Brentford & Isleworth

2015 Result:
Conservative: 24631 (42.9%)
Labour: 25096 (43.8%)
Lib Dem: 2305 (4%)
Green: 2120 (3.7%)
UKIP: 3203 (5.6%)
MAJORITY: 465 (0.8%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Hounslow council area.

Main population centres: Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth, Hounslow.

Profile: A long seat that snakes along the north bank of the Thames, opposite Barnes and Kew Gardens. This is a mixed seat that changes as follows the Thames west, from upmarket and now reliably Conservative Chiswick, a mix of residential and office areas, home of the Fullers Brewery and popular with young urban professionals; past Gunnersbury and the council estates around Brentford Towers into the lower quality housing and more mixed areas of Brentford. There are large green spaces here around Osterley Park House and Syon House and Tory areas like Spring Grove, but moving south-west it becomes better for Labour. Isleworth was once considered a Conservative area but there is a far amount of council housing around the sewage works here and, moving westwards into Hounslow a large asian population.

Politics: This is a key marginal between the Conservatives and Labour. It was represented by the Conservatives between 1974 and 1997, latterly by Nirj Deva, later a Conservative MEP. In 1997 and 2001 Labour secured towering five figure majorities here, but it slumped to only 4411 in 2005 before falling to the Conservatives in 2010. In 2015 it was regained by Labour.

Current MP
RUTH CADBURY (Labour) Former local government officer. Hounslow councillor since 1998. Deputy leader of Hounslow council 2010-2012. First elected as MP for Brentford & Isleworth in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 20022 (37%)
Lab: 18064 (34%)
LDem: 12718 (24%)
UKIP: 863 (2%)
Oth: 2098 (4%)
MAJ: 1958 (4%)
Con: 13918 (30%)
Lab: 18329 (40%)
LDem: 10477 (23%)
GRN: 1652 (4%)
Oth: 1641 (4%)
MAJ: 4411 (10%)
Con: 12957 (29%)
Lab: 23275 (52%)
LDem: 5994 (13%)
GRN: 1324 (3%)
Oth: 964 (2%)
MAJ: 10318 (23%)
Con: 17825 (32%)
Lab: 32249 (57%)
LDem: 4613 (8%)
Oth: 1448 (3%)
MAJ: 14424 (26%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
MARY MACLEOD (Conservative) Born 1969. Educated at Glasgow University. Management consultant. Contested Ross, Skye and Inverness West 1997. MP for Brentford and Isleworth 2010 to 2015.
RUTH CADBURY (Labour) Former local government officer. Hounslow councillor since 1998. Deputy leader of Hounslow council 2010-2012.
JOSEPH BOURKE (Liberal Democrat) Chartered accountant. Contested Dagenham and Rainham 2010.
RICHARD HENDRON (UKIP) Barrister and former police officer.
DANIEL GOLDSMITH (Green) IT consultant. Contested Feltham and Heston 2011 by-election.
Comments - 524 Responses on “Brentford & Isleworth”
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  1. sorry that sounds too presumptious – good chance of turning around.

  2. Brentford & Isleworth local elections, using highest vote:

    Lab 16,840 (39.98%)
    Con 11,666 (27.70%)
    Green 4,543 (10.79%)
    LD 3,471 (8.24%)
    UKIP 3,014 (7.16%)
    Community 1,912 (4.54%)
    Ind 623 (1.48%)
    No Descr 50 (0.12%)
    TOTALS 42,119

    Labour lead: 5,174 (12.28%)

  3. A difference between the present London economy and that of 1986-87 is the increase in wealth inequality and the hollowing out socioeconomically.

    In 1986-87 the Conservatives reaped the electoral benefits of the C1 and C2s economic gains.

    Those voters don’t exist anymore in London.

    In any case the current economic growth is far weaker and more skewed towards ownership than employment than it was during the Lawson boom.

    The people the Conservatives need to benefit aren’t, instead they’re becoming angrier and voting UKIP.

  4. With friends like Robin Hood… back to 1980s comparisons which are irrelevant Labour always had a good chance of winning back Brentford & Isleworth their 2010 performance was not terrible. Their strength in Hounslow is growing , Brentford & Isleworth don’t appear to be marginal and Osterley is going their way too. It’s eminently winnable so you are clutching at straws trying to deny that.

  5. The lead of 12% is quite wide, and although some who voted Community will vote Conservative in the general election most of those who voted Green (a larger number) will vote Labour. It’s not irrecoverable for the Tories but it looks hard now, despite the large lead they still have, particularly, in Chiswick Homefields & even more so Riverside, which is now a lot safer still for the Tories than the other 2. The popularity of Paul Lynch may have helped in that – even in the Labour Party he is generally well-liked.

  6. The key statistic is that even if all UKIP’s vote went to the Tories, Labour would still win. This is going to be a comfortable Labour gain.

  7. Can’t discount Labour’s choice of candidate here either. Clearly a good prospect to help them out next year.

  8. “This is going to be a comfortable Labour gain.”

    Possibly a Labour gain, but not comfortable.

    The Tories had a 12% deficit in the locals but Mary Macleod’s incumbency will probably eat into 2% or 3% of that.

    Then the question is how much of the remaining 9% or 10% Labour lead gets cancelled out by the customary pro-Government ‘swing back’.

    I would suggest most (if not all) of it.

    This is very difficult to call, though I’d just give Ruth Cadbury the edge.

    Certainly a place where the BBC should have its cameras at the ready on election night.

    Don’t argue with me, HH. 😉

  9. Yes this mythical ‘government swing back’ that wipes out a 12% deficit and applies uniformly? completing ignoring the demographic changes, regional trends especially in this seat and the large lib dem vote.

    The 2005 and 2010 elections have shown that uniform national swing IS no longer a reliable predictor of majorities. Tories are under performing in London just like they did in 2010. This will be a Labour gain. The nailbiter will probably be Ealing Central & Acton.

  10. Who said anything about the ‘government swing back’ applying uniformly?

    I didn’t.

    You say I’m ignoring “demographic changes”.

    I’m not.

    I simply don’t think they can make that much difference in a mere 12-month period.

    Even if they could you are forgetting that demographic changes are not all working in the same direction in this seat: in Chiswick they’re helping the Tories (which is why they comfortably won all three Chiswick wards this time, whereas in 1994, against the background of an identical London-wide Labour lead, Labour won seats in two of Chiswick’s three wards).

    You say swing back is “mythical” but when was the last time that there was not a swing back to the incumbent government in the final year of a parliament?

    There was a swing back in 2010, in 2005, in 1997, in 1992 and in 1987. I’ll grant you that there wasn’t one in 2001 or 1983 but those were occasions when the governing party already enjoyed substantial poll leads – unlike now.

    So what do we conclude? That occasionally there isn’t a swing back, but usually there is.

    That’s just historical fact.

    It was even mentioned by Professor Curtis during last night’s BBC by-election coverage.

    I would contend that he knows a thing or two.

    You say Ealing Central & Acton will be the nailbiter. But on what basis? A 2% or 3% Labour lead on May 22nd which will probably be wiped out by Angie Bray’s personal vote alone as a newly incumbent Tory MP?

    In other words you’re implying no nationwide swing back at all?

    How do you work that out?

    Have you considered how Cameron’s decisive lead over Miliband will manifest itself in the ballot box next May?

    Have you considered how the decisive Tory lead in terms of economic competence will affect things when it comes to people actually putting their cross on the ballot sheet rather than just answering a hypothetical pollster’s question about how they would vote if there was a General Election tomorrow (when they know full well that there isn’t one)?

    Let’s try and remember that the polls tell us the strength of the parties at a snapshot in time: they are not predictive.

    We need to allow for that fact and not simply take the swing implied by the current polls and assume the same swing will occur in May 2015.

    It will not.

  11. Robin – the usual rule is that first-time incumbents receive a boost. There certainly was plenty of evidence of that in 2010 – Labour performed particularly badly in seats they’d lost in 2005, with the sole exceptions really of Ilford N & Peterborough. But what if the previous result has been skewed by the particular unpopularity of the previous incumbent? I remain absolutely convinced that, had any Labour candidate other than Ann Keen stood here in 2010, the Tory majority would have been significantly narrower (though MacLeod would still have won). If this factor was indeed present, it is clearly the case that any first-time incumbency boost will be at the very least limited, and quite likely nullified altogether, at the next election when the Labour candidate will be a ) not Ann Keen, and b ) a well-known, well-established and generally well-respected local councillor from the constituency. Of course we can only guess what the Tory majority would have been in 2010 without the Keen factor, but on the basis of what I saw (and, Robin, I was actually carrying out opinion polls in this constituency in 2010, something I don’t do in my current job) I would estimate that it would have been nearer to 1,400. Since in effect MacLeod will not enjoy “double incumbency” but merely “single incumbency”, the swing Labour needs to get here, which on paper is 1.8%, is in reality nearer to 1.6%. Coupled with the local election results, which were worse for the Tories than most people expected (except in Chiswick Riverside ward, where they did very well even by the standards of that safe ward), it is not surprising that all other pundits apart from yourself now predict a Labour gain. And remember, I have been campaigning in the constituency, and have seen what’s happening out there. You could argue that most of the ICG voters will go back to the Tories in 2015, but some will vote UKIP or even for other parties & there is a much larger number of Green voters who will vote Labour which will more than compensate for that. Unless the polls take a very large turn for the worse, this seat will go.

  12. I take your point, Barnaby, but the much-overstated “Keen factor” is not relevant to what I was saying in my previous post: I was, after all, basing my analysis entirely on the swing the Tories need compared to the result of the 2104 LOCAL election results (not the 2010 General Election).

    So far as Keen is relevant it should be stated that the Tories also won this seat on the basis of the 2010 local election figures.

    With regards to the 2014 locals it should of course be stated that there were all sorts of intricate factors – including that of the Tories standing an all-Muslim Arab slate of candidates in mainly white working class Isleworth Ward (where you were active in the run-up to May 22nd), something which would have worked in the ICG’s favour as they attempted to ‘squeeze’ the Conservative vote.

    The race of a candidate should not matter but one of my contacts advises me that the Tories did that deliberately so as to try and aid an ICG revival (the party they were in coalition with on the council until 2010). The Labour:Tory ratio in that ward rose from 2:1 on the 2012 list vote to over 3:1 in May 2014.

  13. Point taken on that – Labour’s lead over the Tories in Isleworth will not be as great in 2015 as it was this year. But with a Green vote of nearly 11% to squeeze – very, very few of whom will vote Conservative, but many of whom will vote Labour – the statistics make grim reading. Especially if the combined Labour lead in Hounslow Heath & Hounslow Central equals or even exceeds the Tory lead in the 3 Chiswick wards – which now looks more than possible. If the Tories can’t get an unequivocal lead over Labour in those 5 wards, they can’t win the constituency since Labour will be clearly ahead in at least 4 of the remaining 5. The rather easy Labour win in Hounslow S is very ominous for the Tories. The absolute best that the Tories can hope there is to stay level with Labour in that ward, but even that won’t be enough.

  14. The Labour lead in Hounslow Heath & Central will not cancel out the Tory lead in the three Chiswick wards in 2015.

    Barnaby, you told me that when you were out canvassing in Isleworth you came across a lot of Tory voters – yet they ended up in 4th place. On the 2008 list vote the Tories won that ward and came close to winning it in the 2012 London Mayoral election.

    But it’s not just in Isleworth where the Conservative vote gets tactically squeezed in local elections – it also happens in Syon (where the Tories have been a distant 3rd since 2002 but which they also won on the 2008 list vote AND in the 2010 General Election) and in Brentford (which has in the recent past elected a split ticket of Lib Dem and Labour councillors and where the Tory vote is therefore probably also held artificially low in borough council elections).

    You say “very, very few” of the Green voters will vote Conservative but when I sampled 1,700 ballots at the Woodside count (Croydon borough) in 2006 I found that 10% of ballots that contained at least one Tory vote also had a vote for the Green candidate. (It was, in fact, the same 10% figure for Labour ballots).

    Chiswick is a very Green/Tory area – it may be middle class and therefore nominally Conservative for fiscal reasons but it’s also the sort of place where people are environmentally aware and it’s populace are actually quite intellectual (as can be seen from its lively internet discussion forum). This explains the dismal UKIP performance in that town. The incumbent Tory MP’s support for gay marriage and economic austerity will have done her no harm at all in such a fiscally Conservative but socially liberal town.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that the Greens did not stand a full quota of candidates in every ward, so the 11% ‘highest vote’ figure used by Andy JS earlier, though useful, can be misleading when trying to extrapolate the importance of those voters “going back home” to Labour or some other party. Many of them probably used two of their three votes for Labour on May 22nd anyway, thus the potential for the Green vote being squeezed is really rather limited.

  15. Good heavens you’ve just said something I agree with!

    The highest vote method is, quite frankly, shite in terms of assessing the potential of the Greens or UKIP in London when they only stand one candidate in most wards.

    Had they stood a full slate of candidates their highest votes would be a lower percentage in most places, because many of their votes would still be split with other parties and would have to be spread amongst a greater number of candidates.

  16. “Good heavens you’ve just said something I agree with!”

    This shows you’re learning, HH.

    For anyone who would like to learn about the performance of UKIP and the far right in West London in this May’s local elections, please feel free to check out this scholarly thesis I have recently posted on the “Middlesex Anti Racist Action” Facebook page…

  17. Using the all-votes-cast method, which we can all agree is more reliable, Labour polled 6,807 votes in those 5 wards, and the Conservatives polled 6,353. Although there may well be a swing to the Conservatives by next May, it is clear that the Labour vote will not be outnumbered by the Tory vote in those 5 wards by any more than a very small amount.
    Robin, you are, unusually, guilty of twisting my words. I did not say that I “came across a lot of Tory voters” in Isleworth. All I told you was that I came across a few voters early in the campaign who told me that they would vote Conservatives, but hardly any who told me that they would vote ICG. I do accept that more of those who voted ICG will vote Conservative that for any other party, but not overwhelmingly, and there are only about 1,500 such voters anyway. I do not accept that the Tories will get more votes off the Greens than Labour will from your unscientific observation about the count taken from a local election in 2006 at a time when Labour was extremely unpopular (although Woodside is a strong Labour area). You cannot compare voters in Croydon in a dreadful Labour year with those in Hounslow in a far less dreadful one. Come up with some solid evidence to show that the Tories can hold this seat, and I’ll believe you, but your analysis isn’t sound and relies too much on what you have seen in previous years, and usually in different areas. You can’t extrapolate to Hounslow what happened in Croydon 8 years ago, it just isn’t a comparable population or situation.

  18. I think the exchange clearly demonstrates Robin has a fixed view in defiance of numbers and facts just supposition we will see who will be eating their words in less than 12 months time.

  19. Been to a party tonight hosted by Ruth Cadbury & at which Seema Malhotra was also present. No-one’s taking this one for granted, but the talk is of winning this seat big, not just winning it. The contact rate is quite high & there is plenty of work with.

  20. Labour were probably clearly in the lead here in 1990 (slightly different boundaries) and have not passed 40% this year.

  21. Yeah, reminds me of some of the stuff that my Labour colleagues were coming out with in Hayes & Harlington in the week of the 1992 General Election. So cock sure were they that “We’ve won Hayes anyway” that some of them announced that they would spend the last couple of days of the campaign in Uxbridge “to see if we can win that one too”.

    Result: We failed by 53 votes to win Hayes and we were thrashed by a 2:1 margin in Uxbridge.

  22. ^^^ Sorry – my post was in reply to Barnaby’s assertion that B&I Labour campaigners think they’ll win the seat “big”.

  23. Labour did poorly in Chiswick Riverside due to local issues – the approval of 1,000 new homes and a new 20k seater stadium for Brentford Football Club at Kew Bridge for instance. The Conservatives were seen as best placed to represent local interests against the encumbent administration in Hounslow.
    On the other hand one of the Labour candidates got surprisingly close in Chiswick Homefields.

  24. Interesting about some Labour people being sure they’d won Hayes in 1992. I often wonder about that sort of thing. For example Labour won the two Lewisham seats in 1992 fairly convincingly, which means some of their supporters could gave been deployed in Edmonton or Hayes where they just fell short. But maybe they weren’t sure they were going to win those seats at the time.

  25. In 1992, the Conservatives seem to have generally been able to hold Labour off (albeit closely in some instances) in what were formerly Council-Estate dominated WWC seats (e.g. Edmondton, Hayes, Mitcham). The big movement to Labour (with gains) really occurred in the trendy Middle-Class seats or the areas subject to demographic change (thus, Hornsey, Hampstead, Dulwich, Lewisham, Streatham, Ilford S, etc.)

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however.

  26. Actually in Hayes & Harlington in 1992 Labour got a 7% swing (or, for the pedants among you, a 6.81% swing – just short of the required 6.9%). The nationwide swing was 2%.

    In fact Labour would have fallen further short in Hayes had the party only enjoyed the swing that gained us neighbouring Feltham & Heston (6%) and that failed to gain us Brentford & Isleworth (5%) or the swings achieved in the two Lewisham seats (again, I seem to remember about 6%).

    I think the swing achieved by Labour was also less than 7% in Hampstead & Highgate, despite Glenda Jackson being the candidate.

    One neighbouring seat where Labour failed despite getting a BIGGER swing than in Hayes & Harlington was Ealing North (where it was of the order of around 8% or 9%, though that was largely as a result of the re-wind affect of the previous Labour Council’s 65% rate increase – which devastated Hillary Benn’s challenge again incumbent Tory MP Harry Greenway in 1987).

    General speaking Labour did pretty well in terms of the swings it achieved across outer West London in 1992, on the heels of a piss-poor performance for the party in 1987.

    Overall I don’t think it quite holds true that the party necessarily did better in trendy middle class areas than in WWC ex-council estate seats in 1992, for the above reasons.

  27. That is all completely correct. Ealing N was I think Labour’s worst performance in the land in 1987. Harry Greenway was in his pomp, a very effective rent-a-quote MP, and I can tell you that the Labour Party was particularly appallingly inactive at the time. In the 1989 Euro-elections, despite the big Labour hold in the London W constituency, it was seen as unusual that quite a lot of canvassing was done in some of the more hopeful Labour areas in Greenford – the party had been incapable of anything for several years, having had the stuffing totally knocked out of it by the dreadful 1987 result (Greenway won by an astonishing 15,000 majority). By 1992, a modicum of an improvement in organization was starting to take place & Greenway was starting to become rather more controversial with local residents, and as Robin says the 1987 result unwound, with Labour at least getting back to where they had been in 1983 (which wasn’t saying much itself). In fact very much the same happened with the party’s organization, or lack of it, in Feltham & Heston; in 1987 there had been a very poor candidate & organization, but a modicum of an improvement in 1992 proved sufficient in this more naturally pro-Labour seat to gain it. I can now tell you that the organization in both these seats is hugely improved, though with Steve Pound as an MP things are made far easier, since he appears to know huge chunks of his electorate by memory & personally, which is quite an attribute & one which will be sorely missed when he does retire.

  28. The recession did see a sizeable swing to Labour in London in 1992 although the Tory share was 1.5% better than in 1983.

  29. The Lewisham results were bad – although not set against what was to come.

  30. I certainly didn’t think it would be anything but close in Hayes in 1992. The swing needed was clearly too large for it to be an easy gain, and it wasn’t yet so clear that before long demographic change (added to a very strong Labour incumbent) would ruin the seat for good for the Tories. Lewisham E needed a fair-sized swing to win it, after Russell Proffitt’s fairly poor result in 1987, and there were those at the time who thought it was trending Tory. This proved of course, in time, to be completely wrong.
    The only way resources would be likely to be moved from this seat would be if opinion polls showed that it was impossible for the Tories to hold on. That of course was never the case in Hayes; even if the polls which showed Labour 3% ahead had actually been true (they weren’t of course), it would still have been expected to be a photo-finish in that constituency, and it was obviously silly for Labour Party workers to think it was in the bag. If Labour were consistently, taking into account today’s more accurate opinion polls, 4 or 5% ahead nationally, it would be perfectly justifiable to send at least some party workers to a more difficult seat, such as Ealing C or Harrow E, ALWAYS providing that the contact rate in this seat were strong (it’s almost certain to be high by general election day). After all, those seats are going to be needed to form a majority. Uxbridge in 1992 wasn’t.

  31. Looks like the 2015 campaign has begun in earnest here – I spotted Ruth Cadbury out campaigning on the street down the side of my home yesterday.

  32. Given how politically polarised the wards making up B&I are, Labour took no chances with its selection, and ended up choosing the candidate best positioned to challenge for it. Her strong local reputation can only help the party.

  33. There was a big canvass in Hounslow Heath ward (Labour’s strongest) on Saturday, don’t know where they were yesterday.
    Incidentally re Chiswick Riverside, I do rather suspect that at least some of the voters who stayed at home or protested against the Labour council with regard to its policies on the Brentford football ground development will come out & support Labour in the general election, even if in some cases reluctantly. Of course the Tories will still be a long way ahead in that ward but Labour may well be able to cut their lead to under 2 to 1.

  34. Barnaby – Hounslow Heath again yesterday (my ward). Spotted Ruth and entourage on Station Road (adjacent to Hounslow station, funnily enough!).

  35. I’ve been pondering our differences of opinion regarding the existence and/or extent of ‘historical swing back’ as a factor in determining whether or not Mary Macleod is likely to claw this seat back from the 12% deficit her party registered in this May’s elections.

    I’ve been racking my brains to try and come up with some sort of recent historical pointer about this – because I realise that many of you think the previous examples I’ve given (i.e. 1986-87 and 1990-92) are either too dated or don’t count for some other reason.

    Well, I’ve just remembered (and I hope I’m not breaking any unwritten rules or confidentiality here – after all, it’s pretty much ancient history now) but back in the Summer of 2009 I seem to remember hearing about a private poll commissioned by one of the political parties (no prizes for guessing which one) which were conducted in the early months of 2009 and which sought to ascertain voting intentions in a number of London marginal.

    I was informed that the poll for B&I put the Tories on 49% and Labour on 33%. (I wasn’t told what share-of-the-vote the Lib Dems were on but clearly it would have been pretty derisory).

    I wish I knew what month in early 2009 the fieldwork was undertaken because it makes a big difference as to what the national state of play was. (From memory, the Tory lead rose during the early months of that year).

    Whatever the precise fieldwork dates if my recollection of these poll figures is correct then it does reveal a pretty substantial ‘swing back’ to Labour’s Ann Keen during the last year – and this was mirrored by, and was at least as great as, the swing back nationally.

    The fact Labour chopped back a 16-point deficit in 2009 into just a 4-point deficit by the time of the 2010 General Election implies a 6% ‘swing back’ and is consistent with my view that the 12% lead enjoyed by Labour in this May’s local election makes this seat very difficult to call for May 2015.

  36. Look at the polls. There has been hardly any movement of voters from Con to Lab since 2010, so there is virtually no-one to “swing back”. The two main movements have been from Lib Dem to Labour, and from Con to UKIP. For your prediction to come true we will have to see at least half of the Lib Dem voters gained by Labour go back to the LDs, and perhaps even more UKIP voters go back to the Tories. Possible but I’m certainly not going to bet my house on it.

  37. What I would bet on is UKIP being substantially lower than they are now.

    And probably without the Lib Dem vote being more than 1 or 2 pc better than the local elections which we have just had.
    I am virtually certain a significant portion of the LD vote will support the Tories aswell as Labour.

    There are a lot of things still to take shape in this very new situation – a lot of things still quite unclear….

  38. Just out of interest the Conservatives enjoyed an 11.91% lead over Labour in B&I in the 2008 GLA elections (constituency member), so from that point Labour’s Ann Keen secured a ‘swing back’ of just over 4% – although that was over a 2-year period.

    However, if you believe (as Barnaby does) that Ann Keen’s candidacy was a drag on the Labour performance and you instead compare the 2008 GLA vote with the 2010 LOCAL elections (where the Tories held a lead of less than 1% over Labour in B&I) then that implies a ‘swing back’ of nearly 6%.

    By the way, for the list vote the Tories were only ahead by 7.54% in B&I, which implies that the two ‘swing back’ figures are only 2% and just under 4% respectively.

    Even these smaller ‘swing backs’ would give Mary Macleod a decent chance of holding B&I if you apply them to the result of the 2012 GLA elections in this constituency (where Labour were ahead by 7.27% and 5.67% on the list and constituency votes respectively, assuming my calculations are accurate at this late hour).

    What continues to confound me is why the Labour lead was so much smaller in the 2012 GLA elections in B&I than it was in the May 2014 local elections (despite the party’s projected national vote lead falling from 7% to 2% between the two years).

    Given that neither party presumably makes as much effort in the GLA elections is the difference simply that Labour are much stronger in the ground war in B&I and elsewhere in London?

  39. The last sentence makes quite a lot of sense, certainly in this constituency. There clearly has been a concentrated effort in the last 2 years to raise the contact rate. By the time of the GLA elections, the constituency-wide contact rate here (including Chiswick) was only fractionally under 50%, and therefore much higher in some key wards. It’s reasonable to expect it to be well in excess of 65%, and maybe much higher than that, by the time of the general election. I am sure that the effort was much more desultory in the GLA/Mayoral elections.

  40. @ BARNABY

    I think you’re right but I think the Tories will devote the resources (and most of all the necessary finances) to this seat in 2015, especially as MM is a Cameron loyalist who has never had a habit of rebelling against the government.

    Coming back to the stats….

    Of course we need to know how voting trends in the constituency change over the last YEAR of a parliament to make any sense of this year’s elections.

    The European elections of 2009 (as with 2014) were unfortunately tabulated by borough rather than by parliamentary constituency, nonetheless I’ve down a few calculations:

    In the 2010 General Election, when both of the borough’s seats were contested by the Keens, the aggregate vote across Hounslow gave Labour a 2.64% lead over the Tories, whereas in B&I the Tory lead was 3.6%.

    Therefore it can be said that the Tory lead in B&I is 2.64%+3.6% = 6.24% higher than the borough-wide Tory lead.

    Now, in the 2009 European Parliament elections the Tories had a 2.68% lead over Labour across the Hounslow borough. So it seems reasonable to assume that in the 2009 Euro elections in B&I the Tory lead would have been 6.24%+2.68% = 8.92%.

    In the 2010 General Election this Tory lead in B&I fell back to 3.6% – implying a pro-government ‘swing back’ of 2.66%.

    This would not be enough to save Mary Macleod, especially given the fact that by my estimate Labour were a full 13.13% ahead of Labour in this May’s 2014 Euro elections in B&I. (I arrive at the 13.13% figure by virtue of the fact that Labour enjoyed a 19.37% borough-wide lead in the 2014 Euro elections, thus implying a Labour lead in B&I of 19.37%-6.24% = 13.13%).

    Are you all following me? This all means the Euro election ‘swing back’ calculation would give Labour a 7.81% lead in B&I in May 2015.

    However, there are some caveats. Barnaby and others have argued that Ann Keen was electorally damaged by her expense claims and if you believe that then clearly it would have reduced the extent of the ‘swing back’ in B&I.

    Indeed the ‘swing back’ is a % or two greater if you calculate it from the result of the 2009 Euro election to the 2010 GENERAL election in B&I (which the Tories won by less than 1%, against 3.6% for the General).

    On expenses Mary Macleod has not, as far as I know, been hit by this controversy (apart from her ill-advised defence of her boss’s expense claims) and as a new Tory MP should probably register a small personal vote, as most first-time incumbents do.

    Nonetheless, it seems doubtful that these personal factors will make up a difference of 7.81%.

    Of course this still leaves other questions: will the ‘swing back’ to the Tories be as derisory as it was to Labour in the last parliament? Some might well argue that a government’s attempts to resuscitate itself after the mid-term blues is easier after just one term than after three and that Conservative Governments often have a better track record than Labour on this score.

    Nonetheless, superficially, even if you believe ‘swing back’ theory, Mary Macleod still has her work cut out on the basis of the above figures but I would still give better odds than the 2/7 quoted by the bookies.

    One final pointer which might tell us something about Tory performance nationally in May 2015: if you look at the incumbent Labour Government’s performance in each of the mid-term Euro elections throughout its 13 years of office, you see a clear pattern: Labour always did 14% better in the subsequent General Election than it did in the previous Euro election, as this brief table illustrates:

    Lab share of vote in 1999 Euro election: 28%
    Lab share of vote in 2001 General Election: 42%
    ‘Recovery’ = +14%

    Lab share of vote in 2004 Euro election: 22%
    Lab share of vote in 2005 General Election: 36%
    ‘Recovery’ = +14%

    Lab share of vote in 2009 Euro election: 16%
    Lab share of vote in 2010 General Election: 30%
    ‘Recovery’ = +14%

    Now, in the 2014 Euro election the Tories polled 23%. Add 14% to that and you get 37% – the same as they achieved in the 2010 General Election.

    Admittedly precedent does not lay down any firm rules as to what is DEFINITELY going to happen – but the consistency of Labour revivals between 1997 and 2010 does at least show it can be a useful guide.

    At the very least these figures show that it is entirely ‘do-able’ for the Tories to get back to the level of support they had is 2010.

  41. Sorry, slight error in the above post: Mary Macleod’s odds to retain B&I in 2015 are 7/2, not 2/7. (Notwithstanding the above ‘swing back’ figures I continue to regard those odds as unrealistically pessimistic from a Tory point of view).

  42. You continuing to ignore the fact that most of the votes that have “swung away” from the Tories (nationally) have gone to UKIP. Yet you are analysing this as if it is primarily a swingback from Labour to the Tories.

    The low level of UKIP support here, again, means that there is little potential vote available to swing back to the Tories. To have the slightest hope of holding on, Macleod will need the Lib Dems to recover almost all of their 2010 vote, or to get a large chunk of it herself. Not likely.

  43. @ H.Hemmelig

    But if Tory votes have not “swung away” to Labour then it might suggest that the Tories are sufficiently strong up against Labour to actually make direct gains from Labour voters (as in 1955 and 1983, elections in which the Tories were also trying for a second term).

    Having said that, the more I look at the historical precedent figures the more I’m convinced that Mary Macleod now needs to pull an inside straight to hold this one.

    For the record, I’ve now gone back to the previous Tory term of office to calculate the precise ‘swing back’ factor then. From Mary Macleod’s point of view the 1986-87 swing back is the most favourable – in fact it’s the only one which points to her holding this seat:

    Con lead in B&I in 1986 local elections: +0.7%
    Con lead in B&I in 1987 General Election: +14.47%
    ‘Swing back’: +6.89%

    On the other hand the ‘swing back’ from 1990-92 would not save her if replicated between now and May 2015:

    Con lead in B&I in in 1990 local elections: -2.5%
    Con lead in B&I in 1992 General Election: +3.8%
    ‘Swing back’: +3.15%

    The 1986-87 scenario saw an improving economy between the two elections and a fair amount of controversy in the London press about so-called ‘loony left councils’, but the latter factor almost exclusively hurt Labour in those boroughs which they captured in the ’86 locals and where they levied large rate increases. (Hounslow was already in Labour hands and had been for fifteen years). In addition in 1986-87 the seat had an incumbent Tory MP, as now.

    The 1990-92 scenario saw the country in recession and a change in Tory leader.

    To prove there are no hard and fast rules in this, the 1982-83 swing was practically zero in B&I (remember the 1982 locals occurred slap bang in the middle of the Falklands crisis) whereas from the 1994 locals to the 1997 general there was an actual net swing AWAY from the incumbent government – largely as a result of a new Labour leader and buckets of Tory sleaze.

    In summary, my view of the 2015 situation in the outer South and West London Tory/Labour battlegrounds, based on the lessons of precedent and a general gut feeling, is now:-

    Harrow East: Con hold
    Ealing Central & Acton: Leaning to Con
    Brentford & Isleworth: Leaning to Lab
    Croydon Central: Leaning to Con

  44. One thing that might give some hope to the Tories would be if a lot of swing voters who voted Labour in the locals decide they can’t trust Ed Miliband on things like house prices, the economy, etc.

  45. Yes, in the same way they couldn’t trust Neil Kinnock in the 1980s. The underlying poll data certainly shows it’s a possibility which is why we really cannot count MM out here.

  46. If people who voted Labour in 2010 switch to the Tories, then you could of course be right. There’s little evidence of that in the polls now though, and if they were prepared to trust Labour in the shambolic circumstances of the latter Brown years then I can’t see why they wouldn’t now.

    I pretty much agree with your four London seat predictions, though might describe Ealing Central & Acton as more of a too close to call.

  47. I think gavin barwell is in slight trouble in Croydon Central. labour are paying for a full time agent, encouraged by the council results in 2014. the truth is that labour hold more seats on croydon council than they have ever done. there will be a ground game there.

    I expect Gavin to win, but it will be close.

  48. “the truth is that labour hold more seats on croydon council than they have ever done.”

    Composition of Croydon Council in June 2014:
    Lab 40; Con 30.

    Composition of Croydon Council in June 1994:
    Lab 40; Con 30.

  49. Presumably that reflects the 2002 ward boundary changes. In May Labour certainly won in areas it hasn’t held before (Ashburton)

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