In 2015 and 2017, we ran a region-by-region overview of the key seats which could decide the general election. We have revived it for 2019, and these battleground profiles run regularly throughout the campaign.
- There are 73 parliamentary constituencies in this region. At dissolution 46 were represented by Labour MPs, 19 by Conservative MPs, 4 by Liberal Democrat MPs, 2 by The Independent Group for Change, and two by independents.
- Drawing up a list of possible Conservative targets here really highlights what a problem London is becoming for the Party: many of the seats it held as recently as 2010 and 2015 now have such huge Labour majorities as to be completely off the radar, and even whilst forecast to secure a comfortable overall majority there are only a bare handful of plausible gains.
- Labour’s target range is smaller than the Tories’, but that’s principally because of how dominant they are here. Some polls have suggested their London position could be weaker than anticipated but nonetheless, they could make gains here even amidst bad results elsewhere.
- The Liberal Democrats look to have one gain nailed on in south-west London, but will be disappointed that neither of their defectors from Change UK look set to be returned for their new constituencies.
- Speaking of Change UK, Mike Gapes is making a defiant stand under their greyscale standard in his old constituency of Ilford South. It doesn’t look like he’s going to win either.
As in 2015 and 2017, we’ll be taking a region-by-region look at the seats which could change hands. These lists aren’t predictions of gains: rather, they’re just seats which we think could be competitive. They might be official party targets, have a small majority, or be subject to other factors which could leave them open to change.
Amongst the resources we’ll be using to steer us through these murky waters are Electoral Calculus, UK Polling Report, Number Cruncher Politics, and Election Polling, whilst all Leave vote share estimations are from Chris Hanretty’s very helpful constituency-by-constituency charts. For these last few we’ll also look at YouGov’s MRP poll.
We’re also keeping an eye on the work of many other pollsters, psephologists, and analysts, some of whom our assistant editor has collated onto a Twitter list.
Targets by party:
(NB These are our own suggestions of potential attack seats for each party – including those officially designated as targets and others where the incumbent has a relatively small majority, or local factors are at play which may open the seat to change.)
Battersea: Jane Ellison held this for the Conservatives between 2010 and 2017, and with Labour’s majority at just 2,416 it ought not to be out of the Party’s reach on paper. The major hurdle is that from eyeballing Hanretty’s figures it looks as if this is one of the most Remain-y seats in the country, with a referendum Leave share of just 22 per cent. One of the seats which earlier polling suggested might be contention if Labour can’t shore up its ratings.
Carshalton & Wallington: One of a clutch of what have been Tory/Liberal Democrat battleground seats in south-west London, and one with an interesting profile. Tom Brake has successfully held on here even through the Lib Dem nadir in 2015 – despite the fact that his seat apparently voted Leave! That fact, combined with his party’s stumbling campaign and a slender majority of just 1,369, suggests that this could be one to watch – YouGov has both parties on 41 per cent of the vote.
Croydon Central: This was Conservative from 2005 until 2017, when Gavin Barwell was unseated, and is another which London polling from earlier this month suggested the Tories might have a shot at regaining on a good night. It’s a pretty straight two-party fight, with no history of substantial support for either the Lib Dems or UKIP nor a strong lean in either direction in 2016. The Tories doubtless face an uphill struggle to overturn Labour’s 5,652 majority, but if this disappears from their radar as fast as other recently-lost London seats the Party has a serious problem.
Dagenham & Rainham: Not the most marginal seat on paper – Labour’s Jon Cruddas is defending a majority of 4,652. But it is the only one Electoral Calculus tips the Tories to actually take on the night. Given the circumstances of the election perhaps this isn’t surprising: Leave racked up more than 70 per cent of the vote here in 2016, and a year before that UKIP actually beat the Tories into second place. YouGov has the Tories two points ahead, with the Brexit Party taking 11 per cent of the vote. Failure here means something has probably gone badly wrong for the Conservative campaign.
Enfield Southgate: Another seat that was Tory from 2005 to 2017, Labour now has a majority of 4,355. According to the Hanretty figures it is much more Remain-y than its northern neighbour (38 per cent vs 48 per cent), but it was another which earlier polling implied could be under threat. Neither YouGov nor Electoral Calculus see them picking it up, however, so unless Labour’s numbers start to fall back again it is probably out of reach.
Kensington: Labour’s majority here is just 20, and prior to that this seat has been held by the Conservatives since 1974. The seat is quite Remain-y, with a 2016 share of almost 70 per cent, but despite that YouGov’s MRP forecast has the Tories recapturing this at a canter, with the Lib Dems pushing Labour into third place, although for the moment Electoral Calculus disagrees. Fun fact: the Brexit Party candidate is a former member of Bucks Fizz.
Chingford & Woodford Green: Labour have come under some internal fire for the strength of their campaigning here, with activists complaining about the party’s apparent willingness to sacrifice genuine defensive marginals for seats with potentially high-profile scalps and favoured Corbynista candidates. Perhaps hundreds of activists can move the dial in a way that is hard to detect in national polling, but at present Iain Duncan Smith looks on track to retain this seat comfortably.
Chipping Barnet: Theresa Villiers’ majority is just 353, and as a former Secretary of State and high-profile Brexiteer she must make a very tempting target, especially in a seat which leans Remain. However the Conservatives put on seats here in the 2018 local elections. YouGov’s headline figure is a Tory hold, but in reality it shows the two parties neck and neck on 41 points apiece. But with that margin, in this part of the country, if Labour are going to make gains anywhere it must surely be places like this.
Harrow East: Labour and the Tories hold one Harrow seat apiece, and in recent memory each looked attainable to the other. Now the Labour majority in West is in five figures, whilst Bob Blackman enters this contest defending a majority of fewer than 2,000 votes. Another straight-up two-party contest with no recent history of strong third-party performance, YouGov’s model tips the Tories to hold on with an extended lead.
Hendon: Matthew Offord took this seat for the Conservatives in 2010 but has never secured really comfortable majorities, and he enters this election defending a lead of 1,072 votes. But Labour may face an uphill battle in a constituency with a strong Jewish community – Hendon is one of the seats which has featured special hustings organised by a coalition of national Jewish groups. Despite this YouGov only has the Tories a few points ahead, so it is definitely in play.
Putney: Another seat which shows how the referendum has changed the trajectory of British politics: a 2015 Conservative majority of over 10,000 fell to just over 1,500 last time out. On top of that Justine Greening, who represented it since 2005, is not standing this time after losing the Tory whip. Despite both that and the constituency’s strong Remain lean (north of 70 per cent) YouGov currently has Labour a few points behind, but if the polls continue to narrow they are in with a shot.
Bermondsey & Old Southwark: Another of what must be one of the UK’s most Remain seats, with the pro-EU campaign taking almost three votes in four here in 2016. It also has a very long pedigree with the party, with Simon Hughes representing it for the Liberal Party and then the Lib Dems since a 1983 by-election before being ousted in 2015. At the last election Labour extended their lead to almost 13,000, but if Corbyn is going to pivot Labour’s campaign towards wavering Leave voters perhaps the Lib Dems can find a path back here.
Cities of London & Westminster: When Chuka Umunna jumped ship to the Lib Dems, you can see why he picked this seat as his new berth. It sits perfectly in the Venn diagram of factors which make a seat a good prospect for the Lib Dems this time out: prosperous, Tory-held, and (very) Remain-y. On top of all that, it’s in London, which is not good ground for the Conservatives. And yet… YouGov has the Tories comfortably ahead on 40 per cent, with Labour and the Lib Dems on 28 per cent each. Electoral Calculus puts their odds at just eight per cent.
Finchey & Golders Green: Mike Freer currently holds this seat by just 1,657 votes, and at the start of the campaign there was plenty of speculation that the Lib Dems would pick this up. But like Umunna, Luciana Berger doesn’t look as if she’s on track to be returned for her new party – just as in his seat, YouGov puts the Conservatives comfortably ahead with the other two parties fighting for a distant second, and Electoral Calculus puts them in third.
Richmond Park: This seat offers a nice snapshot of the extraordinary turns in political fortune over the past few years. Zac Goldsmith took it off the Lib Dems by just over 4,000 votes in 2015, secured a majority of over 23,000 in 2015, then lost it back to the Lib Dems by over 1,800 votes in a 2016 by-election, only to regain it by 45 votes two years ago. A prominent Leaver in a strongly pro-Remain seat, it looks as if his race is run: both YouGov and MRP have the Lib Dems well ahead, and it would surely auger a totally disastrous night for them if they missed out here.
Wimbledon: Usually reliably Conservative, and never previously won by the Lib Dems. But the last election saw Stephen Hammond’s five-figure majority cut to just to less than half in a seat which leans quite heavily Remain, and Jo Swinson’s troops are apparently putting a lot of effort in here. However YouGov only has them taking second place off Labour – despite the withdrawal of a Green candidate, ‘Unite to Remain’ doesn’t look like enough to win here.
Change UK – The Independent Group:
Ilford South: No changing party or seeking a new seat for Mike Gapes – not that such tactics seem to have done his erstwhile colleagues much good. He has held this seat since taking it from the Conservatives in 1992 (by just 400 votes) and has since built up to a 2017 Labour majority of 31,647. But how much of that is his? According to the models, very little. YouGov forecast Labour holding it comfortably with over 60 per cent of the vote, with Gapes securing at best third position.