Liberal Democrat Target Seats

These are the fifty seats with the lowest percentage majorities over the Liberal Democrat party. This does not necessarily mean they would be the most winnable seats for the Lib Dems in practice, or that they are the seats the Lib Dems party will actually be targetting at the next general election.

1. Cambridge Majority 599 (1.1%)
2. Eastbourne Majority 733 (1.4%)
3. Lewes Majority 1083 (2.1%)
4. Thornbury & Yate Majority 1495 (3.1%)
5. Twickenham Majority 2017 (3.3%)
6. East Dunbartonshire Majority 2167 (4%)
7. Kingston & Surbiton Majority 2834 (4.7%)
8. St Ives Majority 2469 (5.1%)
9. Edinburgh West Majority 3210 (5.9%)
10. Torbay Majority 3286 (6.9%)
11. Sutton & Cheam Majority 3921 (7.8%)
12. Bath Majority 3833 (8.1%)
13. Burnley Majority 3244 (8.1%)
14. Bermondsey & Old Southwark Majority 4489 (8.8%)
15. Yeovil Majority 5313 (9.4%)
16. North East Fife Majority 4344 (9.6%)
17. Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross Majority 3844 (11.2%)
18. Colchester Majority 5575 (11.4%)
19. Cheadle Majority 6453 (12.1%)
20. Cheltenham Majority 6516 (12.1%)
21. Berwick-upon-Tweed Majority 4914 (12.2%)
22. Ross, Skye & Lochaber Majority 5124 (12.2%)
23. Portsmouth South Majority 5241 (12.5%)
24. Brecon & Radnorshire Majority 5102 (12.8%)
25. Cardiff Central Majority 4981 (12.9%)
26. North Devon Majority 6936 (13.3%)
27. Wells Majority 7585 (13.3%)
28. North Cornwall Majority 6621 (13.8%)
29. Gordon Majority 8687 (15%)
30. Hazel Grove Majority 6552 (15.2%)
31. Montgomeryshire Majority 5325 (15.7%)
32. Birmingham, Yardley Majority 6595 (16%)
33. St Austell & Newquay Majority 8173 (16.2%)
34. Argyll & Bute Majority 8473 (16.4%)
35. Eastleigh Majority 9147 (16.5%)
36. Oxford West & Abingdon Majority 9582 (16.8%)
37. Bristol West Majority 5673 (8.9%)*
38. Bradford East Majority 7084 (17.1%)
39. Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk Majority 328 (0.6%)*
40. Chippenham Majority 10076 (18.2%)
41. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Majority 10809 (18.8%)
42. Hornsey & Wood Green Majority 11058 (19.1%)
43. Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine Majority 7033 (12.8%)*
44. Bosworth Majority 10988 (20.5%)
45. Maidstone & The Weald Majority 10709 (21.4%)
46. Mid Dorset and North Poole Majority 10530 (22.6%)
47. Newton Abbot Majority 11288 (23.4%)
48. Solihull Majority 12902 (23.5%)
49. Redcar Majority 10388 (25.4%)
50. Watford Majority 9794 (17.5%)*

*Liberal Democrats currently in third place

Comments - 287 Responses on “Lib Dem Targets”
  1. I say just holding the 8 old seats they have in 2020 would be an achievements, still we don’t know what the new boundaries are going and that would very likely reduce their MPs not increase them.

    They are also likely to fall even further away in less relevant seats.

  2. I wonder how long the activists will keep the faith? There are some brave noises being made on this board, plus appeals to long historical perspectives. But most of today’s activists will not remember the 1960s (and those who do may perhaps not be the most energetic…)

    I can see a lot of people drifting away unless the Lib Dems’ fortunes revive dramatically in the next few years – and given the party’s heavy dependence on (often relatively few) enthusiastic activists in their key seats this could be a fatal development.

  3. I expect the next couple of council elections will be crucial. Two more years of big losses could finish the party off for good

  4. I think they need to hold roughly steady at next year’s council elections. Any upswing would be good, but they should realistically be hoping for a leveling off. It’ll be easier for them to bounce back at Holyrood, in Cardiff, and in the European elections, since those are proportional-ish, so that should be a major goal. Any bounce back at all would help them. There’s also a chance that they could benefit from the EU referendum with some voters, although that belief may well have been shot.

    I don’t think they’re in danger of losing any seats in 2020, but breaking beyond 15 would be hard. They need to take a by-election in this parliament, too.

  5. Proportionality doesn’t help much if you are polling 8% of the vote

  6. ‘Proportionality doesn’t help much if you are polling 8% of the vote’

    I know right-wing political geeks such as yourself probably had countless wet dreams in the run up to the election at the thought of a Lib Dem wipe out but 8% of the vote in a truly proportional system – one which I don’t support – equates to about 50-odd seats in the current Parliament – just over 600% higher than the admiteddly pitiful tally of MPs the Lib Dems now find themselves with

  7. Do you have a preference for any particular electoral system Tim?

  8. ‘Do you have a preference for any particular electoral system Tim?’

    Beloewve it or not I would be extremely reluctant to abandon FPTP and I can’t think of a better electoral saystem

    The obvioius problem with it that it’s primarily desgned for a two-party system, so is grossly unfair on parties like the Lib Dems and even more so UKIP, whose respectable tallies of the popular vote don’t translate into a decent-sized bounty of seats

    Biut if I were Labuir or Tory I’d be very reluctant to ditch it, which is why we are where we are

  9. Peter Oborne said a few years ago that PR, at least for local elections, would actually benefits the Conservatives in parts of the north which are currently deserts for them. He mentioned how their actual vote share in some Metropolitan councils could translate into seats, especially those where they have no representation.

  10. Indeed. They could gain vote share in those places too – in Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, they often can’t compete with the Lib Dems as the non-Labour Party and are suppressed by tactical voting.

  11. I’d support something similar to what they have in Scotland or Wales. It allows larger parties to have a somewhat outsize influence – useful for governing – and also has the advantages of FPTP in terms of local representation, but it maintains a more proportional system on the whole. The Kiwis and Germans are similarly on the right path.

  12. ‘Peter Oborne said a few years ago that PR, at least for local elections, would actually benefits the Conservatives in parts of the north which are currently deserts for them.’

    Had the Tories outpolled Labour in the popular vote yet lagged behind them in seats – which just a year ago looked quite plausible – I think they might have had a serious look at modifying the voting system, but having secured a Tory majority – which some of the experts told us would never happen again – I think the issue is now effectively dead in the water for the time being

  13. I’d be very surprised if they bounce back at Holyrood any time soon. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they suffer further losses next year.

  14. It wouldn’t shock, but conversely I think there’s an outside chance of the Lib Dems making a better comeback than Labour (utterly demolished) or the Tories (still loathed) in Scotland. Why? The Lib Dems have been on the track of rebuilding for four years now, whereas Labour has only just started.

  15. Thats right, and May’s election showed just how well that rebuilding in Scotland has been going…stupendous momentum across the board…

  16. To quote myself on the thread from Westmoreland & Lonsdale: I would dispute the charge that the Lib Dems did worse in Scotland than they did elsewhere… They actually held up better than I thought they would in many Scottish seats (Dunbartonshire, Fife, Edinburgh West (that was a shock), Gordon, Caithness, etc). Those and Burnley were the results I was most shocked by: places that it seemed they’d get blown off the map where they were still competitive.”

  17. Runnymede proves yet again the old truism of sarcasm being the lowest form of wit…

  18. I actually agree that a strategy for the LDs is to focus on seats where they could stop the SNP could be the most mathematically rewarding in the short term.

    I however don’t want to be associated with some of the other daft predictions round here though

  19. I wonder if the unionist tactical voting that may have shored them up in a few Scottish seats will remain in place though.

    I doubt it will in West Aberdeenshire for example, now they have dropped to third.

    The Highland seats will be the better bet…but of course the Lib Dems being reduced to scrapping with the SNP for this handful of seats on the celtic fringe just underlines again how desperate their position now is…

  20. The straw clutching on here is laughable. The Lib Dems will be no more able to tame the fanatical religious cult that is the SNP any more than Labour or the Tories will.

    PT Richards vanished for 2 months and re-appears just as if the election had never happened. At least others of us who got it wrong had the balls to post here the day after the election.

  21. I’m trying to think of the last time I met someone in Scotland who was a Lib Dem by conviction. I think they are now reduced to being nothing more than a tactical-voting vehicle in a few seats where the electoral arithmetic gives them half a chance. Even that may not last, unless Farron can work out how to make them relevant again, given that they’ll lose the incumbency/personal votes that they had in 2015.

  22. I came on here not long after the election result and admitted I was wrong as well.

  23. I’m not talking about LDS taming the SNP or anything like it. I just think that in about 3 or 4 seats with small majorities where the Lib Dems were second they could make gains, which might increase their parliamentary party by 50%.

    “PT Richards vanished for 2 months and re-appears just as if the election had never happened. At least others of us who got it wrong had the balls to post here the day after the election.”


  24. It’s hard to disagree with Hemmelig’s characterisation of the SNP as being like a religious cult.

    Funnily enough I have often thought about Lib Dem activists that way as well, especially given the pseudo-millenarian ‘winning here’/’today Bumstead Town Council Horsesh*t ward, tomorrow Westminster’ attitudes so many of them have.

    So set a cult to stop a cult? Unfortunately here the whole thing breaks down. The SNP cult also includes a lot of the SNP’s voters. The Lib Dem cult is largely confined to the members…

  25. We will probably see a fair few diehard anti-SNP voters moving to England, especially the younger ones. And perhaps some English Owen Jones types going the other way to live the socialist dream. Both trends will help the SNP in the next few years.

  26. 5 seats which the Lib Dems lost in May don’t even make this list….

  27. Re the cult-like status of the SNP, I remember reading a fair number of below-the-line comments on Guardian articles in 2013 (I can’t even get myself to visit that website anymore) from perpetual English whingers declaring that if Scotland went independent, they’d move. I didn’t know whether to laugh or groan.

  28. “5 seats which the Lib Dems lost in May don’t even make this list….”

    Brent Central, Manchester Withington, Norwich South, Somerton & Frome and Taunton Deane (unless I’ve misread). The last being perhaps the biggest surprise – knew they’d lose it but not that badly

  29. I wonder if the Lib Dems are even more eager to see a Corbyn win than the Conservatives seem to be. If he drags Labour to the left then they must be hopeful that some of Labour’s more centrist voters will go to them, deciding that they can’t support that party anymore. It wouldn’t shock me if there were even a couple of defections from the right wing of the Labour party to the Lib Dems. Perhaps Corbyn will be the start of their rebuilding and fight back?

  30. “I wonder if the Lib Dems are even more eager to see a Corbyn win than the Conservatives seem to be.”

    Doubt it, given that Farron seems to want to return to opposing Labour from the left. He and Corbyn will be fishing for the same voters while centrist voters will trust neither and hold their nose and vote Tory.

    Also Farron has explicitly said he will never return to coalition with the Tories but is open to a future coalition with Labour. I can see the “vote Farron get Corbyn & Sturgeon” posters all over the south west already.

  31. So the Tories will likely benefit the most from a Labour Party led by Corbyn?

  32. I’d guess so yes, though as I’ve posted elsewhere they shouldn’t be too complacent given how dangerously volatile the modern electorate has become.

    The idea that Blairites will decamp to a ragbag party of oddballs led by Tim Farron is fanciful. Can you see Chukka Umunna, Tristram Hunt, Alistair Campbell and Alan Johnson in sandals and campaigning about dogshit in Newport Pagnell? No. They’ll fight from the inside and bide their time.

  33. An alternative we should not overlook is that a deluge of people will take inspiration from what happened in Scotland and bring some new party from nowhere to power in 2020.

    By the way one of the UKIP coiuncil’s first actions in Thanet has been to campaign about litter and dog mess, and they are not being criticised greatly for doing so. MPs need to be tackling big issues but that does not mean they can neglect the grassroots.

  34. “Also Farron has explicitly said he will never return to coalition with the Tories but is open to a future coalition with Labour. I can see the “vote Farron get Corbyn & Sturgeon” posters all over the south west already.”

    Quite a few LibDems are salivating at the thought of Corbyn… Farron is not fishing in the same waters as Corbyn because the goal will be to pick off the Labour Right… Farron’s focusses have already been announced as housing is number one.. while that has some overlaps with Labour it is scarcely nationalising private housing… and the electoral turkey of the Mansion Tax (in the LibDem version) was a Cleggite idea bizarrely enough..

    Vote Corbyn.. get Farron!

  35. A new party is not going to suddenly appear from nowhere without some big issue or grievance to spur their growth. Nor is it accurate to describe the SNP as coming from nowhere.

    That said, I think the disruptive effects of the Euro-referendum are likely to be much more substantial than people seem to think, and many of the factors that enabled the SNP to profit at Labour’s expense are there to allow UKIP to make progress with Tory voters.

  36. @Antiochian. The mansion tax was a Vince Cable idea actually: As popular as Vince Cable was with the public he did have a tendency to suddenly announce things to try and bounce the party which is one reason why he wan’t so popular with the party’s parliamentary party or internal bureaucracy.

  37. I think it’s clear that the only way the Libdems will ever make a comeback is if a “Black Wednesday” comes along or the Tories tear themselves apart over the EU.

    The latter may be more likely.

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