Conservative Defence List

These are the hundred and fifty Conservative seats with the lowest percentage majorities. This does not necessarily mean they would be the most vulnerable Conservative seats in practice, nor that they are the seats the Conservative party will be putting the most effort into defending.

1. Derby North Majority 41 (0.1%)
2. Gower Majority 27 (0.1%)
3. Croydon Central Majority 165 (0.3%)
4. Vale of Clwyd Majority 237 (0.6%)
5. Bury North Majority 378 (0.8%)
6. Morley & Outwood Majority 422 (0.9%)
7. Plymouth Sutton & Devonport Majority 523 (1.1%)
8. Thurrock Majority 536 (1.1%)
9. Eastbourne Majority 733 (1.4%)
10. Brighton, Kemptown Majority 690 (1.5%)
11. Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale Majority 798 (1.5%)
12. Bolton West Majority 801 (1.6%)
13. Telford Majority 730 (1.8%)
14. Weaver Vale Majority 806 (1.8%)
15. Lewes Majority 1083 (2.1%)
16. Plymouth Moor View Majority 1026 (2.4%)
17. Bedford Majority 1097 (2.4%)
18. Lincoln Majority 1443 (3%)
19. Thornbury & Yate Majority 1495 (3.1%)
20. Twickenham Majority 2017 (3.3%)
21. Peterborough Majority 1925 (4.1%)
22. Cardiff North Majority 2137 (4.1%)
23. Corby Majority 2412 (4.3%)
24. Waveney Majority 2408 (4.6%)
25. Warrington South Majority 2750 (4.6%)
26. Kingston & Surbiton Majority 2834 (4.7%)
27. St Ives Majority 2469 (5.1%)
28. Southampton, Itchen Majority 2316 (5.2%)
29. South Thanet Majority 2812 (5.7%)
30. Keighley Majority 3053 (6.2%)
31. North Warwickshire Majority 2973 (6.3%)
32. Carlisle Majority 2774 (6.5%)
33. Torbay Majority 3286 (6.9%)
34. Halesowen & Rowley Regis Majority 3082 (7%)
35. Crewe & Nantwich Majority 3620 (7.3%)
36. Erewash Majority 3584 (7.4%)
37. Hendon Majority 3724 (7.5%)
38. Ipswich Majority 3733 (7.7%)
39. Sutton & Cheam Majority 3921 (7.8%)
40. Broxtowe Majority 4287 (8%)
41. Stroud Majority 4866 (8%)
42. Bath Majority 3833 (8.1%)
43. Calder Valley Majority 4427 (8.2%)
44. Northampton North Majority 3245 (8.3%)
45. Blackpool North & Cleveleys Majority 3340 (8.4%)
46. Pudsey Majority 4501 (8.8%)
47. Sherwood Majority 4647 (9.1%)
48. Amber Valley Majority 4205 (9.2%)
49. Yeovil Majority 5313 (9.4%)
50. Hastings & Rye Majority 4796 (9.4%)
51. Colne Valley Majority 5378 (9.4%)
52. Bristol North West Majority 4944 (9.5%)
53. Harrow East Majority 4757 (9.7%)
54. High Peak Majority 4894 (9.7%)
55. Stockton South Majority 5046 (9.8%)
56. Northampton South Majority 3793 (9.8%)
57. Boston & Skegness Majority 4336 (10%)
58. Norwich North Majority 4463 (10.2%)
59. Stevenage Majority 4955 (10.3%)
60. Enfield, Southgate Majority 4753 (10.4%)
61. Cannock Chase Majority 4923 (10.5%)
62. Nuneaton Majority 4882 (10.6%)
63. Morecambe & Lunesdale Majority 4590 (10.6%)
64. Dudley South Majority 4270 (11.2%)
65. Finchley & Golders Green Majority 5662 (11.2%)
66. South Ribble Majority 5945 (11.3%)
67. Worcester Majority 5646 (11.3%)
68. Colchester Majority 5575 (11.4%)
69. Rossendale & Darwen Majority 5654 (11.5%)
70. South Swindon Majority 5785 (11.7%)
71. Cheadle Majority 6453 (12.1%)
72. Cheltenham Majority 6516 (12.1%)
73. Berwick-upon-Tweed Majority 4914 (12.2%)
74. Preseli Pembrokeshire Majority 4969 (12.3%)
75. Pendle Majority 5453 (12.3%)
76. Portsmouth South Majority 5241 (12.5%)
77. Dover Majority 6294 (12.6%)
78. Brecon & Radnorshire Majority 5102 (12.8%)
79. Reading East Majority 6520 (12.9%)
80. Warwick & Leamington Majority 6606 (13%)
81. Scarborough & Whitby Majority 6200 (13%)
82. Aberconwy Majority 3999 (13.3%)
83. North Devon Majority 6936 (13.3%)
84. Wells Majority 7585 (13.3%)
85. Crawley Majority 6526 (13.4%)
86. Vale of Glamorgan Majority 6880 (13.4%)
87. Rochester & Strood Majority 7133 (13.6%)
88. Gloucester Majority 7251 (13.7%)
89. Great Yarmouth Majority 6154 (13.8%)
90. North Cornwall Majority 6621 (13.8%)
91. Reading West Majority 6650 (13.8%)
92. Stourbridge Majority 6694 (14.5%)
93. Chipping Barnet Majority 7656 (14.5%)
94. Milton Keynes South Majority 8672 (14.7%)
95. Elmet & Rothwell Majority 8490 (14.7%)
96. Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire Majority 6054 (15%)
97. Hazel Grove Majority 6552 (15.2%)
98. Camborne & Redruth Majority 7004 (15.2%)
99. Battersea Majority 7938 (15.6%)
100. Montgomeryshire Majority 5325 (15.7%)
101. Redditch Majority 7054 (16%)
102. St Austell & Newquay Majority 8173 (16.2%)
103. Eastleigh Majority 9147 (16.5%)
104. Gravesham Majority 8370 (16.7%)
105. Oxford West & Abingdon Majority 9582 (16.8%)
106. South Basildon & East Thurrock Majority 7691 (16.9%)
107. Milton Keynes North Majority 9753 (16.9%)
108. Cleethorpes Majority 7893 (17.5%)
109. Watford Majority 9794 (17.5%)
110. Loughborough Majority 9183 (17.6%)
111. Clwyd West Majority 6730 (17.7%)
112. Shrewsbury & Atcham Majority 9565 (17.7%)
113. Chippenham Majority 10076 (18.2%)
114. Canterbury Majority 9798 (18.4%)
115. Kingswood Majority 9006 (18.7%)
116. Stafford Majority 9177 (18.8%)
117. Harlow Majority 8350 (18.9%)
118. Shipley Majority 9624 (19%)
119. Chingford & Woodford Green Majority 8386 (19.1%)
120. Isle of Wight Majority 13703 (19.5%)
121. Castle Point Majority 8934 (19.7%)
122. Filton & Bradley Stoke Majority 9838 (20.1%)
123. Bosworth Majority 10988 (20.5%)
124. Basingstoke Majority 11063 (20.9%)
125. Bexleyheath & Crayford Majority 9192 (21.1%)
126. Kensington Majority 7361 (21.2%)
127. Rugby Majority 10345 (21.2%)
128. Maidstone & The Weald Majority 10709 (21.4%)
129. Rochford & Southend East Majority 9476 (21.7%)
130. North West Leicestershire Majority 11373 (22.1%)
131. Forest of Dean Majority 10987 (22.2%)
132. Gillingham & Rainham Majority 10530 (22.4%)
133. East Devon Majority 18531 (22.4%)
134. North Swindon Majority 11786 (22.5%)
135. South Derbyshire Majority 11471 (22.6%)
136. Mid Dorset and North Poole Majority 10530 (22.6%)
137. Burton Majority 11252 (22.8%)
138. Monmouth Majority 10982 (23.1%)
139. Beverley & Holderness Majority 12203 (23.1%)
140. Portsmouth North Majority 10537 (23.2%)
141. North Thanet Majority 10948 (23.3%)
142. St Albans Majority 12732 (23.3%)
143. Newton Abbot Majority 11288 (23.4%)
144. Solihull Majority 12902 (23.5%)
145. Dartford Majority 12345 (23.6%)
146. Hornchurch & Upminster Majority 13074 (23.7%)
147. The Wrekin Majority 10743 (23.7%)
148. Putney Majority 10180 (23.8%)
149. Uxbridge & Ruislip South Majority 10695 (23.8%)
150. Tamworth Majority 11302 (23.9%)
Comments - 474 Responses on “Conservative Defence”
  1. Woops – busy! I meant agreeing with John D’s last remark.

  2. That’s certainly possible, I agree.
    But how many more seats might we have gained with more LD-Tory switchers had Clegg not got his publicity?

    I suppose we just don’t know, and it can be argued either way.

  3. That last post was in reply to H.Hemmelig

  4. from OFCOMs website:
    reference: 1-263361026
    24 July 2014 Alistair Hall

    Freedom of Information: Right to know request

    Thank you for your request for information relating to Ofcom’s discussions with broadcasters about impartiality during the UK General Election campaign in 2015.
    You requested the following information:
     What discussions, if any, has the Ofcom had with the TV broadcasters to ensure political impartiality during next year’s UK General Election campaign?
     Have any discussions taken place about the issue of party political leaders’ debates?
    * who should be invited and on what criteria e.g. number of MPs, share of the vote,”…in relation to party political leaders’ debates, Ofcom’s Guidance to Section Six of the Code states the following:

    …1.16. There is no obligation on broadcasters to transmit leaders’ or candidates’ debates. The editorial format for such debates (i.e. the manner in which a broadcaster presents a programme to the audience) is a matter for the broadcaster, and as appropriate, the relevant political parties as long as the broadcaster complies with the Code…
    1.18 UK-based election programming (for example, UK leadership debates) can focus on the major parties that have a realistic prospect of forming the UK Government following the election in question. However, in line with Rule 6.2, broadcasters must ensure that adequate coverage is given to other major parties as appropriate, in the same programming, or in linked programming, as appropriate””.

    the Code – I have quickly looked at it – does not discuss leaders debates apart from whats above (1.16).

    If broadcasters go ahead, without the PM, (which I don’t think will happen) it will, I imagine, be challenged in the courts.

  5. Daniel Finkelstein in today’s Times does a good job of explaining why Cameron’s current strategy re the debates is probably the least worst option available to him.

    TV debates favour the candidate able to play the role of the outsider challenging the political establishment on behalf of the viewer. That’s why the usual pattern in the UK has been for the opposition to ask for debates and the government to decline. In 2010 that didn’t happen because Cameron’s team felt their man could benefit from playing the outsider role against Gordon Brown. They failed to anticipate that Clegg would be in a position to play that role more convincingly (as Fink points out they became aware of that fact even before the first debate took place). Since then the whole issue of TV debates has been a question of damage limitation for the Tory leadership.

    The very worst option for the latter now would be a debate in which Cameron shared a platform with Clegg, Milliband and Farage. In that format it would be Farage who was able to play the outsider role, which would probably cause more damage to Cameron than the other two. Even being “empty chaired” would be preferable to that, not least because (if I understand the rules correctly) broadcasters would have to find some way of giving the Tories equivalent time to the other parties.

    Including the Green’s creates a situation where the outsider role is split between two participants. Importantly the Greens have a greater potential to damage Labour or the Lib Dems than the Conservatives, thus neutralising to an extent the negative impact UKIP could have on the Tories. It’s no surprise therefore that the Tory leadership is pitching for this option.

  6. No doubt all of that is true.

    But whether we have debates should not merely be decided by whether it benefits this party or that party.

  7. We don’t have a God-given right to debates – although I’m sure the media think so.

    Ultimately it is up to the parties and individual candidates to decide how they want to campaign, and the voters may pass judgement on how they do that (as well as their policy platforms) if they so wish. I doubt many people’s votes will be swayed by parties’ attitudes to TV debates though.

  8. Well I’m not in favour of them because it makes UK politics even more presidential than it already was.
    I also don’t like how they sucked the life out of every other aspect of the campaign last time, completely dominating the election.
    I would argue that they’re a sort of PMQs on steroids: An attack here, a snide remark there, some evasion, and only a little bit of light. You don’t actually learn an awful lot from them.

  9. ‘Even being “empty chaired” would be preferable to that’

    I really don’t think it would

    The worst option for the Tories is the debates going ahead and Cameron not taking part because it would suggest to the public that he’s running scared and feels unable, or even worst, unwilling to to defend his government’s record.

    The public hate that and if Cameron does bottle it he will certainly lose votes to Mr Farage

    As stated, it also opens him up to hypocrissy given he was so keen to have the debates when he was leader of the opposition.

    His argument about the Greens not being involved is insulting because again he’s taking the electorate to be morons – which they would be were they to believe his argument

    What Blair, Thatcher and Major thought is irrelevant because prior to 2010 there hadn’t been any debates, but at least they were consistent, even if they were wrong – in Major’s case it certainly was given that he used to regularly get the upper hand over Tony Blair at PMQs

    Finkelstein is right in that it’s the least bad option the PM needs to go for, but totally wrong if he thinks that is not taking part and Cameron will undoubtedly suffer at the ballot box if his follows the former SDP man’s advice

  10. H.Hemmelig
    ‘ The Cleggasm took a lot of votes from Labour in marginal seats which the Tories were able to win as a consequence.’

    I am not aware of polling evidence that Labour lost more votes than the Tories to the LDs in marginal seats ie Lab/Con marginals.

  11. “But whether we have debates should not merely be decided by whether it benefits this party or that party”.

    In reality it will always be decided on that basis, partly because as a concept they fit in so badly with the reality of the UK as a multi party parliamentary democracy. The question of who gets included and who doesn’t will always be a bone of contention.

    In any case my post came in response to those upthread who cited Cameron’s handling of the debates issue as evidence of his inept leadership. In reality having erred in agreeing to the debates in 2010 he’s played a bad hand as well as anyone could.

  12. The debates proceeding without Cameron is clearly the worst option for the Tories. Everyone else just gets a free hour or two on prime time TV to bash the government with no right of reply. I can’t imagine the others would be daft enough to spend the time beating each other up when they have the chance to lay into someone who isn’t there to defend themselves.

  13. “…Cameron will undoubtedly suffer at the ballot box if his follows the former SDP man’s advice”.

    Undoubtedly is a strong word, Tim, and one that doesn’t fit easily with the paucity of available evidence to suggest that participation or non participation in TV debates determines voter choice in major electoral contests.

  14. Totally agree Kieran, it’s not the “public” who are going to be turned off en masse by Cameron’s attitude to the debates. Loads of people are n’t going to vote for him anyway, whether he appears in the debates or not – or whether they take place or not. And committed Tories will accept the line formulated by his advisers that they’re better off without them. As I said it’s only a tiny minority of floating voters who might go off him.

  15. “anyone could see this was going to be a problem two years ago, but dave can’t, or won’t, see beyond his own nose…he is the worst strategist I have ever seen”.

    So what should he have done?

  16. don’t see it as a Cameron mistake – I see it as an almost, probably, no lose scenario. he really doesnt want TV debates. But he will not take part unless greens are there and will probably not agree to any debate with Farage unless Lucas is debating alongside. it’s the best tactic from the Tories, I think….but I remain uncertian.

  17. It depends if they go ahead without him or not, doesn’t it? I mean if the worst outcome is just a couple of days of bad publicity in January, it doesn’t matter. If it’s all his rivals getting free TV time a week before the election, it probably does.

    Anyway, the one doing best out of all of this is probably Miliband, who doesn’t really want debates either, but is getting lots of nice free press at the minute and the likelihood of having debates is diminishing as time goes by.

  18. Peter is absolutely right on this – it’s a terrible signal for an incumbent to duck out of a debate – suggesting he himself thinks his own policies don’t hold up to scrutiny – and I totally disagree with Kieren and SBJM who say it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

    Besides, one has to wonder what Cameron is worrying about

    Given that he never stops telling us how appalling Ed Miliband is as leader, you would have thought he would welcome the chance to spar against him

    And whilst we all know he’s terrified of Farage, again you would have though he would welcome an opportunity to expose Farage for the unplesant man he truly is

    And he’s in a better position than Nick Clegg, who has seen his support more than half for doing a deal wuth Cameron in the first place

    Again it suggests somebody without any confidence in his own ability – you expect better from a leader

  19. I am not sure, but don’t believe the electoral commission will allow TV debates without the main party in Government.

    If they did, it would be challenged by the Tories in the court.

  20. ‘…one has to wonder what Cameron is worried about’

    A repeat of 2010. An opposition figure getting a poll boost.

  21. ‘A repeat of 2010. An opposition figure getting a poll boost.’

    Then Cameron just has to do better than his mediocre performances in 2010 – which Fleet Street tried to con people into thinking he had won

  22. you can’t blame CAM for taking this line -and everyone should agree the GREEN party is not a small party. I see this as much as Labour being dishonest as the Tories. LAB & LD should allow GREENs in the debates, something they can easily do;

    GE2010 – 310 CANDIDATES 260,000 VOTES – 1 MP
    EU 2014 – 1,400,000 VOTES – 3 MEPs
    GE2015 – 321 PPPC already anounced

    CITY AM….JAN15
    “…The Green Party has enjoyed a rise in the polls in recent months often hovering just below or above the beleaguered Lib Dems. YouGov each month’s daily polls over 2014 and found the Greens tied with the Tories on 22 per cent of the vote for 18-24…”

  23. The decision to exclude the Greens was not from Labour and the Lib Dems, but from Ofcom, an independent body.

    I have nothing against the Greens being included on principle, but I would back the decision of the independent body.

  24. Any SNP legal challenge would fail as not a UK-wide Party. Where would they even challenge it, under Scottish law? ha Number of Candidates gets the Greens PPBs though.

  25. KIERAN W

    He should have stated at the end of 2012 what his position was: 1 debate with Miliband because they were the only two people who had any chance of becoming PM…

    You didn’t have to have the brains of an Archbishop to work out that a very clear position needed to be stated, as even by the end of 2012 the Farage issue was creeping up. UKIP hit 10% in the polls and have never looked back since the end of 2012; they certainly have not polled below 10% consistently since that date.

    I think I even wrote about this in one of the earlier threads. People would have said DC was a chicken but he would have had a clear position. He never clarified his position at that time. It was also clear to some that any view he expressed AFTER the 2014 Euro elections in which UKIP were likely to do well would be interpreted as reacting to Farage.

    I am afraid he is totally improvident as usual, only looking to the next step without any strategic grasp whatsoever. Luckily DC has strong presentational skills and can think on his feet. As some wag put it, “nobody is better at getting out of scrapes, but then again nobody is better at getting into them”….this rather trivial issue of the debates counts as an avoidable scrape to me.

    Yes he would have got flack for limiting the format of the debate, but he would have had a clear position and could claim consistency. Now he looks evasive and slightly desperate. I am now very worried, as i have been since March 2012, of the real possiblity of a Labour led, Mili government.

  26. Kieran W,

    It is boastful of me, but great minds think alike etc.

    Smithson has a blog on this very issue. Cameron should have stated his position on the debates long before now.

  27. I’m sorry – the idea that this issue might swing the election is pretty fanciful.

  28. it won’t swing an election but the tories need a game changer and this won’t help.

  29. I agree. Runnymede’s comment almost implies that the Tories have the election in the bag. In fact the opposite is true and they need a pretty significant boost from current polling levels to win. Ducking out of debates won’t help that at all.

  30. Cameron’s thinking is probably along the lines of : Ed Miliband’s got appalling personal poll ratings. He’s a rank outsider in the debates in terms of who’ll get the better of them. It wouldn’t take much for him to outstrip the very low expectations there are of him. Ergo, better not to debate with him, or indeed anyone else. Possibly he also doesn’t want to give Clegg another chance to regain lost ground in some Lib Dem seats which are at risk to the Tories.

  31. What annoys me is that Cameron expects people to believe his explanation for not taking part in the debates. He says it’s to do with the Greens when everyone knows it’s about UKIP.

  32. I think Cameron genuinely is concerned at the Greens’ omission, but obviously not for reasons of democracy – it’s because the Tories believe that a Green presence at the debates could draw left-leaning votes away from Labour, in the same way that UKIP are expected to draw right-leaning ones away from the Conservatives.

  33. But all parties are being specious – for LAB & LD to not agree to disregard OFCOM & invite the Green party is contradictory to their argument that the TV debates ‘belong to the people’ and is what a good democracy should have.

    The Greens have a candidate in nearly every seat – formed 30 years ago; they are polling the same as LD; they have one MP; they have c 200 councillors; they have 41 000 members; 3 MEPs.

    Having seen PMQS I feel there will be TV debates, but 3 or 4 of them. Maybe ITV would do all 5 parties. C4 (Paxo) could do 4 parties (C/L/LD/UKIP) & BBC & SKY do Dave & Ed only.

  34. Or something like that – I know, this would need a huge amount of consensus.

  35. The SNP, if they do challenge this, will clearly challenge it in court in Scotland, and their real goal will be either to get considerable compensatory coverage or to have a separate Scottish debate which would be shown instead of the England/UK debate. The other, easier, goal is to persuade those who may vote for them that they are being treated unfairly by Westminster again.

    Anyway, the whole argument is as much about who gets the blame if there are no debates, Miliband has done pretty well in making sure it’s Cameron.

  36. Bookies:
    Betfair sportsbook:
    2/5 Yes there will be at least one TV debate
    7/4 No

    5 way TV debate:
    4/7 Yes
    (5/4 No)

    Cameron empty chaired?

  37. Correction:
    5 way TV debate:
    4/7 No
    5/4 Yes

  38. That suggests the bookies think there is a decent chance that the Tories cave, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense politically. There’s no point coming out with an excuse like the Greens not being invited, then taking the flak that goes with that, and then giving in later. Either sticking it out, or agreeing immediately make much more sense, unless the Tories are making it up as they go along.

  39. Well the way(s) I read into the betting is:

    There will be TV debates of some sort; a moderate chance (40%) of a 5 way TV debate and little chance of any TV debates without the PM.

  40. Andy54 – true. Plus DC has always genuinely seemed to believe there is more Green support out there than there is. It may be due to them doing quite well in his own seat in 2010. It’s one of a very few they didn’t decline in. He also used to call Caroline Lucas, “the leader of the Green Party” at PMQs, in a way which whilst true, seemed to imply they had a Parliamentary Party rather than simply her.

  41. Milliband should call Cameron’s bluff and ask Ofcom to reconsider having the Greens at one debate.

    But even so, Cameron has come out of this as shifty and dishonest. Runnymede’s comments about nobody watching Cameron being empty chaired are hilarious. Watching everybody else rip into an empty chair would be the funniest sight of the year. Even better if we could have a cardboard cutout or even better a waxwork…

  42. Potter

    Is your name a tribute to the long-forgotten sitcom starring Arthur Lowe?

  43. “The SNP, if they do challenge this, will clearly challenge it in court in Scotland, and their real goal will be either to get considerable compensatory coverage or to have a separate Scottish debate which would be shown instead of the England/UK debate. The other, easier, goal is to persuade those who may vote for them that they are being treated unfairly by Westminster again.”

    There is an arguement that the UK debate should not be transmitted in Scotland and a Scottish leaders debate be transmitted on BBC1 Scotland and STV at the same time.

  44. According to The Oracle aka Iain Dale, the TV debates will take place with Cameron taking part.

  45. HH…

    No, more prosaic I’m afraid. I’m a Stoke fan.

  46. I might remind UKPR denizens of this salutary statistic:

    from the gossip I hear some branches of the party have been devastated by the membership drop and the effect of this is only going to become apparent in coming months.. Unlike the libdems who have lost many members who have gone home to seethe over Clegg and Coalition, the Tories have lost a lot of their best and brightest (maybe I should rephrase that) to the UKIP…

  47. That article is 18 months old though….IIRC Tory membership increased in 2014.

  48. So did LibDem membership… but I am scarcely breaking out the champagne either!

  49. You can accuse me of many things, but “breaking out the champagne” on behalf of the Tories isn’t one of them. Have you read any of my predictions for the next election?

  50. Or seen my bet with Robin Hood that Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister?

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