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 - 616 Responses on “Conservative Targets”
  1. ”Cue some dirt on Corbyn/McDonnell very soon, perhaps how they supposedly took part in a ISIS recruitment drive? Anything to get the media focus off this policy.”

    Well as a bit of anecdotal evidence before lunch today my mum was moaning about Theresa May and the Tories but the Daily Mail has a photo/article featuring Corbyn, McDonnell and Gerry Adams on page 2 and by the end of lunch she was saying how awful it is that Labour has been taken over by ‘terrorist sympathisers’. The right wing newspapers have virtually ignored the row over the so called ‘dementia tax’ and are instead running stories on Corbyn and Pippa Middleton’s wedding. As I said above this won’t affect Labour’s vote much but it does stem the self inflicted damage from this policy.

  2. But again the Mail, Telegraph, Sun’s front pages today merely reflect what Corbyn said yesterday.

    After all if he’d said nothing wrong re the IRA, why did Labour issue a new statement today.

    Rivers10 – it’d make sense if people in Heswall (W S) or Hoylake (WW) were worried given property prices in both places but not a council estate given that Merseyside ex-council houses are worth £100k or below as I said. But I take your point if you mean the perception created was successful.

  3. Removing winter fuel allowance without being specific about what the means test boundary will be is also stupid stupid politics in the middle of an election campaign. There will be plenty of poorer people now expecting to lose WFA who actually won’t. It’s an open goal for Labour.

  4. @ Lancs

    The BBC say that there are only three local authority areas in England where median house prices are below £100,000, these being Hyndburn, Pendle and Burnley.

  5. Bit of a storm in a teacup… May will get a big enough majority, 80 to a 100… Then we move on, what s the big deal?

  6. The Tories tend to protect their grey vote but May has hit them for three; changes to social care, cutting winter fuel allowance and cutting the pension triple lock.

  7. @ Peter Crawford

    As this is a polling site and the ‘Dementia Tax’ appears to have swung the polls by about 4 points, surely it is worthy of comment.

    While I agree that the Tories will still probably get a comfortable majority, the kind of polling movement we’ve seen in the past 4 days is unprecedented in the course of a General Election campaign.

  8. The Tories ain’t getting anything like an 80-100 majority if their lead over Labour stays at only 8-9% as per latest YouGov/Survation. That would be a tiny swing from 2015 and (I’m guessing) a majority of 30 or 40 max. Perfectly possible of course that the lead widens out again but plausible too that it might not. Old folk aren’t known for changing their mind once they’ve got upset over something, at minimum I think this will suppress grey turnout for the Tories and lose them any chance of WWC further out gains like Mansfield. But we shall see.

  9. ”The Tories ain’t getting anything like an 80-100 majority if their lead over Labour stays at only 8-9% as per latest YouGov/Survation.”

    It was 14% in ICM though and 12% in ORB and Survation online. Thus average of the post manifesto polls is ~12% not 8/9% (9% is the lowest we’ve seen thus far anyway).

  10. Fair enough, but all polls have seen a marked tightening and the key issue is whether this continues.

    By the way I doubt a 12% lead would yield a 100 majority….would probably take a 14% lead for that.

  11. Pepperminttea- that is true re the polls. I think the prospect of a landslide is now very remote indeed though I was coming to that view before the manifesto launch because I had a feeling that Labour’s policies would go down well. I am currently thinking that the majority might be 1979 style.

  12. James E – untrue.

    What the BBC are referring to is the HPI (introduced in June), which is an “experimental official statistic” which counts properties purchased in each local authority area.

    I’m frankly amazed that they have cited this as the average price of a property in an area – by definition it is not!

    eg in Knowsley the ONS HPI is £128k

    However the average price of a property in Knowsley is £96k.

    Quite simply the figures are skewed as they disproportionately count new builds and obviously don’t count the value of properties that can’t be sold.

    I might even complain to the BBC, as that is so misleading I can see why you thought it referred to the average price of a house in those boroughs.

    As I said, the figures from local authorities and estate agents show that house prices average £100k or below in Blackpool, Liverpool, Knowsley, Halton, Rochdale etc ie 14 authorities just in the North West.

    Clearly if you can’t sell your ex council house it’s not in the Land Registry figures for sales over the past quarter but it doesn’t mean those eg 80,000 houses in Lpool don’t exist. Although 90% of those properties will not take you over the threshold to be liable for care home fees under the Govt’s plan.

  13. HH- again I disagree with your premise. Apologise if you replied elsewhere re WWC seats such as Mansfield.

    If anything I can see the policy or its perception harming the Tories in your neck of the woods – which would make sense given the price of property in the South East – but not in WWC seats up here.

    In fact from what I’m hearing from friends in both Labour and Tory Parties is that the swing from Lab to Con amongst DEs in particular could be huge.

  14. ”I am currently thinking that the majority might be 1979 style.”

    It really depends what happens next, likely we’ve seen the worst of the negative effects of the manifesto (the U-turn as embarrassing as it may be was electorally the correct thing to do). If everything carries on as it is with no other idiotic, unavoidable moves by the Tories (i.e. repeating ‘strong and stable’ ad nauseam) then they will win by about 12-14% (the respective manifesto boosts will subside a bit). If it becomes all about Corbyn and the IRA/some Labour scandal etc. their lead will go back up into landslide territory. If however the Tories keep making stupid avoidable mistakes their lead will fall into single digits and their majority could be in jeopardy.

    The next two weeks will be critical in determining the Tories fate. If they do anything else quite as politically idiotic as last week quite frankly they deserve to lose their majority.

  15. The BBC’s figures come from the Office for National Statistics, and represent median sale price. They are not claiming that there is a complete lack of sub-£100,000 houses anywhere other than Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn.

    It will be interesting to see how your complaint against the BBC goes. If only they were as impartial as the Daily Mail …

  16. But hopefully last week taught the Tories a lesson in the dangers of complacency and hubris (I’m not going to hold my breath though…)

  17. James E – precisely. Average prices of houses purchased recently, not the average price of property in that area.

  18. “If only they were as impartial as the Daily Mail …”

    I didn’t realise the Daily Mail were in receipt of public funding. The Daily Mirror is equally impartial, etc.

    The BBC has in this election gone out of its way to make a number of misleading claims. One that stood out for me was when the Communist Party of Britain came out in support of Labour – the BBC decided to ramp up what this meant by combining their support in the 2015 GE with the 2015 Locals, a total absurdity in itself as this would include up to quadruple counting. Thus they claimed 120,000 people voted for them (they didn’t), making them the 6th largest party (it didn’t, even on this absurd measure and not counting local election votes for other parties they were 10th).

    I’d hate to be accused of cognitive dissonance, but it would appear to me the BBC has dropped any pretence of impartiality in this election period.

  19. I’m not as optimistic as some of you here. Theresa May had a once in a century opportunity to win one of the biggest landslide majorities in history. If she had maintained some of her early leads in excess of 20%, I’m confident her majority might have edged close to 200 in a perfect storm.

    As the campaign progressed, her predeliction for soundbites, controlled audiences and lax advertising was costing votes but it was a slow decline. After all, there was no way Labour could catch up, right? She then proceeded to shift the focus from Brexit onto other superfluous issues and questions which favoured Labour which was totally uneccessary; don’t even get me started on the dementia tax.

    Of course, some tightening was to be expected as Corbyn and Labour increased their profile. But for the aforementioned decline to have accelerated so much to be in the single digits is absolutely pathetic. I could understand if this was out of her control. In the 1970 Election, Labour has a 14% lead the week before polling day. They ended up losing. It wasn’t because they had committed some terrible campaign blunder, but rather, the balance of payments figures had been released which firmly turned voters against them.

    All in all, I don’t expect the Tories to get anywhere near what they wanted at the start of the campaign. I think they’d be lucky to gain 20 – 30 seats to finish with a majority of 50ish. The one consolation is that Scotland is likely to stay strong, courtesy of Ruth Davidson; they’re very lucky the campaign there is less affiliated with the national campaign or it would have been even worse.

  20. “The one consolation is that Scotland is likely to stay strong, courtesy of Ruth Davidson; they’re very lucky the campaign there is less affiliated with the national campaign or it would have been even worse.”

    I think that the UK Conservative campaign could cap the Scottish Conservatives advance to Aberdeenshire West, Berwickshire, Dumfries & Galloway and perhaps East Renfrewshire. Two weeks ago they had a strong chance in Moray, Aberdeen South, Perth, Ochil, Stirling, Edinburgh South, Edinburgh SW and perhaps Edinburgh North & Leith.

  21. I’d be skeptical of that. If anything, their greatest advance will be in those areas; numerous polls have shown that the strength of Tory support is drawn from No and Leave voters, both of which are heavily concentrated in a lot of those areas you mentioned.

    I see no evidence that the Tory advance in Scotland will be checked by the national campaign; it’s Ruth Davidson that’s done the leg-work there, NOT Theresa May.

  22. To anyone reading this who was directly affected by this cowardly terrible outrage, please accept my sincere condolences and sympathy.

    One uncomfortable question is:: is this event likely to increase the government’s vote share?

    One suspects a big spike in the Tories vote share in the next poll (post Manchester attack). First, research suggests voters usually rally around the flag after a terror attack, and that effect generally benefits the incumbent, regardless of politicall affiliatiion; and public opinion shifts in response to terrorism is toward support for more “hawkish” policies in foreign affairs and internal security, even at the expense of civil liberties. This hawkishness appears to be present among partisans of all .

    Following the ISIS plot, when 130 people were murdere, M. Hollande, who was deeply unpopular at the time of th attack, saw his support go up in the polls. Also There is some evidence of Trump’s polling improving after the Paris and the nightclub outrage in the US.

    People are returning their postal votes right now of course. I think that the chance of an increased shy Tory factor in the poll is increased and imo they will – again – outperform polling.

  23. Normally speaking I would say these things don’t have much effect. People on here predicted that the Jo Cox murder would seal the EU ref for Remain and it didn’t happen – indeed, if anything the swing was towards Leave once the campaign resumed. Similarly people predicted the attack in France during the campaign would boost Le Pen, and instead she faded as the campaign went on. Essentially I think the threat of terrorism is already priced in to people’s votes these days and so it doesn’t make a big difference.

    Having said all that I do think there are special circumstances here which mean that, much as they obviously wouldn’t have wanted what happened to happen, it is likely to prove rather helpful to the Conservative campaign. One is that the timing came precisely when Labour appeared to be building momentum and the Cons were bungling over social care. They would have wanted to change the subject back to leadership and as a result of this that will have happened without the need for any ‘dead cat’ tactics or desparate looking stories about Corbyn and the IRA. The other is that the vision of Corbyn speaking to the nation in the way May did on Tues, and co-ordinating the response more generally, will obviously reinforce people’s concerns about a Corbyn premiership. Being able to act in a prime ministerial way usually helps the incumbent PM but is clearly exaggerated by the contrast btwn May’s long experience as a senior minister v Corbyn’s years on the fringes.

    I guess we may not see any polls until the weekend. When we do my guess is that we’ll be back to average Tory lead of about 16 points, where we were before manifesto week.

  24. I agree; the best possible moment for the attack to happen for the Tories. Although perhaps too vicious and insensitive, by smearing Corbyn with the pro-IRA/terrorist brush in the coming days, it will likely keep national security on the minds of voters which brings the campaign back to one of the main strengths of the Tory Party.

  25. The atrocity has probably rather blunted that particular smear though; it would be the height of insensitivity, in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, to try and link Corby with a terrorist group

  26. “To anyone reading this who was directly affected by this cowardly terrible outrage”

    I can’t understand why people constantly parrot this phrase without really thinking about it.

    Blowing yourself to smithereens in order to deliberately kill and maim others is of course unspeakably evil and reprehensible, but it certainly isn’t cowardly. The personal courage required to go through with it must be immense.

  27. I disagree. It would of course be the height of silliness to actually attack Labour as soft on terror by citing Manchester. However, they can still talk about national security, (reducing immigration, the importance of the nuclear deterrent, Corbyn’s dubious background etc) which, while not directly referencing the attack, will provide a subconcious link that will hurt Labour.

  28. HH, you are right on this.

    The whole “cowardly” thing is an unthinking knee-jerk response. It was, more correctly in my view, used to describe the actions of IRA terrorists who planted bombs and skulked off, in many cases never to be caught. Many of us will remember Warrington, Hyde Park etc. in the 80s and 90s.

    If disregard for one’s own life is the highpoint of bravery. [ it’s often mentioned in citations for awards like the VC etc.], it does seem a bizarre epithet for the actions of a suicide bomber, evil and heinous though this action may be.

  29. ” Blowing yourself to smithereens in order to deliberately kill and maim others is of course unspeakably evil and reprehensible, but it certainly isn’t cowardly. The personal courage required to go through with it must be immense ”

    But not if you think you’re getting an immediate trip to an eternity in paradise as a consequence.

  30. HH

    A lot of the refs to cowardice are, I believe, a ref to the way children were targeted.

    Choice of words is pretty meaningless, either way, compared to the devastation.

  31. I think that ‘cruel’ is the appropriate word, and helps us to express our opinion of what was done.

    There is something deep and brilliant in most humans that produces concern for the welfare of children, and it takes a lot of cruelty to overpower it.

  32. May has been like the hare in the hare and the tortoise story, she thought she was so far ahead that she didn’t have to try. I think she’ll get about 25 to 60 gains, but it could so easily have been 100 to 200 gains. The dementia tax being openly mentioned in the manifesto is the height of stupidity. Manifestos are meant to win voters and not scare them away.

  33. “I think she’ll get about 25 to 60 gains”

    At this point it looks like she’ll struggle even to make your lower estimate, on a net basis, and might even go slightly backwards.

    Unless there is a substantial Tory revival in the last two weeks, this campaign could go down as the biggest example of electoral hubris since 1970.

    I don’t think there is any chance that the Tories won’t remain in power even if they narrowly lose their majority, nevertheless if she doesn’t markedly increase her majority Theresa May’s career as prime minister is nearing its end.

  34. With the volatility of the polls I just wondered if the Tories might be in danger of over ambition and ploughing money into the 5% plus swing seats while neglecting the overhanging fruit.

    I know at local level sometimes it is easy to rearrange your resources (canvassing) once you have seen how the cookie crumbles but perhaps not so easy at national level if you have a done a wrap around for the Bury paper rather than the Halifax one (maybe they’ve done one in Halifax as well- I don’t know!).

  35. I do wonder if/how the Tory ground strategy will change in light of the narrowing in the polls. Its my understanding that the vast majority of Lab resources were going into defending their most vulnerable seats anyway and they have the numbers in most local parties to ensure that encapsulates quite the substantial list. Even though some of the larger majorities now look secure they can still afford to send troops there.

    The Tories though as we know don’t have the same ground game and if (as we’ve been led to believe) they’ve been swanning off to Bolsover, Wansbeck and West Bromwich on some mad decapitation strategy surely they must now be kicking themselves that they wasted time going after the hard to reach targets while ignoring the low hanging fruit which they no doubt assumed would fall of their own accord.

  36. ‘Unless there is a substantial Tory revival in the last two weeks, this campaign could go down as the biggest example of electoral hubris since 1970.’

    Polls always underestimate the Tory vote and I’ve seen absolutely nothing to suggest that won;t be the case this time

    What has surprised me is that the atrocity in Manchester doesn’t seem to have impacted the campaign or negated the Tories lamentable handling of social care – despite it not being headline news any more

    It will b e interesting to see what impact Corbyn’s speech on foreign policy will have

  37. Tim
    “Polls always underestimate the Tory vote and I’ve seen absolutely nothing to suggest that won’t be the case this time”

    This was discussed on the Battersea thread just yesterday and I’ll repeat the same point I made, its true the polls traditionally underestimate the Cons/overestimate Lab but that isn’t some universal law of polling. after the debacle that was 2015 the polling companies went to great lengths to rectify the issue by applying some brutal turnout filters.

    Now its very possible that the polls are still wrong and overestimating Labour, but its equally possible that the new turnout filters have went too far and are actually underestimating Lab for a change, we just don’t know yet and thus its probably best to take the polls at face value.

  38. This is actually very true. For example; TNS who showed a 9 point gap yesterday along with ComRes and ICM weight likelihood to vote against certain demographics to accommodate the mishap last time round. However, since these certain groups like 18-25 have seen a spike of 1.9 million registering to vote they may well come out this time when they didn’t last time.

  39. I think that decapitation strategies usually backfire as it did with the Lib Dems in 2010.

    Scottish Labour ran a very personalised decapitation strategy against Michael Forsyth in Stirling in 1992 that backfired.

    Nick Clegg was targeted by Labour in 2015 and that backfired and I also think that the targeting of Angus Robertson by the Scottish Tories in Moray will to.

    The only case where this seems to have worked as a strategy was against Ed Balls in 2015.

  40. Dalek
    “The only case where this seems to have worked as a strategy was against Ed Balls in 2015”

    I wouldn’t even call that a decapitation strategy, I don’t know what the thoughts internally of the Tory party where but the consensus in the run up to that election was that the Cons would lose not gain seats so I don’t think anybody thought Balls was in any danger (least of all himself) and the Tories certainly didn’t make it publically known they were going after him, hence his defeat came as a shock to most everyone.

  41. @ Dalek

    Labour achieved a 17% swing against Clegg in Hallam in 2015. It was probably their most impressive result of that election in terms of increased vote share. Not sure how that could be described as a ‘backfire’.

  42. John Howard lost his division [seat] to Maxine McKew in Australian politics. That seat has since gone back to the Liberals [Aus right] in that 2007 landslide election. But Australian politics are a total mess. I suppose Portillo in 97 was one.

  43. John Howard lost his division [seat] to Maxine McKew in Australian politics. That seat has since gone back to the Liberals [Aus right] in that 2007 landslide election. But Australian politics are a total mess. I suppose Portillo in 97 was one.

  44. That’s kind of the point I was making.

    With hindsight in 2015 maybe Labour could have held more seats that they assumed were safe and perhaps Lib Dems as well (although 50 doesn’t seem too high a spread of available resources) and got a hung parliament but got carried away with main party ambitions.

    I think with the UKIP vote liable to variations depending on the seat (whether they stick UKIP or move in different proportions to Lab or Con) we could see a lot of those Tory targets being nowhere near uniform. Ie instead of 60 seat majority they take 1-25 on AW’s list or 100 majority they take 1-45. You could see a lot more random results than the normal UNS.

  45. ‘I think she’ll get about 25 to 60 gains’

    If so that will be mission accomplished and she will walk away with a bigger majority than what she started with. It might not be the landslide she’d hoped for but still a fairly stable majority

    One factor that seems to have gone completely under the radar is the general inexperience of Corbyn’s team, which is mostly made up of people who don’t seem talented enough or well suited in any way to higher office, and I think that’s something the electorate might pick up on in the remaining few weeks

    It has to be said that the campaign the Tories have run so far has been beyond amateurish in the extreme and in that sense things can only get better for them

  46. James E

    While Labour and the Lib Dems were fighting each other with huge resources (both financial and personal) in Hallam the Tories were quietly taking seats off both of them that got them an overall majority…

    Seems like a bit of a backfire to me…

  47. So you reckon that if only Labour hadn’t targeted Hallam in 2015 the whole election result would have been different…..


  48. Of course there is a valid argument that they could have saved the relatively few English seats they lost, given more resources. But given polls it wasn’t unreasonable to focus on the seats needed to be the largest party. And in the case of Hallam there was a clear strategic incentive.

  49. It was also the only non Labour held seat in or around Sheffield.

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