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 solid if unspectacular Conservative performance in the East Midlands.
- The Tories did much better than predicted, and the assumption that UKIP would end up giving Labour seats proved false. The party managed to pick up a new seat and regain their by-election loss of Corby, whilst fending Labour off across all its defensive targets. The party did slip back in a couple of its remaining attack seats, but a net gain of two compared to dissolution is not to be sniffed at.
- This was a disappointing region for Labour. They failed to take any seats from the Conservatives and lost two, including their by-election majority of almost 8,000 in Corby (by contrast, both Norwich North and Crewe and Nantwich, two Tory by-election gains from the 2005-2010 Parliament, are still Tory). Their only comfort is that two marginal seats where they were fighting the Liberal Democrats are now rock-solidly safe.
- Given the night they had, examining potential Lib Dem attack seats in this series sometimes feels a little vindictive. Suffice to say, two close and competitive races in 2010 became two crushing defeats in May, with the party dropping into fourth place in both the seats we identified as targets.
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.)
>Corby: Going off the 2010 result this is actually a Conservative hold, with a Tory majority about 450 votes higher than 2010. However the Tories lost this seat by 7,791 votes in a 2012 by-election when Louise Mensch resigned her seat. The career of Labour Co-operative incumbent Andy Sawford was cut short in May, and Tom Pursglove returns the seat to the Tory fold with a majority of 2,412.
>Derby North: Tory from 1983 until 1997, the party fell short here by just 613 votes in 2010. This time Amanda Solloway managed to push the blue team over the line, advancing by five points whilst Labour advanced by only 3.5, despite a 19.5 point fall in the Liberal Democrat share.
>Gedling: Vernon Coaker, the Shadow Defence Secretary, looked vulnerable as he entered the election defending a majority of just 1,859. Yet he picked up 1.2 points whilst the Tories fell back by the same, and returned to the Commons by an improved margin of almost 3,000. The parties in third and fourth place also seem to have seen a direct transfer, with UKIP gaining 11.4 points and the Lib Dems losing 11.3.
>North East Derbyshire: Labour incumbent Natascha Engel held on here but saw her already slender majority cut from 2,445 to just 1,883 by Tory challenger Lee Rowley as both major parties increased their vote share and the Lib Dems shed 19 points, losing their deposit.
>Nottingham South: This seat was a near miss last time, with a Labour majority over the Conservatives of just 1,772. This time it stands at a much healthier level of almost 7,000, as the Tories slipped back a little and Labour picked up an extra 10.3 per cent of the vote from the Lib Dems.
>Amber Valley: Nigel Mills captured this seat in 2010 by just 536 votes. This time he managed to leverage his incumbency into a much more comfortable majority of 4,205, picking up an extra 5.4 per cent of the vote whilst Labour fell back.
>Broxtowe: In 2010 Anna Soubry unseated Nick Palmer, the former Labour MP, by 389 votes and he was back to try and retake this seat in May. This time the Conservatives won by almost 4,300 votes, picking up over six per cent more of the vote than 2010 as Labour lost ground.
>Erewash: Another seat where the Conservatives have managed to dig in, despite a change of candidate. New MP Maggie Throup added more than a thousand votes to Jessica Lee’s 2010 majority to win by 3,584, and took an extra 3.2 per cent of the vote whilst Labour only took 1.1. Another seat with an apparently straight transfer of Lib Dem voters to UKIP, the former falling by 14.1 points and the latter advancing by 14.3.
>Lincoln: Karl McCartney returns to Westminster with a slightly increased majority of 1,443, up from 1,058 five years ago. The two major parties put on 9.4 per cent of the vote between them, but the Tory increase was larger and they managed to stay ahead whilst the Liberal Democrats lost another deposit.
>Loughborough: Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, took this once-safe Conservative seat from Labour in 2010 by 3,744 votes, and given the totemic role education played in the politics of the last Parliament she would have been a major scalp for Ed Miliband’s party. An eight-point surge in Tory support, combined with Labour losing 2.6 per cent, instead saw her majority soar to almost 9,200, fewer than 2,000 less than that achieved in 1992.
>Northampton North: Michael Ellis joins the ranks of first-term Conservative MPs who returned with increased majorities in May: his 2010 winning margin of just under 2,000 now stands at 3,245. Again both of the main parties substantially increased their share of the vote, with Labour picking up almost five per cent extra and the Tories 8.3.
>Sherwood: Mark Spencer took this seat from Labour last time by just 214 votes, but a six-point rise in his share of the vote combined with a three-point fall in Labour’s means his new majority is a rather safer 4,647. The Lib Dems lost almost 13 points and placed fifth, behind UKIP and the Greens, but no minor party is competitive here.
Liberal Democrats: 0/2
>Ashfield: Labour’s habit of parachuting metropolitan left-wingers into working class seats almost stung them badly here last time, when the Liberal Democrats fell fewer than 200 votes short of taking a seat that Geoff Hoon had held with five-figure majorities. They came fourth this time, seeing Gloria De Piero secure a thumping 8,820 majority over the second-placed Conservatives, who edged out UKIP by a few hundred votes.
>Chesterfield: After losing this seat by just 529 votes in 2010 having won it in 2001, Nick Clegg’s party shed 24 points and again came fourth here, with Labour’s Toby Perkins going from holding the 25th most marginal seat in the country to sitting on a majority of almost 13,600.