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 next is a region where the two main parties fought to a stalemate: Yorkshire and the Humber.
- The night in which they ousted Ed Balls was never going to be a terrible one for the Conservatives, but it was their only gain from our target list and in many other seats with vulnerable majorities, such as Great Grimsby and Caroline Flint’s Don Valley, the party went backwards. If the Tories want to start winning comfortable majorities again, they need to break far further into this region than they seem able to at present.
- Labour lost their Shadow Chancellor, furnishing an already bruising shock defeat with a “Portillo moment”. They doubtless expected to do much better here than they did, and missing out on seats like Pudsey will have stung. Yet their recapture of Dewsbury got them a score draw with the Conservatives, and ousting the Liberal Democrats, in the unsavoury form of David Ward, from Bradford East leaves them ahead on points.
- Nick Clegg’s party did comparatively well here: Yorkshire and the Humber is now the only region of the UK to return more than one Liberal Democrat MP! Both Clegg in Sheffield and Greg Mulholland in Leeds look like they can hold their seats until they retire. Yet this region really emphasises the price the party has paid for power: its position has disintegrated in a string of seats that were near-misses in 2010.
- As in most other regions, UKIP’s position improved dramatically and it is now the third party across swathes of Yorkshire. However this has not translated into seats or even many competitive positions: of its two real targets, it came third in Grimsby and whilst it took second in Rotherham, its position is uncompetitive and, without a second public scandal to drive their vote, seems unlikely to strengthen.
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.)
>Batley and Spen: New MP Jo Cox held this seat for Labour and added 1,500 to their majority and taking it to over 6,000. The Tories dropped 2.3 points whilst UKIP added 18, with the Lib Dems losing their deposit.
>Bradford East: The Tories were in third place here in 2010, taking almost 11,000 votes and falling fewer than 3,000 short of Labour. This time their position collapsed, shedding 15.5 points and taking fewer than 4,700 votes. They held on to third place, but UKIP put on ten points and fell only a few hundred votes short.
>Don Valley: Caroline Flint looked vulnerable after 2010, with a majority of just under 3,600. It now stands at almost 9,000, and the Tories fell back by 4.4 points whilst UKIP added 19 and came within a thousand votes of second place.
>Great Grimsby: This seat hasn’t returned a Tory MP since before the Second World War, but it fell just 714 votes short last time. Our 2010 candidate, Victoria Ayling, was standing for UKIP this time but long-term incumbent Austin Mitchell was standing down. His successor, Melanie Onn, now has a majority of 4,540 over the Conservatives (who fell back 4.2 points) whilst UKIP is just over 450 votes behind us, having picked up 18.8 points.
>Halifax: The Tories fell just 428 votes short here, which will sting given the 1,472 majority Labour had after the last election and the fact that the previous incumbent wasn’t standing again. We gained five points whilst Labour added 2.6, just enough to keep them ahead.
>Leeds North West: This was a rather optimistic inclusion, but the Tories were in second place in 2010 even if they were over 9,000 votes behind. Despite his party’s disastrous night Greg Mulholland held on with a majority of 2,907. Labour put on 9.1 points whilst the Conservative lost 7.9.
>Morley and Outwood: Our point of light: Andrea Jenkyns overturned Ed Balls’ majority of 1,101 to squeak home by 422 votes. The former Shadow Chancellor actually put on 0.4 points of the vote share, but Jenkyns gained 3.6 whilst the Lib Dems lost 13.4 and lost their deposit.
>Penistone and Stocksbridge: Angela Smith won this new seat with a majority of just over 3,000 last time, but secured a much more comfortable one of 6,700 last month. Labour gained 4.3 points and the Tories shed 3.5, whilst UKIP picked up 18.8 extra points of the vote and took a competitive third place.
>Scunthorpe: Nic Dakin’s 2010 majority of 2,549 must have looked vulnerable, and whilst he managed to extend it slightly it still stands at only just over 3,100. The Conservatives only managed to add half a point to their vote share whilst Dakin added 2.1, and UKIP took an extra 12.6 points.
>Wakefield: Like Scunthorpe, Labour managed to bolster a slender lead here (by exactly 1,000 votes) but it remains competitive at 2,613. The Conservatives slipped back by 1.5 points whilst Labour gained a point, the Liberal Democrats lost 13 and UKIP took 18.3 on their first try, but remain outside competitive range.
>Bradford East: David Ward captured this seat (on a night of disappointment for his party in 2010) by just 365 votes, and was always going to struggle to hold on. Labour have thrown him out and now have a majority of over 7,000.
>Brigg and Goole: Andrew Percy took this seat in 2010 with an already comfortable majority of 5,147, but it now stands at a commanding 11,176. He gained more than eight points of vote share whilst Labour actually fell back by almost six. UKIP took 15.5 points but remain in a distant third.
>Cleethorpes: Martin Vickers enjoyed the same story as Percy: his majority of 4,300 from capturing the seat last time became one of almost 7,900, as he gained 4.5 points and Labour slipped back by 3.4.
>Colne Valley: Both the major parties increased their vote here, with the Lib Dems shedding 22.2 points and UKIP failing to compensate. Jason McCartney took almost 5,000 extra votes and added more than 500 to his majority, taking it up to 5,378.
>Dewsbury: Labour benefited from the Lib Dem collapse here, overturning Simon Reevell’s 1,526 majority and securing one of 1,451 for Paula Sheriff. Reevell actually put on 4.1 points on his 2010 share, but Labour added 9.6 whilst the Lib Dems shed 13.4.
>Elmet and Rothwell: Alec Shelbrooke’s 2010 majority of just over 4,500 became one a shade under 8,500. He added 5.8 points to his vote share whilst Labour shed 0.8, the Lib Dems lost almost 12 and UKIP took an extra 8.3.
>Keighley: Kris Hopkins captured this seat by 2,940 in 2010, and last month he slightly extended his majority to 3,053 as the Tories and Labour advanced by almost identical amounts: 2.4 points against 2.3. The Lib Dems dropped by more than 12 points and lost their deposit, but were not competitive in any case.
>Leeds North West: Labour took second place off the Tories, gaining 9.1 points whilst the Conservatives dropped by 7.9, but the Liberal Democrats held on by almost 3,000 votes.
>Pudsey: As with several other new Tory MPs in this region, Stuart Andrew managed to leverage incumbency into a substantially larger majority than his 2010 winning margin. His majority now stands at 4,501, compared to 1,659 in 2010. Despite Labour adding 2.5 points to their share of the vote Andrew added eight, and must have taken at least some of the voters who abandoned the Lib Dems during their 17-point drop.
>Sheffield Hallam: Labour had high hopes of a scalp here, but Nick Clegg’s 15,000 majority proved too durable. Despite shedding 13.4 points he held on by 2,325, taking 40 per cent of the vote. Labour added just short of 20 points to their 2010 share and knocked the Conservatives into third, but if Clegg didn’t lose this time it will probably take his resignation to unseat the yellows here.
Liberal Democrats: 0/4
>Harrogate and Knaresborough: Had Cleggmania turned out as expected, this seat would not have fallen last time. Andrew Jones took it by just over 1,000 votes in 2010 but a seven-point rise in his share of the vote, combined with a 22-point disintegration of the Liberal Democrat position, saw him home with a majority of 16,371 in a seat that had a Lib Dem majority of almost 10,500 in 2005.
>Kingston upon Hull North: Another of the last election’s broken promises, Clegg’s party fell just 641 votes behind Labour in 2010. The Labour majority now stands at 12,899, with the Lib Dems falling into fourth place after shedding more than 28 points.
>Sheffield Central: Yorkshire really was the could-have-been kingdom for the Lib Dems in 2010: they fell just 165 votes short here last time. In May they lost more than 31 points, falling into fourth as Labour picked up 13.7 extra points and the Greens added an extra 12.
>York Outer: Conservative incumbent Julian Sturdy added more than 9,000 to his majority, picking up 6.1 points and a victory margin of more than 13,000 votes. The Lib Dems dropped by 24.4 points, but Labour only gained 7.7.
>Cleethorpes: UKIP gained 11.4 points compared to 2010, taking 18.5 per cent of the vote and knocking the Lib Dems into a deposit-losing fourth. However the two main parties maintained their grip on this seat, and the People’s Army are not yet competitive here.
>Great Grimsby: One might have expected that fielding the candidate who came within a thousand votes of unseating Labour here last time would be a boon for UKIP, but there was reportedly friction on the ground between Victoria Ayling and the local party. Despite a strong showing she came third, a few hundred votes behind the Tories and some 5,000 behind the new Labour MP.
>Rotherham: Despite managing to take second place here (up from a risible sixth in 2010, behind the BNP), at 8,446 Labour’s majority was just 2,000 votes down compared to the 2010 election. UKIP took 30 per cent of the vote, more even than their by-election share and a full 24 points more than their 2010 result, but remain a long way from actually winning.