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 46 parliamentary constituencies here. At the last election the Conservatives captured 31 and Labour 15, although one of each is currently being defended by a Change UK MP.
- Across the region it’s pretty much a straight-up fight between the two main parties, with the Liberal Democrats unrepresented and out of contention here since 2010.
- Despite their already-strong showing there is plenty of scope for the Tories to improve their standing on a good night: we have included eight seats as plausible gains, and that doesn’t include other seats, such as Nottingham South, where the Party used to be competitive and may be able to regain ground in future.
- Likewise there is room here for Labour to expand their representation on a good night. Although the polls don’t currently suggest they will make gains, 2017 showed how much can happen in five weeks so we have listed half a dozen possible targets.
- At the time of writing it still isn’t clear what the Brexit Party’s strategy for this election will be and we don’t know which seats they will contest. We have therefore listed just one target for them here, a seat which ought to serve as an acid test for whether their ‘Labour Leave’ plan has legs.
- Change UK are extremely unlikely to win any new seats, so we will mention them only where one of their incumbent MPs has decided to fight their seat.
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.
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.)
Ashfield: Since Gloria de Piero was first returned for this seat in 2010 it has been on something from a political journey. At that election the Liberal Democrats fell fewer than 200 votes short of taking it. In 2015 it saw a Labour majority of over 8,800, and in 2017 that was slashed to just 441 over the second-placed Conservatives. This time out Electoral Calculus gives the Tories a >50 per cent chance of winning, even allowing for a relatively strong Brexit Party showing. The Conservative candidate is local councillor Lee Anderson who, remarkably, defected from Labour and used to be de Piero’s office manager.
Bassetlaw: Labour have enjoyed comfortable majorities of over 8,000 at all recent elections until 2017, when the Conservatives shaved it to under 5,000. With Hanretty estimating that over two thirds of voters here backed Leave in 2016 and John Mann standing down, this is exactly the sort of Labour seat Boris Johnson needs to win to vindicate his Brexit-based strategy. Electoral Calculus does give the Conservatives an odds-on chance of pulling it off, although those prospects won’t be helped by the fact that the Party appears not to have selected a candidate yet.
Bolsover: Dennis Skinner has represented this seat since 1970, and in that time the Conservatives didn’t come close to being competitive… until 2017. (This is a recurring theme). Now the Labour majority is just over 5,000, and this is another of those Leave-leaning Labour seats which Electoral Calculus tips as a likely Tory gain. This is also one of the seats that Guido Fawkes has tipped as a viable Brexit Party target, which would complicate matters further. On the credit side, Labour lost 14 councillors here in the most recent local elections.
Broxtowe: Anna Soubry gained this seat off Labour in 2010 and her majorities were never comfortable – in 2017 it stood at less than a thousand. This time she will be standing for The Independent Group for Change, and whilst her odds of holding on are likely slim to none any personal vote could still make a difference in a very tight contest. Electoral Calculus still predicts a comfortable Tory hold – although as we noted noted in June, the Conservatives lost control of the council here at the local elections.
Derby North: This is a very finely-balanced seat: narrowly retained by Labour in 2010, captured by Amanda Solloway by a razor-thin margin in 2015, and then lost again in 2017. Solloway is standing again, although it isn’t yet clear whether Labour will re-admit their incumbent MP, the arch-Corbynite Chris Williamson. The Tories made some progress against Labour here in the local elections, and Electoral Calculus puts the odds of a Conservative victory at just north of 50 per cent.
Gedling: Unlike most of the other seats here, this one has actually been moving slowly away from the Conservatives over the past few elections: Vernon Coaker’s majority has risen from under 2,000 in 2010, to just shy of 3,000 in 2015, to almost 4,700 two years ago. This seat is also less Leave-y than several of the others listed here, although Hanretty’s figures still have it breaking narrowly for Brexit in 2016. Therefore whilst Electoral Calculus does tip this as a Tory gain, it would probably mark a decidedly good night for the Party if it won here.
High Peak: Emblematic of the setback the Tories suffered in 2017, Andrew Bingham secured relatively good majorities here in both 2010 and 2015 before losing out two years ago. Whilst Electoral Calculus do have the Conservatives odds-on to recapture it, evidence from the ground is less promising: Labour captured the corresponding council from the Tories only this summer. This may be one of those seats which will depend on a strong national showing overcoming local difficulties.
Lincoln: Another seat which has traded hands by slender margins over the past few elections: Karl McCartney won it in 2010, retained it in 2015, and lost it in 2017. He has been reselected to fight the seat again, and that local knowledge and reputation might make a crucial difference in a tight race. This summer’s local elections saw both parties standing still, with Labour way ahead, but Electoral Calculus nonetheless predicts McCartney’s return to the House of Commons this December.
Corby: This seat has been Tory since 2010, save for a few years after Labour won the 2012 by-election precipitated by Louise Mensch’s departure from the Commons. Tom Pursglove’s majority now sits at just shy of 2,700, and with six voters in ten here having backed Brexit it is difficult to see how Labour find a way to cut through here. However it remains one of the more vulnerable Conservative constituencies in the region.
Mansfield: One of the handful of seats picked up by May’s campaign, this seat had been Labour since 1923 before Ben Bradley took it two years ago. His majority stands at just over 1,000, and if Labour are to make advances in the region then regaining this seat is almost a prerequisite. However it is a very strongly pro-Brexit constituency, so Labour may struggle in a straight-up fight with the Conservatives.
North East Derbyshire: Lee Rowley is another of that rare breed of MP who captured a Labour seat in 2017, this time by the slightly more comfortable margin of 2,861 – perhaps because this seat had only been Labour since 1935. The relatively slender majority may make this a Labour target but it could be misleading: this year the Conservatives actually captured the local council from Labour, suggesting that the Party is entrenching itself here.
Northampton North: Michael Ellis’s majority here is just 807 votes – down from over 3,000 in 2015 – so this must be one of Labour’s top targets in the East Midlands. They have once again selected as their candidate Sally Keeble, who represented the seat from 1997 until 2010 and has fought every election since. However, Hanretty’s figures have this seat as quite strongly Leave, which ought to buttress the Conservative position against a Labour challenge.
Northampton South: Andrew Lewer’s majority here is slightly larger than Ellis’s, at 1,159, but he faces the challenge of holding on to a constituency which apparently leans Remain. Electoral Calculus currently only gives Labour a one-in-three chance of winning here, but if they Opposition were to pull off an upset in this region this seat must be a possible candidate.
Bolsover: If there is a path to Brexit Party representation through Labour seats, this must surely be one: held by Labour since its creation, seven-in-ten voted Leave in 2016, and incumbent MP of almost 50 years is standing down. Yet Electoral Calculus give Nigel Farage’s troops a less than ten per cent chance of winning this seat – although their projection does see the Party picking up almost 10,000 votes.
Change UK – The Independent Group:
Broxtowe: Just how big is Anna Soubry’s personal vote? We may be about to find out. There is currently nothing to suggest that Change UK will hold on here, in a Leave-leaning seat with such a small Liberal Democrat two years ago that it doesn’t even look as if a Remain pact could put the incumbent over the line. Yet with the Tories and Labour just a few hundred votes apart Soubry could still act as a spoiler for one or the other.
Nottingham East: Chris Leslie is another of CUK-TIG’s small band of loyalist MPs who declined to become Liberal Democrats or join ‘The Independents’ and is fighting his seat in this election. As a Labour MP he enjoyed a majority of almost 20,000, but that simply makes it all the more likely that his old party will retain this seat without much difficulty.