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 - 771 Responses on “Lib Dem Targets”
  1. How isn’t he going to have a job?

  2. IF he loses Hallam, presumably. It is very unlikely but tactical unwind of Tories who have voted for him in the past could make it close.

  3. From what I’ve heard, word on the ground is that Clegg is incredibly safe and a defeat would be incredibly shocking.

    Clegg, Farron, Carmichael and Mulholland are certs to be reelected. Probably Williams, too. The other two incumbents and one open seat are vulnerable, though, and I expect they’ll lose at least one, probably two, maybe three of those.

    I think we can tell from where May is campaigning that the Tories do fear LD gains at this election and are campaigning defensively against them.

    So I think five seats is probably the dead bottom. Also, let’s remember, the LDs are still a little above where they were in 2015 in the polls (actually, more than a little, relative to their vote share), so it’s not like they’re going backward, just not gaining as much as they were a few days ago.

    My guess remains 12, +/- 2 or so.

  4. “Also, let’s remember, the LDs are still a little above where they were in 2015 in the polls (actually, more than a little, relative to their vote share), so it’s not like they’re going backward, just not gaining as much as they were a few days ago.”

    But their vote is much higher in Inner London than 2015, meaning that there will be places where it is lower, perhaps including areas where some of their remaining seats are located. They do risk piling up votes in Inner London where they are useless, and losing the likes of North Norfolk. Your forecast of 12 seats isn’t unreasonable but I suspect it’s on the higher end of their expectations now.

  5. Interesting trajectory re. Lib dems; they seem to have dipped since the campaigns began. I think the more people see of him, the less they like him. I can’t think of why else they are actually going backwards in some polls.

  6. Farron I mean. He seems to be having a slightly negative effect on their polling. I say this because he seems by far the most visible figure on their campaign. Does he stay as leader regardless of the actual lib dem result?

  7. “I think the more people see of him, the less they like him.”

    I think that’s 100% right.

    Farron seems like the kind of leader best suited to winning the Danny-on-the-Wold parish council by-election. A national campaign has exposed him as totally out of his depth. He’s the only Lib Dem/Alliance leader I can recall who has had no gravitas whatsoever. Plus his preachy oddness and swing to the left have been a turn off. Basically he’s fishing in the same voter pool as Corbyn, which is never going to yield much.

  8. “Does he stay as leader regardless of the actual lib dem result?”

    Can’t think who the alternative might be.

    Perhaps Lamb or Olney if they manage to hold their seats.

  9. lamb if he clings on. I think Zac will win in Richmond. He must have a pretty well oiled machine. He has plenty of resources in terms of boots on the ground and network. The lib dems seems to be more out in force in Twickenham.

    As far as the betting is concerned (I know they get things very wrong, believe me), zac is marginally favoured in Richmond, while sir Vince is strongly, 2 to 1 on, favoured in Twickenham. Think the Tories could hold Twickers but this may just be wishful thinking on my part

  10. I totally agree with that sentiment. I still haven’t worked out who I’ll vote for yet (Con until this year’s locals, when I voted LD). Brexit makes it hard for me to vote again for the Conservatives, especially as my local MP is Owen Paterson. But Farron really is a turn off with his mix of ‘red’ LD politics, religious fervour and questionable support of LGBT rights. Give me an old fashioned Liberal like Lamb and I’d be much more certain. It makes me wonder if the polling would be any different if Lamb had won the leadership contest.

  11. I’m very similar to you WJ. The main difference being that my MP (Soames) is much easier for me to vote for than Paterson would be.

  12. I agree with HH totally on Farron though I’d add that not only has his leftward views on some issues probably hurt him amongst many Tory inclined voters some of his rightward views have done the same for lefties. The whole “gay sex is a sin” debacle really hurt him amongst liberally inclined metropolitan types, his confession to having a Thatcher poster in his room as a child was a stupid self inflicted wound that probably cost him thousands of potential votes and just today rumours that he wants to ban abortions are making the rounds on Twitter. He’s really managed to annoy both left and right with his eclectic strain of village vicar do-goodery..

    Looks like he’ll have to settle for the Danny-on-the-Wold parish council by-election…

  13. Honestly it might have to be Tom Brake if he clings on. Is Alastair ‘blatant scumbag’ Carmichael safe? He might take it? Err…Lynne Featherstone? Let a lordess do it?

  14. tom brake’s days as MP for Carshalton for now are numbered, surely?

  15. I think blatant scumbag may breach impartiality rules

  16. If they lose seats and are down to the yellow taxi number of seats (5 or so) it’ll have to be between Carmichael, Mulholland, Williams, Farron staying on or Clegg making an unwanted comeback.

    Surely a peer is a total non-starter.

    Cable is too old whether he wins or not. Davey might be an option if he wins Kingston back.

  17. others, including guido, are cottoning onto the fact that the libs could actually go down in seats at this election. all the UNS models suggest this. from hanretty to baxter and others.

    I’d quite like to stephen fisher’s predictions. he is quite interesting.

    What about our old friend deepthroat. in a few years’ posting on this site, I think he has the best feel for this stuff, in terms of guestimating vote share and actual results, of anyone who posts here.

    He was very good on the general election in 2015, always suggesting the tories would get back in. His brexit call was brilliant. I actually made money on his 52 to 48 leave to win call, when many on this site were extremely doubtful.

    wonder what he makes of this election.

  18. I was going to suggest Thurso to take them back to their ancient liberal traditions – if they’re down to just 5 or 6 MPs – but just spotted he isn’t standing in Caithness as he won a hereditary by-election last year so is now back in the Lords as Viscount Thurso!

  19. Hereditary by-election? Sounds like an oxymoron

  20. On a wider note I wonder if an MP being leader is an absolute must, certainly for Labour. Khan, Rotherham and Burnham can all claim to have larger personal mandates than any MP would. Maybe some out-of-the-box thinking could be required by Labour to make one of their mayors the overall party leader with a different parliamentary party leader?

  21. Yes, the number of hereditary Peers was fixed in perpetuity (well under the Strathclyde deal and until we ever get around to reforming the Lords – if ever), so each time one passes away, there’s a by-election [amongst the group they sat with ie Tory, Lab, LD or crossbenches].

  22. If the LDs don’t advance, I think they have a few options. First amongst those options, if she wins, is Jo Swinson. I think the party would get behind her very quickly.

    Next up would be Lamb if he holds, or even a return to Clegg.

    However, I think the “Lib Dems going down” talk is still premature, for a few reasons.

    1. Tory actions show them defending against the LDs, not so much targeting them (with a couple minor exceptions).
    2. Scotland is a bit of a different beast, and they look certain to gain a seat or two — and maybe three — there.
    3. I think, and polling bears this out, that the LD vote increase/decrease will be heavily uneven. That makes predicting individual seats substantially harder.
    4. Their vote share is still up on 2015.

    I still think mild gains are more likely than not, 12 +/- 2. I could be proven wrong, of course, but on balance I think they’ll pick up as many as 6 and lose a couple.

  23. Lib dems have had a dreadful couple of weeks, no momentum whatsoever. Not even sure Vince gets back in. Also if labour are polling well nationally, surely even Cambridge is tricky for the lib dems!

    Currently, Mr Pitts 12 seats look ambitious for the yellow team

  24. The LDs are draining support because of a bizarre manifesto, an incompetent leader and the inherent squeeze of 3rd parties in FPTP elections. They will be lucky to hold even 5 of their current 8 seats (IMO Carshalton, N.Norfolk and Southport are almost certain Tory gains) and may lose others.

    They might gain 1 seat in SW London (out of Richmond/Twickenham/Kingston), 1 in provincial England (out of Bath/Cheltenham/Cheadle) and 1 in Scotland (out of Edinburgh West/East Dunbarton/NE Fife). I don’t expect them to gain any seats from Labour.

    That would be zero net change on 2015. However, the poll trends suggest that they may drop to 5-6%, which could mean no more than 2 seats in total.

  25. The following seem plausible vote shares based on current polling:

    GB: Con 48%, Lab 32%, LD 5%, UKIP 3%, Green 2%
    Scotland: Con 29%, Lab 19%, LD 5%, UKIP 1%, SNP & Greens (who are only contesting 3 seats north of the border) 45%

    Putting these figures into Electoral Calculus gives the following result for GB (632 seats): Con 377, Lab 199, SNP 52, PC 4.

    The LDs have disappeared!!! Even upping their GB vote share to 6% would only give them 2 seats.

  26. Electoral Calculus is a blunt tool. Suggestions that Tim Farron could lose his seat are utterly for the birds.

    I still think they can hit 15, though they will certainly have downgraded their ambitions a little since the beginning of the campaign.

    They’re pretty decent favourites in Twickenham, Bath, Cambridge and Edinburgh West. Plausible that they pick those up while losing Carshalton, Richmond, Southport and Norfolk North and ending up breaking even – though for me that’s a worst-case scenario. I doubt that they will lose seats, even if their vote share remains in single figures.

  27. @ Poll Troll

    I broadly agree with you; I think that the LDs will end up with about 8 seats. Your suggested gains and losses are in line with my expectations. However, I expect a Labour hold in Cambridge: many of the students will have gone down by 8/6/17 as it is close to the end of term.

    I was merely conjecturing that if the LD poll ratings drop any further they are at risk of being wiped out, but of all the 9 seats that they are defending, Farron’s is the least likely to be lost.

  28. Looking at some (couple weeks out of date) regional polling, I think the idea of “LDs in free fall” is less on the ball than “LDs are going to do very, very differently in different regions.”

    Some examples:
    • Almost doubling in the two recent London polls (7.7% to 14%)
    • Rise in SE (9.4% to 15%)
    • Holding in SW (15.1% to 16%)
    • Rise in East (8.2% to 12%)
    • Mild rises in Yorks, Midlands, NW
    • Decline in NE (6.5% to 6%)
    • Steady in Wales, maybe slight increase
    • Slight decline in Scotland.

    No matter their overall percentage, I think these patterns will hold, and be even more pronounced seat to seat. I could see a situation where the Lib Dems actually fall back a bit in some regions (NE being the obvious candidate, but maybe even SW, though I doubt that) while still gaining seats in London, SE, and Scotland (albeit with a lowered overall share).

    I think this election will actually be the antithesis to last time. Then, we were all thinking the LDs vote would hold up far more in their held seats, but it ended up being a pretty sharp swing against almost everywhere. Now, it seems people are looking at the national share, but there’s a fair bit of evidence it will be quite localized.

    Still, look at it this way: the Tories are barely up in London since ’15, Labour are very slightly down, LDs way up, Greens slightly down. What’s to stop, say, LD gains in Twickenham and Kingston (I actually doubt the latter, but never mind) while simultaneously losing North Norfolk? That’s more what I see happening, rather than a general decline.

    On the flip side, those gains in London could come entirely in wasted votes in the central part, coming distant (but much closer than 2015) seconds to Labour and the Tories in seats they can’t possibly win.

    Hard to say.

  29. @ Mr Pitt

    You could be right and maybe also the dementia tax will help them with Tories who won’t make the full switch to Labour.

    But those polls you quoted were a significantly better time for them on UNS- maybe 11% (difficult to judge with long fieldwork dates) as compared to maybe 8% now- I guess we simple don’t know where they have dropped off.

  30. Farron has had a good few days scoring goals on the Dementia tax and was called “Fiery Farron” in the Mail on Sunday. The polls seem to have stabilised for them at 8-9% on fieldwork before that. Who knows, but I think a mild uptick is more likely than further losses..

    I am not sure what was “bizarre” about the Lib Dem manifesto other than the evidence-based but unpopular pledge on cannabis which is usually there. Otherwise it seems a good deal less bizarre than “punish Tory voters” (Tory manifesto) or “promise everyone everything and hope we don’t get in (Labour manifesto)

  31. In Scotland you have to remember the Lib Dems are not fighting the Tories but the SNP, and Tories showed a strong inclination to vote tactically in the Holyrood elections. SNP are down a few ℅ and that gives them a fair chance of gains

  32. Shevii: Yeah, I did mention they were outdated.

    Still, it would still be the case that there were major regional variations, and some with increases (the national scene is still up on 2015, after all).

    Andrew, I think, is right as well: Scotland poses some strong possibilities. I actually think E Dunbartonshire is being ramped too much; that one might not be as good for the LDs as people thing. Edinburgh West and NE Fife still look like strong prospects, though, and even Caithness is a possibility, albeit not a close one (though the betting markets have it as such).

  33. Is NE Fife Mings old seat?

  34. Yes, and Willie Rennie gained the equivalent Scottish Parliament seat last year

  35. Yeah; Rennie overturned an 8.7% majority into a 10.1% majority.

    Notably, Huw Bell — the 2015 Tory candidate — also stood in the Holyrood election, where he was down 2.2% of the vote from 2011 (he was down 5.5% in the Westminster election the year before, too).

    It’s a 9.6% majority at Westminster for the SNP; I don’t think it’ll be too hard for the LDs to pick up a few unionist tactical voters, plus some direct SNP switchers. Scottish Green isn’t standing, which should help SNP a little. It’ll be close, but I’d be willing to say Riches has the upper hand by a fair margin.

  36. I think they will end up with 6 or 7 seats or so, losing 4 or 5 but gaining 2.

  37. I think that would be absolutely devastating for them. Not the end, perhaps (they did worse before, of course), but it’d still be catastrophic.

    Return of Clegg as leader in that case?

  38. I don’t think having Clegg back as leader would work, it would only remind people of the coalition and his broken promises.

  39. I expect there to be no change in LD leader post the GE, but that he (Farron) will be their sole MP and have no other MPs to lead.

  40. You think they’ll lose Orkney & Shetland to the SNP?

  41. Considering how far backwards the Libdems are going in the polls, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

  42. Well, poll-wise the Lib Dems are pretty much where they were two years ago. The SNP is down ten points. The Lib Dems hit 60% in both Orkney & Shetland at Holyrood last year.

    To speculate under those circumstances that the Lib Dems are going to lose is bizarre, though I must confess it’s the sort of seat that does its own thing and might not necessarily follow the national picture.

  43. But SNP is back even more on 2015, so that’d equal an LD hold just on swing. Exactly as Polltroll said.

  44. Lib Dems have dropped from 7.5% to 4% in Scotland…why are they going to be making any gains?

  45. The LDs in Scotland have been reduced to essentially a vehicle for anti-nat tactical voting in a select number of seats. That means they’ll hardly show up in the Scottish polls and lose a truckload of deposits, but are still likely to win 3-5 seats. At the SP election they gained constituency seats from the SNP on a marginally reduced vote share so it is possible.

  46. Is there a narrative of the Tories & Lib Dems in Scotland (less Labour, it seems) sort of becoming a joint unionist force? That is, the one (particularly Tories) support the other when the other is better placed to win?

  47. Isn’t the main meme being pro or anti Tory, even in Scotland. If so, the LDs only stand a chance of winning/retaining seats in prosperous cosmopolitan areas where Labour (in Scotland the SNP, and in Y Fro Gymraeg PC) aren’t in contention.

    In GB, the election isn’t about constitutional matters; Brexit is in process and IndyRef2 won’t happen until 2021 at the earliest. Parties that have focussed on Brexit will suffer in the campaign as people vote on economic and other issues that directly affect them; Labour have hit the right note in the topics they are concentrating on and have gained in the polls during the campaign.

    PS: Constitutional matters are an issue in the 6 counties as a harder border across Ulster is a probable adverse consequence of Brexit with major economic implications.

  48. “In GB, the election isn’t about constitutional matters; Brexit is in process and IndyRef2 won’t happen until 2021 at the earliest. Parties that have focussed on Brexit will suffer in the campaign as people vote on economic and other issues that directly affect them.”

    That is a very perceptive comment which instantly explains much of what has happened this past month.

  49. @Mr Pitt

    It seems that way. I do wonder if Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie might have had a quiet word about soft-pedalling in seats the other is more competitive in: I note very little LD focus on Gordon and very little Con effort in NE Fife, for example. Of course once in parliament Scottish LDs will, assuming there is a Con govt, take the same oppositional approach as English and Welsh Lib Dems.


    That was true pre-2014. But in Scotland everything since then has been about the independence question, relegating even Brexit to essentially a second order issue. That will continue to be the case as long as the SNP are in power and talking about another referendum.

  50. This election very much IS about constitutional matters, regardless of anyone’s wishful thinking on here (or anywhere) otherwise!

    That’s not to say that Labour (aided by Tory manifesto holes) haven’t made a decent fist of making it about giving away free sweeties that nobody has to pay for (in their world) and everyone likes to get.

    And Manchester – which rightly also superceded some of the immediate constitutional concerns on the agenda. However, they are still there even if not being talked about as much. You can be sure they will feature strongly in the last week of ‘final messages to voters’ though.

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