: IT’S ALL ABOUT VOTING
UK General Election 2015
Our Guide to 2015 UK General Election Night
Between 1:30 – 2:30am
Another trickle of seats but without key marginals until after 2:00am
NA H-EILEANAN AN IAR (the Gaelic name for the Western Isles) is projected to be the first Scottish declaration. In 1964, when it was crucial for Labour’s national majority of 4, the ballot boxes had to be carried to the count by rowing boat and it took a couple of days to declare but now it is all done by helicopter so it is one of the first. The result here won’t tell us a lot as the SNP already hold it and different factors, including personal loyalties, are at play, compared to Central Scotland. Angus MacNeil looks pretty well entrenched here.
VALE OF CLWYD is the first projected Welsh result and is rather more interesting. Labour won in 2010 by 15,000 to the Conservatives 12500 so it is not a safe seat but should remain Labour this time. This part of North Wales on Deeside is not Plaid Cymru territory. Welsh polls have shown a smaller swing to Labour than in England and so the result will be a test of that. It was at Rhyl in the constituency that John Prescott threw his famous punch in the 2001 election and a plaque has now been erected to commemorate the event.
Two rather different Durham seats are likely to declare. EASINGTON is about the safest Labour seat in the country. The BNP had 2300 votes here last time and UKIP may come second but it will be of no significance. The CITY OF DURHAM by contrast is a seat where the Lib Dems have pressed Labour hard in the last two elections with 17400 to Labour’s 20,400. The Lib Dems have controlled the local council and have a strong base but if they didn’t make the breakthrough last time they certainly won’t this time. The seat will though be a test of how resilient the Lib Dem vote is where they have a good local organisation. The Greens may make some progress at the expense of the Lib Dems and Labour but the university is quite small and fairly upper middle class so not a really good indicator of their vote.
Three Northern Ireland seats should declare. UPPER BANN and LAGAN VALLEY are certs for the DUP and WEST TYRONE for Sinn Fein.
Some increase in seats declared about now with some key marginals among them.
Four London seats should declare.
In BARKING the BNP had 6000 votes last time but Labour has seen them off at local level and the formidable Margaret Hodge will be in no danger here, not even from UKIP. The seat has seen a big increase in the ethnic minority population. Two seats in the London Borough of Wandsworth are to declare. These areas have moved upmarket and this helped the Conservatives in the 1980s but maybe less so now as Labour’s gain in Earlsfield ward in 2014 showed. Cosmopolitan London has been showing slightly better results for Labour than nationally and the results will be a test of the size of the London swing.
In TOOTING Sadiq Khan held on for Labour against the swing to the Conservatives nationally and should win again without difficulty in a seat where many new middle class people are ethnic minority families. He won by 22,000 to 19500 and the size of his majority this time will be a pointer in part to the two nearby marginals but especially to key marginals such as Croydon Central and Ealing Central and Acton.
BATTERSEA is a Conservative held marginal but needs a 6.2% swing for Labour to win it. London polls are showing a swing of over 4% to Labour so the actual swing here will be interesting but demographic change seems to favour the Conservatives and the seat is unlikely to change hands especially as the Ashworth poll just published gives them a comfortable lead.
PUTNEY has been a marginal but the Conservatives had nearly twice as many votes as Labour in 2010 and the seat is safe for Justine Greening.
Big test for UKIP
CASTLE POINT which includes Canvey Island and South Benfleet is the first real test of UKIP strength and one of the few seats that they may actually win. South Essex and nearby parts of London moved sharply to the Conservatives from 2001 and this had become a safe seat for them until their MP, Bob Spink defected to UKIP and then became an Independent. Although the Conservatives still won comfortably in 2010, Spink stood as an Independent and gained 12,000 votes to come second. UKIP has thrown all their resources into the seat and the Independents who represent Canvey Island on the local council are supporting UKIP. Even so it is very tight and the Ashcroft polls have shown the Conservatives 1% and then 5% ahead.
Northampton and Tamworth
NORTHAMPTON NORTH is a key marginal. The Conservatives won by 13,700 to 11,700 in 2010 and Labour needs only a 2.4% swing so like Nuneaton it is one they need to win to become the largest Party. There was a big Lib Dem vote of 11,000 here last time and if this shifts mostly to Labour they will win. The Ashcroft poll in October gave Labour a 5% lead but nationally the polls have narrowed since and there was a 22% UKIP vote some of which may have gone back to the Conservatives.
In NORTHAMPTON SOUTH boundary changes removing the rural area to the south should have helped Labour in 2010 but the colourful Brian Binley held the seat and a 7.7% swing is needed. Binley has retired because of ill health and so there is no incumbency factor but the swing still looks too much for Labour even if they pick up some of the 7000 Lib Dem votes.
The West Midlands seat of TAMWORTH where a 6.1% swing in needed may also be beyond Labour. A big swing in 2010 saw the Conservatives gain it, the area now has low unemployment and some prosperity and Labour has underperformed in local elections.
The first Welsh seats should come in now and surprisingly some from the more rural areas.
Three of these are from the more Welsh speaking areas, where Plaid Cymru is strong, and the other is a key Conservative held marginal in what has been called ‘English’Wales.
CARMARTHEN WEST & PEMBROKESHIRE SOUTH needs a 4.4% swing for Labour to win it but Welsh opinion polls have shown a lower swing to Labour than in England and the Conservatives held the Welsh Assembly seat in 2011. An Ashcroft poll in December put the Conservatives 4% ahead and Labour’s showing in Wales may be because they are the Welsh Government so people may be unhappy with some aspects of their performance. Some Plaid voters from rural Carmarthen might vote Labour tactically but even this would probably not be enough. If the Conservative win here they should also hold the seat of the Welsh Secretary next door.
CARMARTHEN EAST & DINEFWR is held by Plaid and should be again.
YNYS MONS (formerly Anglesey is a Labour/Plaid battle. Albert Owen is a popular MP and may well hold on but Labour has done badly in recent local elections, lost the Assembly seat to Plaid and there is a suggestion that they are losing votes to UKIP in their stronghold of Holyhead.
In DWYFOR MEIRIONNYDD the Plaid MP is retiring but boundary changes last time made this the best possible seat for Plaid and the new candidate Liz Saville Roberts should win easily.
There are also two urban Welsh seat due to declare, LLANELLI which Labour held pretty comfortably in 2010 but Plaid do challenge and came close in the Assembly seat in 2011. BLAENAU GWENT is the Ebbw Vale seatof Michael Foot. Arguments in the Labour party led to Independent dissidents winning the seat until 2010 but Labour regained it easily then and it is safe now.
Scottish seats also start to come in about this time and will give some idea of whether the SNP whitewash of all other parties that the polls predict is happening. As in Wales there will be a mixture of urban and rural seats.
The SNP already hold ANGUS in North-East Scotland by 15000 votes to the Conservatives 11,700. The Conservatives are down to their core vote in Scotland and so this is unlikely to fall much, except in Labour held seats if Conservatives decide to vote tactically against the SNP, but the SNP will hold Angus in the current climate.
In NORTH EAST FIFE the popular Lib Dem Menzies Campbell is standing down and the Ashcroft poll put the SNP 13% ahead of the Lib Dems. Tactical voting may help the Lib Dems, as this was an area that voted strongly No in the Referendum, but it still looks like an SNP win. However, if it is very close Danny Alexander and Charles Kennedy may have some hope in their seats though the Ashcroft polls in their constituencies were even worse.
In looking at the urban constituencies the 2010 results may be a poor guide because some of the strongest Labour areas voted No in The Referendum. The SNP have done fairly well for some time in new town areas such as EAST KILBRIDE, STRATHAVEN & LESMAHAGOW and GLENROTHES and the Ashcroft poll in the other new town constituency of Cumbernauld puts them well ahead so these both look to go SNP.
Gordon Brown’s old seat of KIRKCALDY & COWDENBEATH has been one of the safest Labour seats in Scotland but even here the SNP were 6% ahead in the Ashcroft poll and there are few supporters of other parties to vote tactically.
If Labour does hold the line here, however, narrowly, and in the Central belt seats of RUTHERGLEN & HAMILTON WEST and LANARK AND HAMILTON EAST, then the election will start to look different overall and it will be easier for Labour to win more seats than the Conservative nationally but nothing in the polls suggests that at the moment. In Rutherglen the Labour incumbent, Tom Greatrex may suffer from being English.
Eastleigh – The Liberal Democrat’s First Test
EASTLEIGH which consists of the suburban areas north of Southampton, is the first Lib Dem held seat in England to declare. The Conservatives might have hoped to win it but after the Lib Dem victory in 2013, ahead of UKIP, the right vote is split and the Lib Dems are firmly entrenched on the local council with a good organisation here.
Starting to get a clearer picture of changes
BISHOP AUCKLAND is another seat that Labour will win, with the Conservatives and Lib Dems about equal but well behind Labour in 2010.
HALTON is the first seat from the North-West and includes parts of Runcorn and Widnes. There are a number of key marginals in the region but this is such a safe Labour seat that it won’t tell us much.
OXFORD EAST is one of the few Labour seats in the South East region and includes the two universities as well as industrial Cowley. Andrew Smith has been the MP here since 1987 and fought off a strong Lib Dem challenge in 2005 when there was a middle class revolt against Labour after the Iraq war. He increased his majority over the Lib Dems and this is a safe seat with the collapse of Lib Dem popularity.
A group of safe Conservative seats come in about now and the main interest will be how far the Lib Dem vote fall and whether UKIP gets a significant vote.
BROXBOURNE and EPPING FOREST are seats on the fringe of London that have a lot of small business people and lower middle class voters and look the best territory for UKIP. Epping Forest is where The Only Way is Essex was filmed. The combined BNP and UKIP vote in Broxbourne was already 4000 in 2010.
CANTERBURY is a more sedate Conservative seat but incudes the Kent seaside town of Whitstable where there might be some UKIP support.
SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE, EAST SURREY and CHESHAM and AMERSHAM are all very safe Conservative and, although HS2 is an issue in the last of these, the local MP Cheryl Gillan has been very vocal in opposing the project.
CHELMSFORD, which now covers the main town whereas for a while it was divided and rural areas were added, is better territory for the Lib Dems. They kept challenging in the 1970s and 1980s but never made the breakthrough and have done well in local elections. Even if they do badly here this time, Lib Dems will still hope that the situation will be different in other seats where there is a Lib Dem incumbent.
The Lib Dems won CHRISTCHURCH in a by-election in 1993 but it has reverted to safe Conservative. Many elderly voters in this Bournemouth suburb will be anti-European but the MP Christopher Chope is one of the awkward right-wingers in Westminster and holds the same views and so should see UKIP off easily.
THORNBURY & YATE is timed for 2.15 though it is unlikely that this is an exactly accurate prediction. This suburban Bristol seat gave Steve Webb, the Pensions minister, a 7000 majority for the Lib Dems. Surprisingly the Ashcroft poll in November had him still winning by a mile and the Lib Dems seem to be doing better in these suburban seats than the small town constituencies of the South-West. There is a strong Conservative candidate and challenge but if the Lib Dems win easily here they must then hope to come back with 30 or more seats.
Another fringe Bristol seat FILTON AND BRADLEY STOKE was a new creation in 2010 and expected to be more marginal. In the end the Conservatives had 19,000 and Labour and the Lib Dems both 12,000 with some Lib Dem support probably coming from the transfer of voters from the Northavon constituency. Labour needs a 7.2% swing which looks unlikely unless there is a big transfer of Lib Dems to them.
Northern Irish Seats
More Northern Irish seats are coming in after 2pm and given their influence this time on the balance of power at Westminster it is worth looking at them.
EAST ANTRIM and STRANGFORD are safe DUP and BELFAST WEST is a Sinn Fein stronghold. In North Down an Independent Unionist, Sylvia Hermon, is likely to win despite a challenge from the DUP. She came from the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) but objected to their pact with the Conservatives in 2010. If she comes back to Parliament and one of the two main parties forms a minority Government then she will find that the whips will work hard to keep her on side.
SOUTH ANTRIM will be a hard fight between the DUP incumbent, who only had a majority of 1000 last time, and the UUP who have said that they will work with whichever party forms the Government. Some voters of the non-sectarian Alliance party may vote tactically for the UUP candidate. The other three Belfast seats have some uncertainty.
In BELFAST NORTH the deputy DUP leader held on against Sinn Fein by 14800 votes to 12500 in a constituency where the Catholic population is increasing. The Unionists have a pact with no UUP candidate standing but this may push SDLP voters to support Sinn Fein.
In 2010, the non-sectarian Alliance Party won BELFAST EAST in a surprise win against the DUP leader Peter Robinson, mired in scandal. A Unionist pact this time may hand the seat to the DUP. A Belfast Telegraph poll has put the DUP ahead but not by much. BELFAST SOUTH gave the SDLP a comfortable majority last time. Sinn Fein are standing this time but on the other hand there is no Unionist pact so the SDLP are the favourites.