The Prime Minister could be set for an uncomfortable twelve months. Lord Ashcroft’s poll of a number of marginal seats shows an overall majority for Labour and UKIP are breathing down his neck in many key strongholds.
The local election results are a snap shot of the public mood. They are real votes, in real ballot boxes and not an opinion poll.
A lot can still happen but the Conservatives need to sit up and take notice. If we look at battleground seats in West Yorkshire held by the Conservatives, which they must continue to hold if they are to win the general election, they show a very worrying picture.
Shipley, Calder Valley, Keighley and Dewsbury
The Conservatives can be fairly sure they will hold Shipley and the Calder Valley both have likeable incumbent MPs and both defeated the Labour challenge and although UKIP performed well in Shipley the Conservatives were still well in front.
The same cannot be said of the Dewsbury and Keighley seats. UKIP certainly took votes from the Conservatives in Keighley polling almost 5,000 votes to Labour’s 10,620 and the Conservatives with just over 9,000 votes.
In Dewsbury, Labour won decisively against the Conservatives with UKIP polling more votes than the Liberal Democrats but only fielding a candidate in one ward out of six.
Colne Valley, Elmet and Rothwell and Pudsey
In the three remaining seats the picture is not as clear-cut.
In Colne Valley and Pudsey the Conservatives have popular, hard-working and likeable MPs but the local election results show that these two seats are vulnerable to Labour.
In Pudsey the Conservatives narrowly out polled Labour by just over 500 votes but UKIP standing in only four out of five wards polled an impressive 5,500 votes just 2,000 votes close to the two main parties.
In the Colne Valley, all three main parties polled within 500 votes of each other, making this a classic three way marginal but worryingly for them all, UKIP polled just under half their totals by just standing in half the wards.
In Elmet and Rothwell the story was a similar one. With the Conservatives holding on in these wards by just 145 votes on the face of it, it looks vulnerable to Labour. But there are some unknowns. Both Labour and Conservatives polled 10,000 votes each. UKIP, however, polled almost 4,000 votes but crucially stood in just three of the five wards.
On past trends, in the two Tory wards UKIP certainly took votes from the Conservatives, but in one of the Labour wards, UKIP took votes out from Labour. So what would have happened if UKIP had stood a candidate in the other Labour ward and what would happen if the Liberal Democrat vote collapses? My answer, probably a narrow Labour win overall but it’ll be close.
My Predictions for 2015
It’s clear David Cameron needs to retain all seven West Yorkshire Conservative seats next year if he’s to form a Conservative majority government. Will he do that? Here is where I stick my neck out and make my predictions. I will review it after the next election to see if I was right!
Shipley – Conservative Hold
Calder Valley – Conservative Hold
Dewsbury – Labour Gain
Keighley – Labour Gain
Colne Valley – Labour Gain
Pudsey – Labour Gain
Elmet & Rothwell – Labour Gain