In the weeks before the General Election, we provided a region-by-region battleground profile for England and Wales. In light of the result we now revisit these posts to see how things played out, and this week we look at the Conservative performance in the North East.
- The Conservatives picked up Berwick-upon-Tweed, which they lost way back in 1973, which has probably raised the Tory floor in the North East by one. James Wharton also entrenched himself in Stockton South, turning a 2010 super-marginal into a comfortable hold. However the failure to make further progress in seats like Darlington and Middlesbrough South, and the continued slippage in once-solid Tynemouth, is cause for concern.
- Like the Tories, Labour also took a seat off Nick Clegg, with Redcar returning to the fold with a five figure margin that suggests it is trying to put 2010 behind it. They will be pleased to have stalled the Conservative offensive against their own marginals, but Wharton’s result suggests that a Tory who overcomes the initial hurdle of getting elected can become a much more durable threat, which will doubtless focus their attention all the more on their vulnerable seats in 2020.
- The Liberal Democrats were wiped out, with Alan Beith unable to pass Berwick-upon-Tweed to a successor and their improbable 2010 victory in Redcar unwinding decisively. They also dropped out of contention in City of Durham, the only seat we’d identified as a possible target for them.
Targets by party:
(NB These were our own suggestions of potential attack seats for each party – including those officially designated as targets and others where the incumbent had a relatively small majority, or local factors were at play which might have opened the seat to change.)
>Berwick-upon-Tweed: Held by Liberal Democrat giant Alan Beith since he captured it in a 1973 by-election, his standing down posed the best Conservative chance here in a generation. Anne-Marie Trevelyan saw off Beith’s would-be successor to secure a Tory majority of almost 5,000 votes, gaining 4.4 per cent of the vote whilst the Liberal Democrats shed almost 15.
>Darlington: This was Michael Fallon’s seat until it fell in 1992, but despite a torrid night for Labour the Conservatives only advanced fractionally here, cutting just 230 votes from Labour’s 2010 majority of 3,388. Both major parties profited near-equally from the Lib Dem collapse, adding 3.7 and 3.5 per cent respectively.
>Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland: The Labour lead here actually widened, from 1,677 to a still-competitive 2,268, as Ed Miliband’s party picked up more Liberal Democrat defectors than the Tories and advanced by exactly twice as much. Nick Clegg’s party once again ceded third position to UKIP, but this is another two party seat.
>Tynemouth: From a low of just 4,143 in 2005 Labour have continued to rebuild their majority here, and it now stands at 8,240. The Conservatives actually fell back since 2010 in both raw votes and vote share, whilst Labour gained an extra three points as the Lib Dems lost another deposit.
>Stockton South: A very narrow win in 2010, James Wharton unseated Labour here by just 332 votes and they may have been confident of a comfortable recapture. Instead the Tories picked up an additional 7.8 points whilst Labour stalled, and the blue majority is now a much more solid 5,046.
>Redcar: This was a shock gain in 2010, when Ian Swales overturned a Labour majority of over 12,000 to see off Vera Baird, then the Solicitor General (who has since gone on to become Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria). In ordinary circumstances one might expect him to dig in and extend his already comfortable 5,214 majority, but it was not to be. His would-be successor shed almost 27 points and took 18.5 per cent of the vote, a mere 0.1 ahead of UKIP, whilst Labour is back with a majority of 10,388.
Liberal Democrats: 0/1
City of Durham: Labour’s 2010 majority of just over 3,000 became a 2015 one of 11,439 as the Liberal Democrats lost 26.3 points and plunged into fourth place, just behind UKIP. The Conservatives, represented by ConservativeHome’s very own Rebecca Coulson, picked up an extra nine per cent to take second place.