The five seats are:
Bath (Lib Dem majority: 5,694)
Bishop Auckland (Labour majority: 502)
Bristol North West (Labour majority: 5,694)
Peterborough (Labour majority: 607)
Wirral West (Labour majority: 5,365)
A closer look at these seats shows how Brexit has shaken up the British political map. Of the two most marginal, Peterborough was held by the Conservatives from 2005 to 2017, whereas Bishop Auckland has been in Labour hands since 1935. Mark Wallace reported earlier this week that Peterborough has opened selections in anticipation of a possible by-election.
Of the others, two are 2017 losses (Bath and Bristol North West), and the last is a narrow 2015 defeat which Labour have since built up a solid majority in.
The electoral challenge facing CCHQ is to find a way to continue to make inroads into seats such as Bishop Auckland, which have been opened up to the party since Brexit, whilst also appealing to lapsed members of the Party’s pre-2016 coalition.
Meanwhile, CCHQ has also announced that the first tranche of so-called ‘Team Seats’ (formerly the City Seats Initiative) has opened. These are:
Doncaster and Rotherham
Manchester and Salford
A brief explanation of how this works. In areas which are electorally challenging for the Tories, candidates put in not for an individual seat but for a group of seats. If selected for the team, all the candidates then work the entire area together, after which there is a second round of selections where individual associations choose which member of the team they wish to be their candidate.
There are sometimes more people on the team then there are seats in the group, meaning some people can miss out entirely – the thinking behind this ‘musical chairs’ dimension is to use competition to get the most out of would-be candidates in areas where the Conservatives need the work done.
CCHQ are “very keen” to get teams up and running in these areas by party conference.