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 examine Labour’s single success story: London.
- The Tories fell back slightly in terms of seats, gaining three from the Liberal Democrats but losing four to Labour (one of which, Ilford North, we did not examine in our battleground survey), whilst falling short in three seats they could have taken. However, it would have taken just over 2400 additional votes across the four seats the Conservatives lost to hold them all, which would have transformed the narrative regarding the two main parties’ position in the capital.
- Labour had a good night in London, taking seven seats from the Coalition parties across the city and coming within a hair’s breadth of an eighth in Croydon Central. Hendon bucked the trend by shifted decisively towards the Conservatives and they failed to lay a finger on Mike Freer in Finchley and Golders Green, results which some claim as evidence of the party’s deepening troubles with Jewish voters. Combined with the narrowness of their other gains and reports of the Tories’ improved performance with minority voters, Labour should be careful not to take their position in London for granted.
- Given the seats they lost, the Liberal Democrats should count themselves lucky that Tom Brake managed to maintain a foothold for their party in the capital, for his was far from the safest. The seats they lost to Labour look gone for good, but they may hold out some hope of overturning the more slender Tory majorities in the South West. However it remains to be seen to what extent their vote will unwind next time: Zac Goldsmith turned his 4,000-vote capture of Richmond Park last time into a 23,000 majority in May.
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.)
>Carshalton and Wallington: Of the four Liberal Democrat seats the Tories were targeting in London, this might have seemed one of the more vulnerable. Tom Brake’s majority was cut from over 5,000 to a slender 1,510, a few hundred higher than his previous close shave in 2005. A future Conservative target for certain, but for now Brake is the last Lib Dem MP in London.
>Hampstead and Kilburn: Simon Marcus will be very disappointed not to have overturned Labour’s ultra-marginal majority of just 42. The Liberal Democrat collapse saw both main parties gain substantial vote shares, but Labour’s rise of 11.6 kept them ahead of the Tories despite the latter’s 9.6-point advance. Tulip Siddiq returns to Parliament with a still-competitive lead of 1,138, but this seat is emblematic of the Conservative Party’s shortcomings in London. The Liberal Democrats lost 25 points, and fell completely out of contention from a previous close third.
>Harrow West: A missed opportunity in 2010 when the neighbouring, safer seat fell to the Tories, Gareth Thomas’ majority here was cut by almost a thousand but he picked up enough votes from the Liberal Democrats to win by 2,208.
>Kingston and Surbiton: The Conservatives only advanced by 2.7 points here, but the Lib Dems shed fifteen and Ed Davey’s vote seems to have splintered between Labour, the Greens, and UKIP as his majority of over 7,500 evaporated. James Berry enters the Commons with a majority of 2,834, and the Lib Dems will have their eye on this one next time out.
>Sutton and Cheam: Paul Burstow had a majority of just 1,608 in 2010, but the Liberal Democrats’ increasing dominance of the local council suggested that they had managed to buck the national trend against them. Instead they shed 12 points, and as in Kingston and Surbiton the vote went in different directions, with Labour and UKIP the main beneficiaries. New MP Paul Scully actually slipped back in terms of vote share, but now enjoys a majority of almost 4,000.
>Twickenham: Scalp of scalps, Vince Cable’s 12,000 majority looked impregnable. Indeed the sort of gentle advance seen in the other Tory targets would not have unseated him, but Dr Tania Mathias secured a 7.2 point increase in her share of the vote, almost half of the 16.4 per cent shed by the Liberal Democrats. Her majority is now just over 2,000, and unless Cable stands again she might expect to extend that next time as the Lib Dem vote unwinds.
>Battersea: Jane Ellison captured this seat last time with a majority of 5,977, and a five-point increase in her vote share added a further two thousand to it this time. She seems to have taken roughly half of the ten points shed by the Lib Dems, whilst Labour advanced by fewer than two points.
>Bermondsey and Old Southwark: The swing from the Liberal Democrats to Labour was almost direct: the former shed 14 points whilst Labour picked up 13.8, and Simon Hughes’ majority of over 8,500 became a Labour one of almost 4,500. The Tories slipped back, but were not a close third to begin with.
>Brent Central: Sarah Teather won this new seat for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 with over 20,000 votes and a majority of 1,345. Her would-be successor took fewer than 4,000 votes, and shed almost 36 points as Labour’s Dawn Butler captured the constituency on her second attempt with an unassailable majority of almost 20,000. The Tories gained 9.2 points and moved into second place, almost doubling their vote.
>Brentford and Isleworth: Had this seat not been in London it seems almost certain that Mary Macleod would have held on: her 2010 majority of just under 2,000 became a Labour one of just 465, despite an increase in the Tory vote share of almost six points. Alas Labour hoovered up more Liberal Democrat defectors, advancing by over ten points.
>Croydon Central: An eye-wateringly close result, Gavin Barwell clung on by the skin of his teeth as his 2010 majority of almost 3,000 was slashed to just 165 votes. He actually achieved a 3.6 point increase in the Conservative vote, but Labour advanced by more than nine.
>Ealing Central and Acton: A third seat where the Tories fought Labour incredibly close: Angie Bray substantially increased both her share by almost five points and added almost 4,000 votes to her total, but was swamped by a Labour effort engorged by Liberal Democrat defectors. Rupa Huq enters Parliament with a majority of just 274 votes.
>Enfield North: Another Tory-Labour battleground, another close result: Joan Ryan and Nick de Bois faced off for their fourth general election since 2001 and alas, the former won by just over 1,000 votes. De Bois’ share was down by less than a single percentage point and his raw vote was actually up, but a five point boost to Labour from the disintegrating Lib Dems put Ryan over the line.
>Finchley and Golders Green: Labour barely scratched Mike Freer’s majority, which fell by fewer than 150 votes to 5,662 whilst he added 4.9 points to his vote share and took over 50 per cent of votes cast. Labour added six points as the Lib Dems lost their deposit, but it wasn’t enough.
>Harrow East: Bob Blackman had a good night: he added 5.7 points to his share and took more than 50 per cent of the vote, returning to the Commons with a majority of 4,757 (up from 3,403 in 2010). Labour added just over three points to their own share, not nearly enough.
>Hendon: Matthew Offord snatched this seat in 2010 by just 106 votes, and former Labour MP Andrew Dismore must have been confident of recapturing it this time. Instead the Conservative majority now stands at 3,724 after Offord took 49 per cent of the vote. Labour’s share actually slipped back by 0.6 per cent, although a rise in turnout still saw them put on just over 1,000 votes.
>Hornsey and Wood Green: After unseating Barbara Roche in the great Liberal Democrat surge of 2005, in 2010 Lynne Featherstone secured a solid majority of almost 7,000. Unfortunately her party shed almost 15 points last month whilst Labour picked up just under 17, and Catherine West enters Parliament with a majority a shade over 11,000.