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 - 770 Responses on “Lib Dem Targets”
  1. the Lib Dems holding on to anything like 50 seats is about as likely as the Tories gaining Blaenau Gwent

  2. Or Plaid Cymru winning in Islwyn. Yes

  3. Max, both of the above were unique local circumstances, Grimond and Thorpe were hugely impressive personalities and worked hard in seats with strong Liberal tradition.

    I think the two are still required for any form of Liberal gain which is why a mix of Watford (strong candidate) and Montgomeryshire (strong tradition) would have been perfect, as it is both have element of one but not the other (ofc you could say voting a Liberal major is a tradition in Watford)

  4. Glyn Davies was the MP .. he hasn’t been the assembly member since 2007

  5. Just for clarity – Glyn Davies lost the Assembly election for Montgomeryshire in the early days to Lib Dem Mick Bates, twice if I recall, but was on the Conservative Regional List and became a Member for the Mid and West Wales Region. Eventually he was not voted high enough on that list by Conservative members in the region and so lost his seat when the party won constituency seats in the region.

  6. I think Watford is an outside chance for them, and possibly Montgomeryshire or Oxford West. There might be a gain that no-one is even thinking about (remember Redcar last time).

  7. Davies has lost in Montgomeryshire before so he can do it again. One to watch

  8. It will not be a pleasant night for many Lib Dems tomorrow night but there may be some highlights. For Oxford West and Abingdon and for Watford there is Ashcroft polling evidence that they are making progress towards overturning majorities, and in Montgomeryshire there were special factors last time that are not present now and they have mounted a massive campaign as far as I can see. It would not surprise me to see one or more of these gained but I cannot see why Maidstone and the Weald is viewed as a target.

  9. @Brazin – I think that it more a idea of consolidating ground for 2020 when I’m guessing they’ll hope to be closer to 15 than the 10% they appear to be closing in on as we come down to the wire

  10. Despite have been accused of giving predictions when I haven’t and refraining from doing so… I have kept my powder dry until the bitter end so here goes…. I think the LibDems will get around 40 seats (including three to four gains)… publish and be damned as they say…

  11. Are you banking on a “late surge” Antiochan? It looks like a bit of a Deepthroatian prediction to me!

  12. Tsunami.. LoL

  13. My final prediction is a range: 27 – 32 seats for the Lib Dems.

    I’ve arrived at this by placing the relevant seats into 5 categories: A – pretty safe; B – leaning LD; C – too close or unclear; D – outside chance; E – little or no chance. To save space I won’t bother listing Cat E.

    CAT A
    Bath, Carshalton, Cheltenham, Colchester, Eastbourne, Eastleigh, Leeds NW, North Norfolk, Orkney & Shetland, Southport, Sutton & Cheam, Thornbury, Twickenham, Westmoreland, Yeovil (16 seats)

    CAT B
    Cambridge, Cheadle, Hazel Grove, Kingston, Lewes, Sheffield Hallam (6 seats)

    CAT C
    Bermondsey, Berwickshire, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Birmingham Yardley, Brecon, Ceredigion, N Cornwall, St Ives, Torbay, Watford (10 seats)

    CAT D
    Caithness, Cardiff C, E Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh W, Gordon, Hornsey & WG, Mid Dorset, Montgomeryshire, N Devon, NE Fife, Oxford W & Abingdon, Portsmouth S, Solihull, St Austell & Newquay, Taunton Deane, Wells (16 seats)

    To achieve Antiochan’s prediction the Lib Dems will have to win all of Cats A-C and half of Cat D.

  14. I second the confusion over Maidstone &W – unless there are some major “local factors” :p. So far as I can see there are 3 realistic chances (Montgomeryshire, Watford, Oxford W&A) and nothing else looks remotely plausible, to me.

  15. I know there will be boundary changes, but I thought it was worth looking for seats that the Lib Dems were not defending where they got at least 15 percent of the vote. There’s not much hope here — many of these seats now have a massive Conservative vote.

    Oxford West 29
    Montgomeryshire 29
    Winchester 24
    Maidstone 24
    Newton Abbot 24
    Dorset W 22
    Harrogate 22
    Cambridgeshire SE 20
    St Albans 18
    Watford 18
    Cotswolds 17
    Cornwall SE 17
    Truro 17
    Guildford 15

  16. Looking forward to Holyrood 2016, I note that the Lib Dems have already chosen their list positions:

    That means that any of the Lib Dems voted out in Scotland this year will have to win a consituency next year to be elected.

    Evidently, this is an almost impossible challenge for:
    Danny Alexander (Probably won’t bother – Lib Dems 4th in Inverness)
    Charles Kennedy (Probably won’t bother)
    Alan Reid (Probably won’t bother – Lib Dems 4th in Argyll & Bute)
    Jo Swinson (Lib Dems 4th in Clydebank/Milngavie and Strathkelvin/Bearsden – it’s notable that both her and her husband lost their jobs on Thursday)
    Robert Smith (Abshire West is Mike Rumbles’ ex Holyrood seat, and he’s number one on the list).
    John Thurso (Lib Dems 28% behind in Caithness).
    Michael Moore (Lib Dems starting from 3rd in Berwickshire. Sure to be an SNP vs. Tory battle.)

    That means the only real possibility is:
    Michael Crockart (Margaret Smith not on the Lothians list, so Edinburgh Western might be free – Lib Dems starting from 2nd, 8% behind SNP. Possibility of Unionist tactical voting).

    Also, Christine Jardine will be competing against Alison McInnes MSP to contest the vacant Abshire East seat, since McInnes was place 2nd on the North East list.

  17. JR

    V interesting list, thank you.

  18. On the list I posted on May 11th, I missed
    Richmond Park 19

    Among the worst results in areas of former strength were

    Totnes, 10%, 5th place
    Isle of Wight, 7.5%, 5th place
    Sussex Mid, 11.5%, 4th place
    Meon Valley, 10%, 4th place
    Camborne & Redruth, 12%, 4th place
    Hull N, 9%, 4th place
    Chesterfield, 14%, 4th place
    Sheffield C, 10%, 4th place
    Oldham E & Saddleworth, 13%, 4th place

  19. We should congratulate Barnaby Marder on a very creditable 7.3% increase in the Labour vote in Richmond Park. Hope he’s back soon.

  20. You can probably credit the collapse of the Lib Dems for that. I doubt Labour lifted a finger in Richmond. Barnaby seems to have spent much of the election in Brentford and Acton which are more worthy of congratulation. I was very surprised Brentford remained so close.

  21. ‘We should congratulate Barnaby Marder on a very creditable 7.3% increase in the Labour vote in Richmond Park’

    I think Zak Goldsmith deserves congratulations for turning a very marginsal Con/LD seat into an ultra-Conservative one and increasing his majority by almost six times

    It was obvious he was going to get a good swing in his favour but this result is almost as good for the Tories as the 20,000 majority they have in the gained Somerton & Frome

  22. I keep musing on the fact that the man most responsible for the Lib Dems’ destruction managed to hold onto his seat.

    I wonder if those Tories who switched to Clegg in Hallam would have bothered if the national polls had been accurate and shown Clegg as irrelevant to whether there was a Tory or Labour government.

  23. ironically if the polls were not so wrong Clegg probably would’ve lost but the LDs might have retained a few more seats in places like Lewes and SW London.

  24. “I keep musing on the fact that the man most responsible for the Lib Dems’ destruction managed to hold onto his seat.

    I wonder if those Tories who switched to Clegg in Hallam would have bothered if the national polls had been accurate and shown Clegg as irrelevant to whether there was a Tory or Labour government.”

    Surely it benefits Labour nationally for Clegg’s glum face to still be on the shrunken Lib Dem benches. While he’s still there the Red Liberals won’t be coming back any time soon, even if the party shifts radically back to the left under Farron.

  25. On balance. But it would make me feel a hell of a lot better personally if he’d lost.

    2020 election in Hallam (or whatever it becomes after boundary changes) is going to be fascinating if Farron takes the party leftwards but Clegg is still the MP. Three-way marginal territory, particularly if Coppard and Walker (both pretty strong candidates, even if Walker got squeezed out) stand again.

  26. Clegg may stay for this parliament, but I would be astonished if he runs again in Sheffield at the next election.

    I agree with John Smith that Clegg would have lost if the polls were right, and that the Lib Dems might have held a small number of seats they lost narrowly.

  27. Just out of interest (not sure where to ask this really) but would the Lib Dems have done better or worse if AV had gone through? Just wondered seeing as Con + UKIP would be around 50% in most seats and a lot of Labour and Green supporters might not have bothered ranking the Lib Dems

  28. Hemmelig: As I am arguably a red liberal, I might dispute that – I joined the party shortly after Clegg resigned (by which I mean literally 12 minutes).

    For your edification, delight, and mockery, the new Lib Dem target list (compiled as this one, seats with the smallest majorities over the LDs), top 50 seats in order:
    Thornbury and Yate
    East Dunbartonshire
    Kingston and Surbiton
    St Ives
    Edinburgh West
    Sutton and Cheam
    Bermondsey and Old Southwark
    North East Fife
    Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
    Ross, Skye and Lochaber
    Portsmouth South
    Brecon and Radnorshire
    Cardiff Central
    North Devon
    North Cornwall
    Hazel Grove
    Birmingham, Yardley
    St Austell and Newquay
    Argyll and Bute
    Oxford West and Abingdon
    Bristol West
    Bradford East
    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
    Hornsey and Wood Green
    West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
    Maidstone and The Weald
    Mid Dorset and North Poole
    Newton Abbot
    Norwich South

    Usual caveats apply, as Norwich S and Watford for example the party is below second place, but they keep in this roughly-hewn top 50 targets because the winning value was so low. Oddly, this fact puts target 68 as Thurrock, despite the Lib Dems only getting 1.3% of the vote there. 😛

    The dashed lines show 5% vote margins, which gives you an idea of the actual predicament here – there are seats within the top 50 that require a good quarter of the vote added on to win. The top chunk are definitely winnable in 2020, I think; maybe a couple of pickups from category 2. It’s just hard to see where they’re going to get the big swings from beyond that.

  29. All I can say RE this section now is LOL.

  30. It gives you an idea of the slide that in 2015, the largest majority on the target list was 11%. Now it’s over 25%. The target gradient has become far steeper for 2020.

  31. amazing to think that Burnley and Torbay would need smaller swings than supposedly “fortress” seats like Eastleigh or Yeovil.

    But of course all that’s on paper. The Lib Dems have now lost incumbency in these seats (so easy to overstate that though) – many of their former MPs won’t be running again and after seven (?) years now of heavy losses at council level there’s not exactly a lot of obvious replacements.

  32. That’s true. I think they’ll only continue to fall back in these former fortresses into 2020 as well, unless they select very strong candidates who can really run the Tories close- I think the Lib Dems are going to have to build from scratch and perhaps focus their local government efforts in areas where they were never previously all that strong.

  33. “I think Zak Goldsmith deserves congratulations for turning a very marginsal Con/LD seat into an ultra-Conservative one and increasing his majority by almost six times” I wonder if there will be a similar swing in Twickenham, Kingston or Sutton next election. Though Zac Goldsmith is individually a popular MP. The former Lib Dem seats of SW London (except Carshalton) could easily be safely Tory again. Kingston and Sutton are not going down at the heel like Redbridge and Enfield.

  34. Twickenham could certainly become a fairly safe Tory seat as the banker demographic continues to trickle through from Richmond. Not so sure about Kingston and Sutton. Sutton in particular still has a heavily Lib Dem council and with the next local elections they not due until 2018, the LDs have a few years to regroup and get themselves in a position where they can challenge for the parliamentary seat in 2020.

  35. ‘Kingston and Sutton are not going down at the heel like Redbridge and Enfield.’

    But the opposition to the Tories in SW London are the Lib Dems – which is just as middle class a party as the Tories are

    Having said that I agree with the rest of the analysis.

    The Lib Dems local base in Sutton should keep them competitive there and Kingston & Surbiton is not as affluent as it was when both seats were safely Tory.

    Twickenham on the other hand might well swu g mote heavily to the Tories – especially with their newly elected MP

  36. I would imagine that the Lib Dems would target Edinburgh West, Fife NE, Aberdeenshire West at next May’s Holyrood elections as well as seeking to retain Shetland and Orkney.

    Can’t see any other remote prospects.

  37. Edinburgh West….ment Edinburgh Western…

    Other 2011 loses such as Edinburgh South and Dunfermline are gone for the Lib Dem!!!

  38. ‘Other 2011 loses such as Edinburgh South and Dunfermline are gone for the Lib Dem!!!’

    I don’t recall Dunfermline having ever voted Lib Dem, at least not in the past 70 years or so

  39. @Tim Jones

    Lib Dems (Willie Rennie) won the Dunfermline WM seat in a by-election in 2006.

  40. James B… good to see you took the plunge… I haven’t posted here since the election as have been immersed in the Members Forum of LibDemVoice which frankly seems like an alternative universe to what is being said in the outside (real?) world.

    While Labour is going through all sorts of paroxysms of grief over a result that was a quantum better than the LibDem outcome, the ostensibly more damaged of the two parties is in a positive ferment of ideas and, dare I say, optimism, that even surprises me.

    The membership surge that JB is part of is heralded as a turn, moreover a rejection of Cleggism. The leadership election is protracted but taken on a certain inevitability which people are already looking beyond. Libdems are holding welcoming parties for new members at which Tim F has turned up and even Clegg has made appearances. Strange times indeed…

    As for target seats, the vibe is that reclaiming old territory is maybe not the priority, with more of a focus on regions and prospective territory. Moreover many have grasped the reality of the boundary review and are talking of scouring wider areas for potential dominance building. The rationale being that if borders are redrawn then focussing on just the current patch of a held seat or a lost seat is fallacious and that the territory surrounding them must be cultivated as well to serve all eventualities.

    The onetime strength in local government is seen as the foundation stone to rebuilding.

    Repurposing ex-MPs is a key focus and it has been noted by people inside (and few observers outside) that many of these MPs have thrown their support openly or tacitly behind Tim Farron. Same is true of some of the more prominent PPCs for held or target (2015) seats.

    As for Tory majorities.. easy come, easy go… there were more than a few lame ducks in the Tory intake that need to watch out in case the ground moves beneath them. Beyond that we have Cameron sitting on a pretty thin majority and the natives in his camp have not even begun to get restless.. Let the fun begin… Austerity, euros, Scotland….

    Labour may be dreading the next few years but there is definitely a sense of purpose and excitement in the LibDem camp that is inconsistent with a maybe wider view that the party is in wound-licking mode. Like the Viet Cong digging themselves into their underground mazes the LibDem activists have been storing weapons and supplies for a long guerilla war..

  41. Lib Dems (Jim Tolson) then also won the Dunfermline West seat in the 2007 Scottish election (seat was abolished in 2011).

  42. Antiochian has that all pretty spot on. In many ways it’s easier to move on when you’ve had an utter catastrophe than it is when you still argue about why you lost badly an election you expected to do much better in. Labour will spend at least until their new leader is elected arguing over that and probably long afterwards with the new leader alienating one part of Labour’s 2015 coalition or the other unless they are really, really good. Meanwhile, we have to rebuild from the ground up and that’s so blatantly obvious to everyone in the party, whoever leads us knows that too.

    As far as our future targets go, if general elections over the last 20 years have shown us anything it’s that you can get huge swings over an election or two from one side or the other. I’m not exactly expecting this current government to be overwhelmingly popular in 2020 either…

  43. By rejecting the Lib Dems so decisively I do think many voters have denied themselves being represented by hard-working and well-meaning locals who know and care about the constituents they represent

    The likes of Norman Baker, Paul Burstow, Steve Webb, Lynn Featherstone and Ed Davey deserved better than to be beaten by lesser qualified opponents, many of whom I doubt will be full-time MPs

  44. Those pesky voters eh?What do they know?

  45. AKMD, I believe the demographic of Richmond Park and other seats like Putney and Wimbledon is already spreading slightly into Kingston the once heavily Lib wards like Canbury and Beverley are now Conservative it will perhaps now spread from New Malden down the A2043 or 213 bus route into Worcester Park and Sutton.

  46. Antiochian’s post reads like a script from Citizen Smith. The scope for “potential dominance building” is about as high for the Lib Dems today as it was for the Tooting Popular Front. In the real world it is touch and go whether the Lib Dems can remain a significant. And relevant force in British politics. The rump of the remaining party must recognise this if it is to have the slightest hope of standing still, let alone beginning to recover.

  47. I can’t say I personally see the likeness between the Lib Dem activists and the Viet Cong, but maybe that’s just me.

  48. H. Hemellig I totally agree, personally I think the Lib Dems won’t be as relevant in the next ten years. The next sets of locals will determine how they go. The only councils in London I will confidently say they will hold seats are Kingston and Sutton and it may not be very many seats in the former. They can no longer be the protest vote party. Places like Southwark North were only Lib Dem voting because of the local MP who is now gone so where is campaigning machine someone unknown is not going to convince the undecided to vote Lib Dem.

  49. More seriously, there are seats that are gone – Bermondsey, Redcar, probably most of the rural Scottish seats, and others that they may well recover in just by not being in Government and the potential for people to be fed up with the Tories by 2020.

  50. The Labour Party’s membership has surged too but no-one is suggesting that optimism can possibly be justified at the moment. My own constituency has gone up from 520 to 600 in a fortnight. That doesn’t mean that a socialist revolution is coming to Richmond-upon-Thames.

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