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 - 239 Responses on “Conservative Targets”
  1. @Andy JS

    Thanks for the helpful spreadsheet


    If only it were that simple! Reality is boundary commission have to contend with all sorts of complicating factors – physical geography, ward boundaries, community ties, knock-on effects that any decision may have, continuity etc.. I know you’re not suggesting this isn’t the case!

    Overall, except for Wales, the loss of seats seems fairly well spread. It is also all very consistent with the 2011 aborted review.

  2. About the discussion of electing Councillors to local authorities by thirds. This seems to have been the norm when elected Councillors were introduced in the 19th century (except for County Councils which had a whole Council election, every three years originally).

    As an example Slough Urban District Council was not divided into three member wards until 1930, but before that a third of the Council were elected from the whole district each year. Again the terms were three years.

    Presumably election by thirds was seen as a check on the dangerous democratic impulses of the electorate. This was the logic used by the Americans in electing United States Senators by thirds, to be the cooling saucer, for any passing tea storms boiling up in the House of Representatives. This idea may have appealed to British Parliamentarians in the 19th and most of the 20th century.

  3. I have looked at the speech of Lord John Russell, when he introduced what became the the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.

    This gives the genesis of electing Councillors by thirds.

    “…Now with regard to the election of the Common Council; we propose that members of the council shall be elected for three years, but that one-third of them shall go out every year. For my own part, I must confess my belief is, that the inhabitants of the towns having once elected persons in whom they have confidence, whether they elect them for three years or one year, will generally elect the same persons. They will naturally elect those persons for whom they have a regard, and to whom they believe the disposal and management of their property may be safely intrusted, and whom they will not very likely think of changing. But providing that there shall be an annual election, of only one-third of the council, we shall secure at least two-thirds of the council, who will have had some experience of the management of the affairs of the town. …”

  4. I don’t agree with the 1/3 of council system. I think the whole council should be up for election every 4 years so that an incumbent council has time to do something instead of fighting elections constantly,

  5. The opposite argument is that by having one-third up at a time, there’s fair warning of changes on councils without smashing into lurching changes of administration every four years.

  6. From experience campaigning in local election after local election in Milton Keynes I think 1/3 of council elections are a waste of time. “Give us four years and judge us” is my approach to council elections.

  7. I would agree. All out elections would save money which could be better spent on public services

  8. I’d never thought about the money but there must be a lot of campaign costs I’ve never actually considered. That’s another good reason to have annual elections.

  9. *to have all-out elections

  10. I’m very much in favour of all-outs. Increased accountability, reduced costs. I am not aware of any demand for election by thirds in London where we’ve had all-outs for decades.

  11. Hopefully it’s phased out.

  12. The respected Rallings and Thrasher have released their latest local election projection, based on local by-elections (changes v 2012):

    CON 31 (-2)
    LAB 30 (-9)
    LD 16 (+1)
    UKIP 12 (+7)

    In terms of seats:

    CON + 50
    LAB – 150
    LD +40
    UKIP +40


    I doubt the LDs will do as well as they have been doing in local by-election though they will probably outdo their national polling position. As most of their by-election success has been in CON that probably means on this trend CON would be more than one point ahead in May…

  13. Jack, having Rallings and Thrasher also considered the fact that there will be many more Green Party candidates at these elections than in 2012?

  14. @Alan B

    Not sure, sorry.

  15. I rather like the election by thirds; it does provide some continuity in administration, probably less problematic now than in the past, but I remember reading about one council with all-out elections where the change was so dramatic that only one member won re-election.

    Also, where local elections are held alongside other votes – particular general elections or European elections – it can produce results which have little to do with council performance or preferences as many people just vote for the same party in both – election by thirds reduces the impact of this.

  16. Personally I think the default setting for local elections should be all out every three years. I don’t expect it to be adopted because it won’t be popular with the politicians themselves.

  17. From living in a place where the council is elected in thirds I can agree with that.

  18. I prefer councils that elect in thirds

  19. As an activists it means I’m campaigning every year

  20. Personally I prefer all-out elections. I think there are too many councils electing in thirds where every seat could change hands in one year and the incumbent party would still have a majority. I also think it’s wasteful spending money on annual elections that could be better spent on local services.

    However I do think that ultimately things like elections should a matter for each town/county rather than imposed nationally

  21. It is worth saying that there is a slow trend towards moving from elections by thirds to all out elections in the UK. Stoke-on-Trent and Stratford-on-Avon used to hold elections by thirds but their elections are now all-out. Huntingdonshire, Stroud, Gloucester, Warrington and Bristol will also be moving to all-out elections soon.

  22. Andy JS – eh? The ‘politicians themselves’ would surely love only having elections every 3 or 4 years.

    However, it’s the same argument against as for retaining multi member wards – ie one hard-working ward Cllr should not have to ‘carry’ a lame duck absentee Cllr.

  23. There is more ability to ticket-split in all-out elections which politicians certainly don’t like, if they are the incumbents, especially if they are alphabetically low down the ballot paper or perhaps have a more foreign sounding surname than their party colleagues.

    Even if just on financial grounds, I find annual local elections hard to justify.

  24. The disadvantage of being alphabetically low on the ballot paper certainly needs addressing, perhaps by displaying candidates in a random order.

  25. ‘The disadvantage of being alphabetically low on the ballot paper certainly needs addressing, perhaps by displaying candidates in a random order.’

    If this really is a problem – it’s hardly on par with the hanging chads in Florida 2000 – would it not make more sense to have the parties displayed in alphabetical order on the ballot?

  26. I think there is some quite strong evidence that it is a problem. Normally all three seats go to the same party but where they don’t it is often those that appear higher on the ballot paper – or, as HH says, those without foreign sounding surnames – that get in.

    Party order might be a slight improvement, though you’d still need to display the candidates in some order if you were sticking with FPTP.

  27. There are a number of problems with ballot papers:

    – Higher up the ballot more votes
    – People trust male names over female


  28. The idea that even most informed voters can make more than arbitrary distinctions between council candidates of the same party is ridiculous, so there is actually a good case for just having a list with the parties choosing the order. But some would argue that is undemocratic and say it prevents them from split-ticketing.

  29. I assume you mean a closed list system as opposed to something like STV where the list is open and people vote preferentially.

  30. My system would be a non-proportional closed list in three-member wards, where two candidates from the list with the most votes are elected and one from the list with the second most votes. This would deal with the voters choosing between candidates problem and one-party councils at the same time, whilst still making a majority relatively likely for the party with the most votes. I think something similar is used for some sort of regional elections in France.

    This has no chance of being adopted though, so as a realist if I were in a position to do so I’d be campaigning for names appearing in a random order on the ballot.

  31. I’m sorry I’m a bit confused. What you are describing sounds very similar to the closed list system we use for the european election which is proportional.

  32. The seats wouldn’t be allocated proportionally under d’Hondt, as in the Europeans, but two would go to the party that wins the ward and one to the runner-up. So if in an imaginary ward Labour won 40% of the vote, the Tories 35% and UKIP 25% Labour would get two seats and the Tories one. Currently Labour could be expected to sweep all three.

    Anyway, this just isn’t going to happen. Even if overall the losses in wards where a party currently gets three seats were compensated for in wards where they currently get none the opposition from local parties would be too great for the Tories or Labour to seriously consider it. The change to STV in Scotland was possible mainly because the SNP didn’t control many councils back then.

  33. I’m not sure how you can be against one-party councils but for decisive majorities – in general, if a party can reliably gain majorities on a council, it runs the council and that’s more or less that. Take somewhere like Norfolk, until the Tories were toppled in 2013 they had a smallish majority, perhaps of the sort you envisage. They very effectively prevented the other parties’ councillors from doing anything much, not least by running council primarily through a cabinet rather than committees. I’m not sure where the inherent benefit is in designing for slightly smaller majorities (as opposed to designing for power sharing, which seems pretty sensible really).

    In terms of names on ballot papers – I have an interesting anecdote with this one from the internet community I help run, where people’s usernames rather than actual names are on the ballot paper. One candidate did actually change his name before an election to ensure he’d be alphabetically at the top! (He still lost). I do wonder if this has ever happened with someone changing their actual name…

  34. I see. While I respect that it might not happen I would like to ask some hypotheticals. For example, would a party ‘ve entitled to the third seat even if their vote was less than 10%. Extreme I know.

    I think introducing STV for local elections was in Labour’s 2015 manifesto.

  35. @James Baillie I have a feeling Ellie might have mentioned this said community on occasion before. If I’m thinking of the same.

  36. “The seats wouldn’t be allocated proportionally under d’Hondt, as in the Europeans, but two would go to the party that wins the ward and one to the runner-up. So if in an imaginary ward Labour won 40% of the vote, the Tories 35% and UKIP 25% Labour would get two seats and the Tories one. Currently Labour could be expected to sweep all three.”

    I don’t see this as a solution; without any sort of proportionality, it could lead to bizarre results. For example, in Sheffield, back in 2011, there was one ward where the top three were Labour 69%, the Lib Dems 9.7% and UKIP 9.5% (and there were a lot of seats with this kind of result). In another ward, it was Labour 34.6%, Lib Dems 27.2%, Green 26.1%. Your system would give Labour two seats in each and the Lib Dems one in each – this doesn’t seem reasonable.

    You need to use d’Hondt or something similar, or the results will bear little relationship to how people vote.

  37. @James

    I take your point, but some opposition is surely better than none. Even under a cabinet system they will be scrutinising the executive.

    @Matt and @Warofdreams

    There would probably need to be a threshold above which you could get all three seats (say, 75% or 84.35% – the midpoint between two thirds and 100%). My system is not supposed to be proportional, thus the type of result Warofdreams described would be acceptable to me. It seems no more unjust than the current situation where LAB would get all three seats in both wards. If the opposition parties were in quite close (though distant) competition you’d expect they’d all end up with a handful of seats.

    As for Labour’s 2015 STV pledge, I think they’d have had great trouble getting it through unless they had an enormous majority. There are still many LAB MPs against PR and more would probably have taken that view if it meant LAB dominance of their local council being threatened. As I say it was easier for the SNP in Scotland because they were doing it at a time when they didn’t dominate the FPTP councils.

  38. It was the Lab/Lib Dem coalition that implemented STV for Scottish council elections.

  39. Matt: you’d be correct, Ellie’s one of the voting members though she doesn’t appear too much nowadays.

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