Conservative Target Seats

These are the seventy-five seats with the lowest percentage majorities over the Conservative party. This does not necessarily mean they would be the most winnable seats for the Conservatives in practice, or that they are the seats the Conservative party will actually be targetting at the next general election.

1. City of Chester Majority 93 (0.1%)
2. Ealing Central & Acton Majority 274 (0.5%)
3. Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk Majority 328 (0.6%)
4. Brentford & Isleworth Majority 465 (0.9%)
5. Wirral West Majority 417 (0.9%)
6. Halifax Majority 428 (1%)
7. Ilford North Majority 589 (1.2%)
8. Newcastle-under-Lyme Majority 650 (1.5%)
9. Barrow & Furness Majority 795 (1.8%)
10. Wolverhampton South West Majority 801 (2%)
11. Hampstead & Kilburn Majority 1138 (2.1%)
12. Enfield North Majority 1086 (2.3%)
13. Hove Majority 1236 (2.4%)
14. Dewsbury Majority 1451 (2.7%)
15. Southport Majority 1322 (3%)
16. Lancaster & Fleetwood Majority 1265 (3.1%)
17. Carshalton & Wallington Majority 1510 (3.2%)
18. North East Derbyshire Majority 1883 (3.9%)
19. Harrow West Majority 2208 (4.8%)
20. Bridgend Majority 1927 (4.9%)
21. Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland Majority 2268 (4.9%)
22. Westminster North Majority 1977 (5%)
23. Walsall North Majority 1937 (5.2%)
24. Tooting Majority 2842 (5.3%)
25. Wrexham Majority 1831 (5.6%)
26. Birmingham, Northfield Majority 2509 (5.9%)
27. Wakefield Majority 2613 (6.1%)
28. Gedling Majority 2986 (6.2%)
29. Eltham Majority 2693 (6.2%)
30. Birmingham, Edgbaston Majority 2706 (6.5%)
31. Copeland Majority 2564 (6.5%)
32. Stoke-on-Trent South Majority 2539 (6.5%)
33. Clwyd South Majority 2402 (6.8%)
34. Coventry South Majority 3188 (7.3%)
35. Clacton Majority 3437 (7.7%)
36. Darlington Majority 3158 (7.7%)
37. Delyn Majority 2930 (7.8%)
38. Blackpool South Majority 2585 (8%)
39. Alyn & Deeside Majority 3343 (8.1%)
40. North Norfolk Majority 4043 (8.2%)
41. Scunthorpe Majority 3134 (8.5%)
42. Bristol East Majority 3980 (8.6%)
43. Newport West Majority 3510 (8.7%)
44. Southampton, Test Majority 3810 (8.8%)
45. Chorley Majority 4530 (8.8%)
46. Bishop Auckland Majority 3508 (8.9%)
47. Ynys Mon Majority 229 (0.6%)*
48. Coventry North West Majority 4509 (10%)
49. Bolton North East Majority 4377 (10.2%)
50. Hyndburn Majority 4400 (10.2%)
51. Bury South Majority 4922 (10.5%)
52. Dudley North Majority 4181 (11%)
53. Wirral South Majority 4599 (11%)
54. Mansfield Majority 5315 (11.2%)
55. Dumfries & Galloway Majority 6514 (11.5%)
56. Batley & Spen Majority 6057 (12%)
57. Workington Majority 4686 (12.2%)
58. Stoke-on-Trent North Majority 4836 (12.5%)
59. Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine Majority 7033 (12.8%)
60. Exeter Majority 7183 (13.3%)
61. Newport East Majority 4705 (13.4%)
62. Great Grimsby Majority 4540 (13.5%)
63. Ellesmere Port & Neston Majority 6275 (13.5%)
64. Oldham East & Saddleworth Majority 6002 (13.5%)
65. Luton South Majority 5711 (13.5%)
66. Hammersmith Majority 6518 (13.6%)
67. Bristol South Majority 7128 (14.1%)
68. York Central Majority 6716 (14.1%)
69. Worsley & Eccles South Majority 5946 (14.1%)
70. Penistone & Stocksbridge Majority 6723 (14.3%)
71. Walsall South Majority 6007 (14.4%)
72. Hartlepool Majority 3024 (7.6%)*
73. Birmingham, Erdington Majority 5129 (14.8%)
74. Leeds North East Majority 7250 (15%)
75. Slough Majority 7336 (15.2%)
Comments - 197 Responses on “Conservative Targets”
  1. Yes, DD.

    e.g: The Mail printed a comprehensive list of 50 seats where ukip and lib dem supporters could help to defeat labour (by voting tactical for Con ).

  2. The Mail was by far the most influential newspaper during the campaign. The Sun must be spitting hairs.

    I don’t see The Express as a factor frankly.

  3. The Express was promoting UKIP very strongly.

  4. Interesting to see how many of these seats are in Wales and the North

  5. @Max Parr-Reid

    Presumably because there are hardly any seats left for CON to target outside of those regions because they hold nearly all of them :)

  6. If we have 5 years of steady economic growth and Labour struggles with its new choice of leader then I believe that the top 25 targets are winnable for the Tories next time around.

  7. If. Five years out is a bit soon to be predicting like that!

  8. It’s amazing to see Leeds North East so far down the list given that it was so reliably Conservative before the 1980s.

  9. Their vote share has held up pretty well since 1997 though (in Leeds NE). They probably won’t ever win the seat if the boundaries remain fairly similar but the presence of Alwoodley will keep them above 30% in GE’s.

  10. I’d never say never but certainly the presence of Chapeltown in the seat makes life tougher. For all his faults Fabien Hamilton is a shrewd campaigner and is well-liked by sectors of the population as well so it will be tough while he is the MP. The increased Asian population of Roundhay and Moortown means the Tories need to carry on improving their appeal to non-white Britain in order to have a realistic chance.

  11. The latest opinion polls seem to suggest approximately a 3% swing from Labour to Conservatives, which on a unifor swing would mean that Labour would lose a further twent-three seats. The “swing” seat would at present appear to be Birmingham Northfield.

  12. Does anyone know if the next boundary changes will be based on those recommended in the most recent review of the last parliament (they were revised twice last parliament) or would they be revised yet again this parliament?

  13. One wonders if or when Halifax will go Tory again. The Tories have had so many near-misses there over the decades.

  14. TORY

    I think it’s a possibility. In 2010 the majority was cut by 2/3 and the majority was again cut by 2/3 in 2015. Depending on boundary reviews, this could definitely be a Tory gain in the future.

  15. I was talking to the author of research paper concerning the financial crises from a perspective of Karl Polayni. He concluded that not only would another credit crunch follow a decade after the last but he saw China crashing in the next two years if not sooner and the eurozone crash before the parliament is out. Steady economic growth doesn’t look to be on the agenda for the next five years.

  16. In answer to Christian, current law requires a review of constituency boundaries every five years. Given the rules as they are now, each review is likely to involve more change than previous reviews when the boundary commissions had more discretion about the number and electorate size of constituencies..

    The four national boundary commissions will agree how many seats each country gets, according to the formula in the legislation. This will be done in Spring next year. The proposed new boundaries, for a 600 seat House, are supposed to be submitted to ministers by early Autumn 2018. If approved by Parliament the new boundaries will be used for the 2020 general election.

    There will be a completely new review in 2016-18. The draft proposals, in the review that Parliament cancelled during the last Parliament, will be irrelevant.

  17. Especially with quite a few large councils having had boundary changes for their wards, and with some significant ones coming up over the next few years (Bristol and Birmingham).

  18. “There will be a completely new review in 2016-18. The draft proposals, in the review that Parliament cancelled during the last Parliament, will be irrelevant.”

    This is true, but where the entitlement has not changed the Boundary Commission is likely to start from the constituencies it recommended last time, which were consulted on. The 5% tolerance will require changes in some cases where wards have grown or reduced in size, but this only affects urban areas where the wards are large, and constructing any pattern of seats is difficult.

    Unfortunately the changes in Birmingham will come too late. The recommendations for the West Midlands were horrible, ludicrous, bizarre, whatever word you like, last time. The parliamentary select committee made a recommendation that the Boundary Commission be more open to splitting wards where this led to a more satisfactory pattern of seats, and they did seem to at least not object to this. It is essential in the West Midlands, where Birmingham wards reach over 18,000 in electors. Not to speak of avoiding the Forest of Dean mess they got into last time.

  19. The Forest of Dean is going to be a mess unless you cross the Welsh border.

  20. As the four national boundary commissions draw boundaries for the number of seats allocated to their nation, independently of each other, there is no chance of a cross border constituency being created.

    I suppose there might be a case for a single UK boundary commission instructed to ignore national borders when convenient, but it would go against the whole history of the electoral arrangements for the House of Commons.

  21. The size of the Birmingham wards has always amazed me – I can’t understand the logic behind it.

  22. It’s down to the size of the city. There’s already over 100 councillors so splitting the wards would yield even more, unless they became single or dual member wards instead of triple members.

    The only other option would be to have Birmingham run by two different councils (possibly a Birmingham West and Birmingham East and Solihull arrangement?) but I doubt that would be popular.

  23. surely if Birmingham was to split a north/south divide would make more sense? Erdington, Handsworth and Sutton Coldfield all used to be separate towns and could maybe be spun off into a northern borough with the city council in the south

    Can’t see anything like that being popular or particularly desirable though

  24. The most obvious solution would be single-member wards which would surely save money as well only needing one all-out election every four years instead of three

  25. You all need to keep up to speed. The local boundary commission has been instructed by the government to redraw Birmingham wards into 100 single member wards, which will have around 7500 electors each. Also to change Birmingham to all out elections every 4 years, which is now legal. This is currently under way, and the deadline for initial submissions has closed.

    It goes without saying that this imposition by central government is not wholly popular in Birmingham.

    There is zero demand for splitting Birmingham, as is often suggested by outsiders, except for some people in Sutton Coldfield. In fact there is more of a case for extending Birmingham boundaries, as some places that are geographically and socially part of the city are currently included in Solihull, Sandwell, and Walsall.

  26. didn’t know that actually. All-out elections make far more sense

  27. Thanks for answering my question Gary J.

  28. Having 100 wards might benefit the Tories since at the moment a lot of their best areas are outvoted by neighbouring Labour districts.

  29. This seems like a sensible reform and will help getting more rational parliamentary boundaries as well

  30. The Blair government largely banned 1 and 2 member wards in met and London boroughs in the early 2000s boundary changes (with very few exceptions). Seems like they are coming back into fashion again.

  31. Hemmelig is correct. The rule is that all wards in unitary councils electing in thirds should be 3 member except in exceptional circumstances. This was justified as being more democratic in that it allowed all voters to vote every year.

    However this rule was NOT imposed on District Councils which elect by thirds (as about 1 in 3 do). No idea why.

    Note that technically this rule still stands. Birmingham is being forced to move to all out elections where wards of different sizes have always been OK.

  32. When did that rule come into force? Hull is unitary, elects by thirds and has as far as I know always had several two member wards. It certainly has since I lived there from 2001-2004. The Beverley ward that I lived in for most of the time I was there is two member.

  33. Just to add, the current Hull ward boundaries came into force at the 2002 elections.

  34. Pete Whitehead will probably know, if he’s still around.

    As I said, there were some exceptions allowed where a 3 member ward just wasn’t practical. However this generally involved at most a couple of wards within an authority where most of the rest of the wards were 3 member.

    Even in London, a few 1 and 2 member wards were retained in the 2000 boundary changes due to special circumstances.

  35. I am surprised by this. All the metropolitan councils have three member wards and elect by thirds with a fourth year off. This used to be the year of county council elections.

    I am aware of several unitary authorities that have a mixture of one, two and three member wards. Certainly three councils in Berkshire – Slough Wokingham and Reading all have a mixture of councillor numbers per ward and elect by thirds and some seats do not have elections every time.

    Oxford District Council has two member wards and elects half its councillors every two years.

    In Wales there are four member wards in Cardiff and Swansea.

    I am not sure that 100 single member wards would help the Conservatives in Birmingham. Labour has plenty of very save areas and smaller wards may result in a few more safe Conservative seats, but this would mean the others are harder to win.

    I think all out elections are better, that way any council could change hands. There are too many where even if all the seats in a third changed hands, the council would still have the same political control. that is unhealthy for democracy.

  36. The arrangements for council elections have become a total mess. They should be the same nationwide – I would suggest election by thirds with a third of councillors retiring each year from three member wards, or perhaps on a STV basis with the whole council forming one electoral unit.. The current ad hoc mixture indicates that the Tories nationally don’t really care about local democracy. Labour before them were not any better.

  37. It indicates how difficult it is to impose one single system on the whole country, arguably a success of local democracy. The Tories wanted to abolish all county councils in the 1990s but faced such a backlash in the shires that they had to abandon it. This kind of reform probably won’t happen until we have another Labour government, who won’t care about riding roughshod over the counties.

  38. Which of these seats do we think the Tories will win then?

  39. So are boundary changes for the 2020 GE going ahead? What are the chances of opposition MP’s or the Lords blocking it?

  40. It is four and a hlaf years before the next election. There will doubtless be Lords and judicial challenges to boundary changes proposals but if a Tory Government with a working majority can’t get past these they don’ deserve to win.

    I am surprised that the Tories have not already made more progress to set up the review procedures.

  41. While I am here, I wonder how useful this list of target seats. The Tories are likely to find it much hsrder to win Lond seats like Hampstead and Kilburn or university seats like Lancaster and Fleetwood than working class seats like, say, Wakefield

  42. Frederic Stansfield – Remember, not all Tory MP’s are in favour of the constituency boundary changes. Philip Davies was against it last parliament because his constituency would have been obliterated and divide into FIVE seats!!!!!

  43. @FS et al.

    For the lowdown on the constituency boundary review, I suggest you read this blog post The review will happen, the results will have to be approved by Parliament – I expect they will but I guess it isn’t quite certain. Time is running out for any change to the process.

    And on the question of the target seat list – well, perhaps it should better be described as a list of seats requiring the smallest swings, though that’s far less snappy! Of course in reality the swing is uneven and, as in May, some further down the list will fall and some further up won’t.

  44. Christian. You are right that with the opposition likely to oppose changes on the grounds that they will lose seats overall, it might only take a few MPs concerned about their individual interests to scupper the whole thing.

    I wonder, however, how popular Parliament would be if they were seen to have scuppered a boundary review in two successive parliaments.

    My own answer would be federalist. a Reduction of 50 in the number of MPs is arbitray, but 600 is still top large. The UK is over-centralised and many lesser MPs fall back on timekering on indiviedual cases in constituencies that may be hundreds of miles from Westminster.

    In my view, it would be best to cut the numbers of MPs (and ministers) right back to say 200 MPs. I would also devolve powers in England to include everything devolved in Scotland, and I would set up full-time Assemblies for sensible areas – specifically splitting the disgraceful South-East gerrymander. The number of Regional Assembly positions created would match the number of Westminster constituencies abolished.

    People are generally resistant to change; but I believe that once it had happened our politicians would be much happier. They would be in smaller assemblies where they could have real influence, over issues nearer to home. The vast majority, if not all, of them could live at home and travel to the Assembly on a daily basis. A small minority of MPs with a genuine interest in things like foreign affairs and defence could stay on at Westminster, although in truth the powere left to Westminster would, whilst strategic, be small in number.

    The problem with this idea is that it would require a radical overhaul in the way in which the Conservative Party, which for a century or more has been about the most highly centralising in the world, thinks.

  45. Not a happy day for Tories in by-elections yesterday with a number of losses and with strong swings against them.

    Lost a seat in Hexhem to a LibDem standing without designation and lost a Shropshire seat to a Green on a massive swing.

  46. These things happen in by-elections. National polls – for all their flaws – a much better guide to the current national state of play.

  47. I agree with both of you so far as to say bad night for Tories but it isn’t necessarily accurate indication as to which way the national picture is looking. However, I’m not nearly ready enough to trust national polls. The new weightings have yet to be tested to measure how accurate they are.

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