example of the sort of constituency some say Labour could lose if there’s a backlash against any plan for a mansion tax. Eltham is in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and Efford’s majority has fallen in every election since he won the seat in 1997.

Dudley North

The Tories would need a 0.9% swing to win this seat, where Ian Austin’s majority is just 649. Ukip are also targeting the seat, and their intervention will undoubtedly make what was a straight two-way fight into a more unpredictable three-way tussle.

Bolton West

Could there be a swing to the Conservatives in the north of England? Nothing is impossible, and were it to happen, Julie Hilling would be one of the casualties. She is defending a majority of 92, and a 0.1% swing would see her lose to the Tories.

Westminster North

Karen Buck surprised many by winning this seat for Labour in 2010. Her majority is 2,126 and a swing of 2.7% would see her lose to the Tories. Were fears about a mansion tax to gain real purchase among London voters, this constituency is one that that could slip from Labour’s hands.

Southampton Test

Alan Whitehead’s majority has gone down sequentially at each election since 1997. In 2010 it was just 2,413. A swing of 2.7% would see him beaten by the Tories. While this is arithmetically one of Labour’s less vulnerable marginals, were the party’s vote to collapse in the south, fuelled by a rise in support for the Greens, Whitehead would be out.

Great Grimsby

The Tories were just 714 votes behind Labour’s Austin Mitchell in 2010 and a swing of 1.1% would see the seat change hands. Ukip are also trying to mount a challenge here. Mitchell is standing down as MP after 37 years, and whether his successor Melanie Onn can see off both the Tory and Ukip threat will be a key marker of how Labour is performing in its most marginal constituencies.

Heywood & Middleton

This is Ukip’s best chance of taking a seat from Labour. The party has been pouring money and resources into the constituency, in the belief it can pull off what it almost achieved in the by-election of October 2014. A swing of 1.1% is all Ukip needs to overturn Liz McInnes’ majority of 617.

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Discussion

9 responses to ‘Labour’s most vulnerable seats outside Scotland

  1. A look at the “Vote for Policies” Website gives a more accurate barometer of real opinions among voters. The fewer number of people who have participated in the survey the more modest the size of the Green Party lead, but all of the constituencies put the Green Party first. In Constituencies where the number of people completing the survey reaches 2000 or more the lead achieved by the Green Party starts to rise above 30%. If these statistics can be kept hidden then the sheeple will continue to think of the Green Party as a wasted vote in keeping with the ongoing media bias.

    Due to the media bias against the Green Party few people have had the chance to review their policies until visiting the Vote for Policies Website. Andrew Neil’s disgraceful biased cherry-picking of obscure points, gross misrepresentation of those issues and rude,
    constant (127) interruptions during his Rottweiler style attack on Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett could hardly be described as an “interview.” When their core policies intended for manifesto presentation are reviewed without such bias there is genuine support for the
    Green Party agenda.

    What people would genuinely appreciate is for you to stop just focusing on every last tiny nuance of the major political parties, that so many people in this country have ceased to trust, and start allowing us to consider the very real prospect of an alternative government. Why not do a piece on how the election would look if people really voted their conscience and ignored the tactical voting scare mongering that keeps us all subjected to endless austerity misery. So far only one poll has dared to admit that if respondents voted for their true party of choice we would have a Green Party win in 2015. Will you have the courage to reveal the truth or do we get more of the same propaganda?

    • Hello Kim. I’m steering clear on this blog of making political points and taking sides. I want to report on the election from a neutral perspective – hence my posts are about trends, statistics, forecasts and so on. Plenty of other websites and blogs take a more partisan viewpoint, and are covering just such the issues you raise, in particular how the media is covering the campaign. Thanks for your comment, but this is one subject that I don’t feel quite fits with my aims for this blog.

      • Thank you for your honesty I will cease to subscribe to this Website; as of immediately. Personally as a caring, free thinking individual I require genuine honesty and transparency not senseless hype and propaganda. We, the people, not the sheeple, are looking for true unbiased genuinely honesty reporting of core trends mot a commitment to exclude all information that does not fit your personal bigoted and biased mantra.

        I note that you have seen fit to comment on UKIP in line with media bias in support of this party. Britton might actually hold some sway in Europe with a hope of changing policies if a large portion of our so called “representatives” from UKIP were not “no show, collect the pay check, con artists.” Keep blowing the trumpet for all those who abort the real needs of ordinary hard working people in the UK; it is so very honourable: I think not. Guaranteed you do not dare to print this criticism… so transparent: I think not, For England’s GREEN and Pleasant Land, Kim.

  2. I would be very surprised if the Tories won any seats from Labour – I can’t see why anyone who voted for five more years of Gordon Brown in 2010 wouldn’t vote Labour this time. If it does happen, it will be a fluke result due to Green and UKIP spoiler effects or major unseen demographic changes in the last five years.

    I can see UKIP gaining Great Grimsby from Labour but they are wasting their time in Heywood.

  3. Thanks for this. As a bookie, looking over the prices, I’d also suggest:

    Walsall North: again a 3-way with UKIP, and there has to be some chance that David Winnick stands down at the last minute).
    Ynys Mon (Anglesey): Could be a nationalist pickup; Labour are struggling in Wales but Plaid aren’t setting the world on fire either
    Rotherham: To UKIP, obviously, given recent events. Likewise Rother Valley, though that is a longer shot.

    The others [that you haven’t already covered] where Labour are available at 1/4 or bigger to hold are:

    Telford
    Newcastle-under-Lyme
    Derby North
    Ashfield

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