Election forecasts

The six species of Lib Dems: updated

It’s time for another refresh of my anatomy of the Liberal Democrat party.

I first updated my list of six species a couple of months ago. Since then things have if anything got worse for the Lib Dems, and several MPs need to be reshuffled around the categories.

As before, I’ve assessed the chances of survival for a Lib Dem MP in each of the party’s current constituencies. I’ve coloured the seats according to which party I predict will win them at the election. I’ve had to use a pink-ish colour for the SNP, as yellow doesn’t show up well on this blog. The name is that of the current Lib Dem MP. An asterisk denotes a new Lib Dem candidate.

1. The doomed

I had 14 MPs in this category last time. Now there are 17. These are the MPs who have no chance of surviving. I’m including Portsmouth South, which is now technically an independent seat, but which I still think the Lib Dems will fail to retake.

Solihull (Lorely Burt)
Dorset Mid & Poole North (Vikki Slade*)
Norwich South (Simon Wright)
Bradford East (David Ward)
Wells (Tessa Munt)
St Austell & Newquay (Stephen Gilbert)
Brent Central (tbc*)
St Ives (Andrew George)
Somerton & Frome (David Rendel*)
Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle)
Manchester Withington (John Leech)
Gordon (Christine Jardine*)
Portsmouth South (Gerald Vernon-Jackson*)
Chippenham (Duncan Hames)
Dunbartonshire East (Jo Swinson)
Cardiff Central (Jenny Willott)
Redcar (Josh Mason*)

2. The condemned

This category has gone down to 12, but only because three seats have moved into the category above. These are people I’m judging to be in severe danger of losing their seat. I’m currently predicting only Mark Hunter to hold his seat in Cheadle.

Berwick-upon-Tweed (Julie Porksen*)
Cornwall North (Dan Rogerson)
Birmingham Yardley (John Hemming)
Cheadle (Mark Hunter)
Edinburgh West (Michael Crockart)
Taunton Deane (Rachel Gilmour*)
Argyll & Bute (Alan Reid)
West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine (Robert Smith)
Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross (John Thurso)
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey (Danny Alexander)
Cambridge (Julian Huppert)
Hornsey & Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone)

3. The dicey

From here on, I’m predicting no more seats to change hands. But the MPs in this category are not safe, and could fall prey to tactical voting or a massive swing to another party. I’ve increased this category by two, as Ceredigion is now a possible (though not probable) gain for Plaid Cymru, and Charles Kennedy could fall to the SNP surge.

Eastbourne (Stephen Lloyd)
Brecon & Radnorshire (Roger Williams)
Torbay (Adrian Sanders)
Cheltenham (Martin Horwood)
Carshalton & Wallington (Tom Brake)
Devon North (Nick Harvey)
Bermondsey & Old Southwark (Simon Hughes)
Fife North East (Tim Brett*)
Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk (Michael Moore)
Southport (John Pugh)
Bristol West (Stephen Williams)
Sheffield Hallam (Nick Clegg)
Ceredigion (Mark Williams)
Ross, Skye & Lochaber (Charles Kennedy)

4. The dependables

These are MPs who should all be re-elected, but whose majorities aren’t quite large enough to take victory totally for granted.

Hazel Grove (Lisa Smart*)
Bath (Steve Bradley*)
Colchester (Bob Russell)
Thornbury & Yate (Steve Webb)
Kingston & Surbiton (Ed Davey)
Lewes (Norman Baker)
Twickenham (Vince Cable)

5. The untouchables

Everyone in this category is safe. Their re-election is (barring some personal calamity or freak arithmetical occurrence) guaranteed.

Leeds North West (Greg Mulholland)
Orkney & Shetland (Alistair Carmichael)
Norfolk North (Norman Lamb)
Westmorland & Lonsdale (Tim Farron)
Yeovil (David Laws)

6. The trend-defiers

I’m sticking with my prediction that these two MPs will hold out against the tide, despite both having small majorities. Paul Burstow will survive even though he is defending a majority of just 1,608, thanks in part to local support and a weak Tory opposition. Mike Thornton won Eastleigh in the 2013 by-election and ought to hold on in 2015, again thanks to a strong local organisation.

Sutton & Cheam (Paul Burstow)
Eastleigh (Mike Thornton)

In conclusion…

I’m still predicting 28 Liberal Democrat seats to change hands, leaving the party with a total of 29 MPs in the new parliament. This is above what many others are forecasting, but would see the party’s presence in the House of Commons more or less halved in size. The only truly safe Scottish seat is now Orkney & Shetland.


11 responses to ‘The six species of Lib Dems: updated

    • I don’t think Ian Jones is totally convinced about it either. He is only “condemned”, not “doomed”.

      Cambridge was one of a mere handful of seats in the country that voted yes in the AV referendum, by the way. To what extent that is an indication that the Lib Dem vote did not collapse as it has elsewhere, I’m not so sure.

      • Well, perhaps it is nuances: he says they are in “severe danger” but then has 11 out of 12 in that category losing anyway!

        • You’re right. My instinct about the people in that category is that almost all of them will lose, but I don’t think their fate is as utterly hopeless as those on the “doomed” list.

  1. Hazel Grove and Bath are interesting as of course the MPs themselves are not being re-elected. At 11/4 and 7/2 they seem fair chances for unexpected Tory wins.

  2. As I stated a few days ago I expect Fife N E to fall as Ming Campbell retiring.

    I think there may few a few seats where LibDems survive due to First Incumbency AND where a good UKIP candidate may gain more Con votes than Con gain from LD. Outside chance of LDs holding Wells St Austell or Chippenham.

    Although majority over Labour, I think John Hemming has outside chance of holding Birmingham Yardley as per Ashcroft poll.

    As Sheffield Hallam and Cambridge are 3 way marginals, I expect LDs to hold both.

    Conversely I think they may lose Berwickshire Roxburgh Selkirk to Con If this area votes similarly to Holyrood 2011.

  3. I think the Lib Dems will hold Hazel Grove – they are well organised in this area and still run the local council (just). I think Clegg may hold on by skin of his teeth but Hughes will lose.

  4. Perhaps you need to take a closer look at Tessa Munt in Wells. The amount of work she has done in the constituency is immense, and she has a level of respect that no Tory MP ever achieved, mainly because she is so hands-on.

    • Lord Ashcroft found the Tories were seven points ahead, but that was back in September 2014. Hopefully he’ll revisit some of the Lib Dem-Tory marginals before polling day.

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