In the weeks before the general election, our Election Battlegrounds series provided overviews of the state of the battle in the nine English regions and Wales. With the results in, we thought we would revisit these areas and provide a brief overview of how the parties did.
- The Conservatives came out of the North West with a score draw, based on the seats that we examined, taking three of the nine targets we identified but losing three seats to Labour. Two of these gains were from the Liberal Democrats, so in the Tory-Labour battle the latter came out ahead.
- Labour also took one third of the seats we identified as possible targets, including three from the Tories and two from the Liberal Democrats, and managed to take an important scalp by unseating Esther McVey in Wirral West. In general however incumbent MPs tended towards increasing their majorities, and the party will need to greatly improve its performance if it is to seriously challenge the Conservatives for power in 2020.
- It is testament to how bad a night the Liberal Democrats had that the best way to look at its North West result is “Not quite a wipe out”, as the Tories missing out on Southport by just 1,332 votes leaves the party with a foothold in the region. However it has been extirpated from Greater Manchester, where it formerly held three seats.
- UKIP managed to hold on to second place in Heywood and Middleton, but failed to run at all close to actually winning it. Meanwhile the party saw its vote increase dramatically in several other seats on our list, but these were battlegrounds between other parties and UKIP did not move into contention in any of 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 potentially open the seat to change.)
>Bolton West: With a Labour majority of just 92 after the last election this seat was our benchmark for the success of Cameroon Conservatism in rebuilding the party as an election-winning force outside the South. Its new Conservative MP, Chris Green, won it with a majority of 801 despite a rise in the Labour vote.
>Wirral South: A clear sign of the advantages of incumbency, Labour MP Alison McGovern managed to add almost four thousand to the Labour total whilst the Tories flatlined, extending her first term majority from 531 to 4,599 this time.
>Chorley: Another seat where the Labour incumbent extended their lead whilst the Tories stalled. Lindsay Hoyle MP is now 4,530 ahead of the Tories, compared to just 2,593 in 2010.
>Cheadle: Lost to the Liberal Democrats in 2001, Conservative Mary Robinson regained this south Manchester seat with a majority of 6,453.
>Blackpool South: Yet again Labour increased their majority here, from 1,852 to 2,585. This was in the context of both major parties falling back in terms of actual votes, with UKIP in particular gaining ground and placing third with a 17.3 per cent vote share.
>Hazel Grove: Despite a much larger Liberal Democrat majority than neighbouring Cheadle, William Wragg secured a swing sufficient to see him home with a similarly large Tory majority of 6,552.
>Southport: The Conservatives had a mountain to climb to overturn John Pugh’s 6,000 majority here and fell 1,332 votes short, leaving Pugh one of eight Liberal Democrat MPs in the new House of Commons.
>Bury South: Another Labour constituency, another extended majority. Ivan Lewis retained this Greater Manchester constituency with a majority of almost 5,000, up from just under 3,300 in 2010.
>Hyndburn: Graham Jones added 1,310 to the Labour majority here, taking it up to 4,400 as the Conservative vote share fell by two points.
>Lancaster and Fleetwood: Eric Ollerenshaw took this new seat for the Tories in 2010 with a majority of just 333. Labour’s Cat Smith unseated him and now has her own slender majority of 1,265.
>Blackpool North and Cleveleys: Tory Paul Maynard extended his majority here from 2,150 to 3,340, and the Labour vote actually fell compared to 2010.
>Carlisle: Following the pattern of strong incumbent performances, John Stevenson put on over two thousand votes and enlarged the Conservative majority by almost as much, taking it to 2,774.
>Wirral West: One ray of light for Labour will have been the unseating of Esther McVey. Labour’s Margaret Greenwood turned a Tory majority of 2,436 into a Labour one of just 417.
>Bury North: David Nuttall bucked a trend here, being an incumbent who held on but suffered a slashed majority. Labour’s James Frith ran him close and cut his margin from 2010’s 2,243 to just 378.
>Manchester Withington: Despite some optimism on the part of local Lib Dem campaigners the party got demolished here, losing almost 21 points of vote share and seeing John Leech’s 1,984 majority converted into a Labour one of almost 15,000.
>Morecambe and Lunesdale: David Morris comfortably increased the Tory lead here from 866 to just under 4,600, whilst Labour lost over 2,000 voters and 4.6 points.
>Pendle: Labour added four points but it wasn’t enough to stop Andrew Stephenson putting almost 2,000 on to the Tory majority, taking it to 5,435.
>City of Chester: Seized by an incredibly narrow margin, Stephen Mosley’s 2010 majority of 2,583 is replaced by a Labour one of just 93 votes.
>Warrington South: An unusual seat where both parties saw a big increase in vote share, yet the Tories’ 7.9 per cent boost kept them ahead of Labour (whose own boost was 6.1 per cent), adding just under 1,200 votes onto David Mowat’s majority, taking it to 2,750.
>Weaver Vale: Graham Evans took this safe Labour seat by just 991 votes in one of 2010’s surprise results. His margin was even thinner this time, with just 806 votes between him and Labour’s Julia Tickridge. Both major parties and UKIP increased their vote share as the Liberal Democrats collapsed here.
>Rossendale and Darwen: Incumbent Jake Berry secured a 4.8 point increase in the Tory vote share and an enlarged majority of 5,654. Labour’s much smaller rise was dwarfed by UKIP, who took third place and added 10.6 points to their share
>South Ribble: The Tories lacked the benefit of incumbency here as Lorraine Fullbrook, who captured the seat in 2010, was standing down. However successor Seema Kennedy managed to secure a small increase in the Tory share and a slightly bigger majority of 5,945.
>Burnley: Gordon Birtwistle took this seat in 2010 with a majority of just 1,818 but despite his short tenure the Lib Dem collapse here was much less dramatic than elsewhere. Labour’s Julie Cooper enters Parliament 3,244 votes ahead of the yellow team, who have managed to retain second place.
>Crewe and Nantwich: Like Norwich North, this Conservative by-election win from the Gordon Brown days has proved trickier to retake than Labour might have expected. Incumbent Edward Timpson suffered a 4.6 point swing against him and saw his majority cut from 6,046 to a still-comfortable 3,620.
>Heywood and Middleton: UKIP managed to hold onto second place here, but couldn’t repeat their near-miss from the by-election. Labour’s Liz McInnes transformed her majority from 617 to 5,299.