Liberal Democrat Defence List

These are the remaining Liberal Democrat seats ordered by the lowest percentage majorities. This does not necessarily mean that the seats at the top would be the most vulnerable Liberal Democrats seats in practice.

1. Southport Majority 1322 (3%)
2. Carshalton & Wallington Majority 1510 (3.2%)
3. Orkney & Shetland Majority 817 (3.6%)
4. Sheffield, Hallam Majority 2353 (4.2%)
5. Leeds North West Majority 2907 (6.7%)
6. Ceredigion Majority 3067 (8.2%)
7. North Norfolk Majority 4043 (8.2%)
8. Westmorland & Lonsdale Majority 8949 (18.3%)
Comments - 1,379 Responses on “Lib Dem Defence”
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  1. I think there is a good chance that many of these will be held, contray to the doommongering of many people. There will certainly be a swing agaist the tories which in most cases are the main challenges, altough there will be a few losses to labour, especially those without incumbants (brent). However the incumbancy factor and the effort going into defence should allow holds for most of them. Incidentally those speculating that Nick clegg may lose his seat are mistaken, its the third safest, practically a safe seat

  2. I also think the Lib Dems will hold more seats than many expect. However, contrary to what Jack says, we are very unlikely to see a swing from Lib-Con in 2015. I would expect the Lib Dems to lose 8-10 seats each to Labour and Conservative, and possibly 1 or 2 to the SNP, leaving them somewhere around 40 seats.

    There will of course be a bigger swing to Lab than to Con (though probably not by all that much), but the Lib Dem held marginals are generally more vulnerable to the Tories than to Labour.

  3. Sorry, meant to say we are very unlikely to see a swing from Con-Lib.

  4. In 2011, when the Tories were slightly ahead of Labour in the national vote share projection (Thrasher and Rawlings method – 38 to 37), the Lib Dems on 16% did indeed take a major hammering – at the expense of both the major parties in seats.

  5. at the hands of

  6. I have been contemplating Liberal prospects at the next election. Firstly existing Liberal held seats:

    Safe (11)

    Yeovil, Bath, Lewes, Bermondsey, Twickenham, Norfolk N, Sheffield Hallam, Westmorland, Fife NE, Ross & Skye, Orkney & Shetland.

    Likely Holds (18)

    Torbay, Devon N, Taunton, Bristol W, Thornbury, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Eastleigh, Eastbourne, Carshalton, Kingston, Colchester, Hazel Grove, Southport, Berwickshire, Aberdeenshire W, Caithness, Ceredigion.

    Tricky (12)

    St Ives, St Austell, Cornwall N (I don’t understand Cornwall), Wells, Sutton, Birmingham Yardley, Cambridge, Leeds NW, Cheadle, Edinburgh W, Inverness, Brecon & Radnor

    Probable losses (13)

    Somerton & Frome, Mid Dorset, Portsmouth S, Hornsey, Solihull, Bradford E, Burnley, Redcar, Berwick, Dunbartonshire E, Gordon, Argyll, Cardiff C

    Dead in the water (3)

    Brent C, Norwich S, Manchester Withington

    This means the Lib Dems are likely to retain at a minimum around 30 seats which means there is a significant chance of a further hung parliament when you take into account the 30 seats from Northern Ireland & nationalists. In addition the Lib Dems always manage to gain a seat or two, including at least one complete surprise, which is by definition unpredictable. In terms of seats where they are close I reckon Montgomery is their best chance. Other seats where they would seem to have a chance (4):

    Newton Abbot
    St Albans
    Oxford W

    Most of the other seats they lost last time will get an incumbency bonus and a declining tactical vote from Labour supporters.

  7. ”Safe (11)
    Yeovil, Bath, Lewes, Bermondsey, Twickenham, Norfolk N, Sheffield Hallam, Westmorland, Fife NE, Ross & Skye, Orkney & Shetland.”

    I agree. All these will be held.

    ”Likely Holds (18)
    Torbay, Devon N, Taunton, Bristol W, Thornbury, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Eastleigh, Eastbourne, Carshalton, Kingston, Colchester, Hazel Grove, Southport, Berwickshire, Aberdeenshire W, Caithness, Ceredigion.”

    I agree with almost all of these as well- However, I currently think one or two of these will be rather close for them- particularly West Aberdeenshire.

    ”Probable losses (13)
    Somerton & Frome, Mid Dorset, Portsmouth S, Hornsey, Solihull, Bradford E, Burnley, Redcar, Berwick, Dunbartonshire E, Gordon, Argyll, Cardiff C”

    I actually think they could hold Portsmouth South, in spite of everything that’s gone on there.

    As for your Brent Central, Norwich South and Manchester Withington, again agreed. For seats they might gain, however, I think they might not gain any, or at least there is a chance they will not- On that list I would add Truro and Falmouth as a target personally. I don’t think they will take Montgomeryshire, St Albans or Hereford, but Newton Abbot and Oxford West remain good shouts for them at the moment I reckon.

  8. I’d say Burnley is in the dead-in-the-water category too. I still think they can hold Portsmouth S (though in truth that is very hard to predict with confidence now) & Berwickshire but the other probable losses I feel are far more likely than not to be lost. I am not sure that Leeds NW will prove that tricky – I haven’t seen any evidence that Mulholland is any true danger there.

  9. Here’s my assessment of John Chanin’s list, remembering the election is still 18 months off, and much can change.

    Safe: I would move Bermondsey down to Likely Hold, and agree with the other 10.

    Likely Holds: I would move Hornbury, Cheltenham, Colchester, Hazel Grove, Southport and Ceredigion to Safe. I would move Carshalton and Caithness to Tricky. Agree with the other 10.

    Tricky: I would move St Ives, Cornwall N, Leeds NW and Brecon to Likely Holds. I would move Wells to Probable Loss. Agree with the other 8.

    Probable Losses: I would move Portsmouth S., Hornsey, Berwick and Cardiff C to Tricky. I would move Bradford E, Burnley, Dunbartonshire E, and Argyll to Dead in the Water. Agree with the other 5.

    Dead in the Water: agree with the 3.

    So I have:
    Safe (16)
    Likely Holds (15)
    Tricky (13)
    Probable Losses (6)
    Dead in the Water (7)

    As for possible gains, these are hard to predict. I see the following as most promising:
    Oxford W
    Weston Super Mare

  10. Guessing female representation in the party is going to be cut down considerably seeing as how more than half of them have vulnerable majorities, and two are standing down. If anyone holds, it’s possibly going to be Lynne Featherstone. She won on that huge swing in 2005 partly due to Barbara Roche’s unpopularity. Then increased her majority last time and looks semi-marginal.

  11. I don’t agree with JR about Hornsey & Wood Green (which he calls Hornbury). The swing needed to Labour is far too small for it to be described as safe. I think bearing in mind that a lot of its LD vote is basically liberal-left that a large chunk of it is vulnerable to Labour, but we will get a better idea when the results of next year’s local elections are known. I don’t think Cheltenham can be regarded as entirely safe but still agree that the LDs will probably hold it. Carshalton seems to me to be a “likely hold” – there’s no evidence that the Tories can muster the fairly sizeable swing they need to oust Brake, though Labour’s vote could surprise me by rising more than expected I suppose. I do agree that Argyll is close to being “dead in the water”, it’s clearly the seat which has the largest majority which could be so described.

  12. It’s nice to see this discussion has some realism injected into it. With the comments you see for online editions of newspapers, the readers seem to think the Lib Dems are on course to get wiped out. Couldn’t be further from the truth. They’ll no doubt lose seats but won’t be reduced to two seats or something like that

    Some pretty reasonable predictions above IMO.

    E.g. it’s absolute fantasy to think Clegg will be turfed out of Sheffield Hallam. He might be strongly disliked nationally, but that doesn’t reflect the complexion of local politics in Sheffield which are very specific. Especially in the part of the city he represents (and where I happen to live).

  13. couldn’t agree more. Those in the Labour Party (or even, who knows, in the Tories) who think that Clegg is vulnerable & devote unwanted attention to his seat are wasting their time. If I were in the Labour Party in this area, I’d definitely work predominantly in High Peak next door which could well be extremely close (although Labour’s strongest areas are much closer to Manchester than Sheffield).

  14. Barnaby

    I’m guessing “Hornbury” was Thornbury, not Hornsey

  15. I think there will be instances in 2015 where first time incumbents from the Lib Dems do rather well. It is traditional that this is the case in seats they’ve held over the years.

    I think the difficult ones to call for certain at the moment are the seats where they’re marginal with the Tories- a lot could come down to hard work in the end I feel.

  16. was phone canvassed yesterday by Lib dems in norwich S asking if i’d vote Lib dem to keep out Labour

  17. Yes, sorry for the typo, “Hornbury” was supposed to be Thornbury & Yate, which I think is more or less “safe”. At this point I see Hornsey & Wood Green as 50/50, though if really pressed I’d probably go for Labour.

    There are always surprises in the Liberal results. That they would do relatively better in Somerset than Cornwall last time wasn’t anticipated. And 18 months before the last election nobody thought they’d lose Montgomeryshire and Oxford West and Harrogate, but hold Torbay and Solihull.

  18. ‘There are always surprises in the Liberal results. That they would do relatively better in Somerset than Cornwall last time wasn’t anticipated. And 18 months before the last election nobody thought they’d lose Montgomeryshire and Oxford West and Harrogate, but hold Torbay and Solihull.’

    I was more worried about the seats in South West surburban London. But the Lib Dems built on their small majorities in Sutton & Cheam and Wallington & Carshalton, and comfortably held Twickenham and Kingston & Surbiton

    I was just as surprised at the losses in Cornwall. For a one-term MP Julian Goldworthy had a pretty high profile, seemed quite locally popular and was a rising star in the Lib Dems. I certainly didn’t expect her to lose, was very surprised they lost Truro (almost a natural Lib Dem seat) and the swing against them in St Ives was massive

    I thought they would hold Torbay, but didn’t expect them to lose Newton Abbott.

    Montgomery and Oxford West were shock losses too and Phil Willis had such a large majority in Harrogate that I though his successor might be safe for at least one term

    Expect more of the same in 2015

  19. “If I were in the Labour Party in this area, I’d definitely work predominantly in High Peak next door which could well be extremely close (although Labour’s strongest areas are much closer to Manchester than Sheffield).”

    Absolutely! In the Yorkshire and Humber region itself there are a number of seats that Labour are investing their time and energy on rightfully so. Although there is a candidate in place it would be naive to spend too much time on Sheffield Hallam. It is a seat I’m sure even the Tories have probably given up on (their vote fell below 30% in 2010 and the seat is trending away from them). No matter how much bad blood there is for Nick Clegg, elections aren’t won on seats like this.

    As for High Peak, you’re right. Labour’s main strength lies in and around Glossop.

  20. …….and the eastern end of Buxton, Neil, and in general elections New Mills, which tends to vote LD in local elections.
    Sorry I misunderstood you JR. Your assessment of Hornsey & Wood Green seems about right. I think it’s going to be close though at present I very slightly favour my party.

  21. I’d tend to disagree with some of the analysis posted thus far. Let’s break it down by seat:

    Solihull: Merely because it’s so close, this is a likely loss. Still, it’s against the Tories, but I’d tend to think that UKIP wouldn’t do so well, meaning that it will probably flip.

    Mid Dorset: Without the benefit of incumbency, since Brooke is retiring, there doesn’t seem to me to be much of a chance of holding out here. Not quite dead in the water (since UKIP does well in the South West, and it’s a marginal with the Tories), but close.

    Norwich South: The only real hope here is that, since it’s a three way marginal that got a very, very strong Green showing last time, Labour and the Greens split votes and Tories vote tactically for the Lib Dems. Even so, very, very likely loss.

    Bradford East: Yeah, this is gone. Even without the Holocaust denying stuff, it’d be a goner.

    Wells: I like the chances here better than some… If the Tories lose ground to UKIP, the Lib Dems COULD hold it. It’s not likely, but if they really push it, who knows.

    St. Austell & Newquay: I guess it depends on how Cornwall happens to be feeling… Without the experience brought by Andrew George in St. Ives, or the slightly larger majority in North Cornwall, I’d say this is the most likely loss in Cornwall. It’s possible the Lib Dems could lose St. Austell and then pick up Camborne or Truro.

    Brent Central: No Sarah Teether? Gone.

    Somerton & Frome: Without David Heath, I’d tend to think this will flip to the Tories, but who knows. It’ll be close, at least.

    Sutton & Cheam: The closest of the southwest London seats for sure, but I still think it’ll be held. That’s just a hunch, though. Probably a close one.

    St. Ives: Andrew George will hold this, I think. Historically, the Lib Dems do better in Cornwall when Labour does better nationally, so Labour’s strong polling could bode well for them.

    Manchester Withington: Probably a goner. John Leech got 44% last time around, but the Labour candidate got around 40%, so any real swing at all will flip it.

    Burnley: I think this one’s gone. Looking at local election results, the Lib Dems are doing far, far better in the south and in the Midlands (also, Wales) than they are in the north or Scotland, so I’d say we could see a situation where a lot of northern MPs are voted out, but the Lib Dems lose little ground in the south (thanks, UKIP!)

    Dumbartonshire East: Gone. It’s pretty much a done deal.

    Chippenham: I think they’ll hold this one, but it will be close. Very close.

    Cheadle: A close one, but I’d think if any Labour voters pick Lib Dems over the Tories, it could be held, narrowly.

    North Cornwall: I think they’ll hold this, but, again, Cornwall is fickle.

    Eastbourne: Hold? Yeah, I think a strong campaign here can pretty easily keep the Tories out.

    Taunton Deane: Well, well, well. Jeremy Browne. A few mildly sickening buses, one Mr. David Miranda, and a little too much right-winging later, and out of the Home Office it is. I wouldn’t rule out Browne switching to the Tories before the election, but if he doesn’t I think he’ll hold Taunton, narrowly. Very narrowly. If he switches, I think it’ll go Tory.

    Berwick-upon-Tweed: Without Alan Beith, I’d put this in the “loss” column. His majority got demolished last time around, so without him around, I’d say it’ll be a loss.

    Eastleigh: Well, they’ve proved they can hold it once, why not again? If I were Mike Thornton, I’d be optimistic. Typical of Eastleigh, though, it’ll be close.

    Birmingham Yardley: Loss. Loss, loss, loss, loss loss. It’s a loss.

    Argyll & Bute: Probably a loss, but if Labour, the SNP, the Tories, and the Lib Dems all compete, it’s really up in the air. Four-way marginals are not good fun to predict.

    Aberdeenshire West: Really, it depends on what the Tories and the SNP do. I’d bet on it being held, but who knows.

    Edinburgh West: Another potential four-way marginal, here. I don’t think Labour will win it, despite everything Electoral Calculus says. And the Tories in Lothian? I think the era of Tories competing in mid-Scotland might be over. I think the Lib Dems could hold it, but if the Edinburgh council elections were any indication, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Torbay: I think the Lib Dems will hold it.

    Cheltenham: Hold. Definitely a hold. The Tories won’t take it, and Labour isn’t competitive, so…

    Brecon & Radnorshire: Probably a hold, especially if both Labour and Plaid make a play for it.

    North Devon: Hold, most likely.

    Carshalton & Wallington: I think it’ll be a hold. It’d take the Tories too much effort to dislodge Tom Brake.

    Berwickshire: I tend to think Michael Moore can hold this, but I could easily be proved wrong. A Tory/Lib Dem marginal in Scotland is not quite the norm in this election, making Berwickshire a bit of an oddity.

    Redcar: I mean, it’ll probably be lost, but hopefully not by as much as some think. A good campaign could make this a graceful loss, at least.

    Hornsey & Wood Green: I think it’ll be a narrow loss, which is unfortunate, as far as female Lib Dem MPs go… There really won’t be many, if any, left.

    Portsmouth South: I haven’t been keeping track of what’s going on with Mike Hancock, but my understanding is that all of that affair will make Portsmouth an uphill struggle for the Lib Dems. I’d probably put it in the loss column, if I had to make a choice.

    Cardiff Central: Did anyone see the Assembly results here? It was close. Very close. Plus, Wilott voted “no” on tuition fees, and bucked the whip. That could gain her personal sympathy. I know it’s not conventional wisdom, but I think she’ll win.

    Kingston & Surbiton: Hold, probably.

    Cambridge: This will be interesting. I think it’ll probably go to Labour, but it’ll definitely be a good one to watch.

    Southport: Hold.

    Gordon: This’ll probably go, without Malcolm Bruce. But to Labour or the SNP? Probably the SNP, but after the referendum, if it loses, the SNP could get crushed. Who knows, really.

    Thornbury & Yate: Hold, almost certainly.

    Colchester: Probably a hold.

    Hazel Grove: Without Andrew Stunnell, this is a bit of a wildcard. I’d guess the Lib Dems will hold it, but… who knows.

    Lewes: I bet they’ll hold this one. Norman Baker’s vaguely crazy, but he’s the right kind of crazy, most likely, to hold a seat in a bad year for the party.

    Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross: I’m curious about this, as well as the other northern Scotland seats. Again, it depends how the SNP is doing, to some degree. I think John Thurso could hold it, but we’ll see.

    Inverness, etc: This one will be very, very interesting. Danny Alexander has been very involved in the coalition, and he’s probably a bit to the right for the seat he represents. I tend to think it’ll go Labour, honestly.

    Bermondsey: This one is a bit of an open question. The consensus above seems to think it’ll be held, but I’m not quite so sure. It’s Lib Dem vs. Labour, and those won’t be the best for them. That said, Simon Hughes has been there basically since the dawn of time, so I wouldn’t bet against him. I’d give it 60/40 that the Lib Dems will hold it.

    Twickenham: Hold. Of course it’s a hold.

    Bristol West: Judging by the not-completely-terrible Bristol Council elections lately, I think the Lib Dems can keep this, despite competing directly against Labour.

    Leeds North West: This could turn into a three-way marginal, honestly. In 2001, the Lib Dems were in third place, then Mulholland took it on a huge swing, with a slim majority. Now, he’s got a strong majority, with the Tories in second. If Labour bounces back, who knows what will happen. I’d bet on Mulholland holding, but I think it’ll be pretty close.

    Ceredigion: Well, we’ll see how it goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams’ 22% majority was a fluke, and Plaid either wins it back or reduces his majority to next to nothing this time around.

    North East Fife: Without Campbell, I don’t know how this will go… Really, I think it’ll be held, but it could be very close. That said, I don’t think the Tories will wind up winning it, which leaves Labour (who also won’t win it) and the SNP to fight for it…. The SNP has the Holyrood equivalent seat, but I doubt they’ll take this one. I’d say the Lib Dems will win it, but I wouldn’t be confident in that.

    Yeovil: Hold, obviously.

    North Norfolk: Hold.

    Westmorland & Lonsdale: Hold. If it’s a very bad result, Farron will probably end up as party leader, too.

    Bath: Hold.

    Sheffield Hallam: Hold. The only people who think Nick Clegg will lose this are those who have no conception of reality. Plus, even when they got pretty demolished in the council election, the Lib Dems held (with reasonable majorities) every ward in the constituency, so that bodes well for Clegg.

    Ross, Skye & Lochaber: Hold, obviously.

    Orkney & Shetland: Even in the nadir years of the ’50s and ’60s, when they won less than 3% nationally, the LIb Dems held this seat. It’ll be in Lib Dem hands until hell freezes over.

    Now for some potential gains. Lord Ashcroft’s polling of LIb Dem/Tory marginals has the two parties staying pretty much neck-and-neck, although with a pretty big swing to Labour and the UKIP.

    Watford: This could actually go Labour. It’s definitely a wild card, but I don’t think the Lib Dems will gain it.

    St. Albans: This seems like a slightly better bet than Watford, but I don’t think the LIb Dems will take it, either.

    Oxford West: I tend to think this could be a good opportunity. Will Evan Harris run again? Who knows. It’s one to watch.

    Harrogate & Knaresborough: This is a good opportunity, but as previously mentioned, the North could be rough on the Lib Dems. We’ll see.

    Camborne & Redruth: Labour could actually make a play here. A three-way marginal in crazy Cornwall? What an interesting idea. I’ll say the Lib Dems and Labour will split a lot of the vote, so it’ll stay in Tory hands.

    Truro & Falmouth: I actually like the odds for the Lib Dems better here than in Camborne. I tend to think they’ll gain it, if they gain anything.

    Newton Abbot: This is a good chance, but I’d guess it’ll stay Tory.

    Montgomeryshire: Without Lembit Öpik? I think they’ll regain this one.

    Oldham East & Saddleworth: Nope.

    Ashfield: This is really the only shot for a gain from Labour, but it probably won’t work out. Still worth a shot, though. Even one gain from Labour might be a good morale booster for the party if it’s a bad election (which it will be, one way or the other).

    Weston-super-Mare: This is a good opportunity. Labour could scrape up a few votes, which will leave the Tories and Lib Dems to fight it out.

    Hereford: Herefordshire’s local elections weren’t too rough on the Lib Dems. This might be one to explore.

    Devon West: Probably not, but if the UKIP does well, it’s a chance.

    Winchester: Without Mark Oaten, definitely worth a shot.

    Cornwall South East: I doubt they’ll win this one, but it’d be a shame not to try.

    Romsey: The only real hope here is if Labour voters in Southampton’s northern areas vote tactically. It’ll probably stay Tory.

    Maidstone: This is one of those oddball seats that could be an outside pickup opportunity. I’d keep an eye on it.

    Ludlow: This is one that most people haven’t been talking about. I think it’s a really, really good pickup opportunity, though, because the local elections in Shropshire saw the Lib Dems gain (yes, you read that right) quite a few councillors in the Ludlow area earlier this year.

    Anyway, that’s just my thought process.

  22. P.T. RICHARDS: There’s a lot of misinformation there and sumise and conjecture. Please, try to make some of your assumptions evidence based at least

  23. During the Eastleigh by-election, I seem to recall one of the journalists saying that a third of LD party members live in London (they were making day trips to Eastleigh).

    So any seat with an easy commute from London should have plenty of volunteers.

  24. I won’t be surprised at all if Hornsey and Wood Green or Redcar remain with the Lib Dems. Despite obviously being Labour target seats.

    In H&WG’s case, Lynne Featherstone really fought for that seat and took it into comfortable enough territory in 2010.

    While it would be pretty devastating if Labour didn’t take what should be safe territory for them, the swing in 2010 was monumental and has actually left Labour with more work to do. Not particularly impressed with their Redcar candidate.

    I’m on the fence in terms of Cambridge and Cardiff Central though.

  25. Am struck that P.T. Richards thinks Manchester Withington is ‘Probably a goner’, yet Yardley is a definite loss. If anything, totally the opposite. If nothing else, the Lib Dems still led locally in Yardley in 2012, but were absolutely annihilated the same year in Withington.

  26. P.T.’s list has its merits… it is no less scientific than much of the other estimation and projection going on in this site… indeed it is far more big picture than most where minutiae result in not seeing the wood for trees.

    at least he is not trying to predict turnout which reminds one of the old dilemma of how many angels can stand on the head of a pin..

  27. Burnley will be a lot more interesting than people think, IMO

  28. Bath is going to be safe, I wouldn’t advocate moving it. But with the (unsurprising) departure of Don Foster there is going to be a large scale bleeding of personal vote along with many tactical votes from Labour/green types who may back their natural parties again.

    It isn’t a Tory target seat though and the Libs should have a coalition of voters to see off the Blues reasonably comfortably.

  29. Sheffield Hallam (although I’m a Labour member there) will almost certainly not fall. The unspoken assumption among Labour there seems to be that they’re aiming to replace the Tories as the opposition in the seat.

    They should manage this – they only need to do 7% better than in 2010 to come second, and with a Lib Dem vote of 52% last time there are plenty of former tactical voters for the taking.

    So while Labour will probably make a big dent in Clegg’s majority, their chances of winning it are pretty slim unless another huge scandal strikes.

    Still, the significance of Sheff. Hallam isn’t so much the prospect of Clegg being unseated, but that Labour coming second would probably be the final nail in the Conservative coffin in South Yorkshire.

  30. That isn’t true. The tories have been outperforming national swings in south Yorkshire for a while.

  31. Hey Mr N. Good to see another Labour member here (I’m based in Reading). I remember when the Lib Dems started to hit rock-bottom round the student fees debacle, and a few too many Labour folks I know started talking with glee at the thought of kicking Clegg out of Hallam.

    Sufficed to say, such talk has evaporated now considering the Lib Dems still led locally by a good margin in 2011 and 2012. If we can’t beat the Lib Dems even at local elections in the constituency, we’re not going to be winning it nationally.

  32. “That isn’t true. The tories have been outperforming national swings in south Yorkshire for a while.”

    And the party is becoming increasingly competitive in several seats that have traditionally been safe Labour. It probably won’t be too long before they start winning a few of them.

  33. Their best prospects are Penistone & Stocksbridge, Rother Valley & Don Valley. I think it will be a while before the Tories actually win any of these but they will probably come close in 2 elections’ time, and conceivably win at least 1. I would be surprised if the Tories fail to win a S Yorks constituency before I’m of pensionable age. I’m 53.

  34. Well yes, I may have been exaggerating a little. Still, it doesn’t look good in Hallam if they drop to third where before 1997 they held the seat.

    They have no Sheffield councillors, which doesn’t bode particularly well.

    They may well stage a recovery – the thing is, it’s from such a low base it will, as Barnaby Marder states, take quite a long time of careful work.

  35. Think I might have said it earlier in this topic, but Labour ought to invest their time and money going after genuine target seats in Yorkshire and Humber like Dewsbury or Pudsey.

    Sheffield Hallam is not a swing seat and isn’t vital at all for election victories. Other than petty points scoring over Nick Clegg it’s not that big a deal. It’s going to remain comfortably Lib Dem in 2015 even though Clegg will probably see his majority and Labour stands a decent chance of coming 2nd.

    I can definitely see Penistone and Stocksbridge going Tory in another generation or so. The amount of rural area in this seat and affluent parts make this a viable target in the 2020s onwards. The Labour majority itself is marginal at the moment.

    I don’t know enough about Rother Valley to form an opinion. Has an absolutely stunning park of the same name though!

    Don Valley might take a bit more time, as long as Thorne, Conisborough and Hatfield continue to vote Labour. But the southernmost towns like Bawtry and Tickhill are Tory areas of strength. Surely Caroline Flint would be somewhat concerned about these future trends in her seat if it is moving gradually away from Labour.

  36. ‘And the party is becoming increasingly competitive in several seats that have traditionally been safe Labour. It probably won’t be too long before they start winning a few of them.’

    One subject that went relatively untouched in the 2010 election was how poorly Labour fared in their traditional, heartland working class industrial seats in places like Yorkshire and Co Durham

    Many of the majorities the party’s MPs enjoy in such seats are the lowest since the war, and with the Labour top brass becoming ever more cosmpolitian, trendy and middle class, the Tories are sure to start challenging in such seats once the UKIP bubble bursts

  37. Neil – I’ve said previously that, were I a member of Sheffield Hallam CLP, I’d devote much of my spare time to the neighbouring seat of High Peak (although the areas where Labour does well in that constituency are well away from Sheffield). High Peak looks to me like a potential knife-edge marginal that Labour has a good chance of winning, Hallam isn’t a prospect of a gain at present, and is unlikely to be for the foreseeable future.

  38. Barnaby,

    Remember many of the Labour members in Hallam are students at the universities who don’t have cars! At a GE they might be able to organise transport but for week-to-week canvassing our poor feet wouldn’t take it.

  39. P.T. Richards, my thoughts on some of those predictions of Lib Dem seats:

    Argyll and Bute is a four-way marginal in name only-Labour cannot realistically win it because Argyll and Bute does not have the significant working-class/ex-working class base Labour needs to have a chance of winning, and in 2011, many (multi-member, proportional) wards in this seat had no Labour candidates in them. The SNP stand the best chance of success here by a comfortable margin.

    North Devon may not be as easy for the Lib Dems to hold as you may think-especially given UKIP’s current choice of PPC and rising Green support in the Southwest region.

    Inverness is more likely to be won by the SNP than by Labour-Labour have never been very good with Highland constituencies like Inverness,trust me.

    Also, in the Southwest, UKIP are as good (or better) at damaging Lib Dem votes than Conservative votes, as local election results have shown during the last 3 years. In Solihull and Manchester Withington (which in fairness you have already predicted Lib Dem losses), Green strength in those areas will dash any remaining hopes of Lib Dem holds,I think.

    The Lib Dems’ prospects of gaining either Maidstone and the Weald or Ludlow are slim to zero,to be honest. Oxford West, Montgomeryshire, Watford and St. Albans and Truro & Falmouth are their only realistic prospects for gains in 2015-if they make any given their still terrible poll ratings at the moment.

  40. ‘-Labour have never been very good with Highland constituencies like Inverness,trust me.’

    Really? You appear to be totally unaware of the fact that Inverness was Labour-held from 1997 to 2005.

  41. Lotus, you raise good points, although I’d agree with Graham on the Highland seats bit, although Graham is overstating slightly––although Inverness was Labour until 2005, I think it can be said relatively safely that Labour’s Highland competitiveness was pretty much brought to a close when the SDP came onto the scene. It was in 1983, after all, that they were wiped out there, losing Caithness.

    I also don’t deny that the UKIP does cut into the Lib Dems, but I would argue that it does not do as much harm to them as to the Tories. I think the Somerset county elections in 2013 are a good point of reference, albeit a narrow one (although, I would note, they are an extreme example of a general southwestern trend in local elections lately): UKIP gained 17%, the Tories lost 12%, the Lib Dems lost 11%. The notable thing is, though, while the Tories lost six of their 35 councillors, the Lib Dems held at 18 (UKIP gained three). I also think that a lot of the Lib Dem loses went to Labour (which gained 7%) and the Greens (which gained 2%), not UKIP. That’s purely conjecture, of course, but I tend to think it’s a reasonable assumption. My point is this: If in a seat like, say Taunton Deane, the Lib Dems lost 11% (to 38%), the Tories lost 12% (to 30%), the UKIP gained 17% (to 21%), the Greens gained 2% (to 2%), and Labour gained 7% (to 12%) (coincidentally, exactly the percentage they lost last time around), the seat remains Lib Dem, with, in fact, an increased majority. Do I think Taunton Deane’s results (or a constituency nearby) would look like that? No, of course not. My point is simply that, if the Lib Dems take loses, but the Tories take greater loses, the Lib Dems could come out looking very good indeed in the Southwest. I also, personally, tend to think the UKIP craze will fade by the election, which, in my opinion, will benefit the Tories, not the Lib Dems, and will make it easier for the Tories to take Lib Dem seats, especially in the Southwest. If the UKIP do well, though, I’d think it could actually help the Lib Dems in the Southwest––not in terms of percentage of the vote received (they’ll lose quite a bit, obviously), but in terms of close contests with the Tories.

    You’re probably right on Argyll & Bute. I don’t really think Labour has a shot, but with that many parties with a high percentage of the vote, it’s volatile enough that the idea of Labour winning it deserves some credibility. I do agree, though, that in both Inverness and Argyll the SNP is a much, much greater threat to the Lib Dems than is Labour.

    I agree that Maidstone and Ludlow are longshots, as I did originally say, but I do really think the local elections in Shropshire paint a very good picture for the Lib Dems in Ludlow, at least. I doubt they’ll gain it, but I’d imagine it would be worth a serious look and a strong effort. They haven’t always been great at translating local success to national success (and, admittedly, vice versa, at times), but if their ground operation is decent there (I don’t actually know, not being too familiar with the area), it might, just might, be worth a shot.

    I tend to think you’re wrong about North Devon––it seems reliable enough, in my mind––but you seem to have more information on it than do I. It’ll certainly be one to watch.

    One thing––in response to no one in particular––that I have been noticing is that the Lib Dems are (wisely) selecting many women as PPCs in seats in which they either have incumbents retiring or that they lost in 2010. Clearly, they’re worried (and again, rightly) about having a grand total of zero female MPs come 2015. With Sarah Teather and Annette Brooke retiring, plus Jenny Willot, Jo Swinson, Lynne Featherstone, Lorely Burt, and… do they really not have any other women in Parliament? Really? I must be forgetting some… Well, with their other female MPs in less-than-secure seats, it certainly makes sense. Just an observation.

  42. And JJ: I’d note that my observations are no less scientific than many of the posts already on this thread, and elsewhere on this site. You’re well within your rights not to like that, but if you don’t, you could direct your criticism against a rather extensive list of individuals, not just myself. Just an observation.

  43. You forgot Tessa Munt

  44. Thanks, Antiochian. Still, not many, are there?

  45. The PPC list is well-peppered with female candidates.. particularly in some winnable current seats..

    I heard that Oxford East selections were called for a second time as there were no female candidates on the long list let alone the short one.. an interesting contrast to foisting AWS on constituencies’ members.

  46. Julia Goldsworthy might have held her seat but for the boundary changes in 2010. Even that was a narrow one, so there’s some scope to gain that (though I’m not sure how much). Sandra Gidley was already on thin ice when her majority in 2005 was reduced to three figures. Susan Kramer had a fair-ish chance of holding I thought at the time, but it wasn’t to be.

    The only current LD woman MP who stands a good chance of holding is Lynne Featherstone.

    I would predict Layla Moran has a fair shot at gaining Oxford West and Abingdon though.

  47. Jane Dodds in Montgomeryshire..?

  48. Julie Porksen in Berwick upon Tweed?

  49. Good points about Moran and Featherstone. I also think Julie Pörksen in Berwick, Vikki Slade in Mid Dorset, Lisa Smart in Hazel Grove, Helen Flynn in Harrogate, and Jane Dodds in Montgomeryshire all have fair shots. Even some down the target list––Jackie Porter in Winchester and Lucy Hurds in South Herefordshire––might have a shot. Pretty clearly, someone at Lib Dem HQ looked at their list of MPs, went, “oh god, what happens if we don’t have any women?” and started the ball rolling on packing winnable seats with female PPCs.

    Of the candidates above, I’d agree with you on Moran, certainly. Hazel Grove might be one of the best chances to get another woman to Westminster for the Lib Dems, as well, and I personally think they’ll regain Montgomeryshire. While Slade probably won’t win in Mid Dorset, it could be an interesting fight, and if they’re feeling nervous about seats like Solihull, Wells, Hornsey & Wood Green, and so on (which I’d bet they are), they might be smart to put a fair bit of resources into marginals with the Tories where they’re standing female candidates. If the Lib Dems lose all their women in Parliament, or even if they go down to one or two, they’ll look ridiculous. Already, they have very few.

  50. With 11 months to go I have decided to make some early predictions. Two things spring to my mind:

    1. First Incumbency most advantageous especially for LDs
    2. I believe several LD seats will be held due to a high UKIP vote as I believe LD and Con will both lose votes in LD defences but more Con votes than LD votes meaning LDs hold on a lower share of the vote than in 2010.

    I am inclined to think all seats starting with Thornbury and Yate on this list will be held. As for the others:

    Solihull Con
    Dorset Mid Con
    Norwich S Lab
    Bradford E Lab
    Wells LD or Con
    St Austell & N LD or Con
    Brent C Lab
    Somerton & FromeCon
    Sutton & Cheam

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