Sitting in the north portion of Nottinghamshire in northern England, around 2 hours east of Manchester, Bassetlaw comprises of several small villages and England’s rural countryside. The constituency is historically one of Labour’s most loyal constituencies, having a Labour MP consistently since 1935. Bassetlaw has been fond of Labour’s policies and has many legacy Labour voters. However, that streak could very well end in 2019, with the sitting Labour MP since 2001 not standing again. Bassetlaw voted to leave the EU with 68% of the vote in 2016, and its former MP John Mann had been a leave supporter, being one of Labour’s most vocal. Bassetlaw is just one of many Labour constituencies where Conservatives are hoping to make a dent in.
Meanwhile in southern England, just south of London, controversial Secretary of State Dominc Raab is trying to defend his 42% remain constituency. Esher and Walton has many affulent business-friendly Tories who are wary of Brexit and the Prime Minister, and the center to center-left Liberal Democrats are picking off many remain Tory voters in many of these types of seats.
These two constituencies paint a part of the picture – the U.K. Election will be close – and they represent two different common battlegrounds.
With the 2019 U.K. Election coming up, the Conservatives are hoping to retain power. However despite the collapse of the right-wing Brexit Party (attaining only 4% in the BBC polling average as of December 11) the Conservatives aren’t solid favorites. The SNP and Liberal Democrats are projected to take a few constituencies from the Conservatives, so the Tories are hoping to take a few Labour seats. Labour is unlikely to gain seats, and they don’t have to. Their main goal is to hold their own and hold Boris under 323.
Labour was at serious risk just a month ago, with some saying they could lose 100 seats, but now it’s more like 30-60 seats. Many of the Labour marginal seats are in northern leave constituencies around Manchester and Liverpool. They were in serious jeopardy of bleeding in southern Wales and London, but now their late surge has helped them substantially in those areas. Now it’s mainly the west midlands (Birmingham region), northern Wales and northern England where they are struggling, and less so then previously.
The Tories are also trying to hold off the Liberal Democrats and SNP in Scotland, where the two parties could pack some power. The LDs are mainly benefiting from remain Torys, while the SNP is capitalizing on Brexit and putting Scotland first. The Tories are holding back mainly with fiscal policy in the LD/Tory marginals and with the issue of Scotland staying in the U.K. for the Scotland marginals.
My model is based off of past election results from this decade, national polling, candidates, scandals, YouGov’s MRP Model, the parties standing, and constituency polling. My model suggests that Labour will lose some seats, mainly heavy-leave seats. The Lib Dems are also on course to lose 2/3 of their leave seats but also to take a couple remain seats.
Southwest England is not heavily populated, contains many leave seats, and also has a lot of ancestral Lib Dem strength. Lib Dem DNA is particulary evident in Cornwall, the most southwestern area of England. They have lost all their constituencies they held here but still control the Cornwall Council and many council seats in the region. Labour has a few constiuencies in the region and are expected to hold most.
A marquee race in Cornwall will be St. Ives. On the tip of Cornwall, St. Ives is known for its tourism and, for a while, its Lib Dem strength. However, in 2015 the Tories captured the seat and have held it ever since. MP Derek Thomas is going against Lib Dem Andrew Thomas, who held the seat continously from 1997 to 2015. Labour and the Greens are also standing and have no viable path to victory. While neither the Brexit Party nor UKIP are standing here, the center to center-right Euroskeptic Liberal Party is standing. Many give Derek Thomas the edge, as a factor in his favor is St. Ives voted leave with 55% in favor of leaving. However, the orange DNA is strong here. The seat holds the distinction as it is a leave seat that the Lib Dems have a realistic chance in.
Outside of St. Ives, the only other race that could be close is Truro and Falmouth a bit north, as the Labour Party could capitalize on the seat’s remain preference. However, the Tories are seen as well suited here. There is also East Devon, where Independent Councilor Claire Wright is going at it again, and with the Tory MP retiring she could see an opening. A bit north holds Bristol and Bath. Bath is a strong Lib Dem area, but besides that its all Labour/Tory contests.
An example of remain parties vote-splitting is Stroud, near the border of Wales. The seat is only 46% leave, but the Greens have a strong candidate in Member of European Parliament in Molly Scott Cato. She could take up to 9% of the vote according to YouGov’s MRP model. Labour are still favored to hold the seat, but earlier in the cycle it was being percieved by many as a Tory pickup and provides an example of how remain parties could cause the Tories to win with not only plurality wins, but also in remain constituencies.
The Greens are also mounting a strong campaign in Bristol West. The Labour incumbent is still expected to win, but they are expected to be in second and could still prevail. Outside of Brighton to the east of Bristol this could be their best opportunity for another constituency. The Green Party won the constituency in this year’s EU elections with 47%.
London Exurbs (Outside of Greater London)
The London exurbs have historically strongly backed the Tories, but the Liberal Democrats could do well here as many Tory voters here are also remain voters. Former Prime Minister Theresa May’s seat voted remain 55-45% and voted for the Liberal Democrats in this year’s EU elections.
Despite this, many Tory voters are keeping their loyalty and thus there’s only a couple of chances for remain parties to beat the Tories.
Prominent Tory MP Dominic Raab is only a couple points ahead of the Liberal Democrats, and if he is defeated it would be a big blow to the Tories.
My model currently forecasts the Liberal Democrats to flip two seats in the London exurbs but also to lose two. Affluent St. Albans, just north of Greater London, is very vulnerable, and the LDs are substantial favorites, with the YouGov model showing an estimated 50-38% spread between the two parties; mine shows a 6.5% lead for the LDs. They are also narrowly favored to flip Winchester, another remain exurb southwest of the London Area.
They are, however, expected to lose two the leave seats they hold, with them down a little over 7% in Eastbourne and 3.5% in North Norfolk. The latter they could hold, and an encouraging sign for them is that they held a council seat in the constituency with ease. They also control both the Eastbourne and N. Norfolk Local Councils, which practically overlap with the constituencies.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas is expected to easily hold Brighton Pavillion, which is anticipated to be their only win in the U.K. Labour are expected to retain all their seats in the London exurbs minus Ipswich and Peterborough (which they narrowly retained in a by-election this year, mainly due to the BXP and Cons heavily vote-splitting).
Also, keep an eye on Surrey Heath. While it voted to leave narrowly, the LDs are imposing a strong challenge to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who most recently tried to participiate in the Leaders Climate Debate before being turned away. While Gove is favored, it’s certainly a race to watch.
Greater London Area
The GLA has many marquee contests. The GLA is one of the heaviest remain centers in the U.K. and was the only area the Brexit Party did not carry in England in the European elections.
The area is heavily remain, with the exception of Boris Johnson’s constituency and the eastern side. Labour has strong roots here and are expected to hold on. The main fight is on a strip of heavily-remain Tory constituencies running from the city’s center to the southern suburbs.
The LDs are expected to hold their ground, even in their one leave seat. They are also expected to best Richmond Park’s Tory MP and 2016 London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.
The Conservatives are favored to flip Kensington from Labour, which Labour flipped by 20 votes in 2017. This time, while the Tory vote share is expected to decrease, the LDs are taking votes from remainers and are pitting a three-way contest. Labour are favored to narrowly flip Chipping Barnet, a heavily remain seat they barely lost in 2017. It is also the only seat in all of the U.K. where Labour is expected to gain a seat in my model.
The LDs second-best shot is likely a bit more north in the GLA in Finchley and Golders Green, where attacks on Labour anti-semitism have resonated. Former Labour MP Luciana Berger (who represented Liverpool in Parliament, over 4 hours away from London) is standing for the LDs.
Wimbledon, Cities of London And Westminster (where Fmr. Chane U.K. Leader Chuka Umunna is carrying the LD banner), and Putney are the other marquee contests.
Out east in 70% leave Dagenham and Rainham, Labour MP Jon Cruddas is defending a 10.2% majority. Despite the high leave % Cruddas has fared well, and the BXP standing will likely help Labour. If Labour holds this seat again it will be a remarkable feat. My model predicted a Tory win here until earlier this week, with Cruddas now favored by half a point.
Despite the dreams of remainers, Boris Johnson is not vulnerable. The YouGov MRP has him up 49-40%, and both the LDs and Greens are eating up Labour votes. Even if it was a Johnson-Labour contest, Johnson would be favored.
West Midlands (Birmingham Area)
Situated in central England, Birmingham comprises much of what has been Labour’s base. Labour did very well in 2017, including winning 16 leave constituencies in the area in and around Birmingham and Coventry. Fast forward 2 years and they are projected to lose 2 seats with marginal leads in 5 others. Most of the seats they are in danger to lose are heavy leave seats to the west of Birmingham. Dudley North re-elected their Labour MP by 22 votes in 2017, and now since he is not standing again they are headed for a double-digit loss in the constituency. Former Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who just resigned from the post, is leaving his 68% leave seat, and his constituency is expected to be a nail-biter, with Labour having a 1.7% edge in my model.
Labour must work to hold these seats. They should have no trouble winning their four remain seats in inner Birmingham, and even in Coventry where the towns three seats voted leave, they are in decently good shape (Labours lead is slightly below 5% in 58% leave Coventry North West). Outside of those seats is where it becomes tricky.
Wolverhampton, a medium-sized city to the west of Birmingham, has 3 marginal leave seats. Labour is expected to retain Wolverhampton South East by a decent margin, however the other two seats are very contentious, with Labour having insignifigant leads in both. In Wolverhampton North East, Labour MP Emma Reynolds has coasted to victory, winning by 12.5% in 2017. However, her 67% leave seat could punish her for her party’s Brexit stance. YouGov’s MRP model shows the Tories winning 46-41% in the constituency. Across the town they are in deeper trouble. Wolverhmapton South West is only 54% remain but Labour fared much worse here in 2017, winning narrowly by around 5%. The good news for Labour is that lower-tier remain parties tend to fare bad in this area, with most left-wing support going to Labour.
West Bromwich West is also a close race, with the Tories having a narrow lead. Besides that, the Tories are in no danger of losing one of their own in the region and are all but certain to pick off a few Labour seats.
If Labour holds their four remain seats (Birmingham Northfield, Coventry, Wolverhampton, and the Bromwiches), they will have fared well in West Midlands. However, I think they will only win the first four (and they could very well lose a seat in Wolverhampton), and they are not favored to hold West Bromwich West. I do think Labour will still have the most seats in the Birmingham area, but not as many.
Wales is typically a Labour stronghold, with the party coming in first place in 2017 with a 28-8 edge over the Tories. Labour also has a commanding edge in the Welsh Assembly.
Wales is mainly dominated by Cardiff in the south. Cardiff is a Labour powerhouse, with the Tories only having one seat in the Cardiff area. The Tories are hoping to take some constituencies, and most of the Cardiff battlegrounds will be marginal remain seats.
Things get trickier for Labour outside of Cardiff. The Tories tend to dominate the central inner-countryside, but the LDs flipped a seat earlier this year in a by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire. The LDs also do somewhat well on Brecon’s northern neighbor Montgomeyshire. Along the coast there are two safe Tory seats, but there is a significantly higher native Welsh speaking population. This area is where the left-wing Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru does best.
The Lib Dems are hoping to recapture Ceredigion and they were seen to be winning for a while in Ceredigion. Many now say, however, that MP Ben Lake of Plaid Cymru is going to win to another term. Despite this, it is the Liberal Democrats’ best opportunity to have a seat in Wales considering that Brecon appears a goner.
Then there is the Plaid Cymru/Labour/Tory marginal in Ynys Mon, which could go any way. Many on the ground say such as the National Cymru say PC are leading, but YouGov’s MRP Model shows Labour leading, and the constituency’s leave Vote of 51% could help Tories in the fractured field. My model suggests Labour will narrowly best PC, with the Tories 3% behind PC.
Northern Wales is currently Labour dominated but has many marginal heavy-leave Labour seats. The Tories could net a few seats here and expand their lead.
In 58% leave Wrexham, a new poll shows Tories are to turn a 5.2% loss into a 15-point lead, and the Labour MP since 2001 not standing again does not help the Labour Party here.
This is an area that even late into the campaign season has not seen much movement for Labour, and the Tories could even make a near-sweep. Unlike some other areas in Labour marginals, leave prevailed but not with wipeout margins. Many of the most vulnerable constituencies for Labour here voted leave in the upper 50’s, as opposed to 60’s or even a couple 70%+ leave constituencies. However, Northern Wales is also a bit less elastic.
Outside of Wrexham, Labour is also very vulnerable in 57% leave Vale of Clwyd, where a Labour MP has served since 1997 before being ousted in 2015 by less than a point and modestly reclaiming his seat 2 years later. The MP is running again, but the Tories are favored with headwinds against his favor.
Northern England has a ton of battlegrounds and is where Tories are hoping to get most of their seats. Inner Manchester and Liverpool are expected to stay Labour, but it’s the city’s; exurbs as well as northeast England that are competitive.
Some Labour MP’s have gone out in support of Brexit. One of these MP’s who are standing again is Caroline Flint of Don Valley. Situated in eastern Yorkshire, Don Valley voted leave with 68% and voted for the Brexit Party in the EU election earlier this year with 45% of the vote; their nearest rival Labour got 17% of the vote. As a whole, the leave parties decisively bested remain parties here. Flint is getting recognition as a pro-leave Labour MP, but her party ID may best her personal beliefs. Flint’s race will be unique, as it can show if the Tories’ firmness of leaving the EU can best the constituency’s Labour loyalty. Flint did win 53-41.7% over the Tories in 2017 here, with remain parties collecting the rest of the vote. However, much has changed. My model shows Conservative Nick Fletcher around 3.5% ahead of Flint, but that could change and the race as a whole is only Tilt Conservative.
Just like Don Valley, Labour is expected to lose quite a few marginals, however the bleeding is slowing down. Seats like 71% leave Great Grimsby were seen as having the Conservatives flip it by double-digits, but now it’s more like a couple points if they even flip them at all.
The Liberal Democrats’ best hope is to take back former leader Nick Clegg’s former seat in Sheffield Hallam from Labour. Outside of that, there are a few Tory seats they are trying to pick off (such as Southport and Cheadle) but are likely to fall short.
In Ashfield, the Tories are expected to flip the seat, but the Ashfield Council in a landslide flipped to the pro-leave Ashfield Independents, and they are standing. While they are expected to lose, they could at least make things interesting.
In Northeast England the Labour Party has a “Red Wall” and a huge majority. There’s not one large population center, but rather several big towns such as Hartlepool and Sunderland. N.E. England is also extremely in favor of leaving the EU but tend to be more left on other issues such as the NHS. Earlier in the cycle there were conerns of heavy bleeding for Labour, but now they are in better shape here. They are due to lose a few seats, however.
One of those seats is Sedgefield, former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair’s old constituency. While Labour has an edge in my model, the Tories could crack the once safe Labour seat.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have different politics than England and Wales. While Scotland has the same political partys, they have one different dominating party and are split on a different issue.
The Scottish Nationalist Party, led by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, is not a new party, but has recently risen to prominence. Before the SNP’s rise, Labour would do very well in Scotland and dominate the region. This and exceptionally strong performances in north England would help them make non-coalition governments, but the SNP may have closed that path. The SNP stands for Scottish independence from the U.K. They also are a left-wing party, and have been seen as a viable coalition partner with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn if Parliament is hung.
In 2015 the SNP made a near clean sweep, but their strong independence position (Scotland voted down independence in 2014 by a hefty margin) hurt them in 2017, with the mainstream parties making gains. They are now trying to reclaim a near clean-sweep.
Labour is expected to end up with somewhere from 2-4 seats. In Edinburgh South they have a very popular incumbent standing again, and in Kirkcaldy the Incumbent Labour MP’s SNP opponent is being disavowed by the party for bigotry. They also have a shot of holding two others, but they are bound to lose 2/6 constituencies.
The LDs were hoping their leader Jo Swinson would help them in Scotland considering her constituency is just north of Glasgow, but that does not seem the case. LD’s have 4 seats in Scotland, and while they are favorites to hold all 4 they were hoping to flip some seats, particularly North East Fife, where the SNP beat them by only 2 votes in 2017.
The Conservatives, however, could bleed. The SNP is hoping to break into the Tory wall in northeast Scotland and the southern border. The SNP is favored to take three seats in central Scotland (where a very split field caused the Tories to win in 2017), but the other two will be harder. Anything could happen, but the SNP is expected to win some Tory seats.
In Stirling, the Conservatives won with 37% of the vote in this 68% remain seat. Stephen Kerring has portrayed himself as an arch Brexiteer despite the previous figure. The remain parties dominate in the city of Stirling, but the Tories do well in the northern part of the constituency. With the split field the Tories can win as long as they hold a big strong base in the north and do alright down south, but they are expected to lose the seat to the SNP by a hefty margin.
Like Scotland, Northern Ireland has a vocal support group in leaving the U.K. Northern Ireland also voted to remain in the U.K., just like Scotland.
The main politcal contenders in the region are the right-wing Unionist groups the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Union Party. The DUP has the most seats in Parliament from Northern Ireland. Then you have the left-wing Irish Independence party Sinn Fein, which does not take their seats if they win. Then you have the lower-tier left-wing party that want to leave the U.K., the historically Labour-affiliated Social Democratic and Labour Party. There is also the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, which is the N.I. affiliate of the Liberal Democrats.
Sinn Fein tends to win out west closer to inner Ireland, while the DUP does well near the coast. Belfast is usually a toss-up, with the two marquee races being there. The SDLP is expected to net two seats (one from the DUP in southern Belfast, and another one from SF up north). The UUP could net a seat from SF out west on the Ireland/N.I. border, but this is unlikely.
Sylvia Hermon was an Independent MP from North Down on the east coast of N.I., but she is standing down. Her seat voted to remain but has strong Unionist roots. The Alliance Party (a nonsectarian party which does not clearly state their stance on N.I. staying in the U.K.) could potentially win, but the DUP is projected to have a plurality win.
This election has been a turbulent ride, and could see an obscure result. My model projects a Tory majority, but a hung parliament could also happen. The DUP spoke out against Johnson, which could make a hung parliament even crazier. Look at the above regions and particularly constituencies. They all paint a picture in this turbulent election.