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Our Guide to General Election Night

Between 2:30 – 3:30am


2.30 am and seats coming in at a steady pace. Although these include only four Conservative held marginals the results and the ones we already have in will start to give a picture of the patterns of swing between Labour and Conservative across the country.

CITY OF CHESTER needs only a 2.7% swing to go Labour. Labour were 1% ahead in the Ashcroft poll in October and 11% ahead in March. The latter may be a rogue poll but it still does not look good for the Conservatives here.

CLEETHORPES which requires a 4.7% swing, just above where the national polls are and an April Ashcroft poll gives the Conservatives a 2% lead. UKIP has some strength in this mixed seaside resort and industrial constituency. If Labour wins it then they should definitely form the next government, even if as a minority government.

It was a surprise when Labour lost the Bristol suburban seat of KINGSWOOD in 2010 as they had held it since 1992. More surprising still, even though Labour only needs a swing of 2.5% to win it back, both Ashcroft polls have shown the Conservatives ahead so there may some underlying change that is hurting Labour here.

NORTH WEST LEICESTERSHIRE saw a very big swing to the Conservatives in 2010 after the very popular Labour MP died in 2009. At 7.2% the swing looks too much for Labour and the seat seems to be moving away from them. Here, as in other parts of the East Midlands, ex-mining villages are becoming the residence of more middle class commuters.


Labour won WESTMINSTER NORTH by only 17,300 to 15,200 from the Conservatives in 2010. This is a highly polarised seat with very well to do areas, though with many foreign owners who cannot vote, and strong Labour areas so the swing is likely to be low and Labour should win.

The other London seats coming in now are safe. CITIES OF LONDON & WESTMINSTER is a solid Conservative seat, ISLINGTON NORTH and MITCHAM AND MORDEN are safe for Labour. In ISLINGTON SOUTH AND FINSBURY the Lib Dems came very close to Labour in 2005 but Emily Thornberry moved ahead of them in 2010 and, recovered from the white van incident, should increase her majority again. The Greens may make some progress in the two Islington seats. Labour won WIMBLEDON in 1997 and 2001 but the Conservatives had a large majority here in 2010 with the Lib Dems narrowly ahead of Labour and this seat is not going to be close.

Labour Safe Seats?

The South Lancashire seat of MAKERFIELD is safe for Labour, though there may be a UKIP vote, but UKIP may do better in HARTLEPOOL which is a more volatile constituency which elected an Independent as Mayor, famously the football club mascot who dressed as Angus the Monkey, and where there was a bigger Conservative and Lib Dem vote but Labour should still win OK. ELLESMERE PORT AND NESTON, on Merseyside, and WORKINGTON in Cumbria both have Labour majorities of 4000 and should see these increase. Simon Danczuc won ROCHDALE from the Lib Dems by 800 votes in 2010. His high profile on pursuing child abuse cases and the collapse of the Lib Dem vote should give him an easy win this time.

Conservative Safe Seats?

Some safe Conservatives seats also come in now. The Cheshire seat of EDDISBURY became safe last time after some closer results EAST HAMPSHIRE, HETFORDAND STORTFORD and HEMEL HEMPSTEAD are all safe Conservative seats where the Lib Dems came second last time. The Lib Dems have challenged the Conservative since the 1970s in NEWBURY and have won the seat but the Conservative majority was solid in 2010 and much the same can be said of Ludlow which the Lib Dems held, with a good candidate from 2001 to 2005. LICHFIELD is a safe Conservative Staffordshire seat. EAST DEVON also has a significant Lib Dem vote but is safe Conservative.

Liberal Democrat Safe Seats?

YEOVIL where David Laws succeeded Paddy Ashdown as the MP is on paper the safest Lib Dem seat in the South West but their polling in nearby seats has been poor so a Lib Dem win cannot be taken for granted. MONTGOMERYSHIRE was a surprise win for the Conservatives by 1000 votes over the colourful Lembit Opek in a normally Lib Dem seat. The Lib Dems are working hard to make this an aberration but do not have a candidate with the local connections that the Conservative has.

Scottish Seats

Scottish seats may continue to see SNP gains. Dundee saw the biggest yes vote in the referendum, DUNDEE EAST is already SNP and the Ashcroft poll saw them beating Labour in DUNDEE WEST by a large margin. INVERCLYDE , including Port Glasgow and Greenock, was a very safe seat for Labour while KILMARNOCK AND LOUDOUN had more of an SNP vote. STIRLING is a university town which may help the SNP and Labour’s hope is that the significant Conservative vote here will vote tactically for them.


Results are in full swing by 3pm. There are a number of Labour-Conservative English marginals to look out for and if the national polls are right Labour should win almost all of these.

BEDFORD has become a better bet for Labour since boundary changes concentrated the seat on the main town and the suburb of Kempston. A small swing against Labour in 2010 means that the swing needed to win it back is only 1.5%. The former Labour MP is standing again and with a significant Asian population and a sizeable Lib Dem vote which can switch must be the favourite ,even if the January Ashcroft poll which gave him a 10% lead seems rather high.

Labour has been doing better in seaside towns in the last two decades and only needs a 2% swing so regain HASTINGS and RYE. The Ashcroft poll in October had them well ahead and UKIP is not doing as well here as in the nearby Kentish towns.

CROYDON CENTRAL needs a 2.9% swing for Labour to win and demographic change should help them. The latest Ashcroft poll put the Conservatives 4% ahead but this looked out of line with other polls the same day, especially given Labour’s strength in London, and two earlier polls had given Labour 4% and 6% leads.

AMBER VALLEY which is the area of Derbyshire around Alfreton and Ripley needs only a 0.6% swing to go Labour and both Ashcroft polls have Labour significantly ahead. In EREWASH, next door, a 2.6% swing is needed and again the Ashcroft poll saw Labour doing better than that.

SOUTH DERBYSHIRE, also in this area, is a much more difficult prospect on a 7% swing, though there was a very big swing to the Conservatives last time so it could be a more volatile constituency. HIGH PEAK is another Derbyshire marginal and with a swing of 4.6% needed is just about where the national polls are putting the swing. The two Ashcroft polls here confirm that with first Labour and then the Conservatives just ahead, This is the sort of seat Labour need to win to get more seats than the Conservatives.

Labour lost CARLISLE in 2010 after holding it even in 1983. Only a 1% swing is needed and Labour have chosen a local candidate. The only Conservative held marginal in the North-East, STOCKTON SOUTH, needs just a 0.4% swing to go Labour. There is a suggestion that some of the Lib Dem vote may go to the Conservatives but all three Ashcroft polls have given the seat to Labour.

In BURY NORTH Labour needs a 2.5% swing and seems to be running a strong local campaign. With a 5.4% swing , a Conservative win in 2005 and with immigration an issue, PETERBOROUGH looked a difficult seat for Labour to win but they have a strong candidate and the latest Ashcroft poll gives then a 2% lead.

STAFFORD needs the same 5.4% swing so a Labour win here puts them well in a position to be the largest party and near to a majority.

SWINDON SOUTH needing a 3.6% swing for Labour to win looks very tight with two Ashcroft polls showing the parties tied and the April poll with the Conservatives 1% ahead. This is the sort of constituency which will decide which of the two main parties has the most seats. SWINDON NORTH with a 7.5% swing needed looks too difficult for Labour on these indicators.

BRISTOL NORTH WEST at a 6% swing also looks beyond Labour and has strong Conservative and Labour areas without much in between to swing between the parties. The April Ashcroft poll gives the Conservatives a healthy lead.

If the Conservative are to get an overall majority they will have to have taken almost all their marginals and be winning some of the Labour held seats that are declaring about now, unless they really make big inroads into Lib Dem seats.

In BOLTON WEST Labour had a majority of only 92 votes in 2010 but both Ashcroft polls give them a 13% lead. Vernon Coaker won the suburban Nottingham seat of GEDLING by 1800 votes in 2010 against the trend and the seat is moving to Labour with middle manager in some of the big firms that have shed workers being replaced by public sector workers.

Labour only used to win EXETER in really good years but Ben Bradshaw has held on here and had a 2700 majority in 2010.

DERBY NORTH has a Labour majority of 600 but the Lib Dems ran a strong campaign last time and came a good third. The Ashcroft poll which gives Labour a 21% lead suggests that this vote has gone to Labour.

HAMPSTEAD AND KILBURN was Labour’s smallest majority in 2010 with 42 votes but the Lib Dems had almost as many votes as Labour and theConservatives and much of this seems to have transferred to Labour with the Ashcroft poll giving them a 17% lead. The Greens may make a reasonable showing.

The Shropshire new town seat of TELFORD had a majority of just 900 but the Ashcroft poll last May showed Labour way ahead with UKIP almost up with the Conservatives.

NORTH EAST DERBYSHIRE, once very safe for Labour, has trended to the Conservatives because of suburban expansion, with only a 2000 majority last time, but Labour still does well in the ex-coal mining area and the two wards of Chesterfield that are in the constituency. The Labour MP has come out in favour of an EU referendum which may help her against UKIP.

MIDDLESBOROUGH SOUTH AND CLEVELAND EAST is a mixed seat in character and Labour just had a majority of 1600. This will be a pointer to Stockton South and vice versa. In the Cumbrian seat of COPELAND, Jamie Reed’s 3000 majority looks beyond the Conservatives.

Interesting seats – not two party marginals

Some other interesting English seats that are not clear two party marginals will declare at this time.

THURROCK with a Conservative majority of 92 should have been a win for Labour this time but the rise of UKIP has made this a three way marginal and after a Labour lead in the first Ashcroft poll, UKIP has been ahead of Labour with the Conservatives not that far behind. This will be very tight and there may not be much tactical voting. Labour has chosen a BBC journalist who may not resonate with this working class constituency.

BASILDON SOUTH AND EAST THURROCK it technically needs a 6.4% swing for Labour but as in Thurrock this is good territory for UKIP. However they deselected their candidate who is now standing as an Independent so the Conservatives are likely to win again.

BRISTOL WEST is a Lib Dem university seat that the Greens have some hopes of. The Ashcroft poll gave the Greens 25% but Labour were well ahead at 38% with the Green third. This seat may be a pointer to the other Green hope in Norwich South.

The Lib Dems narrowly won BRENT CENTRAL but Sarah Teather is standing down and with the Ashcroft constituency poll showing Labour 35% ahead this is a sure win for them with Liberal activists concentrating on Hornsey.

HORNSEY AND WOOD GREEN is a Lib Dem seat that Labour hope to win, similar in character to Hampstead and Kilburn. Here also the Ashcroft gave Labour a big lead.

Simon Hughes has held BERMONDSEY AND OLD SOUTHWARK for the Lib Dems since the infamous by-election in 1983 but it will be close this time with the September Ashcroft poll putting him only 1% ahead of Labour.

Ed Davey held KINGSTON AND SURBITON for the Lib Dems in 2010 by 7000 votes and the constituency polls have seen the Lib Dems performing better in these more middle class suburban seats than industrial and small town seats. The poll in November put him 8% of the Conservatives.

SOLIHULL is another suburban seat the Lib Dems hold but with three figure majorities in the last two elections and the Ashcroft poll sees them 9% behind.

Scottish Seats – critical results for any Labour majority

Enough Scottish seats will now be coming in and in recent elections would tick over as Labour gains without much comment but now each one is critical to whether Labour can become the largest party nationally.

Labour has an outside chance in the Central belt constituency of AIRDRIE AND SHOTTS where the constituency poll put them 8% behind.

COATBRIDGE, CHRYSTON & BELLSHILL, next door, may be a better bet for Labour with only a 3% SNP lead in the constituency poll and with Tom Clarke having been the MP since 1982, it will also be a test of his personal vote.

Nearby MOTHERWELL AND WISHAW looks a comfortable gain for the SNP based on the constituency poll.

EAST DUNBARTONSHIRE is Lib Dem held but the constituency poll showed a big switch from both Labour and the Lib Dems to SNP and it seems unlikely that the voters will combine around any candidate to defeat the SNP here.

Labour may stand a chance in EAST LOTHIAN where there is a significant Conservative vote, bolstered by some Conservatives from Edinburgh moving here to retire, and nuclear power station workers who may react against the SNP’s anti-nuclear stance.

FALKIRK is much more SNP territory and they are bound to gain it especially as the outgoing MP lost the party whip after a fracas in the Commons bar. DUNFERMLINE AND FIFE WEST also has a strong SNP vote already and looks certain to go to them.

Douglas Alexander is in deep trouble in PAISLEY AND RENFREWSHIRE SOUTH and PAISLEY AND RENFREWSHIRE NORTH is likely only to be marginally better for Labour. If they have already lost Inverclyde by a wide margin then these two will almost certainly go as well. The last constituency poll in EAST RENFREWSHIRE saw Jim Murphy only 3% behind but it still looks difficult for him and sizeable proportion of the significant Conservative vote here will have to back him. Conservatives seem to be more willing to vote tactically in constituencies where the party has been weak but, of course, there are less Conservative voters in these anyway.

The Glasgow seats also come in now and Glasgow voted yes in the referendum. The constituency poll in GLASGOW NORTH EAST actually put Labour ahead and turnout is normally low here, especially amongst younger voters who are more likely to vote SNP. GLASGOW EAST, GLASGOW SOUTH and GLASGOW SOUTH WEST all look like gains for the SNP. In GLASGOW CENTRAL there is an established Asian community which may remain loyal to the Labour MP, Anas Sarwar, but the constituency poll still puts the SNP 10% ahead. GLASGOW NORTH WEST had a lower SNP lead in the constituency poll but here and GLASGOW NORTH, where the 30% Lib Dem vote seems to have all gone to the SNP still look difficult for Labour.

The returning officer in ARGYLL AND BUTE will have done a sterling job to get all the ballot boxes in and counted for this huge constituency by 3pm. The Lib Dems won just ahead of Labour in 2010 but the SNP won easily in the Holyrood election and should again here unless the anti-SNP vote can coalesce around one of the other candidates.

The SNP hold PERTH AND NORTH PERTHSHIRE already and were close to Labour in OCHIL and SOUTH PERTHSHIRE in 2010. MORAY further north is already SNP held with a popular MP.

Important Welsh Seats

Some of the Welsh seats coming in now are important. In ARFON, Plaid had 9300 votes to Labour’s 7900 so this one is competitive between those two parties. The addition of Bangor when the seat was redrawn helps Labour and there is a student vote which may have switched from Lib Dem to Labour but Plaid has a strong local organisation here.

The Conservatives won ABERCONWY with a large swing in 2010 and Labour needs a 5.6% swing to win it back, much more than the polls show, and even though the Conservative MP and the Chairman of the local Conservative Association have had a public row they should win.

The constituency poll last November saw the Lib Dems holding onto to BRECON AND RADNORSHIRE by 4% from the Conservatives so this one will be close.

The Lib Dems have depended on squeezing the Labour vote in the south of the constituency and this may be more difficult this time. The Conservative marginal of VALE OF GLAMORGAN, needing a 4.4% swing ,is one that Labour should be winning but the Welsh national poll and the constituency poll here say otherwise. Labour’s main advantage is that it can put a lot of resources into this seat as the key marginal in South Wales.

Not many Northern Ireland seats still to come. East Londonderry about now is a cert for the DUP.

Safe Labour and Conservative seats will be flashing by now without much need for comment.